REFLECTION for July 24, 2022:
By Sharon Taylor For the last two years I have been joining the family of Winfield United on Sunday mornings. My congregation prior to COVID was Trinity United in Vernon, but on Friday, March 13, 2020 everything changed. Most people know that as the day the world shut down and everyone went into self-isolation to protect themselves from the pandemic. For me, that date means so much more... You see, Mom died the day the world shut down. Until this week, the last time I was at my old congregation was the Sunday after Mom died. I don't remember much of anything of the service. There were hardly any people present, and those who were there were carefully spaced 6 feet apart. But I needed to be there. In that space. In that community. And there were 3 or 4 people who saw my pain and didn't give a damn about protocols and wrapped their arms around me and comforted me. By the next week, worship had changed to on-line only. Trinity's large congregation opted for the pre-recorded "show" on YouTube. Winfield United, where my Mom and Dad had been members for over 25 years, was trying out the Zoom format. With that there would be chat time both before and after the service. I liked this form of community and felt so welcomed. Everyone knew Mom and were grieving also... and they "wrapped their arms around me" and comforted me. And I never left. Until this last Sunday... Our Summer Sabbath Pause allowed me the opportunity to re-visit my old haunt. In some ways it felt like I had never left. I slipped into the same pew as before and glanced around. Betty waved at me. Richard gave me a nod (but I missed my hug after the service). Pat offered a big smile. It felt comfortable, familiar.
The worship service itself was also familiar, but to my surprise it wasn't comfortable. Don’t get me wrong, their minister is a wonderful person. He is kind and caring, he puts so much effort into his reflections and includes visuals with them that he controls. But of all days for me to attend, this particular Sunday’s reflection at Trinity United was about prayer; in particular, about the “Lord’s Prayer”.
I realized how blessed Winfield United Church as been with their worship guidance. Some of it has been overt in pushing towards gender neutrality in wording; much of it has been more subtle in an agenda of a higher being that has evolved from the “old man in the sky” to the “wind beneath my wings”.
At the end of their service, they finished with a recitation of the Lord’s Prayer. I found I could not say the words that had been ingrained into me so long ago. I could not refer to the Creator as “Father”, nor could I think of “him” in “heaven”. I could not “hallow” a name - that would be likened to worshipping an idol. Thy kingdom come? Thy will be done? …What happened to free will?
I found myself wishing for a hard copy of the words that WUC project up during the time of silent prayer, entitled “Womanist Lord’s Prayer”. Even though the title doesn’t do it justice, here it is:
Holy One, holy one-ness,
who is in us and around us and beyond us, Your wisdom come, your will be done,
in all the spaces in which you are found. Give us each day sustenance and perseverance. Remind us of our limits
as we give grace to the limits of others. Separate us from the temptations of power,
and draw us into your community. For you are the dwelling place within us, the empowerment around us, and the celebration among us, now and forever. Amen. Grace Cathedral, Womanist Lord's Prayer (amended JT)
After the service, I was one of the last to leave the hall. It was good to connect with old friends again. Maybe next week, I will just go for coffee time.