Hi all: like many of you I was glued to the screen yesterday afternoon. I was not sure what to do following the events that unfolded throughout the day. More sobering today, we now know four people died and fourteen police were injured. Beyond death and injury, people are unsettled for all kinds of reasons. I thought about releasing some kind of “pastoral wisdom” on the matter today but determined I might do better just to help people pray–not to avoid the pain and problems at hand, but to engage them more deeply. Prayer strengthens our spirit to engage the world with more love and wisdom.
So, here’s a common prayer you might want to use this evening (or at another time). The prayer is based loosely on Evening Prayer from The Book of Common Prayer (1979). Please contact me if I can offer you any pastoral care or support in this solemn moment of history.
For those of us in the midwest, one of the greatest gifts we’ve received during the quarantine are sunny and at-least-it’s-not-freezing days. We may not gather with loved ones but we can enjoy the sunshine, the blooming tulips and daffodils, and that comforting aroma that comes after the spring rain.
Braver souls than me, however, tell me there is no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothing. One dear friend is trying to spend several hours outside every day this year. (She started in JANUARY.) Regardless, whether you’re a fair-weather outdoors person or an every-day-outside person, this liturgy is for you.
Gather the few things you’ll need and find a place to pray and celebrate. Your backyard is great. A park is perfect. Deep in the woods or on a suspension bridge over a river would be just right. Get outside, somewhere with birds singing praise and the trees clapping their branches. Make the outdoors your living room for this time of prayer. After all, a garden was our original living room, wasn’t it?
May the Lord bless you as you pray!
(Click here for a downloadable, printable PDF of the liturgy.)
Megan Condry, youth and children’s director at St. Peter’s First Community Church, offers us another living room liturgy. This one is especially helpful for Holy Saturday, in the silence of waiting for Christ’s resurrection. It is, however, also a beautiful liturgy for use regularly throughout the year.
Silence. Quiet. Rest. These are not words we are familiar with in our fast-paced, frenzied, and busy world. Faster, louder, more seem to be the resounding phrases around us rather than quietness, rest, and solitude. The challenge of silence is not a new one for us and yet God makes it clear throughout His Word that it is through rest that we find our strength in Him alone. “For thus said the Lord God, the Holy One of Israel, ‘In returning and rest you shall be saved; in quietness and in trust shall be your strength.’ But you were unwilling,” (Isaiah 30:15). The way is simple and the instructions clear, but are we too unwilling? Does the fear of silence keep us at bay? Do we wonder if we can afford to take time to rest in God with all the other demands of our time? Are we unsure about what to do when trying to spend time in quiet with God? Do we worry about the things God might want to share with us so it is easier to just keep moving along? All those thoughts can keep us from God but we know through the Bible, through the experience of believers throughout time, and through our own quiet moments, that it is in our moments connecting with God that we find peace, hope, direction, and real rest. “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28).
A Liturgy of Preparing, Eating, and Serving for Maundy Thursday At Home
On Maundy Thursday, we remember the night before Christ’s betrayal, when he joined his disciples for a meal (which would become The Lord’s Supper). John tells us he then washed the disciples’ feet as a sign of how he came to serve, and how we are to serve others. This liturgy is based on that story and invites participants to prepare and eat a meal together and to serve others in various ways. It can be done individually or with a small group.
Here’s the second Living Room Liturgy, which is a pair with the liturgy of laughter I shared earlier. Both practices, lament and laughter, are significant in times like this. Blessings as you pray! Download the liturgy as a printable PDF by clicking here.
I wrote a couple weeks ago about how social distancing may create an opportunity to practice solitude. What I’ve since realized is that for many of us it is not necessarily clear how to make the most of our solitude. Prayer is hard on your own. Without the weekly encouragement and example of praying together in communal worship, our own individual prayer lives can feel dull or diminished. So, I thought I’d try to offer some “Living Room Liturgies” that you, your family, or you with some folks on a Zoom call can use to give prayer a bit of structure. I hope you’ll share them if you find them useful! (Download the PDF here for a printer-friendly copy.)