I included these words in my sermon on Sunday, which I hope you were able to hear online:
Churches across the country have closed their doors just as we have, echoing phrases like “out of an abundance of caution” or “to help flatten the curve” or “out of concern for the most vulnerable among us.” But the reality is, we are all afraid. We all feel anxious. We all feel hopeless to do anything in the face of this current challenge. We look at the worldwide spread and exponential growth of this virus and we cry out, “God, are you really here with us or not?”
More often than not, God’s response to our cries of anxiety and despair come in the form of water in the wilderness. That is, God provides what we need to get through this day, this crisis, this moment, sometimes in ways that feel miraculous and sometimes in ways that seem quite ordinary. The Exodus story is a reminder that whatever way in which we experience it, God’s presence is sure. When we cry out, God responds. When we most need it, water is there to quench our parched and dry souls. When we are fainting from the very-real struggle we endure day by day, spiritual food is there to sustain us for at least one more day. When we come up against the limits of our abilities, when problems seem unsolvable, when the way forward is unclear, God makes a way out of no way!
I am praying for each of you and for all of you. Please be gentle with yourselves and with one another as everyone’s anxiety level is high. Reach out and let me or someone else know if you need anything – groceries, a prayer, a conversation, toilet paper!
I received an email on Tuesday morning with the following prayer; It is based on the writings of Julian of Norwich. I tried it immediately and it helped. I pass it along and offer it to you as a way to calm your own anxieties and feel God’s presence here with you in these days:
(Hands at waist, cupped up to receive):
May I await this day, not as I expect, hope, or imagine, but just as it is in this moment.
(Reach up, hands open):
May I allow the day to come and be what it is, without meeting my expectation.
(Hands at heart, cupped towards body):
May I accept it as a gift whatever comes or does not come. Accept that I am not in charge. Accept the infinity of the Holy to be present whether or not I am aware.
(Hands outstretched, ready to be responsive):
And may I attend to the day with actions that the Holy invites me to take from this stance of openness.
Be well, and may God’s peace be with you.