The day after the shooting in Newtown, I got a call from one of our prayer shawl crocheters asking if it would be possible to mail all of the shawls we had on hand at the church to people in that community. I blogged about it here – it was truly amazing afterwards to look at a photo that one of my church members had taken from the congregation.
I do not remember much about worship that day. I think I was somewhat in shock and only focused on getting through worship. I remember asking the children to gather around the shawls, but never realized how many parents and youth joined us up at the altar. It was almost as if everyone wanted to cling to the shawls in hopes that the people receiving them would feel our embrace from afar.
I received many notes and pictures of thanks after we mailed out the shawls and each one of them brought tears to my eyes. Through the grace of God the community of Newtown DID feel our embrace. And for that I am so very thankful.
I had planned on leaving the prayer shawl table empty for a few weeks. In a way it was symbolic of the healing that still needs to happen, both in Newtown and around the world. The stripped table kind of reminded me of the stripped altar on Good Friday.
I also did not want to replenish the supply with only one or two shawls at a time. I wanted to wait until we had a large supply before we did a blessing in worship (we did do a few private blessings, however).
We put a note in our newsletter that we had no shawls and the response absolutely blew me away.
In less than three weeks we received all of these prayer shawls from people in our congregation who knit and crochet. We are going to bless them on Sunday.
There is good in this world. There are kindhearted people who feel compassion and pain for people that they have never met and spend time creating tangible gifts so that they can feel prayers, comfort and love from afar.
Yes, it is possible to be “spiritual but not religious” and to practice faith without being part of a church community.
But then you miss out on stuff like this.
And stuff like this is pretty amazing.
“I thank God through Jesus for every one of you. That’s first. People everywhere keep telling me about your lives of faith, and every time I hear them, I thank him. And God, whom I so love to worship and serve by spreading the good news of his Son—the Message!—knows that every time I think of you in my prayers, which is practically all the time, I ask him to clear the way for me to come and see you. The longer this waiting goes on, the deeper the ache. I so want to be there to deliver God’s gift in person and watch you grow stronger right before my eyes! But don’t think I’m not expecting to get something out of this, too! You have as much to give me as I do to you.”
Romans 1:8-12 (The Message)