Just before nine o’clock on Saturday morning, I was beckoned to join a circle of chairs in the lobby of a church building that used to house a Wal-Mart. I wasn’t just beckoned, actually, I was hollered at as I walked through the door, “Elizabeth, we’ve got a seat for you right over here!”
Man, I thought. People know my name around here.
So I sat down.
Oh, I didn’t mention it was a prayer circle, did I? It caught me a little off guard because I wasn’t going to the church for a prayer meeting. I was going to the church on Saturday for the third day of a conference. Yes, a conference. A conference for–wait for it–storytellers. (Now who thinks I fall into that category? Anybody?) It was only the third day of a conference and I was getting called out by name. Goodness.
So there I found myself, at the conference-turned-prayer-meeting.
The prayer began, and people I didn’t know–or at least only barely knew–walked up to me, laying hands on my shoulders, and whispered prayers on my behalf. And not just on my behalf, of course, but on behalf of each of the thirty or so folks sitting around that big long table.
That murmuring chorus of song-prayer sound was a sound I was familiar with deep inside, from my growing-up years.
But, truth be told, it was a prayer sound I don’t hear very much these days. Because I don’t go to that kind of church.
I grew up in a loosely Pentecostal environment. Now I’m Baptist. And though my church is perched on a branch of the Baptist family tree that goes by the name of “cooperative,” we don’t tend to “cooperate” (ha ha) with very many independent churches like the one I found myself in on Saturday morning.
And on mornings like that, I ask myself, Why the heck don’t we?
I’ve still got Pentecostal blood in me, even if you don’t see it on Sunday mornings in my little church in my little town. Sometimes I even start to forget. But then I get surprised–by a prayer meeting, an old family song, one of my aunts praising Jesus, or Scripture jumping off the page–and I remember again.
I get goosebumps and I remember.
Because that was the community that shaped me. That was how I learned to love Jesus.
A few minutes into the prayer time on Saturday morning, someone else snuck in the door and was ushered to a seat right next to mine. She sat down and looked around, probably feeling a little curious as to what was going on. The gentleman across the table from us leaned forward.
“We’re just receiving blessings,” he whispered.
We’re just receiving blessings.