Meditation written and read by Cathy Tamsberg.
One of the most meaningful aspects of the morning Eucharist at St. Mary’s Abbey was the prayer offered before we gathered in a circle around the altar to share the bread and the cup. It was special because the pray-er was Sister Mary John, the Guest Sister with whom I had communicated via snail mail to arrange our visit—they don’t do email—and the one who shared tea with us on most afternoons. We were surprised to find that she is a native of New York who has spent the last 52 years at the abbey, a portion of those years as the Abbess.
In addition to my fondness for who was offering the prayer was the fact that Sister Mary John prayed for so many by name: The Archbishop of Canterbury, the Pope, the Queen, leaders of other Christian groups, Muslims and Jews and persons of other faiths, local Deans and leaders—clergy and lay—in the Anglican churches in the area, people in nations in Africa with whom the Sisters have a relationship, Sisters in the abbey on their anniversaries (both when they took vows and when they died, I think), local people who were ill or had special needs, and each of us who were guests at the abbey. All were prayed for by name. “Ministers Cathy and Felicia” is how she referred to us, and it was deeply moving to have this dear, faithful woman pray for us by name. She included us in her prayer each day we were their guests.
For me, Isaiah 43 is one of the most moving passages in our Scriptures. It begins with that wonderful verse, “Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine.” (v.1) Hearing our names called by persons who care for us touches our hearts. It’s why we name our Joys and Concerns in worship, not just for information purposes, which is important, but because we want to offer our prayers for them as unique people before God. We call the names of our “saints” on the first Sunday in November as we mark All Saints Day in our desire to celebrate their unique gifts to us and give thanks for those dear to us who have died.
If you don’t already have a “prayer list” of people for whom you specifically pray, make one today. Put it in your computer or on a piece of paper. Keep it in your purse or your car, on your desk or by your bed. Then pray regularly for those on your list by name. According to the prophet, God calls us by name. We would do well to do the same for others.
This meditation is from “Lent: Sowing Season, Holy Time,” a collection of daily readings by Associate Pastor Cathy Tamsberg. Each day during Lent, from Ash Wednesday, February 13, 2013, to Easter Sunday, March 31, 2013, a new excerpt read by a member of the Pullen congregation will be made available. To hear each day’s reading as it is published, subscribe to Pullen’s RSS feed, or listen to the podcast in iTunes.