From Advertiser Files of 2007
By Sigrid Hanson
All writers in Op Ed are here to inform and acknowledge issues of importance to our communities, however these writings represent the views and opinions of the authors and not necessarily of The Advertiser.
Last week, I heard some details of an unusual pool tournament awards banquet. Then on Sunday, I listened to a good sermon based on the prayer of Jesus (John 17) before he went to the cross. Both the sermon and story about the pool banquet brought the subject of unity into sharp focus, right to the center of my attention.
John’s Gospel records the prayer Jesus prays for his disciples, present and future: “I do not ask on behalf of these alone, but for those also who believe in me through their word; that they may all be one, even as you, Father, are in me and I in You, that they also may be in us, that the world may believe that you have sent me” (17: 20-21).
Earlier, Jesus had suggested how this unity with the Father and with each other could come about: “If anyone loves me, he will keep my word; and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him . . . the Helper will come, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name” (John 14: 23, 26).
It is the Holy Spirit who creates unity. Paul tells the believers at Colossi to “put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity” (Col. 3:14). The Bible also tells us that God is love. It is clear then, that when the Spirit of God indwells a person, love will be there. Love will create unity with others indwelt by the Holy Spirit of God because love is “the perfect bond of unity,” and God is love (I John 4:8).
The disciples first received the Holy Spirit in a quiet meeting with the risen Christ immediately after the resurrection (John 20:21-22). Later, on the Day of Pentecost, when the Spirit came in power on the whole company of believers, the Presence was signaled by an amazing unity among the waiting followers of Jesus. We learn in Acts 1:14 that “These all with one mind were continually devoting themselves to prayer” and that “they were all together in one place” (Acts 2:1).
The subject of unity comes into focus from Sunday’s sermon and also from the details of the occurrence at the “Pool Room” in Edgefield last week. I learned the specifics from a person who was there. They are as follows.
Tuesday, May 15, was the night of the pool tournament awards banquet at the Edgefield Billiard Parlor. Miss Doris “was on hand with her cakes” to help with the festivities. Food was to be shared and awards given. The gentleman in charge began the evening with an invocation, and somehow–spontaneously–it became a prayer event. One by one, those assembled all began raising their hands for a turn to tell what was on their hearts and minds. The others would then pray silently. The prayers just kept on coming. It was a diverse group, and there were some heavy concerns.
“Everybody had a prayer and everyone was prayed for,” my source explained, still amazed. “I felt like saying…’Dear God, thank you for friends’!”
Besides “prayer” and “friends,” “teamwork” was another word worked into the story of the pool awards banquet. For teamwork or intercessory prayer to exist, unity has to come first. That night, there was clearly more on the program than awards even for teamwork, even for excellent performance in a billiards competition. In fact, besides being “all together in one place” those present were also “of one mind.” Amazing! They were “all devoting themselves to prayer,” as well, though the purpose of the event was something quite different. It would seem that the organizer of the occasion was actually the Holy Spirit, the one who brings about the “perfect bond of unity.”
We can be sure of this: If the Son of God asks the Father for something, he will have it. Unity will happen and prayer will come naturally. Get with a friend, pray for our nation.