There weren't many of us at church on Sunday and I was debating whether to say anything about the conflict between Georgia and Russia during the prayer time when an elderly member of the congregation raised her hand and requested prayer for her aid, whose family lived in Georgia and whose 18 year-old son was at risk for being called up in the draft. Another person just had a close relative return from Baghdad. Yet another had a husband serving in Afghanistan.
In my sermon I played an excerpt from Martin Luther King, Jr.'s sermon Why Jesus Called a Man a Fool. I played the end - where King quotes from the spiritual There Is a Balm In Gilead to make his point about the need to rely on God to make through difficult times. Earlier in the sermon, however, King speaks about how dependent and connected we are with others around the world. "You can't leave home in the morning," King says, "without being dependent on the rest of the world."
It seems easier to pray for the troubles that are in our face rather than those half way across the world. It seems easier to pray for seemingly manageable things - such as successful surgeries performed by top rated doctors - than unmanagable things such as war and peace. But I was reminded on Sunday that what is far is also near. I was also reminded that what seems impossible is possible.
So we should pray for peace - whether in Afghanistan, Georgia, Iraq or anywhere else, knowing that not only are we praying for the world, but we're praying for our immediate neighbors as well.