Praying for Stephanie

IMG_0479for Sunday, February 23, 2014
7th Sunday in Ordinary Time
7th Sunday after Epiphany
Year A
lectionary focus: Matthew 5:38-48

We all know that Jesus said, Love your neighbor as yourself. But in today’s Bible story from the Book of Matthew, Jesus says this a different way. Jesus says, Love your enemies and pray for them.

When I was in school, there was a girl in my class named Stephanie. I didn’t like Stephanie. She hummed all of the time. It drove me crazy. I knew that Jesus said I should love my neighbor, so I loved Stephanie. While I didn’t like her because she hummed all of the time, it was easy to love her because I just ignored her. I didn’t sit next to her in the lunchroom or during circle time. I didn’t choose the same activities she was doing. I just avoided her…but hey, look Jesus, I still loved her.

Then one day, our teacher, Mr. Wesemann, gave us projects to do and assigned us each a partner for our project. I bet you can guess whom my partner was…Stephanie.
Ugh! Why her? Why the humming girl?

But Jesus said, Love your enemies and pray for them.

So I started praying! Please God, fix Stephanie! Make her stop humming.
But even though I kept praying for her, she didn’t change!
I kept praying, Why God? Why don’t you change her?

Then one day, as Stephanie and I worked on our project, she was humming again. I couldn’t stand it. I blurted out, “Why do you hum all of the time? Would you just stop it?!”
And Stephanie snapped back, “Why are you always drumming on the table? Would you just stop it?”
We glared at each other.

That night, when I prayed, I apologized to God. I didn’t realize my drumming was driving Stephanie crazy. I was just drumming. I guess, like she was just humming. I realized that praying for Stephanie didn’t mean that I was to ask God to fix Stephanie; praying for my enemies meant I was to ask God to fix our relationship, to fix us from not being friends to being friends.

The next day Stephanie and I sat down to work on our project. We were both grumpy. Then Stephanie said, “Hey, I thought our project could use a little pizazz. So I wrote a song for it.” And when she sang the song, it was really great! And the best part…well, one of the best parts, was it had my name in it. And as she sang, I automatically started drumming along with it. And as I drummed, Stephanie nodded her head and smiled.

That night when I said my prayers, I thanked God for Stephanie and that we had been partners. And I thanked God for fixing us, for helping us find a way to be friends.

Jesus asks us to do some weird things. Praying for our enemies certainly sounds odd. But when we pray for God to fix our relationships, we all come out better.

Will you pray with me? (This is an echo prayer: the leader says a line and the children repeat it.)

Dear Lord,
Thank You
for old friends
and new friends.
Help us learn
how to be better friends.

We are not Christians alone.
My mission is to share, inspire, and encourage.

I wonder what you think of this story?

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