St. Mary Nanoose Bay
May 31, 2020
What we pray for…
Almost every morning since the churches in the Anglican Diocese of BC closed down because of Covid-19, I’ve been praying the prayer I introduced to the parish the last Sunday we gathered.
God of the present moment
God who in Jesus stills the storm and soothes the frantic heart;
Bring hope and courage to us as we wait in uncertainty.
Bring hope that You will make us the equal of whatever lies ahead.
Bring us courage to endure what cannot be avoided,
for Your will is health and wholeness;
You are God and we need You.
Your love is never changing; and in that lies our future.
Last week we heard how the Holy Spirit was sent by Jesus and the Father to accompany us; to come alongside. And as a personal companion, to speak to us in ways that we can hear, recognize, and respond to. So often we pray for certain outcomes, for some sense of control over the world, for a different reality.
When our boys were teens and out on a weekend night, I used to pray, “please, please, please bring them home safe,” or when someone is really ill, “please, please, please make them well again,” and now with Covid, “please, please, please, spare me and my family,” or around issues of violence or poverty, “please make things right in our community.”
If we look at the prayer we’ve been praying as a community, it has little to do with outcomes. The prayer rests in trust of the outcomes and asks for help along the way. God is control; what we’re praying for is help with accepting what is and knowing what we can do about what is. Pretty different. We’re praying for help with what we do have some control over: our response to the world, to the events around us, to the people we are with and the experiences we encounter.
“Loving God, God of the present moment, help me have the courage to be here in this moment with You. Give me the strength to deal with what is happening right now. Give me the discipline to keep my attention here in this moment when I have some agency. And don’t let my mind wander into the past where my anger, shame and regrets live. And help me rein in my fears and anxiety about the future; which I cannot change, which is in Your control. Lord, I just need You with me. I need to know I’m not alone, that Your will is for the health and wholeness of all Your creation, of which I am part. I am your beloved. Help me act that way.”
Life is not easy. I don’t need to tell you that. You’ve all had your share of struggles and challenges. And there are more on the way.
What prayer can do is ground us in the knowledge that we are not alone; there is support as close as a breath away. Prayer gives us practice in calling on that help. Prayer helps us learn to let go and let God.
The Serenity Prayer that is at the foundation of recovery programs for people who have addiction issues states this succinctly.
The first part is the part most people know:
God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference.
Wonderful advice that recognizes the truth of our situation! Now listen as it continues -
Living one day at a time;
enjoying one moment at a time;
accepting hardships as the pathway to peace;
taking, as He did, this sinful world as it is, not as I would have it;
trusting that He will make all things right if I surrender to His Will;
that I may be reasonably happy in this life and supremely happy with Him forever in the next.
Amen. Reinhold Niebuhr (1892-1971)
The pathway to peace is not having life fit our preferences but in knowing that all things will be well, and that we walk with One who has come to be our guide, should we choose to pay attention and learn.
This time of Covid is a perfect time to pray these prayers and to strengthen our ability to stay present to the One who walks with us and who provides for our needs even when, and maybe especially when, we think otherwise.
Come Holy Spirit,
fill the hearts of us Your faithful,
and kindle in us the fire of Your love.
Send forth Your Spirit and we shall be created.
And You shall renew the face of the earth.
Let us continue to pray and deepen our awareness of God’s presence in our lives. If we find it difficult to pray, pray for help with that! And know, as the Body of Christ, there are always others praying for us, whether we are known personally, or not.
Loving God, hear our prayers.
Thank you for Your presence, for Your love, for Your abundant giving.
Thank you for this parish community and all the wonderful people and gifts that come our way.
Thank you for the examples in Nature of the diversity, the beauty and abundance that are your expression of life.
Bless us, and bless our families, and bless those who are struggling in this time of change.