Reflections & Prayers regarding the pandemic

Reflections

When this is all over, maybe stillness and time out will be something to create, and not to be forced into..

Yes there is fear.
Yes there is isolation.
Yes there is panic buying.
Yes there is sickness.
Yes there is even death.
But,
They say that in Wuhan after so many years of noise
You can hear the birds again.
They say that after just a few weeks of quiet
The sky is no longer thick with fumes
But blue and grey and clear.
They say that in the streets of Assisi
People are singing to each other
across the empty squares,
keeping their windows open
so that those who are alone
may hear the sounds of family around them.
They say that a hotel in the West of Ireland
Is offering free meals and delivery to the housebound.
Today a young woman I know
is busy spreading fliers with her number
through the neighbourhood
So that the elders may have someone to call on.
Today Churches, Synagogues, Mosques and Temples
are preparing to welcome
and shelter the homeless, the sick, the weary
All over the world people are slowing down and reflecting
All over the world people are looking at their neighbours in a new way
All over the world people are waking up to a new reality
To how big we really are.
To how little control we really have.
To what really matters.
To Love.
So we pray and we remember that
Yes there is fear.
But there does not have to be hate.
Yes there is isolation.
But there does not have to be loneliness.
Yes there is panic buying.
But there does not have to be meanness.
Yes there is sickness.
But there does not have to be disease of the soul
Yes there is even death.
But there can always be a rebirth of love.
Wake to the choices you make as to how to live now.
Today, breathe.
Listen, behind the factory noises of your panic
The birds are singing again
The sky is clearing,
Spring is coming,
And we are always encompassed by Love.
Open the windows of your soul
And though you may not be able
to touch across the empty square,
Sing. [Steve Sheridan]

We’re never going to call this imposed-ultra-Lent a good thing, but together we can make it a time of discovery, insight and imagination. We can learn new things about technology and one another, and we can open new doors to the activity of the Spirit. I hope we look back and say, I would never want to go through that again, but it deepened our community and it taught me a lot about myself and about God. We are made who we are by God and one another: let’s use this time to be creative in how we connect with both. And remember it was in the wilderness that Israel found out who they were and who God was. [Revd Sam Wells, St Martins in the Fields]

When this is over, may we never again take for granted a handshake with a stranger, full shelves at the store, conversations with neighbours, a crowded theatre, Friday night out, the taste of communion, a routine check-up, the school rush in the morning, coffee with a friend, the stadium roaring, each deep breath , a boring Tuesday, life itself.

When this ends, may we find that we have become more like the people we wanted to be, we were called to be, we hoped to be and may we stay that way – better for each other because of the worst. [Laura Kelly Fanucci]

This is from a teacher in China:

“We are just finishing our 7th week of E-Learning, seven weeks of being mainly housebound and seven weeks of uncertainty. We are healthy, we are happy, and we are humbled.

We are allowed to move around freely now with a green QR code that we show when we get our temperature taken. You get your temperature taken everywhere, and it’s just become part of the routine. Most restaurants and shopping centres are now open, and life is coming back to our city. 

As we watch the rest of the world begin their time inside; here are some of my reflections on the last seven weeks:

  1. Accept that you have no control over the situation. Let go of any thoughts of trying to plan too much for the next month or two. Things change so fast. Don’t be angry and annoyed at the system. Anxiety goes down, and you make the best of the situation – whatever that might be for you. Accept that this is what it is and things will get easier. 
  2. Try not to listen to/read/watch too much media. It WILL drive you crazy. There is a thing as too much! 
  3. The sense of community I have felt during this time is incredible. I could choose who I wanted to spend my energy on – who I wanted to call, message and connect with and found the quality of my relationships has improved.
  4. Appreciate this enforced downtime. When do you ever have time like this? I will miss it when we go back to the fast-paced speed of the ‘real world’.
  5. Time goes fast. I still haven’t picked up the ukelele I planned to learn, and there are box set TV shows I haven’t watched yet.
  6. As a teacher, the relationships I have built with my students have only continued to grow. I have loved seeing how independent they are; filming themselves to respond to tasks while also learning essential life skills such as balance, risk-taking and problem-solving, that even we as adults are still learning.
  7. You learn to appreciate the little things; sunshine through the window, flowers blossoming and being able to enjoy a coffee in a cafe.”

Prayers

A prayer in #UKLockdown

The doors of the house where the disciples had met were locked. (John 20.19)

Ever present God,
be with us in our isolation,
be close to us in our distancing,
be healing in our sickness,
be joy in our sadness,
be light in our darkness,
be wisdom in our confusion,
be all that is familiar when all is unfamiliar,
that when the doors reopen
we may with the zeal of Pentecost
inhabit our communities
and speak of your goodness
to an emerging world.
For Jesus’ sake.
Amen.

Jesus Christ, you travelled through towns and villages “curing every disease and illness.”  At your command, the sick were made well. Come to our aid now, in the midst of the global spread of the coronavirus, that we may experience your healing love.

Heal those who are sick with the virus. May they regain their strength and health through quality medical care.

Heal us from our fear, which prevents nations from working together and neighbours from helping one another.

Heal us from our pride, which can make us claim invulnerability to a disease that knows no borders.

Jesus Christ, healer of all, stay by our side in this time of uncertainty and sorrow.

Be with those who have died from the virus.  May they be at rest with you in your eternal peace.

Be with the families of those who are sick or have died.  As they worry and grieve, defend them from illness and despair.  May they know your peace.

Be with the doctors, nurses, researchers and all medical professionals who seek to heal and help those affected and who put themselves at risk in the process.  May they know your protection and peace.

Be with the leaders of all nations. Give them the foresight to act with charity and true concern for the well-being of the people they are meant to serve.  Give them the wisdom to invest in long-term solutions that will help prepare for or prevent future outbreaks. May they know your peace, as they work together to achieve it on earth.

Whether we are home or abroad, surrounded by many people suffering from this illness or only a few, Christ, stay with us as we endure and mourn, persist and prepare. In place of our anxiety, give us your peace. Amen. [Kerry Weber]

A Prayer in the Midst of a Crisis
God of searching and knowing,
your people Israel faced famine and wilderness,
and your church has known persecution and hardship.
Be close to all your children in this time of bewilderment and fear.
Make this time of cessation and isolation
one in which your Spirit reveals new ways to be together,
fresh discoveries in worship, different gestures of care,
and innovative forms of compassion.
Encourage the vulnerable, comfort the impoverished,
inspire the anxious and give wisdom to those who govern.
Lift up our hearts that we may see
the abundance of what is still beautiful and true,
not be captivated by what is lost and absent,
and find new gifts in ourselves and one another.
In the power of the Spirit and in union with Christ,
who knew what it meant to be alone. Amen


[Sam Wells; St Martins in the Fields]

A Canadian prayer (but very relevant to the UK too) created by Rabbi Dr. Reuven P. Bulka and Ottawa Archbishop Terrence Prendergast :

O God,

We gather together separated by life-saving distancing, but united more than ever in spirit;

We know we are in a war against COVID – 19 together, and the more together we are, the better and stronger we will emerge:

We know the challenges are enormous, yet so are the opportunities;

That whether we are in isolation with loved ones, or alone, we will have abundance of time;

We commit to using that time to the max, to help those in greater need in whatever way we can;

We know we all have the opportunity, and time, to be life savers and life enhancers;

We give thanks for those who are on the front line taking care of those who are not well;

We give thanks for the researchers who are working at breakneck speed to find cure and vaccine;

We give thanks for our leaders, federal, provincial and local, for their dedication to all of us;

We give thanks for the providers of our daily needs who go to work in spite of the risk;

We give thanks for those who have ramped up their ability to produce life-saving supplies.

We pray for the well-being of all our life savers; For those who are not well, that they recover fully;

For those enduring difficulty, that they may overcome their challenges.

We pray that a cure and vaccine will soon be available,

And that we all – family, friends, all Canadians, the entire world may be healed in body and spirit.

We ask you, O God, to bless our leaders, our front line care givers, our life savers and life enhancers.

We ask you, O God, to bless Canada, to bless the world, to bless everyone.

Amen.

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