It seems every few posts return to Wednesday Noon Prayers. I suppose it is because I am drawn to what God’s Spirit is doing and to what can come about in Noon Prayers. As a congregation of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), we are not accustomed to observing prayer at particular hours of the day. Therefore this venture into Noon Prayers is new. It seems to emerge for us in fits and starts. As I have reflected before, there are days when I have prayed alone, days with one or two others, days with a group of 8-10 children (expected and unexpected!), days with those in prayer who know each other well, and days when we have prayed with the stranger. Of this I am convinced: God is in it all.
This Wednesday, nine of us gathered for prayer. Again, our Associate and I had spread blankets on the ground in the church garden. We did not know who would join us. Soon, the Director of the Hunger Program join us and along with him came two volunteers from the Food Program, then across the lawn came a mom and her two children, Native American friends of our outreach ministry. The eight of us began prayer together, reading a Psalm, sharing moments of quiet, and then sharing the concerns for prayer that God had placed before us on that day.
As we were sharing, a man came walking across the lawn toward the church building. When he looked over at us, I motioned for him to come join us. As he walked toward us, I could see that there was an employee name tag clipped to his shirt. I told him we were having noon prayers and he was welcome to join us. He accepted the invitation and sat down. As someone handed him the prayer sheet for the day, he said, “You praying from a piece of paper?” I replied, that what was on the paper in was a Psalm and a responsive prayer, and that, at this time, we were sharing our prayer concerns. We then continued and he just listened. When we moved into the responsive prayer with a simple sung response, he joined in. I read the first section, our Associate read the second, and then I asked if anyone there would like to read the third section. His voice picked up the next section of the prayer Litany. I could hear his voice, strong and committed, as we sang: “The Lord is my Light, my light and salvation. In God I trust. In God I trust.” Then I spoke a prayer of thanksgiving and confession which moved us into intercessory prayer. Two or three in the group spoke prayers aloud. We prayed for one who looking for a job and a place to live, for another in treatment for AIDS, for one who had suffered a stroke, for those who were coming to the food pantry and others with physical and emotional and spiritual needs. When the prayers came to an end, I started to speak a benediction. It was then that the man who had joined us, said “Could I ask for one more prayer?” I encouraged him to do so, and he began. He asked us to pray for the Jena six, the six black teenagers in Jena, LA, charged with beating up a young white man. All of this after nooses has been hung in the town. He prayed that, “as taught in the Lord’s Prayer, we forgive each other our debts as we have been forgiven.” When he had finished, I led us on into prayer for the Jena six and all those whose lives are destroyed in the midst of racism. This time I brought our prayers to a close by inviting us to join together in the Lord Prayer — the very prayer he had just mentioned. As we prayed I was aware that almost everyone present was praying this familiar prayer.
As we stood up, the new friend who had joined us, said, “You just never know what opportunities you’ll find. I found out that the worship of God is in this place.” We took hands and then parted. There were hugs and “see you laters” as we went back to our work of the day.
Looking back on the prayer time, I am thankful that four African American, two European American, and three Native American people of God gathered in prayer on the ground that day. It was holy ground. I cherish God’s ways of bringing us together — making us more whole. May God continue to strengthen ministry here. May God bring together the people who will make it possible for us to continue to be the Church in this place. Amen.