Yesterday, our family was boating on the Cedar River and we pulled into this little cove we like to visit. Often, in the summer, it is full of people, but since it was cloudy and cool with sprinkles here and there it was calm and peaceful.
Another boat pulled up with two little girls inside… twins, five years old.
They hopped on the shore to play in the sand, but that water was just too tempting.
First their toes dipped in.
Then the ankles.
And then there were squeals as they ran back to the safety of the sand.
After a few minutes of this back and forth, they held hands and jumped in together.
They reminded me of mornings at my grandparent’s lake house.
We’d start out the day by putting on our swimming suits and after a rushed breakfast we’d run down to the dock and dip our toes in.
But the water was so cold that early in the morning none of us was ever brave enough to do it on our own.
The only way we got wet before noon is if someone pushed us in…
or if we grabbed someone else’s hand and we did it together.
Today, we, too, are diving in.
We are diving into a series on prayer.
For some of us, prayer is as scary and daunting as the ice cold waters of a lake. We like to dip our toes in, but we run back to the safety of the shore as quickly as possible.
Others of us are more familiar with prayer. We make prayer part of our daily lives like swimming laps at the pool.
But here is what I have learned about prayer… just as I have learned about diving into the waters… it is always easier to do with a friend.
And, as Jesus taught us in the most basic prayer, it is something we are supposed to do together.
In fact, when the disciples asked Jesus how to pray, he taught them a very simple prayer without any singular personal pronouns.
Let’s say that prayer together… Our Father…
Not once we do we say, “I” or “me”… it is always “us” or “we.”
And that tells us a little bit something about our faith and our life of prayer together.
OUR FATHER: It’s not my father… it’s our father… we are brothers and sisters
GIVE US TODAY OUR DAILY BREAD: our faith is based around the table… we pray for daily doses of love, grace, mercy, and forgiveness, but we also practically pray for real food and sustenance to be given to our brothers and sisters. And we become Jesus to one another when we provide food and assistance through our food pantry and when we pray for hunger relief.
FORGIVE US OUR SINS: not just personal sins, but corporate sins: economic justice, our greed, ignoring the cries of the needy. In Iowa, there are 117,000 children living in poverty. And it is a sin that we have allowed that to be a reality. God calls us to respond to the needs of others and when we turn our backs, we need to confess that sin and act.
As the United Methodist Church of Iowa, we are committing ourselves to respond to poverty and reach out to help support and educate our young people. Our Bishop has challenged us to donate 500,000 books to children in poverty and to commit to 1,000,000 hours of reading to children who are in the most need in our communities. And we will be talking about ways to engage in this work in the coming weeks and months. Together, we can help change a child’s story. Read More Here
AS WE FORGIVE THOSE WHO SIN AGAINST US: read the story of Farmer’s Chapel UMC, forgiving their arsonist and inviting them to worship (pages 20-22)
SAVE US… DELIVER US… We are in this together. We pray for one another, we hold each other accountable. We watch each other’s back. Like recovery groups that provide partners and support, a place where you always know there is someone else on this journey with you, we are that for one another.
Matthew 18: When two or three are gathered, I am there…
Turn to your neighbors. As two or three people, I want to invite you right here and right now to pray for one another. You don’t have to have a specific prayer request in mind, but turn to each other in prayer and lift up those who are closest to you right now…