Pandemic Prayers for Proper 18B

I confess to you that I can’t touch this Jesus who a woman has to remind of who he’s supposed to be. I appreciate what it says about the humanity of our Christ but that’s not who I need him to be right now. I need Christ to be the savior of the world when so much is going wrong.

To all of that is keeping you and me awake at night, I want to remind you that there are people of faith praying even when you cannot. There are people that continue to find words to what is beyond words. I offered two prayers from Maren Tirabassi last week but again this week she speaks to the horrors that climate change bring to the shores of the United States in this prayer as Hurricane Ida approaches landfall. And then, there is this lovely prayer from enfleshed for when there is only sadness. And then, there was this prayer by the Rev. Stephanie Crowder for back to school that arrived in my inbox and reminded me of what is possible.

Laura Stephens-Reed shared this prayer and it is what I needed to hear most. It could work well as a prayer in worship this coming Sunday as you lean together into trust. It’s that word that caught in my throat in praying through Psalm 25 and the center of the prayer I offer you this week.

A Prayer Seeking Trust

Inspired by Psalm 25

O God, we trust in your goodness.
We step into the unknown every 
day in the hope that that
goodness will carry us.

We want to trust
that it is there
and that it has always
been there but we have 
been moved. We have been
pushed to the edge and doubted
that goodness in the land of the living
but we are not as strong
as we thought. We are
not who we believed
we were. 

O God, we want to trust 
you with our whole hearts.
We want to believe that you
surround us with possibility.
We do. Is is in that faith
that we beg you to
be good. Be the goodness
that we cannot see in 
every headline. Be the goodness
that we cannot find in every
unmasked stranger and let
that goodness -- your goodness -- 
turn our crooked, jaded,
hurting hearts away from
every doubt and worry
so that there is only trust.
There is only your 
infinite grace.abiding 
within us. Let us 
find that goodness
again in you. O God,
we seek your goodness.
Amen.

That’s all I’ve got for this week. I’m praying for you, dear pastor. I’m praying for you so much.

Pandemic Prayers for the Return of Lent

I do not feel ready for this season to arrive.

I know that it will be different. It will be less disciplined but no less introspective than every other day since that first case changed our whole lives. There is the Lent that I typically yearn to experience where I exert extra energy on figuring out who God is now. I don’t know that I will do that this year.

I’m still not sure what I will do to mark this season for myself. I know that sometime on Wednesday or Thursday my family and I will begin the practice of welcoming apologies just by saying thank you. That’s the first practice in A Hopeful Lent. I’ll read some special bedtime stories to my children and maybe I’ll convince my husband to talk about some big questions. (My husband is not a person of faith and though I designed these questions with him in mind, I’m still not sure I can convince him. We are both so tired.) I bought the book my sweet Texas church is sharing in for this season and I hope that that connects me to that community currently covered in ice and so many without power.

Lent will begin even if we don’t have pancakes today. I decided that teaching my toddlers to play with food in pancake races was really a recipe for disaster. Their table manners have already plummeted. Still, I want there to be joy and hope as we wonder together about the promises of God.

Responsive Call to Worship
Inspired by Psalm 25:1-10

It seems impossible 
that we find ourselves here again
to wonder about who we will be
and what God can do.
We lift up our souls.

We have been waiting
and wondering what will be. 
We yearn for hope 
and knowing more 
of the ways of God.
We seek what is true.

Our minds are quick 
to wander and we have lost
focus more times than we can count
but we hope that in these days 
we will be more and more 
aware of mercy and love.
We learn to walk this path together. 

Lent begins again.
May our souls awake 
to trust and hope.
Prayer of Confession
Inspired by Genesis 9:8-17

O God, it does not quite 
feel like the clouds have parted. 
It does not feel like the storm
has yet passed. It will rain
for several more days. 

We confess we are tired. 
We are so very tired.
We have given up searching
the heavens for new wonders
but it feels like nothing 
will change even 
as a vaccine ever so 
slowly rolls out 
and numbers of 
infections and 
hospitalizations
diminish. We 
don't yet see
hope in technicolor
reaching across the sky
and so we pray that you will 
wrap us possibility. 
Remind us again
that your love reaches 
through the doubts
and worries of this moment
and leads us into 
the promise of possibility.
O God, we pray
for the blessing of 
your colorful 
possibility. Amen.

I shared last week the possibility of sharing in Pandemic Easter Affirmations where people could share in the practice of proclaiming what faith feels like right now. I suggested a workshop and that maybe these could be gathered into a booklet to lead the congregation through the Easter season. I also mentioned that examples are helpful to get the creative juices flowing and that I might be sharing such affirmations for Lent. Here is the first for this season.

Affirmation for the Wilderness

We believe that 
God is working wonders
in the wilderness of our lives.
We have felt tested.
We've hit a pandemic wall
but walls crumble
with trumpet blasts
and hope grows 
through the cracks
on the sidewalk.

This is not the end. 
We know this. 
Of course, we know
this is true for we are people 
of possibility and hope
who know that the worst 
thing is never the last thing.

We are people 
who have wandered 
though the wilderness
to find the way to freedom. 
We've crossed seas
and moved mountains 
with faith as small 
as a mustard seed. 

We believe that
these wonders
will come again.
It is the promise of new life. 
It is the promise
that we cannot yet see
but God still reaches across
creation to show us
again and again 
that wonders 
never cease.

We believe 
God is working
wonders in us 
right now.

That’s all I’ve got for you this week, dear pastors. I am praying for you. I am praying for you, as always.