On the day that our province declared a state of emergency, I received an email asking for permission to include some of my writing on a new worship website.
How strange, I thought. Here we are in the midst of pandemic with new cases of COVID-19 increasing daily, the death toll rising—and I’m being asked to think about a new website for Fall 2020? How could I even think about that?
And yet these days have been filled with other equally strange things. Going to the grocery store and seeing empty shelves where the toilet paper used to be. A sign at the drugstore listing the items that were already sold out: soap, hand sanitizer, thermometers. Talking with some neighbours while I stayed on one side of the driveway, and they stayed on the other. Our Sunday morning worship at the church cancelled indefinitely. All these things seem so unbelievable.
But what better time for worship? I asked myself. When life seems strange, uncertain, unbelievable—isn’t that the very time to reach out in faith to God? To reach out with others in prayer?
So yes, I gave my permission for the new website to include some of my worship resources, and I decided to share some of them here as well. I originally wrote these as part of a Sunday bulletin series, but I’ve made some changes in light of our situation today.
Part of the prayer is new to include the pandemic. The original language of sending has been changed to abiding, since in my province we’ve been told to stay at home to limit the spread of the virus. The regular print is meant for one voice, the bold for many voices, and the italic print for all. Come, let us worship.
Call to Worship
In the morning, you hear my voice.
In the morning, you hear all our voices.
Do you ever get tired of me, God? Calling, crying, asking.
Do you ever get tired of us, God? Praying, singing, wondering.
Today, help us to hear your voice.
(time for silent reflection)
Lord, teach us to pray.
As your disciples learned to pray, “Your kingdom come,” may we also pray for your reign in our lives and in our world. Like the tax collector who prayed for mercy, may we also come to you with humility to seek forgiveness and blessing. Like the widow who persisted with the unjust judge, may we also pray often and earnestly for justice and peace.
Lord, hear our prayers.
As the pandemic continues around the world, Lord, have mercy. Look with compassion on those who have lost loved ones, on those in the hospital or ill at home, on those living on the street and all who are especially vulnerable. Bring healing to the sick. Protect the weak. Strengthen those who provide medical care and other essential services. Guide the search for a vaccine and effective treatment. Enable each of us to do our part in limiting the spread of this virus.
We pray for those who struggle with family relationships, with disappointments, and other difficulties. We pray for those who suffer hunger and war, for those who commit acts of war and violence. May your kingdom come. May your peace and justice come. May your church remain faithful in worship, witness, prayer, and service. Amen.
In some ways, a church is like a home. We cook and clean in the church kitchen, eat together in the dining area, and care for children in the nursery. Outside, we have flowers, shrubs, and perhaps a garden. We have a parking area for cars. As a building, a church is a kind of dwelling place.
But “the house of the Lord” is not only a building. God is present everywhere, and so God’s house may be anywhere—in a church building or a grocery store, in a three-bedroom house or a one-room apartment, in an office tower or in the great outdoors.
Abide now, in hope.
We abide with our hope set on Jesus Christ,
who encourages us not to lose heart.
Abide now, in service.
We abide in the service of Jesus Christ,
who is our example of loving service to God and to other people.
Abide now, in confidence.
We abide in the confidence of Jesus Christ,
who empowers and transforms us as we walk in faith with him.
Writing/Reflection Prompt: How has the coronavirus pandemic changed your worship and the rhythm of your days?
For more on everyday acts of faith,