There was a day not so long ago when I was feeling discouraged.
I was feeling sorry for myself,
muttering around alone in the sanctuary picking up used tissues,
tossed music, broken candles, crumpled bulletins,
broken crayons, discarded inserts,
and all the detritus of weeks of winter worship.
I was preparing the way for Easter coming.
The stone rolling away.
The tomb yawning open.
Jesus set loose once again to be among us
until the end of days.
I had the church door open to bring in a breath of spring on the way.
And because the door was open,
there were suddenly two strangers in the sanctuary with me.
A young man and woman appeared excitedly exclaiming as they looked around at the beautiful wooden beams, the glowing stained glass windows, the gleaming organ pipes. They asked me if they could pray for the church. They said they were on a mission to go around town and pray.
I found myself feeling suspicious.
I wondered if this was some sort of scam.
I wondered if they hadn’t expected to find someone muttering around alone in the sanctuary and had made up something to cover their surprise.
I wondered what they were up to.
And then I wondered how I could be so cynical.
Standing in the sanctuary.
Standing in this place where people have gathered to pray together
for over 100 years.
“Yes,” I said, “Please pray for our church.”
The three of us took hands, and they prayed.
Out loud with great exuberance.
They prayed for the life and mission and ministry and people and programs and heart and soul of the church. They prayed for our neighbors and the town and the community and our country and for the whole world.
And then they asked if they could pray for me.
I felt the spirit flowing through our small circle carried by their enthusiasm.
I felt Jesus present in their great daring to pray with strangers.
The spirit was flowing and when they finished praying for me,
I prayed for them.
Tears in my eyes.
Cracks appearing in my hardened heart.
I prayed for us all.
And they bounced out as energetically as they had come in.
The spirit was flowing.
I felt peace as I basked in the warm flood of colored light streaming in through the stained glass windows. My heart was burning warm within me.
I felt full.
As if I had just finished a delicious meal of all my favorite foods.
As if I had just recognized Jesus in the breaking of a loaf of bread.
Or, in the faces of a young man and a young woman who came into my church
asking me if they could pray.
The spirit was flowing.
Jesus set loose among us.
I had left the church door