Did you have or take any
time to watch the recent week of honoring and the laying to rest of Queen
Elizabeth II? I heard the comments about
all of the planning and forethought that she personally put into this. I also listened to the commentary about the
precision of every movement and the attention to detail including the exact
timing of everything. Maybe the cutest
story to come out of all of this was a moment where Princess Charlotte reminded
her older brother, Prince George, of the times when he was expected to bow. Whether you believe in it or not, there
existed an expectation of decorum and reverence to moments and the spaces like
those involved with the memorialization of the queen. From the reverent St. Giles Cathedral to the
hallowed expanse of Westminster Hall, each step of the way, the people observed
the unwritten rules of British culture and tradition. Unfortunately, this does not hold true to all
the spaces that we think of in terms of “holy” or “sacred.”
A few years ago, I
officiated a wedding in the sanctuary here at St. John’s. Instead of the groomsmen escorting the bridesmaids,
they came in with the groom and me.
While we waited for the families to be seated, one of the groomsmen was
talking rather loudly and cussing.
Another groomsman looked at him and said, “Have some respect; we are in
a church.” The guy responded with
something like “this isn’t any different than any other building. It’s a building built by human hands. There isn’t anything special about this
place.” In the moment, I wanted to
attribute his words to him being inebriated, but in hindsight, I recognize
something deep-seated in his words.
A poisoning of the relationship
between people and God’s house of worship and prayer has taken place. Read any research by Barna Group or Pew
Research and the information will back this up.
The fastest growing religious group in our country is what are called
the “nones and dones.” The “nones” are
people who claim to be spiritual but have no religious affiliation. The “dones” are people who are walking away
from their church community. The list of
reasons are almost as lengthy as some of the scripture passages above! One of the main reason cited though, is
usually church hurt. Someone (the
pastor, a leader, or another parishioner) injured them emotionally or
spiritually and the reaction was to walk away from the community. I get that because there are times that if
does feel like the church is anything but a “house of prayer.” That being the case, we (the members of the
church) must discern what we do to bridge the hurtful divide (if we can.) I would suggest to you that we should embrace
deeply the call to be a house of prayer.
We have a grand opportunity to dive deeper into our prayers for specific
people and specific circumstances that affect more than our friends in the
pews. Our prayers can and should be
slanted toward our literal neighbors and neighborhood. Then we can begin to deliver the antidote
that overcomes the poison in our relationships and that antidote is love of
I invite you to take time
and read each of the scriptures above as you move to reflect on the questions
below. Review your prayer list and
revise it, as needed, to focus as much, or more on the needs of your neighbors
and neighborhood. Lastly, I pray that
God bless the reading of God’s Word and the meditations of your heart.