A Few Prayer Beads

Teal

Recently, I’ve been “running.” No, let me be precise: I have been hobbling down the green-line praying for mercy a few times a week.

I make it about a mile and a half, and I start to walk. Everything hurts. I’m cranky. My feet feel like they are ready to fall off.

But on Saturday morning, I was asked to do the invocation prayer at the Ovarian Cancer awareness 5k. Teams of 100 people or more formed to support women fighting this disease. 50 survivors participated in the race. Crowds were wearing Teal– the Ovarian Cancer awareness color– everywhere you looked. When I arrived, someone handed me a strand of Teal Mardi Gras beads to wear in support.

The organizers of the event told me: Because you’re offering the prayer, we will give you a free registration to run the race!

Great, I thought. Thaaaannnkkks.

After my prayer I reluctantly wandered to the starting line. When the race began, I hobbled. Only this time- I saw women with bald heads cheering and literally running for their lives.

I saw family members running each step: to draw closer to a cure, to raising awareness, to fund research, to increasing compassion for ovarian cancer survivors and fighters.

Suddenly, I realized, as I ran, I was a part of a movement and a mission.

I clung to my Teal Mardi Gras necklace tightly- and it became a strand of prayer beads.

At each water station I took a bite of a power bar and sipped the cool cup of water like it was communion.

After 36 minutes, I finished the race- running and hobbling the whole way.

This is what happens when we commit to a mission: with enough prayer, enough communion, enough strength, enough endurance- we can do things we never imagined. Isn’t the same true in our faith lives and our churches?

We are all participating in a movement. We are hobbling towards our shared goal of being God’s light and compassion in the world. And we have all been given a free registration.

I learned more about the power of conviction and commitment on Saturday as I ran in the sea of Teal. Today, I realize there is just as much ’cause’ to run for every day of my faith life. Civil war in Syria, attacks in Kenya, bullying in school yards…and the list goes on. All signs that I need to continue to put my prayer in motion: breathe in peace and breathe out love. I need to savor bites of communion- whether it’s powerbars, or a meal with friends, or bread and wine at the table- because this is what fuels me for the journey.

I will be on a silent retreat part of this week ahead- and I’m going to be listening closely for the whisper of the Holy Spirit telling me where to hobble next.

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Back to Church

Back to Church

+Psalm 91:14-16 As for all people: I will protect them. When they call to me, I will answer them. I will be with them in trouble, I will rescue them and honor them, with long life I will satisfy them, and show them glory…

Today we open the doors wide at church to welcome everyone. Anyone. We re-commit to God’s call on our hearts: seek the broken, the weary, the lost, the hurting, the struggling… in other words: reach out to your neighbors. We call this “Back to Church” Sunday, but it’s more than this.

Today, we all begin the journey of finding our way back home. We turn back to grace. We commit once again to lives of mercy and compassion. We remember to honor the light and the goodness in everyone we meet.

We will come back to worship today, but more than an hour of singing and studying, today we all need to come back to the basics of following Christ: living for justice, embracing the destitute, loving one another well.

Creator and Sustainer of all, you know this:

Like the prodigal son, we wander.

When the world opens up before us, we chase dreams and ambitions.

In our darkest hours, we draw back and close in.

Like the prodigal son, we wander.

Loving God, you beckon us from far away. You call us. You welcome us home.

On this “Back to Church” Sunday, we come because the doors were opened to us- may we go and do likewise.

We worship today because the Holy Spirit draws us in- may we also let the Holy Spirit send out to serve.

We praise You and honor You, God, because deep within each of us, you planted a spark of divine curiosity and faithfulness. Today, let us remember to honor this spark in our neighbors, our enemies, strangers, those we call ‘others,’ and those we tend to ignore.

This morning, may the spark of the holy in each of us rise up, awaken and shine. And may we all have eyes to see other wanderers who need a place of refuge- help us be that refuge.

Compassionate God, transform us into Your light, Your hope, and Your Good News. Amen.

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