Pastoral Message – December 18, 2022
A little while ago we started a little something called “Parking Lot Prayer”. The way it works is that we have a couple of good and holy souls who spend an hour each Wednesday afternoon from 3:30 pm to 4:30 pm sitting on the curb in front of the Church. Anybody who wants to can stop by and then our good and holy volunteers will pray with that person. If nobody shows up seeking immediate prayers, then our good and holy souls open up the binder of intentions, which is kept in the narthex of the Church. Anybody can write down their prayer requests in that notebook. These written intentions then become the subject of their prayers.
So the other day, one of our good and holy volunteers wrote to me. She related a request that must have been written in the book by a child. It went like this…
“I pray for my Grandpa because he is very sick. And I pray for my other Grandpa because he is getting yelled at.”
A sincere entry without a doubt! And what a loving grandchild, who with an innocent hope and a graceful faith is stating to all readers (and maybe to God, Himself) that she’s praying for both Grandpas who obviously have great need. (I’m not sure who needs prayer the most, Grandpa #1 or Grandpa #2.) Next, I love what the good and holy volunteer continued to write.
I have to say that I really love praying for the intentions in The Binder. I used to say that it was filled with angst (and it is) but now I am amazed at how much it is filled with faith. It’s really beautiful and fills me with hope! (Now I’m praying for the grandpas too.)
As a Pastor, I love this expression of community! This is truly what Christian community is all about. We have a lot of social engagement here at our parish and we are quick to call any and all social activity “community”. Social engagement is certainly a form of fellowship that can lead to community. But in a Christian sense, it’s really not being community. We also get together to celebrate Sacraments. That is an expression of community. Community in the largest and grandest sense is prayer that is liturgy – the duty of the people. It is extroverted and public. And while God speaks to us, nourishes us, and strengthens us in a Sacramental grace that gathers and creates community, there can be a more intimate way.
I would suggest that a more intimate way of community is happening on the curb in our parking lot. This is the process – a need of one is shared; two or three fellow Christians prayerfully respond; faith, hope and love are all exercised. God is present because Jesus, in whose name we pray, is Emmanuel – God with us. (We are reminded of this today, on the 4th Sunday of Advent). We take comfort in God’s presence with us. God being with us, and for us, and saving us bolsters our faith, hope and love! As faith, hope and love are bolstered, then our recognition of God’s answer to prayer begins to take shape in our hearts and minds. And then, brought together by faith, hope and love and our need for salvation we are formed into a community, the Body of Christ, the Church.
Repeating this process is how we grow as Christians. This process is how we mature and cope with life. This process is living in communion with heaven and earth. And repeating this process doesn’t just happen in our parking lot, but in your homes and with your families and friends. But most importantly in your own conviction that Jesus is Emmanuel, God with us, and with all those who believe. After all, he is God who has come into the world to gather us together and to bring us peace.
God bless y’all!