Monday, October 15, 2007

Wing And A Prayer

Hello, PDX!

The kingdom of God (KoG) comes in unexpected ways, at unexpected times. Sometimes Jesus tried to show it to people, and their eyes simply glazed over. Other times, they got it, they saw it; and they were amazed to the point of being speechless. I saw it last night, and it took my breath away.

I do ministry at Operation Nightwatch in downtown Portland. I've volunteered at this nighttime ministry of hospitality for four years. Since May, I've led a Sunday evening worship service in this little community of people who are homeless, low income, mentally ill and also very gifted human beings. I hate using those labels, by the way. We're all just people.

We had just been meditating on Luke 17: 11-19, the story of Jesus' response to the 10 lepers who asked for mercy. He saw them not only for what they were: people afflicted by disease that kept them isolated from the rest of the community. He also saw them for what they could be: people who were well and whole again.

Jesus told them to show themselves to the priests who would have to certify their healing and their "wellness". On their way, the ten noticed that they had indeed been made well. Only one, a Samaritan (biblical code for "outcast"), returned to not only thank Jesus but to worship him. All ten had been made well, but only one really understood his healing as an encounter with God. Only one "saw" Jesus for what He was. The unlikely one saw...

Our prayer time at Operation Nightwatch worship is rich, the richest I have ever known in worship. Last night, I already had a long list of prayer requests before worship even began. At prayer time I still asked for other prayer concerns. Ted (not his real name) raised his hand. Ted knows he is mentally ill and that he doesn't have the same freedom most other people have. He knows his life will never be like theirs. "Yes, Ted," I said, "what would you like to pray for?"

"For the well," Ted said. "I think we should pray for the well so that they understand what it's like to be sick."

It took me a few seconds to catch my breath and regain my speech. My reply was something like, "Thank you, Ted. That's about the best prayer request I've ever heard. We will pray for the well. We will pray that we all can see each other." And we did.

The kingdom of God had come like a lightning bolt or a gull over the waves. It had come on a wing and a prayer. I'm still nearly speechless.

KoG can do that.


Pastor Roger

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