I find it hard not to join with you in worship of God this morning.
This hour of prayer and of praise at the beginning of every week is for me far more than an appreciation of the beauty of the sanctuary or the care of community, far more than part of a personal routine or professional responsibility. For me, this is a time when assurance and joy are renewed within me.
But this morning I am reminded that my hope is not in the sanctuary or even in a service of worship, but in God, and in God alone. I remember how Martin Luther, during a time of trial, of plague and war, paraphrased Psalm 46 ‘A mighty fortress is my God, a refuge never failing, our helper sure amid the flood of mortal ills prevailing.’
Even as I long for a return to our joining in worship together here at St. Andrew’s, I shall use this morning as an occasion to allow words of Scripture shared by our Moderator below to settle deeper and fuller than ever before, and I invite you to join with me …
In Christian trust and hope,
As the world struggles with the COVID-19 pandemic, our congregations and communities strive to adjust to the rapidly changing circumstances, taking precautions to ensure that people are safe, and caring for one another in faithful and creative ways.
As we began the Season of Lent a few weeks ago, we reflected on Jesus’ forty days in the wilderness and the struggles he experienced. We also may feel like this is a wilderness time—a time of challenges and uncertainty. Even as we take good care to reduce the risk of transmission, we are invited to place our trust and hope in God who is with us and will help us.
The Lenten psalms provide inspiration for this prayer:
“O come, let us sing to the Lord;
let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation!
Let us come into his presence with thanksgiving;
let us make a joyful noise to him with songs of praise!
For the Lord is a great God,
and a great King above all gods.
In his hand are the depths of the earth;
the heights of the mountains are his also.
The sea is his, for he made it,
and the dry land, which his hands have formed.
O Come, let us worship and bow down,
let us kneel before the Lord, our Maker!
For he is our God,
and we are the people of his pasture,
and the sheep of his hand.” (Psalm 95:1-7)
Loving God, we thank you for your presence with your children through the anxiety of the COVID-19 situation.
“Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I fear no evil; for you are with me; your rod and your staff- they comfort me” (Psalm 23:4).
Thank you for wise leadership and health authorities that guide us in making good decisions for our communities.
“You are a hiding place for me; you preserve me from trouble; you surround me with glad cries of deliverance” (Psalm 32:7).
Thank you for doctors, nurses, medical researchers and technicians, and all those who are working to care for the sick and develop treatments for this illness.
“The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want” (Psalm 23:1).
Thank you for cleaning staff and caregivers and volunteers, and all who are working to keep our environments clean and safe.
“My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth” (Psalm 121:2).
Thank you for pastors, elders, neighbours, and friends who are working to care for those who are vulnerable, alone or afraid.
“I wait for the Lord, my soul waits, and in his word I hope; my soul waits for the Lord more than those who watch for the morning, more than those who watch for the morning” (Psalm 130:5–6).
Thank you for the peace and comfort that comes from knowing that we are not alone. God, grant us patience as we wait; grant us courage as we serve you and care for one another; grant us hope as we trust in you for the future.
“O [People], hope in the Lord! For with the Lord there is steadfast love, and with him is great power to redeem” (Psalm 130:7).
—The Rev. Amanda Currie
Moderator of the 2019 General Assembly