Yesterday, Jeff and I attended a Memorial Service to honor the memory of a dear family friend, David Seidel. He was an amazing person and I know he will be deeply missed. He was always very kind to me. My husband, Jeff, and I will both miss him very much. They both shared a love of local history and a passion for trains. Dave was very active in preserving local history and was especially passionate about the Pennsylvania Railroad.
After the memorial service and luncheon, Jeff, helped to lead a free tour through the Altoona Railroaders Memorial Museum in our dearly departed friend’s honor. I am also a train lover and after the tour was over I was inspired to write the following prayer. Please feel free to use this prayer in your own personal devotions or in a worship setting.
A Train Lover’s Prayer:
Written after the passing of a dear friend and a visit to the Altoona Railroaders Memorial Museum
You are the Great Creator, the Holy One who made all things. You created time and set the world spinning on its axis. You give us the gift of the dawning of each new day and cause the sun to set in the evening. If you stopped caring about this world for even a moment, even time itself would cease to exist.
Please Oh Lord, we confess that sometimes we feel small and insignificant. Sometimes we feel like tiny pieces on an H0 scale layout. In fact, there are times we feel even smaller than that. There are times when we feel tinier smaller than Z scale. We confess that we look up at the sky and wonder if the one who has modeled all of this with their hands is a benevolent creator, or if we are left to face this broken world alone.
Yet, despite our doubts and fears, we take comfort because we know that we are not alone. You love us and you care for us. You put on human flesh and stepped down into the world to be with us. You are Emmanuel, God with us. Help us, O God, to put our faith in You. May we remember our past and look with hope toward the future. Give us comfort and strength.
O God, have mercy on us. Our time is not Your time. On the railroad, time was money. We set our watches and expect our lives to run like clockwork—but the world moves more quickly than we can reckon.
Time rushes onward like a speeding train. There was once a time when this city was full of the hustle and bustle of the railroad. We hear stories of how 75 trains a day passed through our town at all hours and how the railroad brought work to so many of us. We mourn because the whistles of trains have grown few and far between. Things continue to change—and no one can tell what the future holds.
Our time is not your time, O God. No one knows the day when You will return.
But—like the railroader of the past, constantly at the ready as they wait for the summons that the freight has arrived—may we be ever ready to board Your train to paradise when you come to conduct us home.
About the Author: Rev. Rebecca L. Holland is an ordained elder serving in the Susquehanna Conference of the United Methodist Church. She is the author of Hope for the Broken: Using Writing to Find God’s Grace and The United Methodist Church and Disability. She writes about faith, books, and disability awareness. She currently serves two churches in Altoona, PA.