Sunday church services focus on what we call “the sacrament” in my Church. The sacrament consists of small pieces of bread and small cups of water, one of which we each eat and drink in remembrance of Jesus. After Covid-19 forced churches to close, Church leaders authorized the men of the Church to use their priesthood authority to provide the sacrament at home to their families and others. While the church buildings are again open for in-person attendance, Mom and Dad have been too weak to go. How pleased and privileged I felt to use priesthood authority to prepare the bread and water, to kneel and offer the prescribed prayers, and to distribute the sacramental emblems to Mom and Dad. After we partook, Mom looked up at me from her chair and said sweetly, “Thank you so much. That was very special.” As a threesome, we discussed how the sacrament serves several purposes. We remember Jesus, his infinite loving sacrifice for us, and his ongoing atonement. We covenant anew to obey God’s commandments, and to love and serve our neighbor. We recommit to repent and to strive to be our best selves. And we express our gratitude for our life and blessings. After our intimate church service, we broke our fast and enjoyed leftover creamy vegetable soup and toasted ciabatta.
Prayer Rock by Laura Baker
Prayer has never come easy for me. I avoid it, put it off, wander in my thoughts, cut it short. Yet, I pray every day, because I have been told to, all my life. It’s what I should do, they said. I also pray because I want to believe that someone is listening and caring and responding. But really I pray because I cannot deny a subtle, loving presence that abides and sustains when I am prayerful. Prayerful through formal kneeling prayers as well as daily mindfulness.
For a family activity, we had each child choose a special rock from our faux riverbed, a rock to paint. Laura (now 20) painted this rock when she was a young girl. She gave it to me: a present for dad. I keep it on my nightstand where I see it every morning and every night. I call it my prayer rock. I reminds me to bend my knee and bow my head, in humility, in gratitude, in desperate supplication, in recognition of the divine.
I offer to you two short poems on prayer. Fitful, imperfect, but sincere prayer.
YES, I PRAY
Do you pray morning and night? they asked.
I wondered, Do I?
I pray all the day long.
My life is a prayer.
Living is a prayer–
a sacred expression of dreams, frustrations, loves, and straining efforts;
a reaching out to the One who can reveal the mysteries hidden deep within;
a cry of faith and despair, of struggle and the hope of victory;
an ever truer reconciliation of heaven and earth.
Yes, I pray.
I am here, and
I am listening.