September 15, 2020
A daily prayer during this COVID-19 crisis
During these difficult days, members of the Granite District of the New England Conference are sharing a daily prayer based on the Revised Common Lectionary for the week.
You are welcome to use these in worship or in your own devotions.
Holy and Amazing God, Author of Grace, Designer of all that was, and is, and ever will be; who in Jesus Christ became both our brother and our Savior, how can we thank you enough for your love which enfolds us even to this day? With the Psalmist “ (We) will extol you, my God and King, and bless your name forever and ever. Every day (we) will bless you, and praise your name forever and ever. Great is the LORD, and greatly to be praised; his greatness is unsearchable.” (Psalm 145:1-3) There is no adequate bow, no meaningful word, no act of contrition that will suffice in our thinking to express our profound gratitude. Yet our thought process is not yours, and you have shared your desire of us in the words of the Apostle Paul: “Only, live your life in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that, whether I come and see you or am absent and hear about you, I will know that you are standing firm in one spirit, striving side by side with one mind for the faith of the gospel...” (Philippians 1:27)
We have witnessed, O God, the incredible despair wrought by human suffering in a year we had hoped would be so much better. COVID-19 has brought suffering from mysterious symptoms and unequal access to care. It has caused division among those who fear the power of disease and those who deny its very existence or fury. It has shined a bright light upon systemic racism that has existed for too long in the shadows, and has been long ignored in the daylight, perpetrated against so many whom you have created in divine love. It has shown clearly the corruptible nature of power as some of those entrusted with it “to protect and serve” have protected nothing, taken everything, and served only self-interest. Consequently, it has also fomented the untrue belief that all in uniform are vengeful, corrupt, and evil. In addition, 2020 has been punctuated by the continuing spectra of warfare, and gun violence, and wildfire, and hurricane, and earthquake, and environmental injustice, and unequal distribution of wealth, and political name-calling, and so many other regretful thoughts, words, and deeds. Yet you have shared your desire - that we live our lives “in a manner worthy of the Gospel.”
We confess that we have not acted in a manner worthy of the Gospel, O God, and in far too many instances we have done the contrary or nothing at all. Forgive us, we pray, for all of those times when we have ignored the problems...or contributed to them. Sometimes we do what we do out of ignorance. Sometimes we do so for a laugh. Sometimes we don’t know what to do. Sometimes we believe doing nothing is the wiser path. Forgive our actions that have brought harm. Forgive our inaction that has added to harm and caused disappointment. Forgive our indifference. Humbly we confess, and we pray for heaping portions of divine grace and unconditional love.
God of Hope, you have asked humankind that we be both human and kind; that we freely admit that we need you, and that we heed your call to simply be nice to one another and to treat each other as we want to be treated ourselves. Help us to do that, always “standing firm in the one Spirit, striving side by side with one mind for the faith of the gospel.”
Finally, O God, hear our prayers for all who are suffering, for all who are dying, for all who are grieving, and for all who are helping in the midst of these most challenging days. May peace with justice reign not only in our lands, but in our minds as well. May we place ourselves and those dear to us in your never-failing care. May our inadequacies be overcome by our strengths. Finally, may the best of all we have to offer be the least we will do.
All this we pray in the name of Jesus. Amen.
Prayer by Rev. Jeffrey Hunt, Pastor, First UMC, Rochester, NH; Coordinating Pastor, Bethany UMC, East Rochester, NH; Granite District