If you came by the church this week you may have noticed a
lot of people gathering near our entrance. It could have been the children
participating in our Vacation Bible School. After a two year absence VBS
returned this week with a bang, or should I say a splash (Deep Sea Discovery:
GOD IS WITH ME WHEREVER I GO!). If it was Tuesday or Thursday, the people you
saw may have been our middle school students participating in Summer Stretch.
After gathering at the church in the morning they set off to serve in our
community and then enjoy some recreation in the afternoon. However the people
you saw may have been people playing Pokémon GO.
For the technologically challenged (which includes me most of
the time), Pokémon GO is a video game played on one’s smartphone that requires
players to search real locations to find and catch a variety of Pokémon
species. We have two Poke Stops hidden on our church property and two more near
our school. As a result we have had several hundred people come by to load the
Pokémon into their game.
The official Pokémon website states that the video game series
allows people to search far and wide in the real world to discover Pokémon. I
can’t help but comment on how similar this is to a faith journey. Except in our
faith journey we search the world to find not Pokémon, but the divine – to find
God. Our search may take us through joys and sorrows, happiness and pain, hopes
and struggles. These are all a part of the real world. In each of these
emotions and experiences we discover God and the many blessings God offers us.
In fact it is often in the midst of our greatest challenges
that we recognize God’s presence most fully. In our Gospel reading for this
Sunday, the disciples ask Jesus to teach them to pray. What a great thing for us
to ask also Jesus – help with our prayer life. We ask God for so much: good health,
safety, healing, a new job, to do well on a test, win a game, safety as we
travel. Do we ever petition God for help with our prayer life? Our Gospel
reading for this Sunday is less about being persistent in our prayer and more
about assurances of God answering our prayers. I am guessing that among all we
ask God for, if we were to pray for help in “praying”, His response would be
The late Cardinal Bernardine of Chicago, amidst his battle
with cancer remarked that it is most difficult to pray when one is sick, so encouraged
people to pray while healthy. When we are sick we may pray a lot, but often it
is out of necessity or fear. Therefore it may be easier to pray when we are
healthy, when our prayers are directed by the grace of God.
Many people are on the search for Pokémon, on our church/school
property and elsewhere. Pokémon are found because of the effort put forth amid
a diligent search by the ones seeking. Many of us are on a search for God. The
search for God is guided not by the seeker as in the video game, but by the one
to be found. Therefore we pray to the one being sought, assured that He will
help us find Him.
Fr. John Gerritts