This is a familiar way we invite everyone to draw nearer and join your hearts in meditation for those we love and their healing. Sometimes we pray for people we do not know well, people we’ve never met. We are sending our energy out into their world so it can reach them in a healing way.
Sharing in a congregation-wide silent prayer in the middle of worship is a bonding moment for the community. We name our sorrows and lay them before each other. We put our own and each other’s friends and relations first and pray for their wellbeing.
When my mother died in 2018, I asked Cheryl not to name her on the prayer list. I feared being prayed for as, “the family of Josephine Stetzenko ”. I was also not ready to “announce” her death in front of a church full of people.
What made matters worse was the following Sunday after her death was the annual “All Saints” memorial service. At this service we light individual candles and name all those in the congregation (or close family of) who have died in the last year. I could not walk to the front of the sanctuary and light a candle, of course because I was still in shock and denial. I did not even go to church.
Some time later, Cheryl told me that someone did light a candle for my mum that morning in 2018 and you did say her name in that holy hall. Last November, I shared in that ritual too. I lit a candle for mum. Moira lit one for Harold Magel. And you all lit candles for Joan Dalgliesh, Bill Greenwood, Harold Magel, Allan Richards, Noreen Simkins and Lisa Wensink. And some of you named others out loud and lit candles for them. It was very painful and yet very healing.
We know the ritual of naming and praying for people is cherished and is incredibly meaningful, for those who enact the practice, and for those being held up. It is another way that we strengthen our commitment to care for one another.
If you have someone you would like the congregation to pray for, please ask them if it is ok to share their name with the congregation. In a digital age, we want people to choose whether their privacy can be shared electronically in this way. This is also important for adding names “live” in our zoom worship.
Once you have permission, please e-mail prayer concerns to me. Names will normally stay on the worship prayer list for four weeks unless they require more time. I can attest that communal prayer is healing. And sometimes it takes a little more time.
Thank you for praying for me. I was comforted because you shared my grief. I know, Cheryl did not have my permission to put my mum’s name on the prayer list that November. But I can admit when she is right. Do not tell her I said that.