The question I wanted us to consider in this message is, “How can we, as a church, be a good neighbour?” With thanks to Brad Bridges, I adapted some ideas he came up with as concrete ways that our congregation – and yours, too! – can be good neighbours to the community. Based on Jonah 4 and Acts 1.1-11, you can listen to this message here:
We never realize how much we rely on our technology until something goes wrong with it. I spent a good chunk of yesterday morning trying to figure out why my computer would work perfectly well at home, but would not connect to the Internet at the church. A good friend tried to help, to no avail. Our Internet Service Provider tried to help, to no avail. And the maker of my computer tried to help…and we’re not sure yet if that worked. We’ll see what happens next.
The experience was both frustrating and time-consuming, but that sometimes happens. But it made me wonder: when I pray, and I don’t necessarily feel like my ‘connection’ with God is happening, how hard do I work to restore it.
Many people of faith have these periodic ‘connection problems’ in their prayer lives. Some of them occur for lengthy periods of time – even years. And though we attempt to resolve them, when that doesn’t work on the first or second try, sometimes we are inclined to walk away. However, when we do that, nobody wins. Why? Because God longs to have fellowship with us, and we need to have fellowship with God. Walking away from the ‘connection’ – the relationship – means that both we and God lose out.
Even in what is deemed “the dark night of the soul” (to coin a phrase from the mediaeval Spanish mystic, St. John of the Cross), we can continue to pray in faith. Though we may not hear from God, God still hears from us, and our faith is practised – even when we think it may be doing no good at all.
Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta experienced decades of silence in her relationship with God, yet she continued to pray, continued to serve, because she knew it was making a difference. You and I can do the same. Though our conversations with God may seem one sided, as though there were nobody on the other end of the line, our faith enables us to carry on because we believe that God hears us, God sees us, God knows that we are engaging with him.
Even when my Internet connection fails, I can keep working on documents and planning and writing and leading, because I believe my connection will be restored. Even when I feel as though my prayers may be going no farther than the ceiling of my study, I believe the Lord hears them and continues to act.
Do you sometimes feel like your prayers aren’t going anywhere? Trust that God hears them, and cry out to him that he will make himself known to you again. God is faithful.
“I love the Lord because he hears my voice and my prayer for mercy. Because he bends down to listen, I will pray as long as I have breath!” (Psalm 116.1-2, NLT)