Our second venture out to the streets of Springfield, following “Ashes To Go,” was on Wednesday of Holy Week to offer a simple message: Easter is this Sunday so we will offer a prayer for you. What can we pray for? It was early afternoon and Jim and I probably talked with fifty or sixty people and maybe a quarter or a third of them gave us things to pray for: themselves, family members, marriages, the weather, someone’s grandmother who just died, a healthy baby who is about to be born, someone heading off to rehab, person in tribulation, people’s finances, someone looking for his brother, etc. We collected their prayer requests and will offer the collection on Sunday.
People seemed to fall into two camps: those who were bothered and those who were grateful. The bothered were not bothered by us in particular; they just seemed generally bothered by things. And those who were grateful were definitely grateful, like the woman who was pregnant and happy we could pray for her and the baby. The third camp was all the people who knew Jim. Lots of people know Jim. We are committed to doing this regularly in the hope that people at least recognize that we’re offering them something, perhaps something they can get elsewhere too but it doesn’t hurt to have extra prayers. If just one person can see that Christians want to pray for them without any set agenda or expectations on our part, it will be worth while.
The Reverend Canon Tom Callard
[Episcopal News Service – Oklahoma City, Oklahoma] Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby said April 10 that “the gospel of peace is reclaimed by loving those who love violence and hatred” and that a church committed to peacemaking “looks like those who join their enemies on their knees.”
“We celebrate the fact that as the Anglican Communion functioning as a community of peace across the world, as it does in so many places so wonderfully with such sacrifices, that it manages disagreement well in many places, that it maintains unity across diametrically opposed views on a matter – that that Anglican Communion to which we belong could be the greatest gift to counter violence of all descriptions in our world,” Welby said.
Welby spoke during the April 9-11 Reclaiming the Gospel of Peace: An Episcopal Gathering to Challenge the Epidemic of Violence being held at the Reed Center and the nearby Sheraton Midwest City here.
He said what is sought is a church “that bears the cross, that is so caught up in Jesus Christ and its relationship with Jesus Christ that it is drawn inexorably in partnership with the poor and pilgrimage alongside them, sharing the surprises and risks of the journey under the leadership of Jesus Christ.”
“We do not see such churches today on a global scale, although they may be found in many places at a local level,” he said. “To turn this into a national [phenomenon] such a great and huge nation as this, let alone a global phenomenon, is humanly impossible. We find it easier to be caught up in our own disputes and our own rights.”
It must be acknowledged that human beings are inclined towards violence, Welby told the gathering. “Violence is intrinsic to being human, and I have to say in particular to being human and male, or human and powerful, over against minorities of all kinds,” he said. “Moreover it is addictive, violence is addictive, and we become hardened to it.”
But, God “is committed to acting in response to wrongdoing” and is a God who judges but also saves, “giving of God’s own self to make an opportunity for rescue,” the archbishop said.
Thus, “the resort to violence is always the denial of the possibility of redemption,” he added. “And since in our hearts we believe in redemption as Christians, an early resort to violence denies the very heart of our faith.”
– The Rev. Mary Frances Schjonberg and Lynette Wilson are editors/reporters for the Episcopal News Service.