In a world that sometimes seems to have lost its moorings, we often feel as if our prayer life is inadequate to deal with the reality of the daily news. At least I often feel that way. As I look at the world’s problems, and then come to Sunday worship I have questions about the issues of the day. What do I do with them?
Do I leave them on the steps of the church, like another homeless person, and promise to pick them up as I leave? Do I take them with me and then blame them for my too often distracted mind? Do they belong in church or not?
I was so grateful during the recent Trialogue service at Marble to hear the visiting rabbi speak of those in her congregation who wished to separate their time of worship from whatever is taking place outside the synagogue. Some of them objected to her: “Issues of justice should be taken up after worship has ended.” I have heard similar rumblings too. “Politics don’t belong in a house of worship.” I would agree except the word “politics” is being used as a substitute for any issue that calls for our response.
The rabbi then quoted a wisdom saying from her tradition to the effect that one should not pray in a room that has no windows. I have been mulling over that ever since I heard it. It has changed my perspective.
None of us comes to prayer except as real people, people from the daily, often too engrossing situations that demand our attention. We have to pray with them and through them. If not, what purpose do our detached little prayers have except as expressions of self concern?
So, in a world threatened by ISIS, in a country that has work to do to come to grips with immigration issues, in a city where police and citizens view each other with suspicion, our prayers need that window if they are to have any heft.
I have begun to polish my windows to let in the light and to let out the light. May inside and outside come together on that theological window sill that makes our prayer real.