Every now and then, there are things that just feel right. Like this is how they’re meant to be. One of those things happened last night in a warehouse near the centre of Nottingham. About 700 people gathered in Trent Vineyard church to pray for the city and worship God together.
That’s a decent number of people for a Friday night, but still no more than an average Sunday morning, so what made last night so special? What made is special was seeing three bishops from the Catholic, Anglican and Pentecostal churches in Nottingham leading hundreds of people from all of those denominations and more in the Lord’s prayer, knowing that, at the same time, there were other gatherings just like it across the country.
Gathered in Trent Vineyard last night were Catholics, Baptists, Methodists, Pentecostals, Evangelicals, Anglicans, Charismatics, non-denominationals, and more, all assembled with one purpose: to pray for Nottingham. Though the event lasted just a couple of hours, it was an expression of the body of Christ that went beyond anything I have personally witnessed in the time that I’ve been a Christian.
Let me take a step back. This gathering was part of the national ‘Thy Kingdom Come’ initiative: a 10 day long event designed to encourage Christians across the country to come together and pray for the issues that they see day-to-day. It was meant to be a symbol of unity in a time when unity is often missing from our culture and our faith.
The aim of the evening was to make a space where hundreds of Christians could come together and pray for God’s will to be done in our city, a prayer that goes far beyond any doctrinal differences there may be between denominations and a prayer that all of us could wholeheartedly pray.
Since the days of Peter and Paul in Acts there have been disagreements in the church over teachings and practices, and that is still the reality that we live in today. It’s not ideal, but it’s what we have. The diversity of Christian perspectives reflects the beautiful diversity of the Church herself.
I will never say that that diversity is wrong, or even unnecessary, but after the events of last night, I do wish that there could be more opportunities for similar united celebrations. Events like Soul Survivor, New Wine and Big Church Day Out go a long way to fostering Christian unity in our country, but they’re not for everyone. Even at those events, I haven’t seen anything quite so affecting as the last night, where a platform was given to so many different people from across Nottingham’s churches.
And on a spiritual level, I believe that what happened last night in Nottingham and across the country will have a real impact throughout the UK. A core part of my Christian beliefs is that prayer changes things, especially when we pray in accordance with God’s will and with the agreement of others around. I believe that we will see changes in Nottingham as a direct result of the prayers we prayed yesterday.
But where next? An event like this is only truly effective if the Church continues to act in the spirit of ‘Thy Kingdom Come.’ We need to go out and live the prayers that we prayed individually and collectively. I would love to see more events like this in the future, whether on a small or large scale. Events that remind us that we are one Church body and capable of doing more together than we are apart.
I don’t believe that God intended us to live Christian lives in isolation, whether as individuals or even isolated churches and denominations. There is so much that we can learn and achieve as a Church by worshipping and working together. My prayer is that God’s kingdom would come in the church, and that we would see more of the beautiful unity that we will surely see one day in the new Heaven and Earth.