Good morning! I hope that this week finds you safe and secure. I know that many of you are feeling worn out and worried, but I trust and believe that God has the power to see us through all circumstances. I encourage you to take this time to place yourself and your cares into God’s hands, and to receive rest for your soul.
I would like to highlight some prayer requests:
- Mildred Kaufmann’s and Hope Sayre’s sister, Wilma Lee, passed away this week. Please pray for God’s comfort for them and their family, especially in this time of increased isolation.
- On March 15, Emily Ashby asked for prayers for baby Ian and his family. Ian was born about a month ago and is in neonatal care at UVA. His family is essentialy living at the hospital right now. Please be in prayer for God’s protection and provision to be with them.
- Pray for those serving in health care and nursing homes. Thank God for their service, and pray that he would strengthen, encourage, and protect them during this stressful and challenging time.
- Pray for those who have lost jobs and are worried about how to make ends meet.
- Pray for those in other countries who have support and care infrastructure much weaker than our own. I have heard from friends in Africa and South America who are struggling just to find food as supply chains are falling apart.
- Pray for God to equip and strengthen the church as we minister to a world that is captured by anxiety and fear; a world that needs to hear the word of God’s faithful love, and needs to see it embodied more than ever.
Gather Us In
This is not only a time of isolation. This is also a time of grief. We have lost many things that we have expected. We have lost time with loved ones. We have lost freedom to move. We have lost planned events and lost the ability to plan. We have lost confidence and certainty.
Sometimes, especially when life is hurried, changing faster than we can keep up with, we do not even recognize what we have lost. But the pain still gnaws inside of us. The hurt makes us defensive and tired. We are in need of time to grieve and seek comfort.
So Jesus speaks to us, “Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” (Matthew 11:28-29)
Take a moment to name your losses and then to come to God in prayer, seeking the comfort of the Lord who cares for us all.
God Will Take Care of You
Remembering the Vulnerable
The past couple of weeks, we have heard a lot of conversation about protecting the vulnerable. We isolate, not just to protect ourselves from disease, but also to protect those around us. Vulnerability can come in many forms that we may not initially recognize.
Those treating patients are vulnerable because of their exposures. They are carrying the weights of responsibility and long hours. They are bringing stresses and fears home with them and can feel helpless at the scale of this pandemic.
Those living on the financial edge are vulnerable to loss of income and the inability to pay for essentials. Even as job losses are mounting, public services are becoming more difficult to access. Many are caught between safety and basic need.
Those susceptible to depression are vulnerable as they are forced to spend more time in isolation. They need encouragement and signs of care.
Are there people around us who are vulnerable in ways that we have overlooked?
Take a moment to write down names of people to be praying for in their time of vulnerability.
A Coronavirus Prayer
Published in America Magazine on March 2, 2020.
Jesus Christ, you traveled through towns and villages “curing every disease and illness.” At your command, the sick were made well. Come to our aid now, in the midst of the global spread of the coronavirus, that we may experience your healing love.
Heal those who are sick with the virus. May they regain their strength and health through quality medical care.
Heal us from our fear, which prevents nations from working together and neighbors from helping one another.
Heal us from our pride, which can make us claim invulnerability to a disease that knows no borders.
Jesus Christ, healer of all, stay by our side in this time of uncertainty and sorrow. Be with those who have died from the virus. May they be at rest with you in your eternal peace.
Be with the families of those who are sick or have died. As they worry and grieve, defend them from illness and despair. May they know your peace.
Be with the doctors, nurses, researchers and all medical professionals who seek to heal and help those affected and who put themselves at risk in the process. May they know your protection and peace.
Be with the leaders of all nations. Give them the foresight to act with charity and true concern for the well-being of the people they are meant to serve. Give them the wisdom to invest in long-term solutions that will help prepare for or prevent future outbreaks. May they know your peace, as they work together to achieve it on earth.
Whether we are home or abroad, surrounded by many people suffering from this illness or only a few, Jesus Christ, stay with us as we endure and mourn, persist and prepare. In place of our anxiety, give us your peace.
Jesus Christ, heal us.
Be Thou My Vision
One of the highlights of my week has been the acts of generosity and compassion that I have seen from those around me. These have included texts and emails from friends that I talk to rarely, checking how I am doing. I have witnessed people making open offers to share groceries with those in need. A restaurant in Staunton has included in their posting of their menu an offer for any unemployed restaurant workers to eat for free. Several times a day I see individuals offering up themselves to others, in any way they can.
It is a reminder, that when the world is losing its head, when fears are driving everything, when the stock market is crashing and the shelves of grocery stores are empty, we can still be the church. We can thank God for what we have, and share, believing that God has the power to provide, and that God’s provision is enough. There is real need in the world, but none of it is stronger than God’s love.
As we seek to live in God’s compassion, may God bless every way in which we share with each other.
We like to have a moment set aside for children in our worship. During this very different time, it seemed good to continue this practice. We pray that the video sharing below will be a blessing for all who are struggling in today’s unexpectedly messy situation!
Thank you to Nancy Leake for reading this story for us.
After this there was a festival of the Jews, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem.
Now in Jerusalem by the Sheep Gate there is a pool, called in Hebrew Beth-zatha, which has five porticoes. In these lay many invalids—blind, lame, and paralysed. One man was there who had been ill for thirty-eight years. When Jesus saw him lying there and knew that he had been there a long time, he said to him, ‘Do you want to be made well?’ The sick man answered him, ‘Sir, I have no one to put me into the pool when the water is stirred up; and while I am making my way, someone else steps down ahead of me.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Stand up, take your mat and walk.’ At once the man was made well, and he took up his mat and began to walk.
Guide My Feet
Kitty O’Meara is a poet and retired chaplain. As she watched the spread of the Covid-19 virus on the news, she became increasingly anxious. “I was getting kind of sad. There was nothing I could do. I couldn’t help my friends. I was very worried about them. My husband said: ‘Write. Just write again,;” O’Meara recalls. And so she wrote this poem, about the signs of hope that she was beginning to see.
In the Time of Pandemic
And the people stayed home. And they read books, and listened, and rested, and exercised, and made art, and played games, and learned new ways of being, and were still. And they listened more deeply. Some meditated, some prayed, some danced. Some met their shadows. And the people began to think differently.
And the people healed. And, in the absence of people living in ignorant, dangerous, mindless, and heartless ways, the earth began to heal.
And when the danger passed, and the people joined together again, they grieved their losses, and made new choices, and dreamed new images, and created new ways to live, and they healed the earth fully, as they had been healed.
Written by Kitty O’Meara: https://the-daily-round.com/
May God’s grace surround us.
May God’s light lead us.
May God’s strength be our strength,
in this day and in every day.