|though the storms beat against us...|
Anne Kennedy recently wrote a great post on how difficult it is to get to church on a Sunday, and how maybe - just maybe - that difficulty isn't all in our imaginations.
As she points out, the Devil does not want us to go to church.
And all this reminds me of a habit I've fallen into lately: praying for my fellow parishioners on Sunday.
Our church-going habits are a little different than yours might be, simply because our church meets in the evening. We're a small Anglican church plant and we rent from a larger church, so we don't get access to the sanctuary till 4 p.m., at which point a small army of us arrive and scurry around until everything's set up for that evening's Eucharist.
Sunday doesn't feel as long as it should when church cuts your lazy afternoon to a close so soon after lunch, when it's suddenly time to make sure everyone's showered and dressed properly and NO YOU MAY NOT WEAR THOSE DIRTY CROCS TO CHURCH WHAT DO YOU MEAN YOUR NICE SHOES DON'T FIT ANYMORE WHY DID YOU WAIT TILL NOW TO TELL ME THIS???
Anyway: it's a scramble, most Sundays.
And so, slowly--so slowly I feel like a complete idiot for not thinking of it sooner--I've started praying for my fellow parishioners, and for any guests and visitors the Lord wants to bring our way: to pray that they're able to come to church that evening, that no evil or inconvenience or temptation will stop them, that everyone will come whom the Lord wants there, and that we will all have hearts and minds open to hear, soak in, and obey the Word we will encounter there, in that hastily prepared sanctuary.
It's the kind of prayer that grows to fill extra crevices of time, and that changes the way I look at the people around me. Every person here had to fight to be here, and the Lord's arm was the arm strengthening theirs for the fight. Every person here is loved by God. Every person here is more than they appear to be. Every person here is loved by the One who loved me.
The prayer dips and grows and changes and curves. Sometimes I forget. Sometimes I remember not before the service, but midway through, and I want to kick myself.
But if prayer is the work, as C. S. Lewis said, then it is the Lord's work, and I can trust Him not just to give me my assignments, but to give me also the grace not to turn away from the call, grace to work at the right time, grace to forgive me when I fail or when I refuse.
And I need it. It's hard to get to church; and it's hard to actually pray.
But I am learning, more and more, that the two are intertwined at the very heart. (And perhaps--maybe more than "perhaps"-- that I myself am there in that sanctuary because of the many, many people who have entreated the Lord for me.)
May God bring us all, week after week, again to His house, to worship Him in the company of our brothers and sisters.
Peace of Christ to you,