Today's Reading: Isaiah 40:1-2 NIV
1 Comfort, comfort my people, says your God. 2 Speak tenderly to Jerusalem, and proclaim to her that her hard service has been completed, that her sin has been paid for, and she has received from the Lord's hand double for all her sins.
I was browsing through the video library at the Family Bookstore recently when I happened upon a DVD entitled Mother Teresa: In the Name of God's Poor. This film gives a small glimpse into the life and heart of Nobel Peace Prize Winner, Mother Teresa. She dedicated her life's work to service the people that no one else wanted in India's slums. If you have not yet seen this DVD, I would highly recommend it for your home video library.
As Mother Teresa was preparing to leave the safety of her convent to live among the poorest of the poor, she chose to wear a simple white habit, a head covering with blue stripes around the band. In this film, Father prays over her new head covering, asking God to bless and protect it and the one who wears it, as a symbol of Christ's ministry and healing in the world. The filmmaker spent time making a point about the selection of the fabric used, for it was the least expensive and non-ornate fabric available at the marketplace. As Mother Teresa's outreach ministry grew to worldwide proportions, the nuns who served along side her wore the same simple head covering, a simple white fabric with a solid blue stripe around the edge.
In the last month, I have experienced a series of medical tests in two different hospitals. During each test, I was offered warms blankets to cover my body. I immediately noticed the white fabric with blue stripes and realized that I was being covered in Mother Teresa's habit - the fabric covered in prayer and blessing. It was designed specifically to promote healing and wholeness. I wondered if the medical attendants and nurses prayed over these blankets before they used them to cover their patients. This holy moment reminded me that I was being wrapped in a blanket of prayer power; I had absolutely no doubt this beautiful symbol was a gift from God and a specific affirmation from the Lord for me.
On Sunday afternoons, a group of ladies from Faith Church St. Charles meet in the great room of our home to crochet prayer shawls for the sick and shut-ins in our community. Every stitch is handmade and every shawl is prayed over by each member of the group. Not every stitch is perfectly sewn; yet, every shawl is perfected in faith. I have been the recipient of one such prayer shawl. It was given to me several years ago by a dear saint who has passed on into God's eternal light. Every time I put this beautiful blue shawl around my shoulders, I feel as if I'm receiving a big hug from Miss Elsie and a prayer for healing. Simply a symbol, it is a mirror of God's love for me, and it draws me ever closer to my Lord, the giver of new life.
We do not need to look far to see what suffering does in war torn countries. The Middle East faces a pivotal moment in its nation's history, today! Just this week, a cyclone demolished parts of Australia, leaving the terrain flooded and muddy. The weather maps indicate that much of the continental United States is buried in snow drifts and ice. One year after the devastating earthquake in Haiti, thousands are still living in makeshift tents, still struggling to survive. Where do the homeless go when there are no shelters to protect them? Where do you house the homeless in your own communities? With so many needs in so many places, where do we begin?
There is Power in the blanket of community prayer. God comforts His people through the words of Isaiah the prophet, tenderly speaking to the ones who have long suffered the tragedies of war and illness, starvation and unimaginable need. Every one of us has the ability right now to reach out to hurting hearts around the world by offering up a simple prayer of intercession on their behalf. What seems a human impossibility is possible with God. He can calm the storms, provide help for the helpless, and heal our war-torn countries. This single act of contrition and humility is the single most powerful thing we can do as believers in the body of Jesus Christ. We can become an intricately woven prayer shawl, sewn together by three strands: Father, Son and Holy Spirit. We can be the pure blanket of healing and wholeness for all people everywhere.
Won't you make time today, to fall down on your knees and seek God's help in bringing comfort and tender care to our neighbors who have urgent and dire needs? Prayer power is what our world needs right now.
Grace and peace,
Faith UMC - St. Charles, MO
Copyright 2011, Deb Spaulding
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