Pandemic Prayers for the Rest of September

I have recently joined the team at Woodlake Publishing to help edit and create the upcoming resources of Seasons of the Spirit’s FUSION curriculum. I get to work with amazing people and bounce ideas all over the place and contemplate what good news means right now. It’s super fun for a church nerd like me.

I’m currently working on the season of creation which I didn’t really know was a thing until I started working on it but if you are inclined toward an earth-focused theme to carry your good people through the Blessing of the Animals, then you might consider this. In 2022, the year in the Revised Common Lectionary I am writing for in FUSION, the season of creation follows the Books of Wisdom in Psalms, Proverbs and Job. The Lectionary this year skips Job but centers on the same tradition.

Right now, it feels like we need Wisdom. We need to hear from her and understand her truth when so little seems to make sense right now in the world. Maybe it’s what you need too, dear pastor. To find yourself in these strange illustrations and poems to remember what matters. Here are a few prayers and thoughts to add to your worship planning. There is at least one prayer for each week.

Call to Worship

Inspired by Proverbs 1:20-33

Wisdom cries out
in the streets
and we are listening.

Wisdom raises
her voice above 
the chatter
and we strain 
to hear her truth.

Wisdom stretches
out her hand 
and we try to 
hold on together.

Wisdom calls
out of the dread
of disaster. Wisdom
calls us to worship
and we are ready.

Though I know that there is a retelling of Proverbs 31 that will not make me cringe, I cannot find it. This poem by Semaj Brown has been an open tab on my browser for well over a month. I keep listening to it and cherishing it. It might work well in these weeks when we are listening so closely to Wisdom though it’s not public domain so copyright concerns should be on your mind. Still, it’s so good.

Prayer of Confession

Inspired by Psalm 1 and James 3:13-4:3

We are pushed and pulled 
by what we cannot control.

We feel every heartbreak,
every hospitalization, every death,
and every failed policy hang around
our necks. We are weighed down
by all that has gone wrong. 

We feel responsible. We could 
have done better. We could have
changed our ways. 

It didn't have to be this way.
The fires didn't have to burn.
The storm didn't have to rage.
The war didn't have to end like this.
No, it didn't have to be like this.

We try to remember what it is
that you teach us, O Wise One. We 
try to plant ourselves in your hope
but so much as washed away. 
Forgive us for what we
do not understand. We don't know 
what more to ask but this one thing.
We need you to be near.
Come O Wisdom,
draw near to us today. 

I would probably opt for the Esther text as the focus for Proper 21B but I would add to its weight with prayers from the other lections like this one inspired by the psalm. I initially tried to write something that would be fitting to more traditional elements of worship but this is instead what emerged. I hope it’s something that you can use in your worship planning.

Prayer for Choosing Sides

Inspired by Psalm 124

Be on the other side 
of our anger and in the middle 
of our doubt.

Be on the side
of questions and 
wondering, O God. 

Be on the side 
of the immigrant and
refugee, widow and orphan.

Be on the other side
of raging waters and floods
so that we can work 
with you to rebuild
and reimagine.

Be on the side
of lamentation and
grief, O God. 
It is just so much.
It's too much.

Do not choose
sides, O God.
We do enough of that. 
We exclude and belittle,
diminish and forget. 
Be our God on
the other side
of our imaginations.
Be on the side
of what only can 
be with your love and grace.
Be with us, and 
with all of creation,
O God. Amen.

That’s all I’ve got for the rest of this month. I’ll be back with some fresh ideas for World Communion Sunday but if you’re planning all the way into October then you might find these ideas from last year helpful. I also have never posted a Blessing of the Animals though I did such a service every year I was serving a local parish. Would you like a socially distanced service for this pandemic year? Are you looking to meet outside with wagging tails? Drop me a note and let me know.

For those of you preparing for gathering pledges and promises from your church in this year without any stimulus package on the horizon, you might find these ideas for stewardship in coronatide helpful. That makes me also wonder if a harvest celebration might be fun.

I’m praying for you, dear pastor. I’m praying for you so much.