Prepare a sacred place to pray at home
By By the Rev. Ann L. Whitaker/special to The Star
March 2, 2002
Our homes have many different places in them: A place to sleep, eat, cook and even bathe. But what about a place to pray?
It need not be elaborate, but should contain things of a religious significance. A simple table, even your dining table the family gathering place can be transformed into a simple altar, a prayer space, a sacred place. Fabric in liturgical colors (like purple for Lent) can be used with a candle or two, cross and a Bible.
It's often been said that a picture is worth a thousand words and visual images of religious significance are important for young and old alike but especially for children. This sacred place can be a place to tell and hear the stories of God, a place to mourn the loss of a pet or any relationship, a place to celebrate again and again the seasons of our lives birthdays, anniversaries, driver's license and all the many other passages of rite we experience in our lives. It can become for us a place where we experience relationship with one another as family (with so many definitions), and with God.
Your child or teen may prefer to create a prayer space in their own room. A dresser or night table, even a closet can be such a place. Encourage them. Many things can go on this altar/prayer place objects from nature like seashells, wooden sticks, rocks, things made in school or Sunday School or pictures. In an increasing secular world, objects such as these are reminders of all that God has created.
These prayer spaces, however, are not a substitute for gathering in community each week for worship. In the liturgy for Ash Wednesday, we are invited "in the name of the church, to the observance of a holy Lent, by self-examination and repentance; by prayer, fasting and self-denial; and by reading and meditating on God's holy word." ("Book of Common Prayer," page 265). We have many opportunities to come together as a community to reflect on the life of Jesus this Lent.
One of the often overlooked opportunities is Stations of the Cross, held Friday evenings at 5:30 at Church of the Mediator through March 22. After Jesus' death and resurrection, many people began to reflect on the events of his life. They made trips to Jerusalem to walk where Jesus had walked. People would stop along the way to recall what had happened to Jesus in a particular place.
As Christianity began to spread, it was difficult for people to visit Jerusalem, but they still wanted to know and remember. This desire to walk in the way of the cross gave way to the devotion known as the Stations of the Cross. Pictorial representations of each event in Jesus' final few earthly hours are commemorated. Walking the way of the cross is an invitation for us to more deeply enter into the mystery of Christ, as we utilize our senses, emotions and our own experiences. Join us on Fridays.
Closets (as in prayer) and community are the paths to Jerusalem for us this Lent as we journey in preparation for the grand celebration of Easter.
The Rev. Ann L. Whitaker is on staff with The Church of the Mediator.