A friend invited me to go with her to her church. We arrived at church about 15 minutes before the Sunday morning service began.
My friend explained that during this pre-service time, those in attendance could speak, that people often spoke about their blessings or the blessings of others or said a prayer or asked for prayers. Deacons and trustees sometimes spoke, too.
We had only been seated about five minutes when a deacon stood up before the congregation and asked if anyone else wanted to speak.
No one said anything.
The deacon then asked that the congregation bow their heads. My friend hunched me. I was confused by her action and turned my bowed head to look at her. She did not look back.
The deacon was old. His back was bent, and his voice wavered. “Lord,” he began, “Thank you for another day. Thank you for giving me the strength to come before you again in Your House. Thank you for all the people who came here today to praise you and ask for your blessings. Thank you for the soil to plant gardens to give us food. Thank you for the chickens, the cows, the pigs to give us meat to eat. Thank you for the sun and rain to help gardens and flowers and trees grow. Thank you for the moon at night. Thank you for giving us rabbits, and cats, and dogs, and deer. Thank you for all the animals that we cannot see but are out there somewhere.”
The deacon paused for more than a minute. I thought he was through and raised my head to look at him. His eyes were still closed. He continued.
“Lord, please help us to love our fellow man even if we only know about them on the news. I know your world is a big place, Lord, but please help people all over the world to have enough food to eat. I know us humans are not always kind to one another, but help us, help us, help us to be better. Help us to stop wars, to stop attacking people with guns and bombs and chemicals. I pray in your name. “Amen, amen, amen.”
The deacon sat down. The organ started to play, the congregation stood, and the choirs marched.
My friend hunched me again and looked at me and smiled.
After the service, she told me that this deacon was the reason she attended church. He made her feel that there were still good people in the world, people that cared about the welfare of others.