The Ties that Bind
by Rev. Sandra Hulse
O Lord, you have searched me and known me.You know when I sit down and when I rise up;you discern my thoughts from far away.You search out my path and my lying down,and are acquainted with all my ways.Even before a word is on my tongue,O Lord, you know it completely. Psalm 139:1-4
How good it is to know that God knows our thoughts, our joys, and our despair. How comforting to know that even before I speak God knows my misery, my dreams, and my hopes.
Even so, it is also good to speak aloud our words of disappointment and grief, hope and assurance, and share our prayers within the community of faith.
At St. John’s United Church of Christ in San Francisco, our 10 am Sunday worship is a time of Sabbath: a time of release from our work, our burdens, and a time to give thanks and worship our God in community.
Along with singing, reading scripture, passing the peace and greeting each other, a significant part of our worship is the time we spend sharing our joys and concerns. We know that God hears and knows our pain and our joy before the words are on our lips, yet we need to name and share our joys and our concerns in community.
In the Gospels we read that as Jesus moves through communities teaching, speaking and praying, he repeatedly stops to talk and to heal. Frequently Jesus approaches one who is blind, unable to walk or crippled by disease and asks “What do you want me to do for you?”
Even though our pain may be evident and visible, Jesus calls us to name our pain and name our hope for healing. Naming our pain helps us to move our individual pain out of isolation within ourselves and move us toward healing.
Sharing our joys and concerns in community is to name our pain and our faith and also to share our vulnerability and trust in each other. In prayer, we share with each other our individual pain and anxiety. We are called to share our pain as a community, caring for each individual in prayer. The moment of prayer in community is a time of sharing hope and of care for each other.
The moment of community prayer flows with us through the week as we connect with those who have shared prayer requests: in our own prayers or with a phone call or email to share friendship and comfort.
We share our prayers of hope and faith as individuals and as communities for our neighborhoods, our country; our world. Sometimes in community prayer, God leads us to find solidarity and ways to help each other even as we pray for those thousands of miles away. Prayers for those in our communities throughout the world helps us focus on the needs of others as well as our own need to … do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with God … (Micah 6:8)
God knows our joys, our concerns, our heartaches, and our dreams before we even speak of them to ourselves … and so I ask you … do you have a joy or a concern to share with our community?