Thursday, May 05, 2005

Let Us Pray

So today was the National Day of Prayer .

I passed by our county courthouse at lunchtime. There were maybe a dozen people rallied on the courthouse steps; not a real mainline-denominational group, from the looks of them. One woman had her hands in the air; there was a guy with a guitar. No Roman collars; no local clergy I could identify.

I couldn't hear what the group was praying for; perhaps for my and my friends' expurgation from the planet, among other things, which would not be at all nice of them, especially since I'd just come from dropping off a load of groceries at the Catholic mission. I wonder if the local residents who need those groceries ever got a mention in this Day of Prayer. Or maybe I'm just being sarcastic because I found the website linked to above and read the list of "prayer suggestions," which frankly sound more like PAC action items and less like petitions that fit into the context of praying "for the whole world, for the whole people of God and for all according to their needs."

Where are the mainline-denominational folks at the National Day of Prayer? Did the invitations get lost in the mail?

I know; I know; such stagey events are just media ops for the Religious Right in their crusade for a theocracy; they're distateful and symptomatic of bad theology; we're just not into that sort of thing.

But...just wondering...what would happen if, next year, the local mainline clergy and parishoners showed up? And when it came time to pray, they prayed out loud, not for a political platform, but for people?...for the anawim, the "little ones," the people who for whatever reasons find themselves getting regularly kicked in the teeth by the powers and principalities of this world?

Actually, this scenario actually became a reality -- not in this town, but in the town closest to my parish. Last year my pastor decided to get involved in the National Day of Prayer there. I'm not sure how he did it, but he wound up helping steer the thing; got, I think, a couple of other non-usual-suspects, like one of the local Catholic priests, to sign on too. And it turned out, he related later , to be not a day of bullhorn platitudes, but a day of genuine prayer for help and guidance focused on the residents of this particular community, who had been hit hard by the closing of several large companies that had employed hundreds of people.

What would happen if religious moderates and progressives, in communities across the country, crashed this little party on the courthouse steps next year and added some texture to the prayers? What might that look and sound like?

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