Lent 2008 – Pink slip
Before getting into this entry, I need to make a few points.
– My intention was to post all of my experiences that pre-dated this blog before moving on to new occurrences which occurred after I created the blog. I am still going to do that, but I just had a new encounter last weekend that I am anxious to get to. I will hopefully get the rest of these entries up in the next week or so and then share me experience from last Sunday.
– But jumping ahead just for a second, I shared some of these ideas with a special group of people last Sunday and one person in particular shared that he and his wife have had similar experiences. They choose to call these “God-incidences” – a term that is so much more appropriate than my own “non-coincidences.” So I have decided to adopt his terminology. Thanks Jamie!
Each year for Lent, our parish holds weekly evening prayer on Wednesday evenings. In years past, this was only sparsely attended. When asked, many potential attendees indicated that because the prayer session was during or just after the dinner hour, it was very difficult to get home from work, feed the family, and get back to church for a short prayer meeting.
So it was a few years ago that this annual Lenten gathering turned into evening Soup and Prayer. A parishioner who owns a local restaurant generously donates two large kettles of soup each week and various types of bread so that all can gather to share a warm meal and fellowship with each other and then join together in prayer. This has become an event that I look forward to each year and I often volunteer to lead the prayer during one of the weeks.
We have a set format using printed prayer/song sheets with some scripture reading as well. There is also a brief period of time reserved for the prayer leader to give a short reflection or witness.
When I led prayer during the last Lenten season, I decided to do something a little bit different. I was inspired by the concept of fortune cookies. Just a week before, I shared dinner with my wife from a popular fast food Mexican food chain. Maybe you’ve seen the corny attempts at humor on the taco sauce packets from this chain?
I read one of them and then told my wife that was the dumbest thing I had ever heard before. I then picked up another packet of taco sauce for my taco. That packet read “The feeling is mutual”! (This is NOT the God-incidence, but I guess it could be).
I shared this story with those attending Soup & Prayer night. I also shared with them the idea that There are No Coincidences with God. I then pulled out a basket full of about 45 slips of colored paper about the size of the slip inside a fortune cookie. Each slip of paper was folded over twice to conceal the printed text.
Printed on each slip of paper was a different Lenten activity suggestion. I encouraged each person to pull out a slip and try to work the suggestion into his or her Lenten sacrifice. (I found the ideas here). Before passing the basket, I made brief mention again that there are no coincidences with God and that each person would choose the slip that God meant him or her to take. Some would be more difficult or more of a sacrifice than others, but all were within the means of the average person.
I printed the slips in advance and I read through all of them before printing them out. There was one in particular that I thought was a wonderful idea and I thought to myself, I might just do that anyway, regardless of what I ultimately pick out of the basket. That was the only suggestion that I specifically remembered by the time Soup & Prayer night was upon us.
After the basket made its way around the room and back to me, there were only ten or so slips left to choose from. I pulled one slip out and was ironically NOT amazed to discover that it was the very one I had been thinking of all along.
There was only one copy of each suggestion when I started. I did not pre-mark any of the slips and I did not take notice of which suggestion was printed on which color paper.