Friday afternoon food giveaways here pulsate with noise—as 100-150 neighborhood folks in the sanctuary wait for food, they talk with each other, with staff, with their kids. Some talk to themselves. The children play up front, volunteers call out numbers, cell phones ring, babies cry, chairs squeak. And the architecture joins in—each step of each person beats on the floor like a hardwood drum; and the walls and ceiling throw all the noise every which way.
In the midst of all this, on a Friday in February, Lynn Peterson introduced a man to me: “Pastor Bill, this is Gary.” We shook hands. Gary was in a hurry and got right to the point: “Will you pray for me? Tomorrow’s the one year anniversary of my sobriety. And a month ago, my girlfriend died. I’m real scared I might start drinkin’. There’s no AA meeting I can get to on Saturday and I really don’t want to backslide.” And right there, in the middle of all that hullabaloo, Gary bowed his head. I put my hands on his shoulders and I prayed—that he might stay dry one more day; that he might know God’s love even as he grieves; that the food he receives would strengthen him, and much more.
After the Amen, we opened our eyes. And, though the cacophony never stopped, Gary’s earnest plea for prayer made all that noise disappear and turned our sanctuary into a quiet place to pray.