Several posts ago I wrote about the beginning of our Wednesday Noon Prayers. This prayer time has taken an interesting path. The first week, I prayed alone. Though others did not join me this first time, as I prayed I could hear those who were down the hall in the food pantry, and those who were in the next room having blood pressures taken. I was moved to be able to pray in the midst of these ministries of outreach and care. The next Wednesday as I was getting ready for prayers, one of the staff members of African Refugee and Immigrant Services (ARIS) came in to see what I was doing. He is Muslim and I invited him to come join in prayer. As we talked, he said “Yes” that he would like us to pray together. He was unable to stay that day, but has come back to talk with me about praying with and for each other. On that particular day, I was joined by one church member for prayer.
The next week I was going to be out of town and we had announced on Sunday morning that Wednesday Noon Prayers would not take place that week. When Wednesday came the church member who had joined me for prayer the previous week happened to be at the church when an area pastor showed up with about 8 children and youth, saying they had come for Noon Prayer. Not wanting to turn them away, Jan explained that I was not there, but “give me 5 minutes.” The director of our hunger program got juice for the kids and Jan went to my office to gather resources for Noon Prayers, which she adapted for kids!
Today was so beautiful outside, we held Noon Prayer out in the church garden. I spread blankets on the ground and waited. I was soon joined by two church members, and the same pastor who this time brought about 10 children and youth. Expecting that they might be there, I had planned the prayers to be appropriate for an inter-generational group. What a marvelous time of prayer and song while gathered on the ground in the garden! Both children and adults prayed aloud and shared our experience of God’s care and Jesus’ love and comfort in our lives and in the lives of others who hurt and need comfort.
When Noon Prayer had ended, the moderator the congregation and I sat there on the ground in the garden and talked a bit. I wanted to stay in that place, where the earth had become sanctuary and the flowers praised God around us; where children and elders had prayed and sung. When finally we got up and I went in the church to my office, our Muslim friend from ARIS came and knocked on my door. He wanted to know if we had already finished with prayers for the day. As we talked, I thought, “No, our prayer never ends and surely this time of conversation between Christian and Muslim is prayer that rises like incense before God.
Wednesday Noon Prayer has not become what I hoped or imagined; it has become more!