02 September 2011

House of the setting sun

      A certain quota of chapels and forums are required for attendance at Andrews. I've been telling myself that if I feel I'm in need of spiritual refreshment in the middle week, I'll attend the evening chapel or worship because I'm more concerned with my spiritual life, regardless of attendance.

     The other day I found myself at what seemed like an obsolete chapel at church. I saw no students, lot's of old people. The speaker shared briefly an interesting point from the Gospel of Matthew. As he finished, I was about to get up and leave when he asked the audience to pray with the person next to them. There I was sitting in the far back of the church with no one next to me so I figured I would just leave, but then this elderly black lady a few rows in front of me turned around and smiled. I guess I had to stay.

 "Hello," I greeted quietly. "Do you..have any prayer requests?"
She nodded, and shared with me the names of an elderly couple in the church going through some health issues."They are very dear to me because they were like my parents," she explained, then asked, "Is there anything you would like me to lift up before the Lord?"
 I paused and thought, then said, "Well. I need wisdom. And I'm far away from home."
"Where are you from?"
"Seattle."
"I too am far away from home. I am from Malawi." I thought for a moment about what I knew of Malawi, and I remembered it was a land known for the red sun that rises over Lake Malawi in beautiful colors. "What is your name?"
"Marian."
"My name is Ryan. Pleased to meet you Sister Marian."
     For a moment I surprised myself because I hadn't heard (or used) such terminology since I left New York when I was five. I remember my mother and father would refer to someone as Sister A or Brother B when I was very young. The brethren don't speak like that on the west coast. I reminded myself I was back in the east again, and perhaps the Spirit moves differently out here.
      I asked Sister Marian if she would pray first.
      She thanked the Lord for His mercies and for granting us the blessing of being in such an Adventist institution. She prayed for the sick elderly couple, and then asked God to bestow upon "this young man" wisdom and strength from on high.
     When it was my turn, I was a bit bothered because I honestly hadn't prayed seriously in a long time, much less pray aloud. I thanked the Lord for His mercies and for the blessing of Adventist education. I asked for healing mercies, and that Sister Marian be comforted though far away from home she may be. I asked God for wisdom and strength because I was already having trouble in my studies (Lord knows how hard some classes are). And then I told Him I wanted to go home, Amen.
     She thanked me for praying with her and wished God's blessings on my studies.

     Throughout this prayer time with Sister Marian, I found myself using Advent vernacular, and saying things in prayer that I'm having a struggle believing in. I was uncomfortable praying, but I realized it's something I going to have to be doing a lot more.
     I've been telling myself something good then. I come to church to seek a blessing, because I need it, not because I need the attendance.

     And the western sun set through the stained glass windows of Pioneer Memorial.

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