Last Thursday I Prayed in the Dutch Library

(I wrote this back in January and posted it on Voices (a CRC online discussion group). I decided to post this slightly-revised version on my blog and share it on Facebook since April 25 is GEMS Sunday. This entry references the GEMS theme for 2010. 

I was doing my Thursday job in the Dutch Library, running off 150 bulletins, 112 inserts for the mailboxes, and 40 children’s bulletins. Yes, believe it or not, we still have a “Dutch Library.” And it is still used regularly! There are a few faithful seniors (mostly women) who borrow the (mostly romantic) books with their 1940’s and 50’s covers depicting glamorous young ladies, blond hair beautifully rolled, who are obviously in need of sincere Christian gentlemen to rescue them. There are no cards to sign out the books, and no one is keeping track.

These are some other things in the Dutch Library:
1.    the photocopier and paper cutter, which I use for the bulletins
2.    stacked boxes of paper
3.    a stretcher and first aid/trauma kit
4.    a portable pulpit
5.    ropes to block off the back pews for the afternoon service (they don’t work ~ the non-conformists and rebellious just unclip them and sit where they want anyway)
6.    a TV/DVD stand for catechism (our Grade 11 class still watches Lew Vandermeer on the Belgic Confession) 
7.    extra tables
8.    a shelf with office supplies and Bibles and Blue Psalter Hymnals
9.    a blackboard covered with VBS posters illustrating the story of Peter walking on the water to Jesus who is flashing a charismatic and very white smile. The last poster shows Peter also smiling broadly. Apparently, this is the moment when Jesus grabs him and Peter is feeling very relieved. The posters come from Gospel Light (is this a betrayal of FaithAlive ?).  🙂

Sometimes I read the Bible while I wait for the bulletins to be copied, sometimes I chat with the pastor if he is around, but mostly I pray.

Ten identical worksheets are taped to the wall, each of which says “Prayer: no worries” and has a picture of a kneeling woman lifting up her hands in prayer. The GEMS have written out the Philippians 4:6 text on their papers: “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” My favourite one is Allison’s who has used glitter markers to add a bouncy yellow ponytail to her young lady and coloured in her own freehand illustration … a yellow sun (with rays) partially hidden behind a blue cloud.

That’s a tough verse for me. I am anxious far more often than not. Worry is a strong contender for my besetting sin. Maybe that’s why there are ten sheets with the same message lined up on the wall where I do the bulletin every week! Whether it’s sunny or cloudy or somewhere in-between, I can pray to relieve my worries. Last Thursday I prayed for my family. I prayed for my own church, for my pastor, and for the people named in this week’s bulletin who need prayer and support. I prayed for people I know on Voices. I prayed for Rod and his village (a church), for Paul and his living stones (a church), for David and his efforts to have his church well-represented on the world wide web. I prayed for surprising Pastor Doug who likes rock music! I prayed for Pete that he might be given patience and hope as he forges a new future. I prayed for Ken R. as he, too, must find new ways to follow and serve the Lord. I prayed for Ken P. and RLF. I prayed for Ginger’s new pastor and Craig’s chess club outreach. I prayed that we will grow in respecful dialogue. I prayed that we each in our own little corner might serve God and our neighbour.

I try hard to disguise it, but I am a ridiculous, sentimental sop, and there are times when I find it so amazing to be connected to such a far-flung network of believers, at home and online. I can get choked up thinking about all the places where God is served in ordinary and extraordinary ways. I imagine all the other tacky little “Dutch Library”  rooms, churches with red doors, white canvas tents, pastors’ offices in frigid and temperate places, schools, courtrooms, and gardens in Canada, the United States, and Holland where we all worship the same Lord and Saviour. My wavering faith is propped up.

Whenever I flounder, which is far too often, Jesus reaches out, smiles, and says, ‘I’m right here.” He doesn’t get tired of rescuing me.


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