Prayer and Parties

‘Prayer and Parties’

A past Bishop of Sheffield, Jack Nicholls, used to say that the heart of church life was made up of ‘prayer and parties’. I think they’re wise words, and I find myself returning to them often. They describe what human beings need most of all if they are to live a full life: a relationship with God, and relationships with other people. It’s true of people and the church in Warmington as much as Sheffield. What does it look like in practice?

Interestingly, both praying and partying are utterly social activities. At first, we might think of prayer as being a rather solitary thing, something you do on your own, between you and God. Of course, that’s how a lot of prayer happens, but it’s not the only way, or even the best way. A lot of prayer happens when we are in the presence of other people. Jesus promised that something very special occurs when we pray with just one or two other people: he promises we will find him there with us. Sometimes when we pray alone we may feel God is very distant. I’ve often found that when I pray with other people I sense God very close.

Praying may sound like a very religious thing, best done in a church, whereas partying is something you definitely don’t do in church. But that’s not quite right. Heaven is pictured in the Bible as a party, where all sorts of people meet together at God’s invitation. If we have a lurking feeling that God’s a bit of a killjoy, just look at the number of times Jesus was at a party. It’s one of the things that got him into trouble with the religious people of his day. He even ensured that a party that was about to go embarrassingly wrong for it’s host because the wine had run out was rescued: he turned a huge quantity of tap water into the best wine imaginable. Religion and parties do mix after all.

In the benefice I want our churches to be places to both pray and party. Thus, in Warmington every Tuesday morning at 10.30am we’ve restarted coffee and cake on a Tuesday (we’ve canvased those who come about a new name for it - watch this space). It’s a wonderful opportunity to come and meet friends, old and new, and it’s free. On the same morning, some of us might be meeting to pray for friends who are unwell, in the same building. I hope this mixture of prayer and parties is a foretaste of good things to come as we emerge from lockdown.

Best wishes,


Revd Dr Donald McFadyen, Warmington Vicarage.

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Page last updated: 31st August 2021 8:33 PM