As many of you know, I have been part of a prayer circle that started in response to violent deaths a short ten blocks from Christ Church. For fifteen months we gathered weekly to pray at 3:00 p.m. A variety of people have come across those Sundays, including some who live in the neighborhood. After a period of discernment, the core of the prayer circle has decided that we will now gather to pray together in that spot on the first Sunday of the month, rather than weekly. I invite you to come at 3:00 p.m. on December 3 to join the circle.

Before this experience, I had not had much experience in interfaith or ecumenical prayer circles. I had prayer experiences of shared grace before meals, sacristy prayer times, and praying with families gathered around the bedside of someone who is sick or dying. Those prayer times are rich, deep, and important, though frequently the prayers offered are a little longer than a collect from the Book of Common Prayer. What I have come to learn, experience, and receive in this prayer circle over these months is the richness of intercessory prayer (that is prayer for the needs of others) which is shared, supported, and echoed within the voiced prayers of the circle. Sometimes the prayer lasts as short as five minutes but more frequently the prayer lasts for 20 minutes. It is prayer that takes its time and that rests within God’s kairos time.

This past Sunday, tragedy, and horror was coming to First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, Texas. I have so many thoughts – but those came after my initial reaction to the news, which I heard upon leaving the prayer circle. From one place where blood had been spilled to another so far away and in such different circumstances, I prayed for the same healing, peace, and unity for Sutherland Springs that I have prayed for week upon week at Montgomery and Henry Streets. So in addition to whatever political actions you might take or conversations you may have, please put your heart into some deep prayer to encircle that far away community where blood has been spilled.

PS – I also invite you to read a blog from Dr. Gena Minnix at Seminary of the Southwest which walks through some self-care questions in the face of tragedy.