(Sermon on the Parable of the Prodigal Son)
Prayer for a Pandemic
May we who are merely inconvenienced
Remember those whose lives are at stake.
May we who have no risk factors
Remember those most vulnerable.
May we who have the luxury of working from home
Remember those who must choose between preserving their health or making their rent.
May we who have the flexibility to care for our children when their schools close
Remember those who have no options.
May we who have to cancel our trips
Remember those that have no place to go.
May we who are losing our margin money in the tumult of the economic market
Remember those who have no margin at all.
May we who settle in for a quarantine at home
Remember those who have no home.
During this time when we cannot physically wrap our arms around each other,
Let us yet find ways to be the loving embrace of God to our neighbors.
Prayer for these days
God, our peace and our strength, we pray for our nation and the world as we face new uncertainties around coronavirus.
Protect the most vulnerable among us, especially all who are currently sick or in isolation.
Grant wisdom, patience, and clarity to health care workers, especially as their work caring for others puts them at great risk.
Guide us as we consider how best to prepare and respond in our families, congregations, workplaces, and communities.
Give us courage to face these days not with fear but with compassion, concern, and acts of service, trusting that you abide with us always; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Prayer for Epworth
God, it is good for us to gather as your beloved community of Epworth.
We treasure your presence with us in word and meal, song and prayer.
Be with us in these days when gathering together as often as we would like is not possible.
When we must be apart for reasons of safety, we trust that you surround us with your sheltering wings.
Bring to mind our neighbors in need and those you would have us reach out to in Christian love.
Help us to be persistent in prayer that we may in all days and times trust exclusively in you.
We ask this in the name of Jesus, our constant companion. Amen.
(based on Psalm 23, 27:3; Isaiah 41:10, 43:1-3; Luke 12:32; John 10:11)
I am the Good Shepherd. Fear not for I am with you. Do not be dismayed for I am your Lord. I will strengthen you. Yes, I will help you. I will hold you up with my right hand.
Yes, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for You are with me. Your rod for protection and your staff for guidance, they comfort me.
I am your Shepherd. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, you shall not drowned. When you walk through fire, you shall not be burned.
Though I walk in the midst of trouble, you will revive me. Lord You stretch out Your hand against the wickedness of my enemies, and your right hand saves me.
You are the sheep of my pasture, I have created you, formed you. Do not fear for I have redeemed you. I have called you by your name. You are mine.
Though many should encamp against me, my heart shall not fear. Though war should rise against me, in this will I be confident. You, Lord, are the Shepherd of my soul. You are my light and my salvation., You are the strength of my life. How great is Your goodness toward those who trust in You!
I am the Good Shepherd and I say to you “Fear not little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom. He has determined to give you the Kingdom.”
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.
— from Jeanie Rose’s Pray the Scriptures website.
Praying through the mundane
Brother Lawrence lived in 17th century France. Brother Lawrence was assigned to the monastery kitchen where, amidst the tedious chores of cooking and cleaning at the constant bidding of his superiors, he developed his rule of spirituality and work. For Brother Lawrence, "common business," no matter how mundane or routine, was the medium of God's love. The issue was not the sacredness or worldly status of the task but the motivation behind it. "Nor is it needful that we should have great things to do. . . We can do little things for God; I turn the cake that is frying on the pan for love of him, and that done, if there is nothing else to call me, I prostrate myself in worship before him, who has given me grace to work; afterwards I rise happier than a king. It is enough for me to pick up but a straw from the ground for the love of God.” Together, God and Brother Lawrence cooked meals, ran errands and scrubbed pots. So, use your everyday chores as a means of prayer. For example, as you fold laundry, pray for the one who will wear it. As you walk the dog, take note of God’s stunning Creation breaking forth in Spring. When you pay the bills, give thanks for the provision of God.
Be Intentional about Sabbath
If you are one of those people that are always too busy to practice an effective Sabbath day, perhaps this is an opportunity to lean into this vital spiritual discipline. Take a walk and enjoy the newness of Spring. Plan an extended time with God. Read that book that’s been collecting dust. Open the circuit breaker box and intentionally kill the power; then gather the family around candle light and games.