This is our last reflection. We have decided that these thoughts and prayers have run their course, and that it is time to look beyond this pandemic. This post-covid reality will be, I think, as uncertain as that which we encountered when first entering lock-down. We will need to treat it in the same way, with courage and believing that God with us. Risks remain, and we need to continue to keep safe.
This is the reflection that I wrote on 23rd March 2020. It touches on the anxiety I think we all felt. No one, of course, could have imagined that 15 months would pass before all restrictions were lifted (I even making an assumption here that the 19th of July will bring it officially to an end). But please read it through and reflect on how you have managed, what you have done to cope and hopefully the things which you have learnt about yourself – good things. And thank God for bringing you to this point.
The announcement by our Prime Minister on Monday evening of further restrictions, emphasising to all but a few the requirement to stay home, highlighted the seriousness of this pandemic. For all of us, whether by nature, those who up until now have looked for ‘ways round’, or those who have said we have been slow in reacting, looking for certainty and clarity, this is a big change to our way of living. Things are no longer the same and we need to protect ourselves and isolate ourselves from each other.
So we are all involved in things which we have not witnessed before. I attended a Year 11 leavers assembly last Friday. Students who may never be together again, with uncertainty about exams and grades. It was the 20th of March! There are few cars driving past the busy road where we live. There is no longer a ‘rush hour’. I can hear birdsong in GWP for the first time. With everything pretty much shut down we are all having to engage with new technology to ‘get-together’. But we are and we must.
I have seen the wonderful drawings of children who have stuck pictures of colourful rainbows in their windows. On Sunday many of us lit a candle in solidarity with others praying for our nation and the world. Community support groups are helping practically and are doing a great job encouraging us. Others are putting notes through neighbours doors introducing themselves for the first time.
It is good to think of others at times like these, even if we think what we offer is limited.
The story of Moses’ encounter with God was the bible reading set for today. The narrative is expansive, with God revealing himself in fire and in miraculous signs. Moses, who will act as both prophet and military leader to the exiled Jewish nation, says repeatedly, ‘I can’t do this’. But God sees beyond his uncertainty and commissions him anyway. What strikes me is that throughout this narrative God reassures. He said to Moses, “‘I know their [the people of Israel’s] sufferings”. He repeats to Moses “But I will be with you”. If Moses had known what he would have to endure to see God’s promise fulfilled he may have objected more! But he doesn’t, he is faithful and plays his part in God’s promise to free Israel and to prosper.
It strikes me that sometimes we have to simply accept that we have no idea how things will work out. Handing over our concerns is often a good way to relieve our stress. We admit that we have no answer yet agree to follow, lead and be led. Jesus was committed to his Father’s plan even though, for him, it involved the ultimate sacrifice.
As we worry about these uncertain times, perhaps the best thing we can do is to hand it over to God and be willing to be led. We need to continue to care and to love, as much as to follow advice to protect ourselves. We must also look for signs of God’s presence, who promised ‘to be with us’.
The following prayers are all taken from a website called prayerscapes which offers some modern/contemporary prayers. Below are some prayers that have been slightly amended for each day of the week (however, starting with two classic prayers from St Columba).
St Columba (c.521-97)
Lord Jesus, be a bright flame before us, a guiding star above us
A smooth path below us, a kindly shepherd behind us
Today, tonight and for ever.
Alone with none but thee, my God,
I journey on my way.
What need I fear, when thou art near
O King of night and day?
More safe am I within thy hand
Than if a host did round me stand.
Monday morning prayer
Lord, sometimes, Monday can be a hard day. Dreaded on Sunday and fled from on a Friday. Yet why Lord? Monday could be the beginning of a work adventure, the new challenge of a week filled with potential? So we pray you would help us to embrace this day. Let it be a new day and a wonder day.
Help us to see not the clouds but the sunrise, not the rain but the ripples of falling drops. Show us the joy of the embrace with loved ones, not the tensions and troubles. Monday need not be the grudge day to be endured but the fun day to be embraced. This day, help us to turn our eyes towards Your Kingdom, of love, hope and new beginnings. Amen.
Tuesday morning prayer
Lord, on this day we chose to put You first. Thank You that when You are at the centre of our family,
our lives are rich with love and goodness. Lord, be the running stream, springing up at the very heart of our household. Might we drink daily from the water of life, that our days would be filled with kindness, forgiveness, trust and love. Amen.
Wednesday morning prayer
Lord, on this day of the week we recall the strength of the Trinity in our lives. Thank You for the strands that hold us safe in the Father, that bring redemption and grace in the Son, and freedom and hope through the Holy Spirit. Thank You for this cord of strength. May we celebrate with the Three that encircle our lives! And this day may we give out the love of the Father, the grace of the Son and the freedom of the Holy Spirit in all that we do. Amen.
Thursday morning prayer
Lord, on this day we remember that You go before us, so we pause to meditate on Your promises. Thank You Lord that You go with each of us, You lay a pathway, You watch over us like a shepherd. So we give You our fears, worries and anxieties. We lay all tension and stress at the foot of the cross. Thank You that You arose from the death, and that You bring life, freedom, hope and the promise of Heaven! Praise You that we are safe in Your presence. Amen.
Friday morning prayer
Lord, on this day we are aware of the troubles and darkness in our world. Please come and lead us in prayers for our community, our nation and our world. You are the light that shines in the bleakest times, let Your Kingdom be built on earth. May those who suffer be comforted, may those who are at war search for peace, and may those who are in pain find healing. Amen.
Saturday morning prayer
Lord on this preparation day, we jump into all that You have given us. Might we embrace each part of this glorious time, enjoying the service, relishing in the challenges, engaging with the fun and celebrating with laughter. Lord on this day, may we enjoy the beauty of the created world all around us. Might we run, drive, walk and sing in the freedom of this day! Thank You that right now we can feel Your love flowing through each of us. Lord, on this day we want to jump into all that You have given us. Amen.
Sunday morning prayer
Lord, on this special day, we run into Your loving arms. May Sunday be a celebration, filled with thankfulness, where we connect (and reconnect) with the presence of Heaven, seek Your beauty and goodness, and cherish special church family time together. Come fill our heart afresh with Your love. May it overflow with Heaven’s bounty, moving through this rest day and into the week ahead. Amen.