THE Archbishop of York, Dr Sentamu, began his presentation on his six month-long pilgrimage by giving a set of prayer beads — four sets of three beads threaded with three larger beads and a wooden crucifix on — to each member of the Synod.
During his walk criss-crossing the diocese of York, he had encountered “countless good moments on our journey, which renewed our trust in Christ, and we saw the Holy Spirit doing amazing things”. Having prayed the Our Father five times a day for six months, and joining in it with more than 25,000 people, he had learned that “this prayer says it all,” and wanted to tell the Synod what he had learned through it.
“Prayer is the act by which we take ourselves voluntarily, with open hands, into the presence of God — aided by the Holy Spirit.” When the disciples asked what to pray, Jesus had not given them a new liturgical text, but a “gateway” to enter into a new relationship with God. “It is as if when we say ‘Our Father in heaven’, we let Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit take us by the hand and lead us into our Father’s home,” Dr Sentamu said. Praying the petitions in the prayer meant that they longed for the whole world to also discover God’s true identity, and “dwell in his house”.
The second part of the prayer was an encouragement to go on a pilgrimage of trust, acknowledging our dependence on God. And, “Even if yesterday we were inattentive to ‘Our father’s call’, God remains faithful; and by forgiveness God sets us back on the road today.”
The other gift God offered was his deliverance, especially when they were in moments of vulnerability.
Dr Sentamu then led the Synod in a period of Taizé prayer, using the beads he had given out.