At my church, and I assume churches all over the world, there is a time to present the prayers of the people. In my church parishioners raise their hands to ask that we pray for a friend who is having surgery, for a family that has just lost their mother, for a child who has cancer. I sit and wonder if I should raise my hand. But my concerns are too emotional to share, so I pray my silent prayer.
What does it mean to ask people to pray in public, aloud. Does it mean more to God if more than one person is praying for the same gift. Does it mean more if we mention a name. To whom or what or we praying.
Well, I’m not doing very well as a Christian, and yet it doesn’t bother me to admit this, because I am trying. Somewhere along the line I had pastors who led me to believe that it’s okay to always be questioning. It started with Pastor Knobloch and there’s been a long line of men and women in the church who have meant so much to me. Funny but I only recently realized this. If I count on my fingers the people who have made an impact on my life, those pastors would be there.
I have wonderful theological discussions with my pastor-to-be daughter and disturbing discussions with my atheist son. Both stretch me and make me question even more. I don’t often get that at church so why do I continue to go.
A young friend, a pastor who writes on-line about faith questions wrote this week, entitling her blog piece, “Why Church: Casseroles and Communion.” She has the gift. At the end of the essay she says, “Being together matters.” And that’s what I know about church and faith. It’s what I try to convey to my son. Church is a place of togetherness, caring people praying together, sharing a cup of coffee together, walking out of the doors together with a sense of communion.
I wish I had the answers to my questions. Well, maybe not. What if I did not like the answers. Perhaps it isn’t the completeness of answers that we seek but the sharing of questions that can give more comfort, knowing that we are all in this world of suffering and joy together.
As Mihee writes, casseroles and communion: Sharing the bread, sharing what we have, what we can give. These can be our prayers, I think. At least it’s all I really know for now. My questions will not end, and I think my prayers will also be without end. Doing together is probably the best answer I/we can have.