The sight of people hauling pails upon pails of water into a church and, inside, setting up a gurgling teacup fountain, and a canvas tent to enclose the sound of thunder and waves – must have led to wonderings about what was going on at St. Thomas’ Anglican Church in Sherwood Park on November 12.
The diocesan prayer event: God's Grace Abounds in Deepest Water, was an opportunity for anyone to drop in and pray for our world and community, seek prayer from others, break bread together, or sit and be still in the presence of the Holy Spirit. The sanctuary was filled with a variety of prayer stations centered on the biblical theme of water.
The stations were many and all creative or interactive. At one station we were invited to write our sins on special paper and cast them into a beautiful bowl of water where they dissolved into nothing. At another, we were invited to pray before a fountain made with a teacup while contemplating Psalm 23," my cup overflows." At the front of the church was a burbling well surrounded by stones of thankfulness that were personalized by members of the diocesan synod in October. We read about the healing at the water stirred up and the woman at the well. There were prayers for creation and water justice, a walk-through the prayers of other traditions, and an opportunity to write a psalm-type prayer together. You could even enter a tent to listen to a dramatic reading of Jesus calming the storm (Mark 4:35-41).
Midway through the day we ate a fabulous chili lunch together. Padi Eric J. Kregel, pastor of the Filipino congregation at St. Matthias, Edmonton, and his team led family prayers with the help of some wise and funny puppets. After lunch, Bishop Steve led us in a pop-up eucharist.
Sometimes we want to pray, but it's hard to find the words or even know where to start. The prayer stations were designed to help inspire different ways to help us connect with God. Prayer is the act of showing up (wherever you are) with the expectation that God is there and excited to meet with you.
This event was inspired by similar prayer days that have been hosted during the last two years at St. John the Evangelist parish. They have put on several differently themed prayer days in addition to an entire week of 24-7 around-the-clock prayer. These prayer events are modeled after the creative 24-7 prayer rooms that have been starting up in churches all over the world over the last decade.
The past few years have been turbulent for all of us as we navigated the challenges of pandemic times. While planning this prayer day the organising team felt led specifically to the biblical theme of water. They felt led to remember God’s power in the midst of our chaos. Whether we feel like we are floating, sinking, or fighting against the current, we are not alone. Christ goes before us.
Thank you to all those who shared their time, prayers, and skills to prepare this event and especially to Padi Eric, and those from St. Thomas’s parish who helped with hosting the luncheon. And thank you to those who came. We hope it was a time of blessing for you.
Submitted by Leah Marshall and Robyn Thompson