Following the recent Vision Night on Wednesday 9 September, Charlie Cleverly outlines the vision and focus that the leadership team believe God is bringing to St Aldates in the coming year:
Four priorities and prayers for St Aldates in 2009-10 (Exodus 33 & 34)
Some time ago I spent a year researching and writing on the mysterious adventures with God of nation-changing men and women in the Bible. This came out in the form of a book called ‘The Discipline of Intimacy’. Looking at Hannah and Esther and others, I said then: “The destiny of nations is not in the hands of the multi-nationals or of governments or politicians, but in the hands of the people of God who pray.”
I still believe this, but one of the nation-changers I did not include was Moses. It is his adventure with God that haunts me as I look at the life of the UK today.
Moses had the experience of having had an encounter with God that brought a whole people out of slavery, but halfway through their journey into destiny and the Promised Land, they seemed worse off than at the beginning. He had started well, but at half-time in the journey to recovery, the people were dancing around an idolatrous golden calf (a false god) in a kind of unravelling addictive display of lifestyle that would lead to chaos. What is more, they denied all responsibility, saying: “We threw our gold into the fire… and out came this calf.”
We can often feel like that looking at our nation, our city, our friends, even our family. What started well can seem to be unravelling. Those nearest to us can seem to be deadened to God and, as far as our nation is concerned, it can seem to be sleepwalking into chaos. What do we do when our lives feel barren in terms of the real transformation of our land?
As an answer to this, I recommend the four prayers of Moses. Faced with the chaos of the golden calf, he does not give up… he does not stop holding onto God…he does not step back, but steps into and stands in the gap as someone who will not let God go. His prayers can be ours today for ourselves, our families and our land. He prays:
Teach me Your ways that I may know You. His ways are not our ways and often are such a challenge to our comfort zone. For while our goal in life may be to become self-sufficient, His goal is to help us to learn to lean. Speaking of a time of great hardship when he nearly despaired of life itself, Paul said, “This happened so that we might not rely on ourselves, but God who raises the dead.” The ways of God are to be found in the Word of God, so this year as usual we want all our church to be founded on, led by and breathed into from the Word of God in the Bible. We encourage every attendee of St Aldates to become an expert in the Word of God – to become daily meditators on the ways of God in the Word of God, in order to know our God and be strong and do exploits.
Remember this nation is Your people. Moses had a whole people group on his heart and so do I. I have a dream that one day in the UK and in Europe, revival and community transformation will return to our land… that a new reformation would come from heaven. I believe that we can pray like Moses: remember this nation! This will involve being students of what God has done in our land, as well as knowing His ways with nations. (See Genesis 12, Joel 3, Matthew 28:19, Acts 17:26 for those wishing to study a theology of nations.)
Let Your presence go with us. The presence of God is something that we are asking for as leaders. Though this is a mystery, we want to do all we can to draw and attract the presence of God. This will involve things like humility, holiness, hunger, justice, serving the poor and unity with all other Christians, for “there the Lord commands a blessing” – hence Love Oxford and other initiatives we recommend. And be prepared for deep reconciliations with people from whom you have formerly been divided, if we are to take this seriously.
Now show me Your glory. All my Christian life, I have been drawn by the glory of God. Epiphany moments throughout the Bible and church history beckon us. God, it seems, waits to be wanted. And Jesus’ prayer in John 17 suggests it is to be our destiny: “Father, I want those you have given me to be with me where I am and to see my glory.” I believe that it comes with longing, suffering, waiting, asking… but it will come.
We will look at these prayers in some of our teaching this year and in our Pastorates; but for now let these be our prayers for our families, our city and our nation.