Prayers at heaven's gate include Emmanuel Episcopal's own Wailing Wall

Published in the Orange County Register on August 20, 2013

Many of us are familiar with the Wailing Wall, which is located in the Old City of Jerusalem on the western side of the Temple Mount. It is a remnant of the ancient wall that surrounded the courtyard of the Temple in Jerusalem. That temple is believed to have been constructed around 19 BCE by Herod the Great. It was destroyed by the Roman Empire along with the rest of Jerusalem in 70 CE. This remnant of the ancient wall has been called the Wailing Wall, which comes from “Place of Weeping”, the traditional Arabic name for the wall. The name stems from the Jewish practice of coming to the site to mourn the destruction of the Temple, arguably the most sacred site recognized by the Jewish faith, besides the Temple Mount itself.

The other common spiritual practice is the placing of slips of paper containing written prayers into the crevices of the Wall. More than a million notes are placed in the wall each year. The sages state that for anyone who prays at the wall “it is as if he has prayed before the throne of glory because the gate of heaven is situated there and it is open to hear prayer.”

Emmanuel Episcopal Church here in Fullerton has its own version of the Wailing Wall. One wall of the sanctuary is devoted to a large framed section of paper on which persons can write their prayer requests and/or thanksgivings. These prayers are added to the weekly prayer list at the church. Often one may see parishioners or the clergy standing in front of this wall, praying for the situations which they see written on the wall. There is something quite powerful in the physical act of coming to the wall and expressing our need to God in a tangible way and in praying for others.

The church is open to visitors daily and the public is invited to come and write their own petitions and gratitude on the wall at any time. This is a wall on which the entire community of Fullerton can express their prayers. It is often said by people who visit Emmanuel’s sanctuary that there is a sense of God’s presence that can be experienced the moment one walks through the door.  Perhaps it is the 50 years of the prayers of this faithful community that have permeated the walls and contribute to that experience. You might even say that coming into Emmanuel’s sanctuary to pray could give one the sense of having prayed before the throne of glory, because the gate of heaven is situated there!

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