October 01, 2006

John Friesen - “Pray watchfully - watch prayerfully”

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In “Watch and Pray”, John Friesen used Mt 26:36-45 to illustrate from Jesus’ own dark night of the soul in the Garden of Gethsemane, the difficulties inherent in the command to “watch and pray”. He spoke of finding a book of personal prayers that was obviously a treasured part of someone’s library at one time. One prayer, hand-written into the book, touched John deeply. It was the kind of prayer that required one to live the examined life, instead of moving through life unaware. John illustrated with stories from his career, of people who had done both. Watching is not so much a prayer of self-examination, as it is of support, of empathy, of deep listening. John insists that this is possible for everyone, despite differences in desire and genetic predisposition. But often one’s natural desire is to be asleep during this process, which the disciples were. John points out this is a natural reaction to uncontrolled discomfort; nevertheless, it must be done. Many things in our society lull us into sleep, and it becomes difficult to tell where distraction leaves off and escape begins - for instance, avoidance and addiction. How do we react to the growing ecological crisis of our time? John’s trip to follow the life of Dietrich Bonhoeffer last summer demonstrated that the Germans of the time had fallen asleep to the danger that Hitler posed. John suggests that we in our church are asleep when we need to be awake and attentive to the needs around us. We have time for other activities, but no time for watching and praying. How should we shake off our timidity and engage people in a conversation for God in a caring manner? Quoting Fleming Rutledge in A New Liberalism of the Word, John suggests that a call to discipleship is the only thing powerful enough to effect the change we all want in our church, our society and our campuses. All we have to do to engage, is to watch and pray. [AP]


Passage: Mt 26:36-45
Communion: No
Ecumenical or Event:
Potluck Lunch: No
Congregational Meeting: No


Speaker: John Friesen
Worship Leader: Diane Ehling
Song Leader: Edwin Hintz
Pianist: Kathryn Schmidt
Usher: Rovin Karuna
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