Friday, January 11, 2013

This I Pray

Two days before the school sent letters to the parents suspending the current parent-child lunch policy in response to security concerns following the Sandy Hook shooting, I had lunch with my little Star Student in the elementary school cafeteria.  As lines of children looped around us, eventually "settling" themselves on the bench seats of the tables (as if six-year-old butts ever really settle anywhere), we opened our lunchboxes, surveyed the contents, and asked God to bless our lunches.  Together.  About two feet from the principal, which AJ's friend was good enough to repeatedly point out to me.  "That's our principal," she said with a mouth full of ham, cheese, and goldfish-shaped bread.  She leaned closer and hissed, "Scary!"

It was really rather hard to greet this warning with alarm, especially after the principal looked at her, smiled, and asked, "How is your lunch, K____?"

She smiled the missing-toothed grin of first grade and moved the mouth of her goldfish-shaped sandwich to answer, "Chewy."

It was all very first grade and very normal.  And that's partly my point.

I have read a number of rants on not having prayer in American schools and on the government keeping us from being Christian.

This assertion is patently untrue.

We do not have teacher-led, school-sanctioned and/or -mandated prayer in schools.  But any private citizen acting in a private capacity in the school building is not only perfectly capable of praying but has the full backing of the first amendment endorsing his freedom to do so.

We spend lots of time saying, "Use it or lose it."  Well, my friends, this situation is one of those cases.  We have rights--not just rights to guns and rights to rant--but rights to assemble and to pray.  If you would really like to live the life of the sword, you can do that.  I would simply remind you that it was Jesus who said, "Those who live by the sword die by the sword" (the old interpretation of Matthew 26:52), not me.

But if we would like to keep our rights to assemble and pray, then I suggest that we use them!  The Lord clearly tells Christians, “Again, truly I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything they ask for, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven. For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.” (Matthew 18:19-20) And He has so much more power than I do!  When we pray, I see things change.  I have repeatedly been delivered from danger, healed, and preserved.  When there seems to be no escape, a way is made.  When it seems I will never forgive, love comes from a place not humanly possible.  HE is the way, the truth, and the light.  And this does not mean that I think you have to be in church to find HIM.  I believe beyond a shadow of a doubt that whoever seeks finds.  And I don't think it matters where they find HIM.  I think we will know them not by their congregation, affiliation, or baptism, or Christian FAITH but by their LOVE in the I Corinthians 13 sense--no matter where they come from.    

But that brings me back to our freedoms.

Do not fear, my friends.  We are clearly told, "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law" (Galatians 5:22-23, emphasis mine).

You see, all I am required to do I cannot be kept from doing.  The One I answer to has made a way for me.  Why should I complain?  Why should I worry?  I either believe in HIM or I don't.  And if I believe, why should I be afraid of the government, the principal ("scary," according to "K"), or anyone else?

And that takes me back once again to prayer and assembling.  Yes, I pray on my own, but I also pray in groups, and I have to tell you that my friend is on a kick that reminded me about group prayer.  She's into flash mobs today.  And she found a terrific one:

And then she said something fantastic.  She said, "The thing I love about flash mobs is the universal joy of the people who watch one.  It's totally universal.  It's in the international ones too.  Everybody stands surprised at first and confused watching all of these weird people, and then they change and smile and laugh.  There's joy in seeing this together."

And she was totally right.  There is joy in seeing this together!

About a year ago, I wrote a blog post on Christmas flash mobs.  And I'm reminded of that here in two very important ways.  First, by not praying together, we are missing the joy of seeing GOD work together.  And secondly, by not praying together, we are missing the opportunity of spreading the joy that comes by seeing a community at one in purpose and heart and joy, and wasn't that what the angels--what I consider the world's best EVER flash mob--said?  JOY TO THE WORLD! 

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