Let Us Pray Together
We come to pray, O Lord
for your broken world filled with hate, war and violence;
for our nation and the world dealing with a virus that separates us from our neighbor, causes financial anxiety as well as illness;
for our various faith communities that need your healing touch and guiding presence;
for our city where a tornado destroyed communities and many are homeless
Hear our prayers, O Lord and give us
wisdom, courage and strength to follow you on the Journey.
Common English Bible
Be glad in the Lord always! Again I say, be glad! Let your gentleness show in your treatment of all people. The Lord is near. Don’t be anxious about anything; rather, bring up all of your requests to God in your prayers and petitions, along with giving thanks. Then the peace of God that exceeds all understanding will keep your hearts and minds safe in Christ Jesus.
From now on brothers and sisters, if anything is excellent and if anything is admirable, focus your thoughts on these things; all that is true, all that is holy, all that is just, all that is pure, all that is lovely, and all that is worthy of praise. Practice these things: whatever you learned, received, heard, or saw in us. The God of peace will be with you.
Cynthia M Campbell in Women’s Bible
This could sound like empty sentimentality if not for the fact that Paul is writing from prison. His life as a leader of the early Christian movement has been anything but smooth. Bur his experience of God’s grace in Jesus Christ has helped him find a path to peace in the face of physical suffering and persecution. Paul is not in denial about the anxieties of life or suggesting some sort of ”mind over matter” approach. He counsels us to bring everything that weighs heavily on our hearts and minds to God – hold nothing back. We may think some things are too minor or too shameful for prayer. But we are assured that before a word is even on our lips (or a thought in our minds), God knows it already. When we bring the things that cause us stress into prayer, we put ourselves and our troubles inside a much bigger picture; the story of God’s love for us in Jesus Christ; a love that is stronger than anything that can hurt us or those we love. And that leads to thanksgiving. Recognizing the depth and breadth of God’s grace leads to gratitude and that leads to peace.
Prayer Dear God: I know that I am worrying about this current pandemic and my anxiety level is very high. But worrying about things I cannot control is not helpful to anyone and certainly not to me. I fail in my trust of you. Help me to turn all my cares over to you – to name them as I pray. I ask of you help me in developing an attitude of us working together for I am willing and ready to try to regain your peace. Amen
In Epistles Now by Leslie F. Brandt
It is my fondest wish that God’s children be happy. I don’t mean ecstatic or continually exuberant; I mean happy, full of joy that deep down contentment that persists even in the midst of trials and tribulations. As the very children of God, we really don’t have a thing to worry about. Whatever our real needs, we know that God will fulfill them in God’s own time and in accordance with God’s will. We can well afford to celebrate, to live in thankfulness, and to allow the incomprehensible peace of God to mend the frayed edges of our troubled lives and make us serene and secure in our Christian faith.
It is not easy, but worthy of every effort, to cast out the troublesome demons that plague us and to think and to act positively. The unfortunate happenings that beset us should not cheat us out of the joy that comes through Christ. We don’t have to allow these things to come between us and God.
Whether we are rich or poor, in the valley or on the mount, whether there be sorrow or pain, or conflict or defeat, this need not threaten our relationship with God. We belong to God, and if we think and act as if we belong to Bod, nothing will alter that glorious relationship. We are God’s forever, and we can celebrate forever our adoption and our identity as God’s sons and daughters. And God will provide us with the strength and the courage that we need to confront and overcome anything that comes our way.
“An Anthem for Our Day”
Mark Nepo in Spirituality and Health
In later life, the German philosopher, Friedrich Nietzsche, said, “I want to see what is necessary as beautiful, so I can be one of those who makes things beautiful.” I invoke this as an anthem of our day. If we can meet the outer uncertainty with an inner covenant of care, perhaps we can make what is necessary beautiful. Perhaps the washing of hands can become a modern sacrament, a holy ritual by which we hold ourselves and our global family in the deepest regard. Perhaps the slight bow of love and respect can replace the handshake as a holy ritual that will lessen our fear while sharing our love, so that we can bear the uncertainty together.
As we practice caution and social distancing, let us not distance each other in our hearts. As we are forced to slow down and stop our busyness, let us feed more than our fear. Let us strengthen our inner resolve, both physically and spiritually, so we can meet the necessities of the day in hopes of making things more beautiful. For we all are being called to outlast the siren of fear until we can touch upon the reliable truths that reside beneath all fear. Like a strong net that softens the carriage of weight, the strength of our connections, even while physically apart, will soften the sharpness of the uncertainty inherent in times like this.
“God of Love and God of Power”
Gerald F. Kennedy #578 UMH
God of love and God of power, grant us in this burning hour
grace to ask these gifts of thee, daring hearts and spirits free.
We are not the first to be banished by our fears from thee;
give us courage, let us hear heaven’s trumpets ringing clear.
All our lives belong to thee, thou our final loyalty;
slaves are we whene’er we share that devotion anywhere.
God of love and God of power, make us worthy of this hour;
offering lives if it’s thy will, keeping free our spirits still.
Joyce D. Sohl, Laywoman-in-Residence
Joyce D. Sohl has been Laywoman-in-Residence since 2009 as a full-time volunteer. She retired as CEO of United Methodist Women in 2004. She is the author of 4 books, a teacher, retreat leader, writer and non-professional musician. Here at the Center her work is in the area of Spirituality & the Arts with such programs as Tuesdays in the Chapel, Vespers & All That Jazz, Poet’s Corner, quarterly retreats, and art exhibits.