The pestilence raging all around us takes our memories back to the influenza epidemic of 1918 and beyond that to the plagues of 14th century Europe that killed off one-third of the population. For those of us who read a lot in the Bible, it brings to mind the “little apocalypse” in the Gospels. where Jesus says: “For as in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day Noah entered the ark, and they knew nothing until the flood came and swept them all away, so too will be the coming of the Son of Man. Then two will be in the field; one will be taken and one will be left. Two women will be grinding meal together; one will be taken and one will be left. Keep awake therefore, for you do not know on what day your Lord is coming. But understand this: if the owner of the house had known in what part of the night the thief was coming, he would have stayed awake and would not have let his house be broken into. Therefore you also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an unexpected hour.” (Matthew 24:38-44)
So we are poised, some awaiting the death of individuals, of families, of governments, and of a desiccated old order no longer able to stand up before the fire of what is demanded by a God who seeks the full flourishing of all creation. In the Gospel perspective, calamity is the unveiling of what really is at the core of God’s purpose for all of creation. Here it takes the form “Son of Man.” You can fill in whatever term or symbol might convey a sense of the new possibility of human fulfillment.
As we wait, some huddled down, some scrambling to cobble together their resources to face a possible year of want, we are also looking at what will survive of our old order and what will burn away. Maybe we will rediscover the freedom of human community beyond the supposed freedom of individual liberty. Maybe we will embrace more completely the light of Truth rather than the semblance of celebrity illusion. Maybe we will throw open our windows to sing for and with each other. Maybe we will claim more deeply our common humanity in sharing food, resources, and an environment beyond the pollution of our skies, streams, and bodies.
In the loss may be our finding. In the isolation may be a deeper bond of care, in our trimmed down expectations a real hope that shares a common world of shared life. Let us know what you might be finding now. What might be your open windows as we undergo the disciplines of mere survival in the face of this invisible onslaught of disease.
I attach the liturgy for last week’s Roundtable Worship Gathering, which was cancelled along with other worship gatherings in our community. The Reading was not specified. You can add your own. Wherever your table is, wherever you go to get carry-out from your local restaurant, do what people have always done at table. Give thanks. Open your hands. Let them be cleansed. Let them be ready to touch again.
March 15, 2020
Call to the Table
Out of pestilence and plague,
You lead us with your healing power.
In the dungeon of our darkest fears,
You bring the light of your resplendent love.
From the bitter isolation of our loneliness,
You take us to the joyous banquet of your new creation.
With stubborn limp and fearful hesitation,
We come to your table,
ALL: Your table of peace. Amen. Amin. Ameyn.
Song of Gathering: “Healing”
As Moses held the healing serpent to heal his people in the wilderness,
As the waters of Ezekiel’s temple healed the errant life of Israel,
As Jesus healed with touch and word the suffering people all around him.
As Peter healed the crippled beggar at the temple’s gate,
As the tree of God’s renewed creation will bring healing to the land,
So the work of healing flows throughout the ages in the faithful circle of God’s love.
Song Response: “Healing” —Antiphon and Refrain
“May your mind be renewed by God’s Wisdom,
May your hands bring Shalom to the earth.”
O God of Healing, God of Love,
When we wander in perplexity and fear, you draw us to this table with the bounty of your faithfulness. When our bodies tremble with the burden of their finitude, you release our spirits to the open vistas of your new creation. The patient work of your renewal leads us to the steady care of one another. The marvel of your intricate creation leads our minds to seek the healing of your wondrous ways. At your table we renew our hope in your miracle of mercy:
Thank you, God, Holy One,
Thank you, God Creating,* Thank you God.
Sharing at Table
“The Bread of Life” ”The Cup of Healing”
“How Do We Respond Faithfully in the Midst of this Pandemic?”
The Hope Prayer
O Source of Life, You alone are holy.
Come, govern us in perfect peace.
Give us today the food that we need.
Release us from our sin as we release our enemies.
Sustain us in our times of trial.
Liberate us all from evil powers.
Guide us in your justice, wisdom, and peace. Amen, Amin, Ameyn
Words of Commitment
In God’s love, we will seek the path of reconciliation.
In God’s power, we will walk the ways of peace.
In God’s wisdom, we will struggle for God’s justice in this world.
In God’s mercy, we will seek to care for Earth, our home.
1.) Go now in peace, blessing and blessed,
Grounded in God, Filled with God’s Light.
2.) Go now in peace, blessing and blessed,
Grounded in God, Filled with God’s love.