Dearest Lord, Creator and Giver of all things,
look upon us tonight as we gather together.
With all our heart, we take refuge in You, who are God most high.
With all our heart, we take refuge in Christ,
our redeemer from our sin,
who restores our true nature with His perfect and mysterious Word.
With all our heart, we take refuge in the One
who embraces our universe, who responds with
steadfast love in all places and at all times,
who hears the cries of our hearts.
We have come from afar and some have waited long and are weary. Let us sit side by side and share of Your living Bread, Your living water. The bread that will still our hunger and the water that will quench our thirst. We sit together in stillness and share of Your Spirit that draws us together in unity and peace.
Dearest Lord, touch us tonight and give us Your blessing.
Touch our brows, touch our heads, touch our hearts and
do not look upon us in anger.
Offer us mercy in our affliction,
offer us kindness in our suffering,
offer us light in our darkness
offer us courage in our fear,
offer us our true face when we are ashamed,
offer us peace when our spirits will not be still.
Lord, sanctify our lives, renew our worship, empower our witness, restore our unity, remove from us all pride, heal our bodies, heal our spirits, heal the divisions which separate Your children and bring us to unity in Your Spirit and in Your peace.
Tonight we had a healing service. I prayed this prayer at the beginning of the service. I jotted it down earlier today without knowing the content of the service – the scripture and the sermon. But it fit exactly right. It’s humbling to realize the depth of the movement of the Spirit. I realize over and over that there is so much I don’t understand – and that I never will.
There weren’t many people there – only about 30, but it was a moving experience. I never really anticipate my reaction to this type of service. We light candles, we sing simple hymns, we have a responsive reading, a sermon, Communion and then anoint with oil and laying on of hands. The church is getting so large that I don’t know all our congregants. However, once you have prayed with a person that intensely and laid on hands in that manner, not only can I feel the palpable presence of God -- I have entered into a new phase of relationship. There is an intimacy and vulnerability that is beyond my ken. When we gather around a person and lay on hands, and speak prayers, there are connections made and the relationship I had with that person is transformed.
I realized tonight that my black robe with the full sleeves look something like wings and when I place my hands on either side of a person’s head and drop my forehead to touch theirs, my posture is rather like a hawk ‘mantling’ – a hawk protecting her young or guarding her food. And when I close my eyes, I can sense the presence of God mantling me – protecting me and guarding me, enfolding me and letting me dwell in the Spirit. So, Matt, I think I’ll keep the robe.
Here is a picture I took on Monday of a Female Harris Hawk mantling.