My friend Paul Maconochie, the leader of St Thomas’ Philadelphia Campus in Sheffield, is in hospital at present. There is too much fluid in one side of his brain, and not enough on the other. The onset of the condition came just after he had shared with the church where he felt God was leading us over the time Paul will be senior leader…
In response, the church has agreed that, whenever we come across each other, the first thing we will do is thank God for giving us Paul as our leader, and pray that he would be fully restored to health. The giving thanks is important: we’ve learnt that choosing to give thanks in hard circumstances does something within us that makes us more open to God, and allows him to break into our experience, and to flow through us in ways that transform our experience, more fully. And of course, the thankful attitude is a gift from God in the first place; but, God seems willing to call things he has given us ‘ours,’ and receive them as gifts ‘from us’ (e.g. John 21:1-14, “Bring some of the fish you have just caught.” – as Conrad Gempf observes in Mealtime Habits of the Messiah)
So far this week, I’ve prayed for Paul with people I’ve met in the pub, the playground, and a department store, as well as in our home…one of the people I prayed with in the department store told me he can’t go to the supermarket without bumping into people to pray with…other people I’ve prayed with have prayed with other people on the street, and at school…
It has been great. It’s not been a big deal in an intrusive sense, but it has revitalised how members of the church feel about praying in public places – as one person put it, being held accountable in that by multiple others. It rightly disrespects the sacred/secular dichotomy; and, I suspect that once we see this prayer answered we won’t stop, but will take up other foci one after another.
church , prayer , community
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