A Solo Worship Experience
I hiked Brumly the other morning, and as my hike was finishing up, I found this spot. I didn’t stop, as I was pretty tired and wasn’t sure that I’d be able to get up and finish the walk if I rested. I made a point that I would return.
This morning, as I woke up, I remembered that it was Sunday. Missing my Sunday routine, I thought to myself “what if I have church at the pond?”
God, God, save me!Psalm 69:1-3, The Message Bible
I’m in over my head,
Quicksand under me, swamp water over me;
I’m going down for the third time.
I’m hoarse from calling for help,
Bleary-eyed from searching the sky for God.
“Be strong. Take courage. Don’t be intimidated. Don’t give them a second thought because God, your God, is striding ahead of you. He’s right there with you. He won’t let you down; he won’t leave you.”Deuteronomy 31:6, The Message Bible
IN GOD’S GARDEN
Your ways are mysterious, oh God of my heart. We are to be strong and of good courage, yet, through this storm waging around us, we still call out to you “save me, save us.”
On this beautiful spring day, I sit in your garden and claim it as your church. Effortlessly, I give you gratitude and praise for this gift of time to reconnect and commune with you in this garden. Yes, as the hymn says, how can I keep from singing.?
And yet…within the grace of this gratitude, there is also lament. There is also sadness. While I am privileged to sit this morning in your garden, I am aware that I’m not on the front lines. I am not sick. I think of the news this morning, witnessing the rise in the death toll in our cities, and listening to the stories from the nurses and doctors. How can I give gratitude, when elsewhere the people are desperate and afraid? How can I justify my own happy heart, when so many are in need?
GRATITUDE IN HARD TIMES
A response, from Christine D. Pohl, excepted from her book, Living into Community: Cultivating Practices that Sustain Us
Practices of gratitude can be distorted when we imagine that Christians are always supposed to be smiling and cheerful, even in the face of suffering, tragedy, or grave injustice. To live gratefully is not the same as denying the misery or evil around us.
Gratitude involves knowing that we are held secure by a loving God, and that the God we worship is trustworthy, despite the nearly unbearable sorrow we might encounter along the way. A capacity to be thankful in the midst of hard times requires acknowledging that we do not know the whole story, that we are living before it’s complete, and that we are thankful for the presence of God and faithful persons in our lives. Gratitude is a crucial way in which death and destruction do not have the final word, and cannot finally define us.
Oh Heavenly God, please hear our prayers:
For patience in ourselves and for our isolation, oh God, hear our prayers.
For our loved ones in nursing homes and assisted living when we can’t visit and check in on them, oh God, hear our prayers.
For all the first responders, doctors, nurses, paramedics, working tirelessly on the front lines, oh God, hear our prayers.
For our friends and family members laid off and not working, worried about bills and rent, oh God, hear our prayers.
For our religious leaders and pastors, working to meet the spiritual and physical needs of their churches and congregation while social distancing, oh God, hear our prayers.
For those living alone, oh God, hear our prayers.
For those with mental health issues with the added stress of these times, oh God, hear our prayers.
For the ducks (and all your creatures), who crash prayer time and make their way to your church, oh God, hear our prayers.
Oh God, we give you gratitude…for all the ways you work through us and within us during this storm. We give gratitude for our loved ones, and our community, as we “reach in and reach out” and answer your call. We give gratitude for all the way we stay connected with one another, and give assist, even while keeping our distance from one another. We give gratitude for all those on the front line, working tirelessly on all our behalf.
For all these things we pray, in the name of Jesus, who chose to be born and live amidst us, to love us and to die for us, Amen.
COMMUNION and HOLY GRAPES
I have no wine or bread. All I have this morning are these grapes. They haven’t been blessed by the pastors, or prayed over before communion. I cannot consecrate the grapes myself, but I am in God’s Garden, and all that is here, including the grapes and the ducks, are holy. So I wrap my rosary around the grapes, stare out into the pond, watch the ducks…and one by one…slowly in praise, I eat the grapes.
I think about my beloved congregation and my pastors. I long for communion with my loved ones and friends. Tears slide down my cheeks, but all I feel is gratitude and love.
Miss you all so very much. May the peace of God be with you and yours this holy Sunday.