Every Monday morning your church staff meets to think about the week that has passed; the things that occurred and how we handled them, and to reconsider the worship from the day before--what did we do well and what could we have done better. Then we discuss the week(s) to come and try our best to plan for the most effective outcomes.
But before we do all that, we take time to offer prayers of joy for the good things and prayers of intercession on behalf of the congregation. In other words, we pray for you. And it is our deepest hope that you pray for us, too.
One of the ways we collect our prayer concerns is with the use of a small blue card that is placed within the pews. Each Sunday we are given a number of these cards turned into the offering plate from all of you, asking for specific prayers for a loved one.
One of those prayer cards from a week or so ago asked this: “That everyone will go to Heaven”. What a great prayer! I don’t know if the person who wrote that prayer request was an adult, a youth, or a child. These requests are almost always anonymous. But it gave my heart a lift as I read it because it summarizes in a perfectly simple way what our prayers ought to be. It made me hopeful.
We’ve had another troubling week. In a sermon I preached just two weeks ago I suggested that mass killings were no longer the exception. They have become commonplace and a world where somebody believes they need to walk into a school and open fire is now the world we live in. A world we have allowed to exist.
Clarence Jordan was famous back in the 1960’s for establishing “The Koinonia Farm” in Americus, Georgia. This was a pioneering, interracial farming community in the Deep South. There the participants would learn how to become interdependent on each other and to learn that no one was OK unless everyone was OK.
You may not recognize Jordan’s name from the Koinonia Farm Project, but you might recognize him as an author. Jordan was a student of the New Testament and he wrote a modern translation with a “southern” accent. He called it “The Cotton Patch Gospel”. In it, he offers his version of the Lord’s Prayer: “Father, may your name be taken seriously. May your movement spread. Grant us sustaining bread each day. And free us from our sins, even as we release everyone indebted to us. And don’t let us get all tangled up.”
I don’t know what you call the culture of violence we have allowed to fester among us, but surely it includes the reality that we are all tangled up.
We are now in Pentecost. The Holy Spirit moves among us as a lasting presence of God. It is as we pray in the power of the Spirit that we transform the world.
And if you are having trouble wondering where to begin, try this prayer: Dear Lord, I pray that everyone goes to Heaven.” Amen to that.