This morning I made visits and took communion to home-bound folks.
I had some lunch.
Came back returned calls and emails.
Had a message from a couple coming for counseling needing to reschedule.
Confirmed that 6 families are participating in the Baptism Class I am teaching tonight.
And then I walked across the street to the Post Office to mail a prayer shawl to someone whose father just died.
(I'm usually horrible at mailing things-- It's something I really want to improve on).
Usually when I go to the post office, I'm worried it will feel like this:
A long line and grumpiness all around.
There was not a very long line. A had a pen and let a man borrow it.
I got my stuff together.
I saw one of my church members, Sally* whose husband died a few months ago and said hello.
A woman near me asked if I made the shawl I was sending.
I pulled it out - to reveal the label "Made by Messiah Prayer Shawl Ministry." (Messiah had given out 1040 prayer shawls to share God's love and comfort.)
I shared that this was a ministry that folks from the church did to share their love and God's comfort. "You're from the church just over there?" she pointed across the street. "Yes." She shared that a friend had given her a prayer shawl when she recently had a surgery.
"Is that a thing Methodist Churches do?" She asked.
"I know many do - but I think lots of different churches do this too."
I was called up and made my purchase. The Post Office attendant - Linda-asked if this was a gift for someone. "Someone's birthday?" No, this is for a woman whose father passed away. It is a prayer shawl. "Did you make it?" No- its a ministry of my church to tangibly feel God's comfort.
"That is really nice," Linda the attendant said.
We finished up and I said, "Thank you Linda- Have a wonderful day!"
I then went to follow up with my church member Sally and see how she was doing. She and I caught up - I learned some prayer concerns about her family and wrote them down.
Then I realized the woman I had chatted with earlier was standing and waiting for me. I looked up and Betty said goodbye. The woman- Paula was standing there with a note she had written. Betty said hello to her and then goodbye and Paul went on to share some prayer concerns for members of her family with me. We were standing just on the side out of the way.
She came to herself and asked for prayer. She had just undergone chemo for Lukemia and is remission. She just had her wisdom teeth out and was black and blue. She would soon have a bone marrow transplant. She is musician and had heard of our church's music ministry and hoped to play someday with us. I said, "Paula, would you like to pray now?" Yes she said.
And we did.
I prayed that God would continue to comfort her and wrap her in peace that passes all understanding. I prayed for continued healing and wholeness and that she would feel God's strength in her and know and feel the presence of Christ walking with her and know that Messiah UMC would hold her in prayer as well.
I looked up and tears were welled in her eyes and mine. I invited her to church and invited her to dinner tonight and our organ concert tonight. She offered to drive me across the street to the church. I thanked her but needed the walk.
I left with her prayer concerns to add to the prayer list.
I left knowing that God was at the Post Office.
I left wondering how many times I had stood at the Post Office, the Costco, the Giant, the playground, any number of places and there had been people with heavy hearts seeking prayer.
In all of these places, in all of these lines we stand in- let us pray:
I pray for the strangers around me, who are sisters and brothers in the Body of Christ.
I may not know them, but you do.
I may not know what they are worried about or joyful about.
But you do.
I may not know what feels broken right now for them, what they are searching for,
but I know that you do.
I pray Lord that they will know your love, feel your presence.
I pray that You may shine in them and through me now to offer comfort and peace.
I pray that they may experience your love and grace through a smile, a kind word, and that when we leave our brief meeting, we will be closer to knowing and seeing that You are Here.
In the name of Jesus, Amen.
I'll never forget Robert Bondi teaching me about the early church father Dortheus:
“Imagine that the world is a circle, that God is the center, and that the radii are the different ways human beings live. When those who wish to come closer to God walk towards the center of the circle, they come closer to one another at the same time as to God. The closer they come to God, the closer they come to one another. And the closer they come to one another, the closer they come to God.” (Instructions VI.)
Thanks be to God for
*All names are changed always :)