I got mine 9 years ago.

I had made several myself, but I had not really thought about receiving one. And then it happened to me a time in this life when it feels a bit like someone pulled a chair out from under you or tripped you up or knocked the breath out of you. Death. Up close and personal.

No doubt one of the most influential people in my life died. My father. Our then 9 year old son said, “But he was the main excitement!” when we told him the sad news. I still can’t think of a better way to describe my dad the main excitement.

And almost immediately upon learning to live with this new reality, I received a Prayer Shawl. I have no idea which Needler made it. I knew it wasn’t one that I had made. It didn’t matter whose needles had whipped this beautiful creation into shape, as soon as I draped it over my shoulders I felt it the love, the comfort, the prayers. And 9 years later it is always close, draped over the arm of my favorite chair in our family room.

We talk a lot about missions around here. Much of that focus is around issues of poverty like homelessness and hunger. We also talk a lot about our partnership with our sister church in Cuba. And this is good good stuff.

But I love that folks who may not be able to travel to Cuba or may not be able to spend the night with Room in the Inn have found a way to put their mission-minded spirit into action in an innovative and creative way. They knit, they crochet, they sew. And in so-doing, they are bringing healing, hope and comfort to those who grieve and those who are sick. They bring peace to those who are lonely or afraid. Their prayers are in their handiwork.

And it makes all the difference.

It all started over 10 years ago when Sara Eggleston had the brilliant idea of a
Prayer Shawl ministry. She gathered her crew, and they started knitting. And they
haven’t stopped. But they have expanded. They expanded to baby quilts and stocking caps for preemies and children who are sick. They expanded to pillowcase dresses for little girls in Haiti. They expanded to toiletry packs that include washcloths and basic hygiene necessities. Thousands of feet of yarn and thousands of yards of material are all over our church and our community and our country and even our world that originated in the hands of many women of our church.

They have used their gifts and brought healing in places that are broken. And that is ministry and mission at its best.

This Sunday, March 8, 2015, when you arrive for worship, the front of the sanctuary will be filled with many of the shawls and quilts and blankets and dresses that are ready to be sent out to do their healing. We will offer a blessing upon these crafts and a word of thanksgiving for those who made them. And we will pray for those who will receive them.

As I prepare for that time of blessing and as I craft my prayer for that moment in worship, I will wrap my own shawl around my shoulders so that my prayer will be undergirded by the prayers of many - nine year old prayers that sustain me still.

Thanks be to God for people who spend the night with the homeless, for people who go to Cuba, for people who pack Backpack Snacks, for people who serve food to the hungry and for people who knit and sew and crochet.