I started seminary the fall after I graduated college. I moved across the country and, as it happened, away from a Church situation that was…unhealthy…for me. It had been difficult for more than a year before I left. I felt I had little community at my Church; I was not being fed spiritually. I even thought about switching denominations. I couldn’t. I wanted and needed a better community. And I was about to move 2,000 miles away from the support I did have.
With no way to fix the situation I was in and no control over what would come, I prayed. I started with no idea which seminary I would attend and no information about my future classmates. Knowing that another unhealthy community would nearly kill my life in this Church I loved and wanted to serve, I prayed. For my classmates, for how our community would be, for who we would be and become together. For eighteen months, I prayed my future, in blind faith that it might be true.
There was a moment where I knew. Knew that seminary, along with all of its challenges, would be better, would feed me. I kept praying–to remind God and myself.
One of the most frequent questions I hear (and I suspect most priests hear) is about the purpose and efficacy of prayer. Do we pray to a God who listens? A God who answers? Why are there fewer miracles? Why are so many prayers unanswered? Our answers are tepid at best. Of course God listens, wants to answer. Miracles were likely natural cures in a time without scientific understanding. ‘No’ is an answer. We have to trust that God knows what we need better than we do. Prayer is a meditative exercise meant to change us. Worst of all: Miracles are knowledge of the presence of God.
I don’t know. My prayers are often unanswered. I have not witnessed a miracle, God’s intervening action in the world. It often seems that I am praying into a void or as some sort of meditative exercise not communication with the God who calls me beloved.
But I also know that my seminary class was a healthy community where I was nurtured and healed.
For the past eighteen months I have been again been praying my future, from long the first moment I knew my time there was coming to an end. I prayed for my Churches as I always had. I also prayed for the Church that was calling me as their priest. Long before I started searching, long before I had any idea where I would be looking, I prayed.
I prayed for their discernment, for my discernment, for the palpable movement of the Holy Spirit. As I discerned with different Churches, I added prayers for them specifically. As I kept looking, as the months stretched out, as I heard “not you,” as friends started to delightedly announce new positions and I had nothing to announce. I prayed.
Now, after so many prayers:
I am delighted to announce that I have been called as the next rector of St Peter’s Anglican Church in Edmonton.