An honour certainly, to be invited to a reception for Church Leaders given by Prime Minister, Theresa May at 10 Downing Street. Before attending, I had opportunity to attend Eucharist at Westminster Abbey. I prayed in the garden of St. Catherine’s, where in the former monastery, where Henry III committed himself to Magna Carta, and then I looked up to see Big Ben above the roof-line – here is the close relationship between our Christian Faith and the history of government. Just before the service, I spoke with the presiding minister, telling him I was going to the reception. In the prayers for the world, he included special prayers for the P.M. and for the denominational leaders. I thought that was very special, and I felt like so many people do, when they hear we have included them in our church services. As prime minister, Mrs May needs our prayers, and Scripture calls us to pray for our leaders.
“I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people —for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. This is good, and pleases God our Saviour…” 1 Timothy 2:1-3
I hope we all do!
Arriving at Downing Street – I should have expected it, but it still surprised me how “stately-home” it felt. I really got excited walking up the staircase with all the former prime-ministers staring down at me! The P.M. hadn’t arrived, so church leaders met and chatted with each other, but then came an invitation I couldn’t refuse – to go and look at archives from as ancient as mediaeval times which referred to Lent and Easter! I so enjoyed talking with the archivists that I didn’t notice the other leaders had all left, until a voice came over the speakers, and it was clear Mrs. May was speaking. I had missed her entrance, her mingling with us leaders and just the start of her speech! She explained that she had decided to hold an annual reception for Christian leaders (and a separate one for Other Faiths) to thank the Church for its service to society, recognising that not always will Church and State be in agreement, but the need to be working together. She reminded us she was a vicar’s daughter, and was well aware of the commitment of clergy, and the cost on families. Deserved appreciation for the ministry of Rt Revd and Rt Hon Richard Chartres, Bishop of London upon his retirement.
Aware that Mrs. May insists on as many Sundays as possible to be at her home church, and that she gets involved in local Christian service – I did wonder whether she has a Christian mentor – someone who can help her hear the still small voice, amidst the clamour of political advice and pressures upon her.