October 6, 2017

Kneeling, Prayer and Patriotism

In the midst of the tumult surrounding the NFL and whether to kneel or stand for the National Anthem, our priest quietly practiced his faith.

A former parishioner is in the midst of the Crucible, a grueling three-day endurance test required before becoming a Marine. Our priest offered special intentions on his behalf (and all the recruits going through the Crucible). During Morning Prayer, the priest wrote down the young man’s name on a card and laid it near a candle on the altar. And he shared the picture on Facebook with the parents.

Surely this is the type of kneeling that all people of faith, regardless of political opinion, can embrace.

The world seems a little crazy right now. I don’t know about you but sometimes I feel helpless and hopeless. What can I do to stem the march to war with North Korea? How can I make a difference from my comfortable home in the Midwest that is enjoying beautiful, crisp fall temperatures, not flooding, hurricanes, fires, or earthquakes? What can I do that will matter?

Prayer is a good start. And not the absent-minded, throw-away, “I’ll pray for you,” that we toss around with casual nonchalance. But deliberate, I-might-even-kneel prayer. Our priest provides one example of intentional prayer offered each day, literally placed on the altar.

I’m also inspired by the example of two women who I am lucky enough to call my friends. One friend saves her Christmas cards, and then each week throughout the year, randomly selects one from the pile. The sender of the Christmas card is a focus of her prayers for that week. And she takes the time to handwrite (and snail mail!) a letter. “I have been praying for you this week.” What a gift to receive!

Another friend and colleague is a transplant to the Midwest from Texas. As she mourned the devastation of the hurricane, she wanted to do something. So she came up with the idea for a Hurricane of Love: She invited people to send handwritten notes of love that she would bundle and forward onto people recovering and rebuilding after the hurricanes. Even a pack or two, she thought, might be a success. Instead, in the past couple of weeks, she has been inundated with hundreds of handwritten notes, pictures colored by children, Bible verses written by adults, love shared in intentional prayers. Families, Sunday School classes, schools, and individuals responded—and keep responding.

Sometimes things seem so overwhelming that it’s hard to imagine that anything we do could make a difference. So we hunker down, cover up, and forget that our God is good. And through God, all things are possible—most especially small acts of kindness and prayers that can change the world.

PS: It’s not too late to join the Hurricane of Love. Read about the call for love letters here.