Sunday, September 25, 2011
Picking my brain for a suitable topic for today’s blog, all I can come up with is the thought that congregations as like the total society, with issues and concerns and individuals who respond differently to life. This was so clear this week of national concerns and personal issues. Our national concern. the 10th anniversary of 9/11, saw me making sure that our worship service reflected our concern for the victims (living and dead) of the disasters as well as concern for our country. At the same time, I wanted to raise awareness of the insanity that followed, and the vilification of all Muslims, painting them with the same brush because some extremist groups wish America ill. Our congregation is blessed to have a family of Iranian descent worship with us regularly. I wanted to be certain that this family was seen in a positive light by all of us, so I asked one family member to be part of the sermon. She was wonderful. The blending of myriad cultures in our nation does enrich the lives of each of us. On a more individual level, one family struggles with so many issues that I cannot understand how they shoulder the burdens. This family, as one blow after another strikes them, pulls closer together, supporting each other in ways I marvel at. I can only pray for them and hope the prayers offered by this congregation gives strength to each of them. However, I was able to do one more thing. In our congregation, we name people who need our prayers and include them in the morning prayer. But I am not sure that the prayers offered are taken home with worshippers and prayed during the week. So, I asked one woman, who turns out to be a good pray-er to initiate a prayer chain that can be activated at any time and will continue as long as the request for prayer continues. It is a small thing. But, I think, powerful. In our church we don’t pray for miracle healing, but for strength and comfort. Specially asking for comfort for a person in need seems like a powerful tool. I don’t know that prayer always helps. But I do know it cannot hurt. As a sociologist cum theologist I am reminded that personal issues are so influenced by what happens nationally. Does what happens individually influence the national? I wish I could think it does.