Sabbath Days in a Time of Pandemic:
Special devotions in response to COVID-19 (Continued)
Gladden the soul of your servant,
for to you, O God, I lift up my soul.
[Moses] put the lampstand in the tent of meeting, opposite the table on the south side of the tabernacle, and set up the lamps before the Lord; as the Lord had commanded Moses. He set up the court around the tabernacle and the altar, and put up the screen at the gate of the court. So Moses finished the work. Then the cloud covered the tent of meeting, and the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle. Moses was not able to enter the tent of meeting because the cloud settled upon it, and the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle. Whenever the cloud was taken up from the tabernacle, the Israelites would set out on each stage of their journey; but if the cloud was not taken up, then they did not set out until the day that it was taken up. For the cloud of the Lord was on the tabernacle by day, and fire was in the cloud by night, before the eyes of all the house of Israel at each stage of their journey.
‘Come to me, all you that are weary and are
carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.
For me, at work in my studio,
where I scratch and scrawl and loop
letters into shapes so I can enter the Tabernacle
of their bodies and hear each foot, each syllable
sending its roots to a depth as great as that tree’s,
which has been standing and rooting and swaying
long before I came to memorize its plain mystery,
its wide-bodied hull open to stars at night,
each a point that I lengthen into a letter
and each letter into a word, and with the words
build a Tabernacle for the ten most broken
and the ten most resonant words. I will place them
in an inner sanctum enclosed by hanging carpets,
and outside it, another space enclosed by carpets,
and outside it, another, so that those who wish
to read the words, to say them out loud,
must first pull one curtain back and step inside,
and then another, and another until they arrive
in a hushed space, a soundproofed, heavy quiet
where they come to know that which makes all things
day after day,
and out of which the earth was made.
- from "Tabernacle" by Emily Warn
Verse for the Day
For you, O Lord, are good and forgiving,
abounding in steadfast love to all who call on you.
|Image by Nicolas Raymond|
In the image at top, we see a small chapel lit up brightly. The light that pours out from its heart is invitational, offering a place of rest for a weary spirit. Chapels like these frequent the ancient paths of the pilgrim routes. Weary travelers, not yet at a destination for the day, can find a place to renew their faith. Over the past few weeks, we have been in our own wilderness, trying to go forward in our lives with little sense of the future. Like the medieval pilgrim traveling village to village, we have no sense of distance, except the number of steps between one day and another, one week to the next. In the biblical story, the Israelites traveled this way in hopes of a promised land. Most of us are journeying in the hope of having our normal lives back. In today’s reading, we hear how God goes before the Israelites in a cloud during the day and a fire in the cloud by night. God dwells among them and leads them in this way and as they travel onward, they carry with them the Tabernacle, the Tent of Meeting. How does God lead us in our own wilderness journey of self-isolation and quarantine? Today’s choir, Cantus, have recorded a series of songs in what they call the “COVID-19 Sessions”, recorded just a week ago. Standing at two metres from each other, they sing an African-American spiritual that describes both the memory of bondage and the feeling of hope that is experienced in journeying toward ‘home’. Today, as most of us are unable once again to attend church as normal, we too take our Tabernacle with us. We pray and sing around a family table. We watch a livestream of worship. We create the sacred in our own quiet corners, with candles and books. We are led by our own faith leaders, whose ingenuity and creativity go before us on our computer screens or in the preparations of resources they have caringly provided for us. We have found ourselves on an unchosen wandering, to a place we don’t know, for a length of time we can’t determine. But like the Israelites and the medieval pilgrims, we journey in the knowledge that God goes with us. Starting tomorrow, we will embark on a two-week path toward Easter in a time of pandemic, visiting ancient and newer trails of sacred journey, as we have in previous Lenten projects of 2014 and 2017. Knowing that ‘pilgrimage’ can be a challenging word for our Indigenous brothers and sisters, we will refer to it instead as the ‘soul journey’, going where others have traveled before us, and also learning from them. In the video at bottom, made before the pandemic, Dr. Vincent Adams, a PEI chiropractor, shares a dream of walking the Camino in Spain, carrying a fifty pound wooden Cross as a way of raising money and awareness for suicide prevention. The pandemic has forced Adams to postpone his three-hundred mile trek, but the publicity surrounding his project, called A Cross to Bear, has saved lives, as those who struggle with mental health feel encouraged by his passion. As we move forward in our own days, how can we carry our own crosses of pain and challenge amid the light of sacred space that travels with us? How can we offer each other solidarity and courage as we put one foot in front of the other, and as God leads us quietly and lovingly on?
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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