Once a month I get up far too early and make my way to a church, somewhere in the Eastern suburbs. I hope there is a bus that will get me to my destination without too much hassle and that there is somewhere I can grab a coffee on the way to help with my coherence levels. On these mornings I meet with other ministers and lay leaders from Maroubra to Botany, Bondi to Coogee and all the places in between. We are a random bunch of Christians to gather together! We really do sit across the breadth of Australian Christian faith (Anglican, Baptist, Churches of Christ, Salvation Army, Pentecostal, House Church, Indonesian Evangelical, Messianic Jew, Uniting, and on…).
Despite the early mornings, I have come to look forward to our monthly meeting.
There is a discipline in being present together and sharing in prayer. In our gatherings I am confronted and challenged by the way these Christians express their faith. I have learned from them about finding joy and freedom in prayer together, of boldness in coming before God. I have been deeply blessed as they have prayed for Hope Uniting Church. Sometimes I am perplexed by their choice of language and imagery. And I know that the content and images of my prayers sometimes confront and challenge them (as well as my being the only woman present!).
But I have noticed something happening during these gatherings. In prayer we are able to acknowledge our diversity, ranging as we do across the breadth of theological and liturgical traditions. The language and images we use do differ. But we pray for the same thing: Come Holy Spirit. Transform us. Transform our community. I don’t think we know what it will mean for this prayer to unfold within our lives and our communities.
I witnessed something similar on Sunday night as about 50 people gathered in the cold evening on Pitt St Uniting Church steps. I could see Catholics, Uniting Church people, Anglicans, people from the Metropolitan Community Church and the Baptist Union. I think I heard someone say they weren’t religious but thought this was important enough to pray about in any case. As I looked around, I wondered if we’d feel comfortable in each other’s services of worship. In spite of this, God called us to pray together in public for those asylum seekers currently being held ‘somewhere’ at sea, for our political leaders, and for our fellow Christians. Come Holy Spirit. Transform us. Transform our community.
This is not a simple prayer.
It is a dangerous prayer.
As God answers it, our lives will be turned upside down, along with those of our fellow prayer-ers.
Will you pray it with me through these coming weeks?
Come Holy Spirit. Transform us. Transform our community.