Sunday, March 1, 2020
It seems, these days, that we’re living in uncertain and confusing times.
Our New England winter has lost its conviction, half-heartedly going through the motions of the season it was supposed to be.
Our politics are fractious and disheartening, and our leaders, such as they are, distracted and absorbed.
And now, we’re told, there is a new virus coming, and we keep hearing words such as quarantine, pandemic, and rout. We’re no longer sure whose company we can safely keep or whose hand we should not touch.
It’s hard to know what to pray for in days like these, when we simply want to shelter in place- physically, emotionally and perhaps spiritually. It would be lovely to be graced with a clarifying vision of some eternal truth, and to hear the trumpets sound our calling, but we’ve little hope left for epiphanies or transformations.
What can we pray for, Lord, when we don’t know what to pray for? Maybe, falling back on some sort of first principles, we could pray to just to love thy neighbor. To be able to look up and outside of ourselves, to see a need and to respond. So we pray Lord for nothing grand or glorious, but rather for the opportunity to give something, small though it might be, to another, and to know that to be enough.
Sunday, March 8, 2020
We contemplate and are awed by the mystery around us. Questioning is not a lack of faith but rather something which is endemic to our inner self, as we seek to define the meaning of our very existence: we recognize that our humanity is a treasure we value and which is the very foundation of our beliefs.
Prayer is humankind’s effort to commune with the unknown – a desire to address that most mysterious power of the universe. To paraphrase Mahatma Gandhi, it is a longing of our soul and, at the same time, a daily admission of our fallibility, insignificance and human weakness.
And, yes, it is through prayer, with or without words, that we relate to our community and thus have the ability to focus on our purpose. Let us not lose sight of our values, let us have the strength to persevere in our love and service for our fellow beings.
Sunday, March 15, 2020
Wow. We find ourselves at a loss for words.
We don’t know what to think or what to feel or what to make of any of this. When we are still, when we stop planning and talking and strategizing, we find that we are afraid. There are no clear answers, and no one to look to who will provide us with answers.
We want to believe, especially now, that there is some degree of benevolence in the universe. We want to believe that our struggles matter somehow. Lord, we want to believe that you can share both our joys and our sorrows. But we are feeling rather on our own right now, trying to be the adults in the room, and making it up as we go along.
And so we pray. We pray for the presence of your sustaining spirit. We pray for strength and guidance in the times ahead. We pray for our loved ones, our communities, and our world.
We remember, in these times, those persons who are at home alone, and those who have no home to go to. We keep in our minds those people who will continue to work out in the world, looking out for and taking care of others.
Help us Lord to find Grace in the midst of all this turmoil, and to embody the spirit of service and compassion in all that we do in the weeks ahead.
Sunday, March 22, 2020
Spirit of Life,
We are dizzy from the speed by which our worlds have so changed, and disoriented by having lost the familiar structure of our days. We have put aside so many of our plans and expectations, sometimes with relief, but often with deep disappointment. Our agendas are in tatters, and our prognostications hollow.
And yet. The buds are on the trees, and the springtime sun warms our backs. People are out walking with an unhurried pace, listening to the birds sing, and chatting with neighbors across the fence. Things that seemed important just a few weeks ago look trivial today, and we are seeing so much now with fresh eyes. We are newly grateful for the people in our lives, the opportunities to connect with others, and even the food on our tables.
Maybe Lord, we’ve never actually been in control. Maybe all of our planning and managing and busyness have been distractions from the contingency of our lives. Maybe each of our days have not in fact been ours to manage, but gifts to embrace. Maybe all that we’ve ever really had are the things that we love, the service we provide, and the openness of our hearts and our minds and our eyes.
We ask ourselves, as our lives our upended, what it would be like to live through this extraordinary time in faith? We can’t predict, and we can’t manage, but we do ask for the opportunity and the strength to accept each moment to come, no matter how challenging, as a perfect, precious gift.
Sunday, March 29, 2020
Spirit of Life,
The week has been a long one, as the novelty of perpetual snow days begins to wear thin, and the strain of our circumstances takes its toll. We have been awfully good sports, cheerfully chatting with friends from six feet away, but we live these days with a steady undertone of worry and fear and loneliness that chips away at our fortitude. The news is not good, and our immediate prospects not especially heartening.
When we lift our sights a bit beyond, it’s hard to take in the scope of the disruption and loss. From housecleaners and small business owners to nursing home residents and migrant workers, the stories unfold. Our sense of helplessness is real, and we know that while we may have a civic responsibility to stay home and stream Netflix, that is hardly an adequate response to the situation at hand.
We come together as a congregation this morning for virtual shared worship, and it is amazing and heartening to be a part of this. But, to be honest, we miss being in the sanctuary in the flesh, singing and praying and breathing together.
And so we ask, Where can we turn when we are tired? How do we find the strength to rise to this occasion, not just to maintain, but to truly embody, to the best of our abilities, a spirit of love? We pray, Oh lord, that as we grow weary, and as we fall short of the person we want to be, we can find in you a sustenance. We pray that we can open our hearts and have them filled and thereby carry on.