Who Needs a Prayer Shawl?
(Posted December 12, 2019)
By Heidi M Palmer
We have been cleaning and reorganizing in preparation for our favorite time of year: Christmas, the birth of our Savior Jesus Christ. I came across notes, prayers and books dated 2005-06. Our Prayer Shawl Ministry was started in 2005. That means we have been praying, creating, knitting and crocheting for more than 14 years. There are many people who make shawls for us that do not even belong to the First Congregational Church of Danbury. They donate shawls regularly to our ministry.
Prayer Shawls Available to Anyone
At any given time we have more than 50 prayer shawls ready to be bestowed upon people of need stored in our church office. Anyone in need of a prayer shawl can come and get one -- there are no forms to fill out, one does not need to be a member of church to give or receive a shawl, no “proof” that one is needed, you only need to make a call to church, or to let a church member know that you need one. We have given out more than a hundred prayer shawls to those in need.
Prayer Shawls and Healing Touch
Read "Prayer Shawls: Yarn That Connects You to God's Love." Reverend Pat Kriss explains how prayer shawls bring a compassionate and companioning touch to people standing at the crossroads of life.
Prayer Shawls are knitted (or crocheted) in patterns of three for the Trinity. The colors in the shawl represent some of these attributes: hope, healing, meditation, tranquility, loyalty, wisdom, and spirituality. One prays during the time that they are working on a shawl.
A Prayer Shawl Prayer
An example of the prayers that are attached to the Prayer Shawl is: “This prayer shawl contains the love and prayers of those who knit (or crochet) it and our congregation as a whole. It comes with our love for you, in Christ. We send it with the hope that it will be of comfort to you as you recover and a reminder of Christ’s eternal presence. When you use it may you feel the presence of the Holy one with you and may the grace of God be with you now and always.” Prayers are tailored dependent on the purpose for which it is given.
Prayer Shawls for Life Stages
We started out making large Prayer Shawls for those who were terminally ill. We now have many, many facets to our ministry. We make Prayer Shawls for those who are baptized in our church they are white with pink or blue stripes as well as matching pocket prayer shawls for the Mom and Dad, or for the godparents -- a reminder of the promises made to support the child in Christ. We have Prayer Shawls for those who are about to go off to college -- a reminder that those going away from home for the first time are not alone. We are praying for their success, and through prayer, they are comforted by knowing that they are not alone.
We have at the heart of our Ministry, Prayer Shawls for those who are ill and have just received devastating news confirming an illness. They, too, are not alone, we are with them in prayer. There are things one can only pray about: It’s the only control that we have for an out of control illness.
Pocket Prayer Shawls
In the past two years we have added Pocket Prayer Shawls. A small model of our Prayer Shawls, small enough to fit in one’s pocket, car, nightstand or an envelop to send to far away places to comfort one who is in need of prayer. To date we have made more than 700 pocket prayer shawls. We have prayers for our pocket prayer shawls in English and Spanish in our minister’s office, the Deer Hill Thrift Shop, Annie Orr Hall, as well as the narthex. We replenish them every other week. Our Pocket Prayer shawls are out in the community giving comfort when sometimes the only thing people can do is pray.
We have taught members how to knit and crochet, we have had people visit from other parishes who have shared information from their ministries. We have sent Pocket Prayer shawls to people in foreign countries.
We have many, many people in church who have made prayer shawls for the ministry. Thanks to those who have been involved in the ministry. A very special thanks to Jean Harmon who has been ever present, at every meeting, right by my side, especially in the last two years. Everyone should have a friend like Jean in their life. Support for our prayer shawl ministry can come in many different ways such as, advice, the creation of a pattern with a cross in the middle (thanks Lynda), or the donation of yarn from the community.
Thanks to Cathy Pings, Linda Wright, Cindy Tyrsek, Lynda DeLuryea, Elizabeth Orr, Merilyn Achorn, Beth Falk, Anita Lucsky, Elaine McGuire, Pat Moriarty, Rev, Juana, Mark Hoyt, MaryAnn Holley, Pamela Drucker and Catherine Silver (from New Pond Spinners) and especially to Pastor Pat Kriss, without whose unending support we would not be as successful as we have been. - Heidi Palmer-Kiyak