Prayers from the Island Large or Small

Large or Small

I’ve noticed an interesting fact.  During the winter months when it is cold on the beach, only a few people pass me as I walk; some days I see no one else.  Almost all of these people stop or, at the very least, smile and give a nod of acknowledgement.  Today I walked on a sun-drenched, crowded beach, among a group of sunbathers, fishermen, swimmers, and beach sitters/walkers.  As individuals passed one another, there was no nod, no smile, no acknowledgement.  It’s as if the more people there are, the less friendly we become.  Is that true in churches too?  When there is a large congregation, do we hide in the crowd and fail to smile and greet one another, content to be separate and apart?  Are small congregations friendlier or is it that people feel more comfortable in small rather than large groups and make the necessary signs of greeting?  How does God want us to relate to one another regardless of church size?  Forgive me, Father, when I fail to greet my brothers and sisters.   Help me reach out to others most particularly in large groups where some may feel overwhelmed and lonely.  In all congregations, may I remember that you are the host and we all share your invitation, now joined as one. Amen.

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Breathe DeeplyBreathe Deeply

When I travel to another country, I take with me a small bottle of perfume I’ve never worn before.  I use it during the trip, and when I return home, that scent helps me recall where I’ve been and what I’ve experienced.  When I’ve left the island for any length of time, the scent of the ocean first greets me, even before I can see its expanse.  The salty tang of seawater mixed with the hint of sea life is like an elixir that reminds me I’m home.  I breathe in deeply and celebrate a scent that must have been one of the first aromas that existed when God created the world.  We sniff our surroundings without thought, but perhaps there is nothing more evocative of our past than the sense of smell, and how blessed with are to possess such a powerful sense!  I thank you, Lord, for giving me this privilege, for providing me with this avenue to connect to the beautiful world around me, to connect with you. Amen.

Wasted ThirstWasted Thirst

After a busy weekend, my beach walk reveals the trash of abandoned drinks—plastic and glass bottles, smooth plastic or foam cups, cooler jugs that have been broken and left behind. Each of these must have served a useful purpose, providing refreshment in the hot sun, cooling thirsty throats, replacing moisture lost in perspiration. What was refreshment to those who drank has become an eyesore to those who use the beach. I wonder about my sources of refreshment and what they may leave behind. When I speak out in angry petulance, I may feel momentarily refreshed, but what have I left behind? When my selfishness surges to the surface, I’m relieved at first, but what havoc have I caused in someone else’s life? Do I find relief at the expense of others? Father, you alone are the source of refreshment that never litters or creates waste. Help me turn to you and share your cooling forgiveness and love in a world littered with destructive thirst.

Mine!Mine!

I watched a gull with a large fish in his mouth bent over at the edge of the beach.  He seemed worried that I would steal the fish from him, and so tried to pick it up and fly, but the weight made flight almost impossible.  Again and again, the fish fell from his beak, once almost slipping into the ocean and escaping.  I stopped my walk so the bird could eat the fish in peace, but he was convinced I would grab it, still trying to hurry it to safety.  I felt sorry for the gull; I didn’t want his fish and would have avoided him if I could.  Sadly, I am sometimes like that gull, so worried that others will take from me what is “mine”, that I risk losing it in the very act of protecting it!  In church I sing that all I have is a gift from God, and yet in my daily life I label “Mine!” too often, spending my energies, like the gull, protecting what is in no danger of loss and losing what is most valuable.  Forgive me, Lord, when I worry more about what is mine than about what is yours.  Help me share generously as you have so richly shared with me. Amen.