Peterborough 900 Prayer
God of wonder and new life
we thank you for the awe-inspiring beauty of this holy place
raised in hope from the ashes and held in grace;
for all who have loved and cared for it through the passing years
and for those who do so today.
May we, like them, be inspired to play our part
in its ministry of prayer and welcome,
mission and service,
love and care for all.
Fill your people with your vibrant love
that we may be formed into living stones
who sing your praises,
live the faith of Jesus Christ
and risk all in his service;
who is alive and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever. Amen
© Ian Black 2017
This prayer has been written to mark the 900th anniversary of Peterborough Cathedral. In AD 1116 the abbey church was destroyed by fire and the rebuilding commenced two years later in AD 1118. This makes 2018 the 900th anniversary of its rising from the ashes. There has been a church and religious community on this site since AD 654 and so it is an ancient holy place with a history stretching over 1,364 years.
The prayer reflects various aspects of the Cathedral’s life and also the response many have to it. A common experience for visitors walking through the gateway for the first time and being presented with the glorious west front is one of awe and wonder. It has a serious ‘wow factor’. I regularly see and hear people exclaim this out loud and it is to my mind one of the finest medieval buildings in the country. So the prayer begins with this response addressing the “God of wonder” and giving thanks for the “awe-inspiring beauty of this holy place”.
The fire is reflected in the rising “in hope from the ashes” and the “new life”, which also alludes to the hope and new life of Christ. The community here has been “held in grace” throughout its history, whatever trials have beset it – and there have been many. God’s gift of love and presence has been and is constant.
We give thanks for the ‘care and love’ so many generations have shown towards the fabric, enabling it to be passed on to our own generation and each one adding to its rich heritage. That care and love continues today, and there is a tremendous affection towards it in the city, region and more widely.
It is a living community and so we pray that in our turn we will “play our part” to be living witnesses in prayer, welcome, love and care for all. We exist to proclaim the love of God in Jesus and draw others to follow him. This is reflected in the prayer too. Shaped by the vibrant love of God we are formed into “living stones”, echoing the words of 1 Peter (2:4-6).
The outstanding musical heritage is given a passing acknowledgement and celebration in ‘singing praises’. The Cathedral’s life and ministry is enhanced by the skill and dedication of its musicians. The Cathedral choral tradition is one of the glories and treasures of the Church of England.
The prayer also reflects the Cathedral vision statement to
- promote wonder,
- celebrate faith and
- take risks in the service of Christ.
The prayer is a gift to the Cathedral to provide a spiritual reflection for the 900th anniversary year.