In July Uni and I attended the 60 year reunion of my High School Class of 1955. It was different than previous reunions - a bit slower and with a few more serious moments and a lot fewer in attendance.
A few weeks earlier I had been called by Shirley, one of the "girls" who were in charge of the festivities and asked if I would give the invocation. I told her that I'd be honored to, but I wanted her to know that I'd be praying in Jesus' Name, as that's the only way I pray. She said that would be fine.
Usually when I'm asked to pray at a public occasion I pray extemporaneously - off the cuff - though I usually give the prayer some thought beforehand. However, Shirley and I had quite a lengthy phone conversation beforehand, so I knew that this occasion would be different than any other. Many of my classmates had passed away in the five years since the previous reunion; most of those of us who are left are not as healthy physically, emotionally and memory wise. So this prayer would not be just me in communication with God. I would need to attempt to express some of the feelings and desires of all of us. So I spend many hours writing out my thoughts and rewriting them.
At the Saturday evening dinner/dance, we sat with two of my classmates I had known since grade school, and their spouses.
My class has a reunion every five years and with each gathering our number decreases. Many have passed on. Many are unable to attend for health and other reasons. And yet each gathering seems more open and intimate. As someone observed, there are no more cliques. We are no longer jocks, cheerleaders, nerds, wallpapers. We're more and more like family. We're glad to see each other. Maybe it's simply that we are survivors.
Anyway, when it came time for me to pray I gave a brief introduction and then read the prayer that I had typed out, of course with ad-lib remarks. The following is my introduction and prayer as I recall it:
We're told in the 90th Psalm that: "As for the days of our life, they contain 70 years; Or if due to strength 80 years ..." (Psalm 90:10a) All of us here have passed that 70 year mark and we are now in what we might refer to as our extended warranty.
Heavenly Father: We grieve for those classmates who are no longer with us, who have passed on. We pray for the spouses and families of those who have passed - for comfort and for the assurance of seeing their loved ones again. We recognize too that our time for joining them is drawing nearer.
But Father, we thank you for those who are still here, for those who have gathered here - to renew old acquaintances and friendships, to retell tales of our high school adventures and misadventures, to get caught up with what's been happening in our classmates' lives over the past 60 years. We thank you especially for those who have worked hard to make all the arrangements for this affair.
Tonight we'll be doing a lot of comparing - weight gains and losses, wrinkles, hair loss, aches, pains and illnesses, the latest meds. Help us not to be proud or ashamed of our physical condition. Forgive us if we are.
And we thank you Father that you love us. We thank you most of all that you loved us enough that you sent your Son to die for us. We thank you too that you approve of our having a good time with old friends. When your Son Jesus was on earth, he seemed to enjoy eating and drinking. He even provided wine for a wedding! We might even imagine Him here with us, digging into a good meal and enjoying a drink or two. Perhaps we can even imagine Him putting in a few rounds on the dance floor.
So we ask you Heavenly Father, to bless this party. For some this may be our last. Bless the food, the drinks and the fellowship. We pray that all we do and say here would be pleasing to you.
We pray in the name of your Son Jesus, our Savior. Amen
Later a few people commented on the prayer and/or thanked me for it. One comment I really loved was, "It was like you were inviting Jesus to join the party." I guess I was.
We ate, had a few drinks and Uni and I danced a bit. Most of the dances were slower than at previous reunions, though I did do The Twist with Diane (or was it Joanne; I still can't tell those twin sisters apart). Dancing was supposed to be till 11, but when the one-man band came back from his 10 o'clock break, most of us were gone.
The next day was our picnic. Few showed up. Guess it was just too much excitement.
We're looking forward to Uni's reunion next summer - class of '56, same High School!