By Rev. Canon Christopher B. J. Pratt
Before you read this article, I invite you to pause for a moment, take a deep breath and slowly exhale.
Alright, now do that once again.
In the brief period of time you have just spent concentrating on breathing, you have experienced one of the key and essential divine gifts necessary for human life. It is a gift which is so much a part of how we function as human beings that it may slip by and go unappreciated.
As I write this article the prayer life of many of us has a focus on the area of this global village which our companion Diocese of Amazonia calls home. As wildfires sweep through a part of the world many have referred to as the, “Earth’s lungs”, we find ourselves helplessly watching to see what the full extent of the destruction may eventually prove to be.
Closer to home, each of us may be able to name those moments, places or people who have been identified for us as needing our prayerful support. The requests for prayerful intercession on our part may be lengthy, but at all times we need to recognize the expectation that we would not be asked to offer our prayers, if the person making the request did not feel that our prayers would make a difference.
Anger, grief, resentment and many issues too numerous to name seem to get in the way of our awareness of the God given gifts which are ours.
Some may feel that there is a certain amount of inadequacy to the statement, “You are in my thoughts and prayers”. If that is a message which stands alone, then perhaps the criticism has a degree of merit. There is a link between holding a moment, a place or a person in our thoughts and prayers and any possible action we might take that might have any influence on the focus of our prayerful petition.
As representatives from across our Diocese meet to elect new episcopal leadership for the Diocese of Huron, we need to keep all who are able to vote in that election in our thoughts and prayers. Discerning the guidance of the Holy Spirit is an essential factor in any Diocesan gathering where the framework for future ministry begins to take shape. This is one of those moments.
Where we have delegated the electoral process in the life of the Church into the hands of others, there is another election for which our full participation is required. We not only need to keep our nation in our thoughts and prayers as we are called to the polls, but we must be ready to exercise our responsibility as Canadian citizens to vote. Thoughts and prayers, in this instance are translated into action. We then must live with the results of our collective action.
In a world filled with turmoil and distress what is our role as a community of faith and as individuals rooted in a relationship with Jesus? How do we model the message of peace and concord that we yearn for? Are we guilty of being the focus of the message of the prophet Jeremiah, who berated those who offered a false message of “peace, peace; when there is no peace” (Jeremiah 6:14)?
Words have power. The words of our prayers and the words of our lips whispered into the ears of those around us have an energy which we may or may not fully grasp. As we offer our prayers seeking Divine guidance in helping us to face a moment, a crisis or a personal relationship, the words we use are energized by the actions we take.
Do our words cause hurt and frustration? Perhaps they should not have used in the first place. Do our words build relationships of trust or tear them down? Perhaps a different course of action might have been considered. Do our words generate a feeling of inclusion or exclusion? The trauma of that question is rippling across the Anglican Church of Canada at this moment.
In the midst of the pressing issues which seem to beset us and sometimes seem to overwhelm us, we are called upon to always be mindful of the many blessings which have been given to us. The Attitude of Gratitude which we are asked to claim as the way in which we view the world around us is sometimes a difficult perspective to take. Anger, grief, resentment and many issues too numerous to name seem to get in the way of our awareness of the God given gifts which are ours. Narrowing our focus on those elements of our lives for which we need to offer our thanks helps us to truly value and appreciate what is essential, even the very gift of life itself.
Once again, I ask you to take a moment and breathe in, slowly exhale.
Still your heart and soul and mind. Be open to the movement of the Holy Spirit in your life and in this moment. Gather together all the cares, concerns, worries, anxieties of your life. Take the load off your shoulders and place those burdens down. Be still. Listen well. Listen well to the Divine guidance which you will experience as an answer to your prayers, then let the words you offer and the actions you take be an expression of God’s Healing Love in God’s World and in the lives of the individuals whose lives touch yours.
Rev. Canon Christopher B. J. Pratt has retired from full time parish ministry,
but continues to offer priestly ministry in the Diocese of Huron.