In preparation for my sermon this past Sunday- July 5th- I ran across an older post by David Lose on Working Preacher. He shared this prayer, written by Pastor Meredith Musaus and prayed at Holy Cross Lutheran Church in Menomonee Falls, WI.
“L[eader]: Let us pray together.
C[ongregation]: Your church is composed of people like me.
I help make it what it is.
It will be friendly, if I am.
Its pews will be filled, if I help fill them.
It will do great work, if I work.
It will make generous gifts to many causes, if I am a generous giver.
It will bring other people into its worship and fellowship, if I invite and bring them.
It will be a church where people grow in faith and serve you, if I am open to such growth and service.
Therefore, with your help Lord, we shall dedicate ourselves to the task of being all the things you want your church to be. Amen.”
I hope you noticed that it is a prayer that is prayed aloud by the congregation, not one prayed on behalf of the congregation by the leadership of the church. That’s important.
In a world in which perception and reality are often confused, this prayer helps us to remember what the reality of a disciple of Jesus Christ actually looks like. It looks like you and me doing the work of the Gospel- living it, breathing it, and sharing it with others.
The rub of course is this: if we don’t actually do what this prayer bids, we too will fall into the trap of thinking our perception of who we are as disciples and a church community is our reality. We run the risk of our actions not reflecting our words. We run the risk of limiting the power of Jesus in our lives and the lives of others, if our concern is just that people think we are good Christians rather than actually being a good Christian.