“Rebekah and Derek Go to Church” – in a wheelchair

“The place God calls you to is the place where your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet.”

Frederick Buechner

He heals the brokenhearted
    and binds up their wounds.
He determines the number of the stars
    and calls them each by name.
Great is our Lord and mighty in power;
    his understanding has no limit.

Psalm 147:3-5

When I started this “Derek and Rebekah Go to Church” series, back in August of ’21, I had no idea there could be so many permutations. Now I understand that the possibilities are likely limitless; that realization is both inviting and a little concerning at the same time!

So I am thankful that Hudson Memorial Presbyterian Church takes accessibility seriously, even though it felt strange to use the “handicapped parking” without an official sticker on my car. Then I thought about the fact that God’s love is limitlessly accessible too, and of course that comes with no caveat, no labelling, no suggestion that some people may need special accommodations.

With God there is no, “Well you’re not really the kind of person we’re looking for, but I guess we’ll take you.” There is no question of, “I’m not sure these are the right kind of people…” from our Creator.

(Although I will never forget the complaints that came from the “Old Guard” at one church we served, when steady growth – that included people from all walks of life and backgrounds – was criticized because, “Rebekah attracts the wrong kinds of people…”)

But I digress. Sunday morning it just felt good to be in church together; it always does.

Prayer Doves:

Pastor Mac is an excellent preacher, and he did a really good job of addressing the frustration and pain we are all feeling in response to events like the massacre of so many children at a Texas school this past week.

The sanctuary at Hudson is adorned with hundreds of colorful paper doves – “Prayer Doves” – an initiative from the children’s ministry. Mac used them as a visual prop to help communicate his message.

I would have needed my Nikon DSLR camera to properly capture the effect the paper doves have in the church, but they are hung in several lines, coming from various places in the balcony and all converging on the cross over the chancel. Additional doves cover the massive windows, so that it is impossible to look out into the world without also looking through a prayer dove.

One of Mac’s points was that the consummate, endless, heart-wrenching frustration we all feel in response to so much hate and brutality, pain that seems impossible for us to effectively address, can be mitigated through prayer. Not “thoughts and prayers” as a substitute for action, but prayer as the language of our relationship with our Creator, prayer that brings our spirits into alignment with the Spirit of God, prayer that invites Jesus into the conversation, the suffering, the tears, the anguish, the moving forward.

– North Carolina writer, Derek Maul

We cannot – we dare not – look out from the church and into the world without prayer. The doves in the window must be the filter through which we view the world, how we interact with real life.

Presbyterian preacher/theologian Frederick Buechner said, “The place God calls you to is the place where your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet.”

My deep gladness – our deep gladness – is new life in Jesus. The world’s deep hunger is evident. Prayer helps us to connect Jesus to the world’s deep need.


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