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Living The Lord’s Prayer – Fr. Ian Terry writes

If schools and churches really live the Lord’s Prayer, rather than mumble it, then their lives will be transformed.

Cambridge, England, 26 May 2015  — A new title from Christian publisher Grove Books, in its Education Series: “Living the Lord’s Prayer, Turning the School Upside-Down”, Grove Education Series eD 23,   suggests that children and young people are best served by a whole school focus on the Lord’s Prayer, preferably in partnership with the local church.

At a time when spirituality and faith in schools are under threat from those with a Secularist agenda, who would dumb-down all faith commitment in the name of political correctness, the author, the Town Centre Rector of Bournemouth,  the Revd Dr Ian Terry, offers a timely consideration of the significance of the Lord’s Prayer in schools. Dr Terry was Diocesan Director of Education for Hereford, has been a schools’ inspector, and is currently Governor of three schools in Bournemouth, and Visiting Fellow in the Sociology of Religion at Bournemouth University.

This booklet, of 28 pages, is a celebration of prayer as essential to human thriving. The author wants to see contemplation and social action, imaginatively inter-woven,  underpinning the whole life of each school.  Seen in this way, prayer and action, focussed in serving others, unlock an essential dimension of life.  Prayer is not one of many options; indeed, the Lord’s Prayer can be the key to developing all our values and beliefs.

Dr Terry values our ability to hold in creative tension apparent contradictions:  God as both creator of the cosmos but also as ‘Daddy’, our instinct that forgiveness ‘works’ but our habitual disinclination from offering or accepting it, the abundance of God’s provision for the whole world contrasted with our greed and unequal distribution.  He affirms that the Kingdom is present in all good schools, because ‘every child matters’ to them, but the better the school the more acute its knowledge of its areas for improvement. His booklet quotes Bishop Tom Wright:  “Thy kingdom come’ – rules out any idea that the Kingdom of God is a purely heavenly (that is, ‘other-worldly’) reality … Heaven is God’s space, where God’s writ runs and God’s purposes are waiting in the wings. Earth is our world, our space.  … The holy city, new Jerusalem, comes down from heaven to earth.  God’s space and ours are finally married, integrated at last.  That is what we pray for when we pray ‘Thy Kingdom Come’ (1996)”

However, the author also goes further, making the case unequivocally for personal commitment, and quoting Pope Benedict XVI at his inaugural Mass:  “If we let Christ into our lives we lose nothing, absolutely nothing of what makes life free, beautiful and good.  Do not be afraid of Christ.  He takes nothing away, and he gives us everything.  When we give ourselves to him, we receive a hundredfold in return.  Yes, open, open wide the doors to Christ and you will find true life.” (2005).

Ian Terry writes about the conversations he had with groups of secondary school pupils in a Christian Academy in Nottingham about the Lord’s Prayer and how they grounded it in their day-to-day lives but also used sharp common sense and critical reasoning to debunk the toxic myths about a distant and angry God.  He points to how creativity ‘hallows’ God, quoting Adrian Plass: “I just want a chance for my spirits to dance”, but he extends this creativity to our attitudes to the poor, and suggests that school using the Lord’s Prayer can give hope for transforming the world. He gives specific examples of how these ideas can be taken further in lessons.

“Living the Lord’s Prayer, Turning the School Upside-Down”, Grove Education Series eD 23, is published by Grove Books Ltd, Cambridge, priced at £3.95 and available from good bookshops or by post from www.grovebooks.co.uk

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