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Hand Washing as Prayer

How kinesthetic is this act of hand washing? Of soap and water sudsing, hands a-rubbing, fingers folding, interlocking, palms compressing and releasing, slipping one past the other, slick even slippery, signaling finally that it’s time to rinse.

What if, instead of counting obediently 1,2,3… instead of singing happy birthday mindlessly… we prayed intentionally?

The Lord’s Prayer, as we who follow Christ have been taught it, takes just over 20 seconds to pray if we rush through like a Sunday morning congregation. But what if, in the privacy of our own sinks, in thanks for the soap and the water, in fulfillment of the commandment to pray, in facing the world crisis which meets us today, we each gave God thanks for the cleansing?

I dare you to try it. Then, prepare to be blown away by the A-MEN. Speak AHH–, as the clear water rinses one hand completely and –MEN as you rinse the other. Forgiveness has never felt so real.

Here is my friend and sister-in-faith, Yoon, washing her hands as she prays the Lord’s prayer in Korean, her first language. How great must this chorus of voices praying in all languages sound to the ears of our God.

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Lord, hear our prayer

hand giving

You have given us a world of beauty, and we have spoilt it.
A world to feed us, and yet many go hungry.
A world of riches, and we are unwilling to share.
A world to care for, and we think only of ourselves.

Forgive us, gracious God,
for those times your heart is saddened by our selfishness.
For those times we have no thought of others,
no cares but ours.

Enable us to see this world anew, as a gift from you,
to be shared and nurtured.
Amen

Hi Daddy! Hi Daddy!

Start children off on the way they should go,
    and even when they are old they will not turn from it. ~ Proverbs 22:6

I’m sorry, but yes they will.

Some will step off accidentally and stumble right back on.

Some will wander off, oblivious to your calls and whistles.

Some will investigate that very pretty flower over there.

And some will test the boundaries every step of the way.

They most certainly will venture from it. It’s how they find their own way along a path with distinct boundaries but invisible guardrails. Kids are a distractable lot and tweens and teens are a naturally inquisitive bunch. Perhaps this is why we are advised to “start children off on the way they should go.” Children pay attention; they’re sponges for everything they see and hear.

One Sunday past, I sat behind Carly, a young mom, cradling her infant in a front pack. Her 2 year old son, Avery, stood next to her on the fabric seat of the pew. Grandpa had brought him in, but he wasn’t holding Avery’s hand. This boy was perfectly balanced; he was an experienced pew-stander. He demanded I shake his hand when the time for greeting was announced and then he remained standing for the anthem that was to follow.

Little Avery’s face just glowed with anticipation. Before the first chord, his happy voice rang out, “Hi Daddy! Hi Daddy!” Smiles on several faces looked his way, but Dad was focused on the music and its message. Avery’s dad Josh sang,

I believe in God our Father
I believe in Christ the Son
I believe in the Holy Spirit
Our God is three in one
I believe in the resurrection
That we will rise again
For I believe in the name of Jesus…

from, This I Believe, by Hillsong Worship

Hi Daddy! Hi Daddy!, sang Avery.

The promise we make to the children of our church upon the occasion of their baptism is this: “With God’s help, we will so order our lives after the example of Christ that these children, surrounded by steadfast love, may be established in the faith, and confirmed and strengthened in the way that leads to life eternal.”

Start children off on the way they should go, and …
…. even though they may wander and explore and adventure on their way, …
when they are old they will not turn from it. ~ Proverbs 22:6 (with my additions)

Oh, children… how wonderful it is to teach them. How magnificent it is to learn from them.

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