Everyone is decked out in their uniforms for their morning responsibilities. They gather in a circle and create a bit of sanctuary amid the chaos that surrounds them … laughter, movement, local urchins running around, and beverages being consumed. Their leader offers up ritual words for the task before them, invoking God’s blessing on their activity. Then the circle breaks up and they execute their marching orders.
No, this is not a military unit preparing for battle … it is not a boy scout troop following the ritual for raising the flag at camp … it is not a secret society in the courtyard of a university campus initiating new recruits. No … it is an admittedly slightly enhanced description of your worship leaders (choir, director of music, clergy, communion assistants, acolytes, etc.) gathering in the narthex for prayer a few minutes before the start of worship. It is what Christians do … we invoke God’s presence on our work and service no matter where it occurs.
We have only been doing this for a couple of months. It is new to us and we are still getting used to it. But it feels right. It is also interesting. It is interesting to gather for prayer while being surrounded by forty or fifty people engaged in small talk, drinking coffee, chasing down their kiddos, and catching up on news with those they have not seen for a week. This past Sunday as we gathered and gave our attention to Adam who was leading the prayer for the day, I found myself thinking that our ritual was in some ways a paradigm for the church’s role in the world. As often as not, we are surrounded by people and organizations that are focused on other things while we go about the ministry to which God calls us. This is not a judgment. It is life. Life for a Christian is always a mixture of holy things done along with the call to do ordinary things. I found myself smiling as I considered the fact that our brief prayer time is a microcosm of our calling in the world.
So, in your times of reflection this week, take an occasional moment to observe the world around you, and consider the possibility that God may, on occasion, be inviting you to be a quiet and modest witness to God’s presence in both the sacred and the ordinary moment of life. Ponder what that invitation means to you. Ponder what an affirmative response to that invitation might look like in your life.