Dearest Members of Bethlehem,
“For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them.” -Matthew 18:20
I had a great uncle that was always in charge of saying the table grace at family gatherings. He enjoyed the privilege, and we were glad Uncle Homer took the task so seriously, but there may have been some kidding around about the length and style of these robust blessings.
As I think back on the Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Easter dinners… not to mention the family picnics and graduation parties, I remember how he began each prayer in the exact same way. He would spread out his arms, take a deep breath, and in a sonorous voice say, “Would you pray with me?”
As a kid, I likely thought, “do we have a choice?” As an adult, I think, “that’s the perfect way to begin any kind of prayer, sheer genius!”
It’s true, we spend so much time, saying things akin to, “I’ll be praying for you.” Which is heartfelt, sincere, and wonderful, but alas… what would it mean to say, “I’ll be praying with you?” Somehow this seems better.
When it’s your turn to say grace and you ask, “Will you pray with me?” It’s an invitation to all those that have gathered to share in that occasion. The blessing before a meal is not a matter of one person’s prayerful performance. To the contrary, we are engaged together in the act of communal/familial supplication. Certainly, one person speaks, but there is a shared intention. All of our hearts and minds are turned toward God, it’s a collective gratitude that is being articulated. Even if you’re not the one kicking off, “Come Lord Jesus, be our guest…” you are most certainly sharing in the sentiment.
Next, if someone finds themselves in need of prayer… to ask the question, “Would you pray with me?” - not only demonstrates that the one in need is already praying, it also demonstrates the power and value of accompanying a person in prayer.
Praying with someone, us? Yes, if it’s only 30 seconds, a time to simply sit together for a moment, to fold your hands, to bow your heads, and lift a shared concern, even if you don’t say a word… there is a grace that often unfolds in those kinds of moments that seems like an answered prayer in and of itself.
Friends, we’re in this together. We say that all the time, praying with one another with just a little more regularity is a great way to live into the beauty of that togetherness.
Question for reflection: What have you been praying for recently?
This week at Bethlehem:
On Wednesday we resume our weekly Bible Study with classes at 10:30 and 7:00.
On Saturday evening our spoken word service with Holy Communion begins at 6:00.
On Sunday morning we will offer worship at 8:00 and 10:30 with Sunday School at 9:15. Just a friendly reminder, this is “Commitment Sunday,” so please return those pledge cards so we can plan in earnest for ministry in the coming year. On Sunday evening confirmation classes and youth group begin at 6:30.
Yours in Christ,
God of love, you desire to be powerfully present in our lives, you seek to be in relationship with your children. By the stirring of your Spirit draw us to you in meaningful moments of contemplation and prayer, so that our relationship with you and with one another might be strengthened each day. We pray in Jesus’ name, Amen.