- What is your personal weather status? (cloudy, foggy, sunny breaks, overcast, snowy, sunny, heavy rain, etc.?)
- What words would you use to describe where your head is – or where your heart is?
This scripture reading is from the Psalms. Many of the Psalms are laments. This is something that we are not necessarily very good at as the church in North America. We sometimes feel like our worship should be simply pretending that things are ok – that we put aside anything within us and try to celebrate.
However, the model that we have in the Psalms – and other places of scripture is lament. Speaking our challenges, our difficulties for God. God does not want a show. Our scripture models that we grieve and we lament before God – we ask big questions.
That being said, the lament is given within limits. Aside from Psalm 88 – lament is couched within a greater understanding that God is the one we place our hope and the one to be praised in the midst of our challenges.
The way I encourage you to look at this lament is through Lectio. This will be familiar to some of us – not familiar to others. Lectio asks that you simply read through a passage of scripture a few times. In reading, the goal is not doing an in-depth analysis of the text. Instead, it is a time to take a breath and simply listen to God’s word and what God may be saying to us. As you read, ask yourself – what word stands out? Give that word a little more attention. What may God be speaking to you?
I’ve heard that readings can be helpful because it can help the words sink deeper than what you can do in one reading. The analogy is that the first reading goes into your ears, the second time – it gets into your mind, the third time – it works to your heart.
As the deer pants for streams of water,
so my soul pants for you, my God.
2 My soul thirsts for God, for the living God.
When can I go and meet with God?
3 My tears have been my food
day and night,
while people say to me all day long,
“Where is your God?”
4 These things I remember
as I pour out my soul:
how I used to go to the house of God
under the protection of the Mighty One
with shouts of joy and praise
among the festive throng.
5 Why, my soul, are you downcast?
Why so disturbed within me?
Put your hope in God,
for I will yet praise him,
my Savior and my God.
Those processing deep changes
- Students – especially those graduating
- Leaders – civil, church, business
- Financially unstable – those who have experienced losses in this time.
- Elderly – those who are shut-in, in care homes or hospice care, or those who are more susceptible to sickness.
Families and Communities
- Those who are trying to care for their children – who will not be back in school. Those looking for creative ways to pay the bills and put food on the table.
- Vulnerable – elderly, those with auto-immune challenges, those already sick.
- Those who are lonely – or in need of care at this time.
- For communities to respond in care.
First Responders and Health Care
- Prayer for their families. Many have to practice social distancing around their children or are concerned about exposing their children to the virus. There is also concern about childcare if those working get sick.
- Wisdom for all staff at hospitals including housekeeping and registration clerks as well as doctors, nurses, and respiratory therapists who are all having to navigate themselves under the current pressures.
- Public health nurses that go to other peoples’ homes and provide care there.
- Strength to carry on in their work as things become more challenging.
- Those providing essential services at this time and need to continue their work despite the danger it places them in.
- Linda Lessard (loss of John Gunnison), Herman Veeneman in Hospice, Ed Kornelius – surgery, Trevor Vanwerkhoven as his finger heals.
- Pray for each other
May the peace of the Lord Christ go with you, wherever he may send you. May he guide you through the wilderness and protect you through the storm. May he bring you home rejoicing at the wonders he has shown you. May he bring you home rejoicing once again into our doors.
A liturgy for missing someone
You created our hearts for unbroken fellowship. Yet the constraints of time and place, and the stuttering rhythms of life in a fallen world dictate that all fellowships in these days will at times be broken or incomplete.
Use even this sadness to carve our spaces in our souls where still greater repositories of holy affection might be held, unto the end that we might better love, in times of absence and times of presence alike. We now entrust all to your keeping. May our reunion be joyous, whether in this life or the life to come.
For those providing essential services
Heavenly Father, we worship you through our prayers. Our prayers glorify you, our God who hears his creation groan. Our prayers declare your Almighty hand as our only God, our only Savior, author of life. During the COVID crisis, as it changes plans around the world, we acknowledge our need for you.
What kept you on the cross, Lord? What made you stay?
Be near those in essential services keeping order for our most basic needs. Lord, provide for their basic needs and the needs of their families. God who moves mountains, protect them. Give them ears to hear your comfort and eyes to focus on you during the storm. Health care workers, mental health clinicians, pharmacists, first responders, essential supply and infrastructure manufacturers, the list of those bearing the weight of responsibility for others remains long. Thank you for their sacrifice. Our prayers bring offerings of praise for the willingness to love others in your name.
Lord, would you fill them with the same Spirit that held you on the cross? May your Spirit bring them peace in whispered comforts that the power of the resurrection brings new life.
For People Needing Care
Long term care supports, such as addictions rehabilitation centres and specialized care homes have released residents living in group homes this week to isolation at home. Some are vulnerable as they return to environments that may delay recovery or hinder healing.
Wonderful Counselor, be near those transitioning home and create new pathways to restoration and reconciliation. We pray for abundant new life for those hurting and healing and ask that you relieve isolation by blessing them with your palpable presence.
Prayers for the Body of Christ
Spirit of the Living God, you have called us to be the embodied community of the living Christ. Help us all take steps away from fear and hostility, bravado and self-righteousness, towards agape love. Towards a love that demonstrates your care to all who encounter us.
Help us to be good neighbours, locally and systematically, within our communities.
Draw us together in new bodies of worship, word and sacrament.
Open our eyes and ears to your Spirit’s movement during this time.
Surprise us and lead us to become communities that bring life to our cities, leaven in the bread.
Help us move through our own fears, naming them, and offering them to you.
Increase our trust in you and increase our love for our neighbours.
Even in a time of social distancing, may the resurrected Body of Christ be truly embodied, alive, pulsing with grace in our neighbourhoods and keep doing your work in us in unexpected, subversive and life giving ways.
Give us new songs from this time, that we may sing of how you do not leave us or forsake us.