Saturday, October 01, 2005

Playing God 5

This is the last in my series of posts about enacted prayer. And yes, I got to "play" God.

I was fascinated to find out if enacted prayer would work in our small rural congregation, a congregation where we have been, in the main, the youngest people attending for the last 16 years. I wondered if the blessings of enacted prayer which were palpable in a large congregation of young adults could be perceived in a small congregation of seniors. Sunday September 11 provided the opportunity, falling as it did on the fourth anniversary of 9/11, with the concerns around the devastation of hurricane Katrina still heavy on our hearts. No one in the congregation had any preparation for this. I was relying on their good-will and the power of God's Spirit.

I explained briefly what I was going to do. Instead of saying that I was "playing God" it just seemed appropriate to say that as we worked I would be discerning the mind of God for these situations, and that individuals would be chosen to represent (rather than PLAY) the various persons around whom we would be focusing our prayers.

I picked a lovely older couple to represent those who had lost loved ones in 9/11. They sat in chairs, opposite one another just in front of our low platform. A strong, tall man represented firefighters. An ex-school principal stood in the pulpit to represent government. A woman of great heart who has been widowed represented refugee victims of Katrina. Another woman with a mischievous child-like spirit became a lost child, folded into a heap on the floor. My husband, without his robes, represented aid workers. That was all we had room for in the front of our little church. I prayed and began to move about amoung the "actors."

I worked with those representing 9/11 first. Gesturing them to stand. Bringing the fireman closer with arms and face raised heavenward. The grieving couple linked hands. I remembered how often people who lose a child end up divorcing because they cannot bear the pain they see reflected in eachother's face. I held them in my heart. I helped them lift their eyes to heaven.

Then I worked with the Katrina 'actors'. My husband used his clerical gown to tent the homeless woman. (We hadn't rehearsed this. It was just given in that moment and it was powerful.) The indifferent posture of the government official was changed to reveal compassion and concern. I comforted and lifted up the "child" and danced with her and then went to find her mother, with whom she was reunited. We danced as three in the narrow aisle of the church. When all eyes were raised Godward, I said, "Amen," and sealed the enacted prayer with a sentence of spoken prayer.

Five...ten minutes...that was all. A powerful pastoral prayer.

It was impossible not to be moved by this. "Players" who had been hesistant to be part of the scene, gained confidence. The "child" talked to me about how really very much of a refugee she was in her real life. Then she donated a box of worship tapes to be sold for the Katrina relief effort!!! ($300.00, NO TAX, NO OVERHEAD) The fireman, a shy man, spoke of how he could feel in his heart just how he should move to comfort the bereaved of 9/11. He is a man of compassion and this role brought out the best in him. It was really real!!

We'll try this again. Perhaps on Christmas Eve as part of our annual Christmas candlelight service. The church will be packed and we will do an enacted prayer which will help us to focus away from materialism and onto the true meaning of Christmas. Maybe. Or perhaps God will give us another prayer request. Whatever we pray for, I know there will be answers. We live in exciting times.


daisymarie said...

How absolutely powerful. I imagine this will something that will "stick" with these people for a very long time. How blessed this congregation is to have someone so discerning of the mind and heart of God!

Continued blessings.

bobbie said...

oh connie, this makes me smile when i think of god being like you. it's comforting to me in a deep, deep way.

very beautiful indeed!

erica said...

your poem at steph's was wonderful. I loved it and wanted to tell you so.

annie said...

Oh Connie, this is powerful. How wonderful that the members were so willing to freely participate. How I long for a church that would not be too "stuffy" to try something like let God work in a spontaneous and unscripted way. (How scary that is for some of us, and I often wonder why some of us would be afraid to let go of ourselves and let God move.)