“Prayer is in the Work”

The senior staff of Episcopal Relief & Development retreated to the Holy Cross Monastery in West Park, New York, last week.  It is a part of the Benedictine Order of the Holy Cross. This retreat, however, was not a retreat from the world.  We went to reflect on our work – to review our strategic plan, celebrate the successes, look at ways to improve and plan for the future.

The community invited us to share in their worship – an amazing gift of God’s grace.  We were blessed to have Brother Robert Sevensky, the Superior of the community, welcome us during our opening session.  He gave us a history of the Order, told us how grateful they were for the ministry of Episcopal Relief & Development and assured us of their prayers. 

Inside the front door at Holy Cross is their Rule: 

Love must act
As light must shine
And fire must burn

It reminded me of something that George Regas, former rector of All Saints in Pasadena, California (and my first boss out of seminary), would say as we gathered for our weekly staff meetings: “Prayer is in the work.”

It also reminded me of Episcopal Relief & Development’s call to heal a hurting world.  As we think of the work of Christ on this Good Friday – of loving, healing, redeeming – we need to let our “love act” and to see that our work can be a prayer.  Today is also Earth Day, another timely reminder that we need to find ways to act and work to bring about meaningful change so all living beings in Creation can enjoy Christ’s promise to “have life and have it abundantly” (John 10:10). 

One way that Episcopal Relief & Development is working, praying and healing the earth and its inhabitants is with the Church of Melanesia in the Solomon Islands. Together, we are implementing programs to offset the effects of global warming: rising ocean waters and frequent storm surges that cause salt water to infiltrate community wells and soil, damaging residents’ agrarian way of life and livelihoods. Check out how permaculture is our work and prayer – love in action!   

On this Friday and on Fridays throughout the year, the collect for Mission from Morning Prayer says it all:

Lord Jesus Christ, you stretched out your arms of love on the hard wood of the cross that everyone might come within  the reach of your saving embrace: So clothe us in your Spirit that we, reaching forth our hands in love, may bring those who do not know you to the knowledge and love of you; for  the honor of your Name. Amen.

Have a blessed Good Friday as we look forward to the Pascal Feast of Easter! 

Brian Sellers-Petersen is Director of Church Engagement at Episcopal Relief & Development.

Photo: Over the doorway of the guest house at Holy Cross Monastery are the words “Crux est Mundi Medicina” – “The cross is the medicine of the world.” Photo courtesy of Br. Randy Greve, OHC.