By J. Hogan
Gains & Gleanings
Every day/date is the national day of something, most of them are the national day of multiple things. I mostly walk around oblivious to it.
May 6 was the National Day of Prayer. There have been years, I’m sure, when I’ve been unaware of the National Day of Prayer.
Each day is a day of prayer for me and mine. It’s ingrained at this point. I don’t really need a calendar reminder to cry out to God in need or gratitude. Frankly, I can’t imagine, given the mess that I am with prayer, how much of a mess I’d be without it.
But I got a calendar reminder this year.
It came in the mail from our friends at First Baptist Church of McKees Rocks, by way of an invitation to join them in a joint prayer service on the evening of the National Day of Prayer. I announced it at our service the two Sundays prior, and was pleasantly surprised to see many folks from Faithbridge standing on the sidewalk across from the WWI Doughboy statue at Sto-Rox High School, waiting to head into First Baptist, when Teressa and I arrived with our daughter Tabitha.
Pastor Jay Freudenberg, visiting worship band Sanitarium Road (named after the Washington County road, not the path they’re on!) and the First Baptist family were very welcoming. We were joined by other folks, mostly, it seemed, from Christ Community Church on Chartiers Avenue, along with Stowe Commissioner Cherly McDermott, State Rep. Anita Kulik and our local magistrate, Bruce Boni.
Someone else showed up, which made this truly worth writing about.
The Holy Spirit was on the scene.
As the band led us through beautiful songs, our young daughter leaned over toward me, joining her voice in harmony with my wife’s and my own. Tabs is 13, and a bit shy about showing emotion, but when I glanced at her singing “Here’s my heart, Lord” with her hands upturned toward the Heavens, I saw tears in her eyes.
The whole building resonated with singing, and as we prayed, I could feel the community of the body of Christ hanging on the words laid before our Father.
As each pray-er finished their prayers for our nation and its people, the concerns of our hearts, and the mission work of being a blessing to others, I knew the “amen” — that ancient declaration of agreement in beseeching — would resound.
God’s presence elevated the gathering above anything that any of we humans could have brought to the table that evening, and I found myself thinking of gathered congregations praying in the unity of spirit across the nation, crying out to God with our hearts during these odd and often troubling times.
You can’t truly explain to someone who’s never felt the presence of God when it befalls a room. It’s a mysterious and powerful thing, one brimming with awe and potential.
It’s addictive. Once you experience it, you want to keep experiencing it.
Thankfully, that’s what God wants for us.
Thank you First Baptist Church for a wonderful evening together in God’s presence.
Rev. James Hogan is a native of Stowe Township and serves as pastor of Faithbridge Community Church in McKees Rocks.