As Lent began, I am sure none of us imagined that we would be fasting from public worship. This is a hard and difficult time for all of us. It is also a reminder that we were made for one another. We were made to be in community with each other and God. Our whole faith is predicated on the idea that God became incarnate for us. And, now we are asked, for the sake of others, to fast from the casual handshake, hug, or gathering, to which we have become so accustomed. May we uphold one another in this forced Lenten fast.
Please know that pastoral concerns of connectedness are the highest of our priorities. Please email Mother Melissa or Father Adam or call 267 226 9759 (Mother Melissa) or 717 440 1567 (Father Adam) to alert them of anyone who is ill. Please also let them know if you or anyone in your social constellation, is ill. The vestry will also be calling each household to check-in on people. We will need to use the technology of telephones to support one another.
Obviously, we are fasting from public worship for a time. There are many resources for worship. The best one I can recommend is watching the National Cathedral live stream. (https://cathedral.org/)
The Washington National Cathedral is our unofficial central Cathedral of the UniteStates, and they have quality video capabilities. The National Cathedral (formal name The Cathedral of St. Peter and St. Paul) even has organ music and a bulletin so you can fully participate.
Father Adam and I will continue to record our sermons for the coming Sundays and send you the link. Many thanks to new parishioner, James Guardino, for getting this off the ground when it was particularly timely.
Additionally, we are aware that there is anxiety around finances for many of us at this point. The church asks that if you have made a pledge, please continue to send it in. The easiest way to do that is by asking your bank to cut a check automatically. (This costs us and you nothing) If you have not yet made a pledge you can do so here https://www.stjohnscarlisle.org/support/pledge/
Finally, we will be sending out a SPIRE to keep us connected. Please pray individually for all of us at this time. You are in our hearts and prayers. On the next page are prayers for use during this pandemic.
A Prayer for a Person Suffering with COVID-19 (to be used over the phone or on Zoom/ FaceTime)
God of healing, God of hope, our souls are hungry for health and happiness. You are the Maker and Keeper of billions of galaxies of stars and planets seething in their violence. You are the delicate fashioner of the hummingbird’s wings and the infant’s lungs. You are the architect and creator of our fragile bodies. We know you are the caring Abba of us all. Be with _______, and drive far from her all sickness and all anxiety in body, mind, spirit and relationships. Deliver her from her suffering and may goodness and mercy follow her all the days of her life. We pray in the name of the Great Physician, the Way, the Truth and the Life. Amen. (Written after reading Reynolds Price’s Letter to a Man in the Fire)
A Prayer for a Person in a 14-day Self-Quarantine Suffering God, your Beloved Son endured temptations and the wilderness for forty days after his Baptism. New life gave him suffering. The Light was dark and the Word without a voice. From the solitary Jesus we learn that the broken bread is our only food. For once and always, O Lord, be present to those in self-quarantine. Give them ears to hear you say: “I am here.” Give them the grace to breathe in the perfect love that casts out fear. Give them food for their bodies and hope for their beings. This is our prayer for our brothers and sisters in Christ. In the healing name of Jesus, we make our petitions. Amen and so be it. (Infused with the poetry of Malcolm Guite)
A Prayer for a Person Unable to Take the Eucharist My Jesus, I believe that you are truly present in the Blessed Sacrament of the Altar. I love you above all things, and long for you in my soul. Since I cannot now receive you sacramentally, come at least spiritually into my heart. As though you have already come, I embrace you and unite myself entirely to you; never permit me to be separated from you. Amen. (Written St. Alphonsus de Liguori, 1696-1787, and discovered by Rev. Dr. Hawkins)
A Prayer for an Online Service of Parishioners, When Regular Services Have Been Canceled Almighty God of the Cross and Loving God of Community, we are not in a church building today but Church is never canceled. We are not wise, and not very often kind. But we are the Body of Christ in your suffering world. We know that our vocation is to be the Light of this Christ whose Body we are. Give us courage to be the Church and to keep our minds on what matters—which is to keep loving the world which you have called good. Buildings crumble; the Church Year passes; but your Church endures from generation to generation. Make this for us a Feast Day of your Protection, your Plenty, your Purpose, your Plan and your Peace. All this we ask, as we pray in silence, with all the Saints and with each other. Amen.
(Echoing the poetry of Mary Oliver) A Prayer for Our Nation and the World in the Light of this Pandemic Ever-creating God, be with us as the pall of this COVID-19 pandemic falls upon this “fragile earth” which is our “island home.” We hold in our hearts and prayers all who are suffering in our nation from “sea to shining sea.” We pray for the whole world. Our common anxiety is making us one, undivided human family. We pray for world leaders as they chart these unknown waters. Strengthen them to walk into the Light of a new, healing day for the whole planet. Help us to cross our broken lands and be for each other bridges back to heaven. Lift the cares to which we cling. Descend, O God, on us all to be our Guest. Show us how to find in everything blessing and rest. May this be our prayer while we do not know how to pray and until the last light lingers in the west. Amen, in the name of our creating, redeeming and sustaining God. (With indebtedness to Malcolm Guite and Flannery O’Connor, two of my companions on the way)
Prayers Written by the Rev. Dr. Kate Sonderegger Prayer in Time of Isolation Almighty God: Our times are in your hand. We call upon you in this hour of our need, when we are lonely and must stand apart. Be our strength, O Sovereign Lord, our calm in the midst of raging seas, our refuge and our dwelling place. Sanctify to us this time drawn away from others, even as your Son, O Father, drew away to a lonely place for prayer. Deepen our need of you, O Lord, that every breath may be a whisper of the Spirit’s prompting, a renewed searching of the deep things of God. Stir up in us the great act of intercession, that we may spend our time apart in prayer for the world you created and sustain. Bless us in our turning toward you, and make us a blessing to those who stand in need of you, the whole fragile earth. All this we ask in the name of great Physician, even Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
A Prayer in Time of Pandemic This hour we turn to you, O Lord, in full knowledge of our frailty, our vulnerability, and our great need as your mortal creatures. We cry to you, as one human family, unsure of the path ahead, unequal to the unseen forces around us, frightened by the sickness and death that seem all too real to us now. Stir up your strength and visit us, O Lord; be our shield and rock and hiding place! Guide our leaders, our scientists, our nurses and doctors. Give them wisdom and fill their hearts with courage and determination. Make even this hour, O Lord, a season of blessing for us, that in fear we find you mighty to save, and in illness or death, we find the cross to be none other than the way of life. All this we ask in the name of the One who bore all our infirmities, even Jesus Christ our Risen and Victorious Lord. Amen.