Praying for joy

In the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, Amen.

Lord Almighty, I thank You for always being present to hear my prayers and problems, whether they may be the heaviest burdens or merely the day-to-day issues that many others might find insignificant.

As always, Father, I thank You for my job, and I thank You once again for the freedom of religion and freedom of expression that comes with that job, giving me the opportunity to once again approach You within the 800-word column space that has been so generously given to me every week for the past 12 years.

I come to You, Father, at a time when there is great upheaval among Your children and Your churches, and times of transition for many of us that follow You in this area.

I come with absolutely no moral high ground of my own, as I am merely a broken sinner with the same flaws as everyone else in the Strait area and around the world. However, as one of Your followers, how could I not bring anything that weighs on my heart directly to You before choosing a course of action?

And so I pray.

I pray for all those in the Roman Catholic Diocese of Antigonish who find themselves mired in the difficult practice of so-called “pastoral planning,” a pleasant-sounding synonym for the agonizing task of determining whether any part of the diocese has enough church buildings and parish structures to accommodate the shrinking and aging number of Catholic priests and congregants.

I pray for all those who have already lost churches and parishes in recent years. Please give them comfort, healing, and the wisdom to remember that Your presence and power are far stronger and longer-lasting than any church building or hall ever constructed. Your Son Jesus said: “Heaven and earth may pass away, but My words will never pass away.”

I pray for everyone involved in the ongoing discussions regarding churches, parish halls and parish-owned properties such as athletic fields in Isle Madame’s Stella Maris Pastoral Unit. May Your healing and reconciliation prevail in these difficult times, and may a true cooperative spirit emerge in the days, weeks and months to come.

I pray for the Friends of Notre Dame and everyone now tasked with raising funds and commandeering human resources to ensure the safety, refurbishment and continued operation of Our Lady of Assomption Church in Arichat. I pray that the recent repairs to St. Joseph’s Parish Hall in nearby Petit de Grat will put wind in the sails of this effort and help all involved recognize that liability and insurance issues can be addressed expediently when we join together in Christ’s name.

I pray for all diocesan priests, particularly those who find themselves tasked with acting as point men and spokespersons for difficulties such as those currently experienced by Stella Maris Pastoral Unit. In that spirit, Lord, I pray for Father Doug MacDonald, and ask that You provide Him with the compassion, courage, wisdom and patience to bring Isle Madame’s followers through this pivotal time.

I pray for those raising funds to refurbish the former St. John’s Anglican Church building in Arichat. I thank You for allowing the Anglican church to thrive in Isle Madame for such a lengthy period before its 2014 closure, and pray for those working to ensure Anglican churches continue to operate in other Strait area communities.

I think You for the show of solidarity displayed by the Port Hawkesbury churches that participated in the prayer walk that marched across town for the recent Week of Christian Unity. I pray that Your followers across town and around the Strait area will continue to show that there is strength in numbers – even as we recall Your truth that “where two or three are gathered in My name, there am I among them.”

I pray for incoming CityReach Port Hawkesbury pastors Janelle and Steve Keough. I pray for outgoing CityReach Port Hawkesbury pastors Stephanie and Mario Borsato. Thank You for sharing both of them with us over the past year.

I pray for comfort, strength and healing for the family, friends and former church colleagues of Bonnie Sawler, a constant presence at Causeway Pentecostal Church in Port Hawkesbury during her husband Art’s tour of duty as that church’s pastor. May Bonnie feel the true joy that comes with walking hand in hand with the Father and the Son.

I pray that we will all feel that joy someday – and that we may feel the joy of following You today and every day.

I offer all of these prayers as your humble servant, in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.