Like a warm sweater on a cold day

Today, I just wanted to give a shout out to a wonderful little sub-group within our parish that most of the folks who gather here on Sunday morning don’t know. They’re our Wednesday congregation.

Our Wednesday group is an eclectic bunch. Some weeks we’re just three or four in number. Some weeks we’re eight or nine. Some of our Wednesday regulars are also Sunday stalwarts. But others are folks you rarely or never see here on Sunday morning. Some are members of other churches. In fact, a couple are in leadership roles in other churches, but they like to come here on Wednesdays because … well, because it’s different. 

“No matter how I feel when I enter, during the service I find a peace that I can’t find anywhere else,” says Judith Helton, a parishioner at St. Martha’s, Westminster, who has been regularly attending here on Wednesday for over a year. “It’s wonderful. It’s like putting on a warm sweater in cool weather. It’s just very, very comforting. It’s just an uplifting experience, and you don’t get that everywhere.”

On Wednesdays, we gather in our chapel. (Sometimes the stuffed panda joins us; sometimes not.) The service is quite informal. I don’t vest, though I do usuallyremember to put on my stole. We take turns reading the lessons, and if it’s a saint’s day, I’ll give a brief homily about that particular saint’s life. I’ve learned a lot of church history in this way. Whatever else they are, saints are invariably fascinating, and hearing something of their back story is worth the time it takes to dig it up. 

We go through a litany of prayers for healing, praying specifically for the sick, for the disabled, for sick children, for those awaiting surgery, for those who live with chronic pain and illness, for the weary, the dying, the anxious and lonely, for those struggling with mental health issues, for health care workers and all who minister to the sick, and those who search for the causes and cures of disease. It’s a litany taken from the Church of England, adapted for use here at St. James. 

Then one by one, people come forward with specific prayer requests, and we all lay hands on each individual and we pray. It’s incredibly powerful. Then we pass the peace.

During Communion, we communicate each other, passing the bread and wine from person to person until all have received. While that wouldn’t be practical on Sunday morning, this is a luxury that a small, intimate group can enjoy.

After the service, the meal continues. We adjourn to the Parish Hall or one of the downstairs classrooms, and eat lunch together. Officially, this is a brownbag lunch. But often as not, we raid the refrigerator to see what’s to be found in there and turn it into more of a potluck. 

In short, it’s a supportive, wonderful community to be a part of. If you’ve never come to our Wednesday service, give it a thought. You might find that the fellowship and intimacy of our healing service is just what the doctor ordered.