There’s an ancient/Celtic story about St. Columba, who was famous for “preserving ancient places of worship because they once were centers of honest searches for God—however misguided they might have been," Donna Fletcher Crow wrote in The Fields of Bannockburn.
In the story, Columba is found lying in the middle of one of those ancient places of worship—for the Druids at that time. He and two of the other priests from Iona were in the Druid’s territory because there was a battle going on between the Celts/Christians and the Picts/Druids. The priests came along to pray during the battle. Columba had chosen to go face to face with the main Druid priest in order to try and give him the Gospel, not for the first time because He heard God telling him (through Ezekiel’s words in the Bible) to go and tell them the truth, no matter their reaction. And that the ground he walked on was the Lord’s. I believe he did it all with love in his heart.
So, in the midst of this the battle is being fought not far away and the other priests don’t know why Columba hasn’t come back for something like three days! They send someone in to look for him, and he finds him lying in the middle of this sacrificial/ritual stone.
The man finds him on the stone and, afraid he’s dead, runs to him and shakes him. Columba opens his eyes and says, "I have been deep in prayer. Transported … I would not have stayed away so long, but it is of little consequence. Surely my prayers are as effective here in this ancient holy place as they would be with our own people."
There are many places we go where there is no Christian worship. Places where, like the ancients places of worship, there is not a worship of Christ—yet—but places where the people pour out an honest reaching toward God. Clubs. Bars. Art shows and concerts—be it the music of Mozart or Linkin Park. The movies. Plays at the theatre. At bookstores and raves. And I am thinking, I want to honor the cries of the untaught hearts yearning for God, as all hearts do, even when they don’t know who they are crying out to or why. These places are the stones of worship in my culture. I want to be in them, loving and praying. Being transported into the presence of the Holy, Living God whose love for the heart that cries out to Him cannot be quenched.
I want to be present where they are and leave the mark of Jesus and His cross in the spirit and in the physical, in its proper time, smack in the middle of those places, those untaught hearts. Surely our prayers are as effective in these "holy places" as anywhere.
I think of my city and all the places I’ve yet to set my foot in and pour out prayers into. I think of where we all go. Work. Clubs. School. I think of my friend in the UK clubs praying over the people with his DJing, music, and presence. A quote by Louis I. Newman, a rabbi and scholar who became a leader of the Zionist Revisionist movement, pretty much sums it all up: "I sought to hear the voice of God, and climbed the topmost steeple. But God declared: ‘Go down again. I dwell among the people.’"
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