Monday, May 25, 2015

Look, we heard it was at Ephrata…

I've never kept a ‘prayer journal,’ but because the Psalms has been my daily ‘prayer book’ what has happened is that the memory of certain answered prayers has attached itself to various verses in different psalms. When I read (and pray) them year after year, the memories that come unlocked when I read these various verses keep the incidents alive in my active mind.

One example…

There's a psalm verse that refers to the capture of the ark by the Philistines and its recovery by the Israelites. ‘Look, we heard it was at Ephrata, we found it at Fields of the Forest [Kiriath Jearim]. Let us go where He is waiting and worship at His footstool. (Psalm 132, Day 28)

Many years ago, when I was attending a small Episcopal church, it so happened that a thief had broken into the church one night and carried off the priest’s pectoral cross, and the silver chalice and other ceremonial objects that are used in the communion service, leaving nothing behind. This happened perhaps on a Sunday or Monday night. The word of this calamity was passed along to the members of our small, inner city congregation, and we all started praying for the return of these items so that we could have the service the following Sunday.

Well, as I prayed using the Psalms on the thirty day cycle, which means, I pray the psalms assigned for the day of the month, to which I also add my petitions, I started praying for the return of the stolen sacramentals. On the day of the month that Psalm 132 falls, I prayed this psalm and added my petitions to it, aware of the fact that the theme of this psalm was similar to our unhappy circumstances. By that evening, I received a call telling us what happened that day.

A woman called the church and said she was walking in Kelley Point Park (a kind of forest preserve on the banks of the Willamette River), and she saw a cardboard box lying under a large tree against the base of the trunk. She went over to it in that lonely place, and found inside the box a number of silver objects, the paten, the chalice, and some other things. She was very surprised, but had a suspicion that there was some mischief involved, so she picked up the box and took it home, and was about to call the police when she noticed, upon closer examination, that one of the objects was engraved, ‘Dedicated to Saint Andrew's Parish, to the glory of God, in memory of…’. So she went to the Portland telephone directory and looked for a church named Saint Andrew's. The first one that she came across was our parish. She called the priest and asked if they were missing any sacred vessels. Of course, we were missing some, all of them in fact!

The woman told the priest her story, and where she was living, and he went right over there and retrieved them. Only one item was not in the box—his pectoral cross (that's the one a priest wears around his neck during the services).

The woman found these items at approximately the same time in the morning that I was praying Psalm 132. That memory has never been erased, but continues fresh till today. That's one example from my unwritten ‘prayer journal.’

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