A Day of Prayer & Giving
10th October 2016
This year marks the 350th Anniversary of the Great Fire of London, which destroyed great swathes of the historic City of London and many of its historic churches. Though only six people were confirmed to have been killed, many tens of thousands were displaced. King Charles II in the aftermath of the fire, appalled at the devastation wrought upon the country’s First City by the Fire and by the plague just a year before called for a day of ‘fasting and humiliation, to implore the mercies of God’.
Interpretations of the Fire as being wrought by the evils of the day, or by political agitation, seem to go beyond the more nuanced interpretation of divine providence we are used to today. As the Bishop of London remarked in his frontispiece to the ‘Fire Walk’ order of service, the events of the day “led to much soul-searching and rather less edifying scapegoating immediately after the conflagration.”
NATIONAL DAYS OF PRAYER
The custom of national days of prayer dates back to the tenth century and the reign of King Aethelred. Between 1535 and the last national day of prayer in 1947 there were 544 English and Welsh or British occasions. Whilst the custom may have fallen away in our multi-confessional state, days of prayer are still initiated by churches in response to crises.
The Bishop of London writes:
"It is clear that sadly there is no imminent end to the systematic and harsh persecution of the Christian Church in Iraq and Syria. A tragedy of historic proportions is unfolding and there is a threat to the very survival of the Christian population in some of the most ancient homelands of our faith. If the relentless violence against our brothers and sisters in Christ falls out of the daily news it is only because it has become so commonplace as to be unremarkable."
THE CHRISTIAN RESPONSE
"The Apostle Paul reminds us that as the Body of Christ, spread now throughout the world, “If one member suffers, all suffer together with it.” (1 Cor 12.26) How can we, who have so much and enjoy such freedoms, not at least pray for these dear brothers and sisters and their families in all their distress?
Although prayer is an essential act of solidarity with those who suffer, it must be matched by actions. As part of our Lent almsgiving in 2016, I hope that many of our parishes will be able to support two reputable charities who are already active among the beleaguered Christian communities in Iraq and Syria.
Open Doors is providing emergency food supplies and hygiene kits to almost 10,000 families every month in Syria. In Iraq, Aid to the Church in Need is focusing on the urgent needs for housing, medicine and education which will enable the Church to maintain its Christian presence and witness to Jesus Christ.
Please pray and please give."
Bishop of London Lent Appeal - more information on the Bishop of London's Lent Appeal to raise funds for persecuted Christians in Iraq and Syria.
Donate to the campaign by clicking here.
Organise a special event or service at your church - please inform firstname.lastname@example.org.
Resources for prayer and reflection can be downloaded here.
Commit to holding a special event in your church, or adapt an existing service using some of the resources provided. Click the button below to download a resource pack.
To donate to the Bishop of London's Lent Appeal, supporting charities 'Aid to the Church in Need' and 'Open Doors' please click on the button below.