I have seen pictures appear in my feed of pastors taking that much needed break after Easter. Some didn’t go much further than their backyard but they have their feet up and they are relaxing. Others — having been fully vaccinated — are enjoying the pleasure of good friends and family for the first time in a long, long time.
It was at this time several years ago now that I was enjoying such company. It wasn’t just a break after Easter. I had invited all of my nearest and dearest to celebrate new life with me among the vines in Northern California. It was my thirty third birthday which was a big deal for me because it was at that age my mother had died. Most little girls dream of their wedding. I dreamt of the party I would throw for that fated birthday. It was everything that it needed to be and right now I miss all of those people so much.
It might also be that I can’t think about the true vine without thinking about how connected we are to the people that make our hearts sing. I wanted to play with that imagery and I’m also sharing a pastoral prayer that I wrote for a sermon series led by a pastor friend that not only drank wine with me all those years ago but teaches me still what love can do.
Prayer of Invocation Inspired by 1 John 4:7-21 Come, Beloved, to take up root in the tender soil of our lives. Graft with us hope that will show us again what love can do. Reveal to us that which is alive because we have felt so dead. We have felt so dead and buried that is hard to know how to come alive so come. Come to water us with possibility. Come, Beloved, so that we might grow in love. Amen.
Prayers of the People O God, the heavens and the earth have been shaken. We have felt unsteady and uncertain. We’ve been tempted to relish in the past when everything seemed easier, but things are not what they were. We are not where we were anymore. The world looks different now. We are different. Or so we pray now that we find ourselves here in this new place of possibility and hope. It’s not what we imagined. O God, it is nothing like we ever imagined hope would feel. We thought it would be something else that we find here in the promise of vaccines and healing. There is so much to heal, O God. We have lost of many lives to this virus. We have lost lives that were untouched by the coronavirus but consumed by other diseases. There has been so much death and not enough hands to hold in the loss we share. We have lost income and financial security. Best made plans dissolved with all our savings and we felt powerless as our favorite local businesses shuttered and closed. We have lost more, O God, but the list is so long and you know what has been on our hearts. You have heard our prayers. And what we really need now is courage. We need strength and assurance that love will guide us. Love has been guiding us. Love has never left us but we might not believe it until we can see your shalom take root. O God, lift our heads so that we might see the wholeness and your people. Help us to see restoration and even peace on the other side of this pandemic. O God, give us the courage for the work ahead. Abide with us. O God, abide with us. Amen.
Whether or not you have switched to hybrid worship, you might encourage vaccinated groups of people to meet together and walk together using Resurrection Awe Strolls. As the world shifts again, this might be used to notice where new signs of life are appearing in your neighborhood and might even invite your people to think about new ministry opportunities in this new season.
That’s all I have for you, dear pastors. I am praying for you. I am praying for you, as always.