Daily Devotional for Small Group Discussion: All the News
- How does your experience of praying alone differ from your experience of praying in community?
- Do you find it difficult to ask for prayers for your pain? Do you hesitate to invite prayers of joy for your good news? Why or why not?
- What does it mean to you to be part of a congregation? What is shared? What is held together?
We, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually we are members one of another…Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. – Romans 12:5,15 (NRSV)
My daughter is not a pray-er. She is adamant on the point. (“Daddy, I know you’re a minister, and you like to talk about God, but…”)
When her grandfather went into the hospital recently, she was even against me praying. At least on my own.
“You just need to pray on Sunday at church. Because then everyone knows the news, not just you! That’s a church: everyone knowing all the news!”
As a pastor, I wish she were more right about that. Looking out over the congregation, knowing a little of what people are holding. On their own. Or with my measly help. (And yes, God’s more-than-measly help, but still.)
Finding out weeks or months later that someone’s had a cancer scare, or won an award, or broken up, or gotten accepted to college. It always feels like an opportunity missed. For the body to hold it together. To weep. To rejoice.
Paul’s instructions emphasize the easier part of the equation, I think. The folks I get to be church with are pretty good at celebrating a job found or a top surgery scheduled. Ready to cry with the one whose cat died and cook for the one in mental health crisis.
The harder part is opening up when it’s you, letting everyone know the news.
But that’s a church: one body with many members, sharing pain and party. And it’s good. It means something. It helps. In ways even a seven-year-old non-pray-er can appreciate.
[Tell someone you trust what’s on your heart. Let them hold it with you.]
Vince Amlin is co-pastor of Bethany UCC, Chicago, and co-planter of Gilead Church Chicago, forming now.