I love the healing stories in the Gospel of Mark. There are two in this pericope and the first part is my very favorite. It seems all the more poignant this year when we are reaching for possibility and trying to be faithful to hope and love.
We are reaching with our hands outstretched for so much. For some of us, we are reaching out to hold the hands of beloved family and friends after nearly a year and a half apart. For others, it is the possibility of justice and the work we are committing to do for racial justice. For others, it is just to believe that this uncertainty is not all there will be. We are reaching into the unknown.
Call to Worship Inspired by Psalm 30 Across and afar Far and wide we have searched for our God. From the pit of despair and under the covers when it has felt impossible to greet the new day we have needed grace. We have cried. We have called out. We have not yet found our way out of the depths. We come together to watch for the morning light to dawn and hope to revive our souls.
Most of my prayers — as in this call to worship above — have opted for a singular voice but this week and with this narrative to lead our hearts, I wanted a responsive prayer that I know some of you have kept on Zoom and others will be reintroducing as hybrid worship emerges.
Make Us Well, O God Inspired by Mark 5:21-43 Here we are on the other side of what has been so much suffering and so much death. We have suffered. We have suffered for so long. Make us well, O God. We have crossed over a chasm of impossibility and some things have changed. Some things are different but we are still reaching into the unknown with hope. Make us well, O God. There are some things that feel worse than they were before but we have spent all we have. We have used up every bit of energy on dreaming and we are exhausted. Make us well, O God. We do not want this to be all that there is on the other side. No matter how tired we might be, we have faith that the world we imagine could give us healing. Make us well, O God. We extend our arms to touch your grace and transformation. O God, heal us. Make us well, O God.
Though this is not within my talents, I wonder about someone in your congregation who could teach a simple sung version of the above refrain that a cantor could sing alone on Zoom — and the congregation can join in singing from their living rooms and kitchens. A cantor may even work in in-person worship depending on the restrictions within your area but I love how a simple refrain like this can offer a responsive prayer throughout the week. Or maybe this is the song that needs to carry us all.
Your church may have resumed worship gathering together in-person. There may be people worshipping without masks or there may be arm bands to communicate individual comfort or perhaps buttons and bracelets like this Texas church. It might feel like you have reached the other side of this pandemic while my prayers continue to linger in this liminal space. I feel this awkwardness as I write these prayers and wonder if perhaps something should change in how I am composing these words so that they might be more helpful to you in your ministry. I welcome your comments or if you are looking for something more particular in your worship planning, please do contact me.
That’s all I’ve got for you, dear pastor. I am praying for you. I am praying for you so much.