September 2020 Message for Congregations and Lay and Rostered Leaders
Dear Beloved of God – There are written prayers which speak to me profoundly, and which I return to again and again. They have become part of me. My breath. My DNA.
“Come, Lord Jesus, be our guest”, The Lord’s Prayer, “Now I lay me down to sleep”, the familiar prayer from the Morning and Evening Prayer services , “O God, you have called your servants…”, just to name a few.
I recall hearing this latter prayer years ago now, in the mid-80’s as a college student, in the form of a choral anthem. The text, the prayer, had been set for four-part harmony. A beautiful melody. Each vocal part wondrously written. I still sing the bass line and the melody.
Over the years I have sung this hymn, prayed this text, over and over again. As a new parent. When I began my First Call at Bethany Lutheran, Dickson, Alberta, and beginning each subsequent call. At the death of my youngest sister. At times when I have wondered and questioned. And, at times when I have moved to thanksgiving and praise.
One of the reasons that I love this prayer is because it is realistic and yet encouraging, honest yet hopeful. It doesn’t deny difficult truths, but neither does it succumb to sterile pessimism. It was written in the first part of the twentieth century by a Church of England priest, Eric Milner-White, and like many good prayers from another time and place, it sounds like it was tailor made for us here and now.
Here and now, as the Spirit of God continues to lead us into a future that is unfamiliar, with the assurance that God is present, God’s hand leading, cradled in love.
I have sung this prayer and prayed this text many times over these past COVID-19 months. I am sure that I will sing and pray them over and over again in the months to come.
As I have sung and prayed in these days of unseen endings, of paths yet untrodden, through perils unknown, I have experienced with you and through you so many signs of hope, of faithfulness, trust, courage, and encouragement.
Congregational leaders, lay and rostered who: under extraordinary stress, pressure and restraints have poured themselves into the work of leadership; and though tired and weary and wondering, have reached out to one another, and to those in their midst, providing pastoral care, connection, compassion and care.
Creativity, ingenuity, openness, support, encouragement, trust, community.
And our church, working together in ways that witness to the Spirit of God among us. Joint correspondence from national and synod treasurers, and from national and synod bishops. Sharing of resources and experience. A Pentecost celebration with our Full Communion partners.
As we journey together join me in singing the hymn. Join me in prayer.
And as we journey, continue to be humble and gentle with one another. Honor each other. Make space for lament. Welcome moments of joy. Help each other live into hope. Learn from this journey in the coronavirus wilderness and let the learning lead us forward. Trust that God is at work in this time and look for the new things God is doing even now.
Thank you for your witness to patient trust in God and to sacrificial, cruciform love for your neighbors.
The God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. Romans 15:13
In Christ Jesus – Shalom, +Larry