Friday, March 27, 2020

DAY 31

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Special devotions in response to COVID-19

A Greeting
Answer me when I call, O God. You gave me room when I was in distress.
Be gracious to me, and hear my prayer.
(Psalm 4:1)

A Reading
Is not this the fast that I choose:
to loose the bonds of injustice,
to undo the thongs of the yoke,
to let the oppressed go free,
and to break every yoke?
Is it not to share your bread with the hungry,
and bring the homeless poor into your house;
when you see the naked, to cover them,
and not to hide yourself from your own kin?
Then your light shall break forth like the dawn,
and your healing shall spring up quickly;
your vindicator shall go before you,
the glory of the Lord shall be your rearguard.
(Isaiah 58:6-8)

Note: music starts out at a low volume


Meditative Verse
Even the sparrow finds a home, and the swallow a nest for herself,
where she may lay her young, at your altars, O God.
(Psalm 84:3)

A Prayer
In this time of COVID-19, we pray:
When we aren't sure, God,
help us be calm;
when information comes
from all sides, correct and not,
help us to discern;
when fear makes it hard to breathe,
and anxiety seems to be the order of the day,
slow us down, God;
help us to reach out with our hearts,
when we can't touch with our hands;
help us to be socially connected,
when we have to be socially distant;
help us to love as perfectly as we can,
knowing that "perfect love casts out all fear.”
- from "A Prayer during times of Covid-19",
published by The United Church of Canada

Verse for the Day
In peace I’ll lie down; in peace I will sleep:
for you alone, God, keep me perfectly safe.
(Psalm 4:8)

Image by Marc Cooper

In today’s Meditative Verse, we hear about the swallows who nest in the altar of the temple. In the biblical era, birds who had managed to make a home on the very altars where they might have been ritually sacrificed, were considered sacred. To be a bird in ancient times meant either frequenting the forgotten places where food was scarce, or living in communities and becoming sacrificial offerings, but those who nested in the altar eluded both harsh realities and were safe. As we continue to live into these days of pandemic, when we are being urged strongly to “stay home”, we may find ourselves developing a new and more appreciative sense of what that word means to us. Our homes are now the place where we spend most of our days. We may experience this as a confinement, feeling limited and hemmed in, or we may experience it as a way of curling up and drawing around us a sense of security. And, as the days unfold, we may feel both. For those who are unhoused, however, the time of pandemic is especially dangerous, as they find themselves more vulnerable to the ways that the disease is moving around. As shelters close to prevent spread of the disease, the unhoused have fewer options for safety. In response, many churches and faith-based organizations are finding new ways to continue to meet the needs of those whom they had been serving prior to the outbreak, by putting together care packages and leaving them outside the church, or working with restaurant partners no longer able to open their doors, to provide take out meals for those on the street. The threshold of life and death in a time of pandemic is outside of our homes, on the streets that we hurry through quickly to get what we need and get home again. We can protect ourselves and each other by staying in, but we can also find ways even from within our homes to uphold those providing assistance to those on the street. In the video below, which was made in 2018, we hear the voices of a mixed sheltered/non-sheltered San Diego choir singing Amazing Grace. Since the COVID crisis, the Voices of Our City choir has been unable to gather, but those choir members who are sheltered are nonetheless working to come alongside and support their non-sheltered friends in safe ways. How can we enfold those who are homeless in the altars of our own hearts? How can we offer prayers, food, encouragement and kindness to those living on our streets, so that all of us can survive in safety and health, and experience the abundance of God’s amazing grace?


LC† Reimagining Justice is a project of
Lutherans Connect / Lutheran Campus Ministry Toronto,

supported by the Eastern Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada.
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