Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus.
-1 Thessalonians 5:16-18, NIV
Yesterday afternoon, we gathered in The Great Hall to begin a time of prayer using the prayer labyrinth. We are doing this during Missions Week to pray for those missions supported by Johns Creek Presbyterian Church. But before we prayed, Jamie Traylor, one of our elders, led about eight of us in a time of preparation and transition. It was a ritual to acknowledge that we were moving into a time of prayer. Jamie provided each one of us with a handbell to ring as we walked around the labyrinth three times, in honor of our triune God - Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
Then we each entered into a time of prayer. Each of us did it in the way he or she chose. Some walked slowly around the labyrinth, following the ancient path imprinted on the floor. The gently curving lines have a way of guiding one deeper in reflective prayer as it calms your soul. Some of us sat in the chairs and prayed for the different mission partners supported by our church. We also prayed for our mission teams - especially the Youth Mission Team heading out to Mexico this Sunday. Among their tasks will be to build a home for a family in need of one.
I think we live in a ritual-starved culture. We have very few rituals which carry meaning. Rituals like the prayer walk are one way of doing something with others. Rituals remind us of things that have great meaning in our lives. Without significant, well-conceived rituals such as prayer and worship, we sometimes find ourselves drawn to less healthy rituals to fill the void. For example, instead of genuine fellowship and community, we can drift into tribes. But, God invites us to tear down walls that divide us. Remember that God so loved the whole world, that God sent his Son into the world, not to condemn it, but to save it!