Arundhati Roy

God of love, we ask that all who are affected by the coronavirus be held in your loving care. Enfold in your love and peace all those who have lost loved ones, and those who have lost their incomes and livelihoods. Shield the poor and vulnerable from all harm. Bless and uphold the health workers who are tending the sick, the scientists seeking a vaccine, and the political leaders and their advisers in their decision making.
In this time of uncertainty, help us to know what  is  ours  to do, and that you are with us in it and through it. Help us to recognize your presence in acts of kindness, in moments of silence, and in the beauty of the created world. Grant peace and protection to all of humanity for their well-being and for the benefit of the earth.
(Adapted from a prayer by Richard Rohr, and posted here)

God of mercy and compassion, 
We pray for the world as across the globe we face the challenges of COVID. 
We give you thanks for those who care for the sick,  
for those who work on limiting the spread of the disease  
and those who develop and administer vaccines. 
We remember before you all those affected by COVID, 
Comfort those who mourn the death of a loved one, 
Heal those who have COVID-19 or suffer the long-term effects of having had COVID. 
Sustain those who work in health care, testing and vaccination. 
Encourage those who are supporting education remotely,  
Console those who must stay at home,  
And bless and protect those whose work is essential for our wellbeing. 
We long for a world where access to health care and vaccines are shared equitably 
Strengthen the efforts of those who work to end COVID for all. 
And fill us with a desire to work for justice and care for all. Amen 
(Source: Rev Sharon Hollis, President, Uniting Church in Australia, August 2021)

Prayer for Leaders in these COVID-19 Time
God of all, we pray for leaders across the world,
where wisdom grows through honouring those whom they lead and serve.
For leaders born into monarchy, we pray their reign learns from history,
and acts without greed, domination and corruption.
May they shine with humility, and love those whom they serve.
For leaders who seize power, we pray that restorative justice prevails.
and coups, oppression and violent threats are ended.
May we advocate a democratic way forward and support those who are persecuted.
For leaders voted into power,
we pray they act with a serving heart and responsible thinking.
May love for their community override corruption
and decisions reflect consideration of all whom they serve.
For those who lead in local communities,
we pray that they lead with graciousness, clear thinking, listening ears and advocacy, to promote honest, just communities where neighbourliness is honoured
Bring our voices into these spaces, Spirit,
So that we advocate where injustice is prevalent,
offer healing where there is woundedness
be people who seek your peace and wisdom,
and create a positive, safe and welcoming community of grace. (Source: Rev Anne Hewitt)

A prayer: Rescue me from self-obsession
Dear God of all beings,
This pandemic is making my life so small that I am thinking of myself way more than I should. So for today, I send my prayers out on behalf of others and not myself. May my prayers connect me to them THROUGH you – like gossamer floss threaded through a divine needle.
I pray calm for all who are struck with terror every time they cough, or a loved one coughs or someone passing them in the supermarket coughs.
I pray healing for those sick with COVID.
I pray rest for exhausted nurses, doctors and other heroes I don’t always think about like the hospital laundry workers and cafeteria cooks.
I pray comfort for the lonely.
I pray rescue for the evicted.
I pray solace for the grieving. (And I’m sure you already know this Lord, but that’s basically everyone on the planet right now. Grief is the baseline for all of us. No more taking turns.)
I pray the gift of increased generosity in those who have more.
I pray mercy for the incarcerated and all who love them.
I pray fortitude for those who never ever thought they’d be homeschooling small children and are losing their minds.
I pray wisdom for our leaders.
I pray humility for the powerful.
I pray compassion for clergy and counselors and everyone else who is doing emotional and spiritual triage for others and yet are also deeply affected by the pandemic in their own quiet ways.
And for all of us, more joy please. Every tiny bit of joy possible during this shit-show. Amen.
(Source: Nadia Bolz-Weber, ‘The Corners’, 29th Nov 2020)

A new liturgical resource A liturgy at the time of dying
(for those isolated from the dying)

We Come to You for Healing, Lord
Words: Rev. Dr. Herman G. Steumpfle (1923-2007)
1. We come to you for healing, Lord,
of body, mind, and soul,
and pray that by, your Spirit’s touch,
we may again be whole.

2. As once you walked through ancient streets
and reached toward those in pain,
come, risen Christ, among us still
with power to heal again.

3. You touch us through physicians’ skills,
through nurses’ gifts of care,
and through the love of faithful friends
who lift our lives in prayer.

4. When nights are long with wakefulness,
through days when strength runs low,
grant us your gift of patience, Lord,
your calming peace to know.

5. We come to you, O loving Lord,
in our distress and pain,
in trust that through our nights and days
your grace will heal, sustain.

Seeds Of Hope (from Amos Trust)
Martin Wroe wrote this in June 2020 when many churches, doors locked during three months of pandemic, began to allow people back inside.
All quiet, I unlocked your doors, discreetly broke in.
Not to disturb you, interfere with that frequency,
I so rarely tune to. I sat down by the font,
Held a second in my palm, dialled the silence,
Awaited communication, some kind of guidance,
The font was tight-lipped,
The rood screen blanked me, I tried not to take it personally.
The organ, holding her breath, was not coming up for air.
I looked for my words to speak to the unspoken,
Locked down in quiet time, this great crowd of witness
What are you thinking? I whispered, on the chancel,
Where the candles played dead, keeping their distance.
Mary winked from the window, with a stained glass eye
Splintering the sun from ninety-two million miles
Do you miss us? I asked, Do you want us back? An angel
Arched an eyebrow, advised I stop talking, listen again,
Said silence holds more than quiet and the absence of
All souls, doesn’t mean they’re not here.
I lay down in the nave, gazed up through the dust motes,
At the pillars, the arches, the old wooden roof,
Heard a chorus of voices, singing someone’s death
Witnessed a happy couple, plighting their troth
Saw heads being bowed, knees being bent, forgiveness
And mercy and centuries of weeping. And someone,
From the future, came to offer me the peace.
She said, this house is open, even when it’s closed
Prayers pray themselves, that’s how everything goes.

Letters from Outside the Camp by Richard Rohr 
Many of you are probably familiar with my use of the paradigm of Order > Disorder > Reorder to describe the universal pattern of change and transformation. After my last letter, a CAC staff member pointed out to me that I tend to apply this paradigm in one of two ways.
In the first case, I try to show Americans (and other nationalities by association) how to spiritually thrive amid the DISORDER of Empire and the Imperial Church, a version of Christianity that has allowed itself to be co-opted and distorted by the illusions of “Empire.” Regardless of whether you are Orthodox, Catholic, or Protestant, this is what most of us were handed—largely without knowing what we were being given. Consider: the wholesale toleration and support of the enslavement of human beings, the Doctrine of Discovery that allowed us to colonize and oppress indigenous peoples, the deep Disorder of two World Wars and the Holocaust, the perpetuation of Jim Crow and white supremacy by major cultures of denial. Only in hindsight, as we are able to chart the arc of history and recognize the depth of our blindness, do the consequences of this co-option become so humiliatingly apparent.
In the second case, I use this paradigm to encourage and guide those who are ready to move out of Disorder and into REORDER. In my various books and meditations, I often refer to this as the Second Half of Life, or Resurrection, Recovery, Salvation, the Nonviolent Life, the Third Way, or just Enlightenment. I’m afraid this group has always been a minority in every age, as conservatives tend to hide in a presumed perfect Order and progressives often get lost in a perpetual Disorder that lacks any Center. To use Jesus’ metaphor, when one blind person tries to lead another, they both fall into the pit (Matthew 15:14). I am not saying all people were lost for the last 2000 years—not at all; but, I am saying we have failed to reveal to the world more than a pittance of the great Good News that is the Gospel. They will surely be able to accuse me of the same 2000 years hence. God always fills in the gaps by grace and mercy and this will never change. There seems to be no utopian age.
But now, what I will try to do is lead people consciously and lovingly into a necessary and conscious DISORDER—which is part of what I think John Lewis meant by “Good Trouble” and the Hebrew prophets by EXILE. 
Below is an updated version of a brief meditation I wrote and offered to our CAC staff shortly after the pandemic began this past March. At that point, I suspected this might be What the Pandemic Is Saying to the World.Humanity, you are all One.
You are one beloved community,
and you are one global sickness.
You are all contagious—and always have been,
unconsciously infecting and yet able to also bless one another.
There are no higher and lower in this world.
There is no smart or stupid; no totally right or totally wrong.
The only meaningful division is between those who serve
and those who allow themselves to be served.
All the rest is temporary posturing.
Many to whom you look for power and leadership
have shown themselves to have empty hands, minds, and hearts.
We are bereft of all satisfying explanations,
all ledgers of deserving and undeserving.
There are no perfect answers or absolute heroes.
We must all wear a mask to protect the other from “me.”
Don’t play the victim!
Victimhood is always a waste of time – God’s time and yours.
Instead, try to learn the important lessons.
We are all in the same elementary school now.
Here, we must learn to stand in two different places
and to change places often.
The served must also be the servants,
and the servants must also be the served.
Just stay in the eternal circle of the Suffering and the Servants.
Christians call it the Body of Christ.
We are not the first or the last generation
that gets to suffer and to serve on this earth.

A great deal has happened since the beginning days of the pandemic, yet the fundamental reality of humanity’s interconnectedness remains as true now as it has been at every moment in our history. But, as Pope Francis said in his recent encyclical (Fratelli Tutti [1] or All Brothers—and Sisters by implication),
If everything is connected, it is hard to imagine that this global disaster is unrelated to our way of approaching reality, our claim to be absolute masters of our own lives and of all that exists.
DISORDER is already upon us by reason of our planet, our history, our politics, our economy, the COVID-19 pandemic, and the widespread increase in mental and emotional unhealth. Our job is to make “Good Trouble”—and probably even “Necessary Trouble”—so that humanity can spiritually and politically mature.
It is about falling—but, as always, falling upward.
(Source: Richard Rohr)

God, this is my 228th daily prayer (since ~ Feb 17)
for those with COVID-19
and today it includes Donald and Melania Trump,
as well as people from the Greek Orthodox church,
York County Jail, University of Iowa,
India, Brazil, and the parents
of people whom I know.
And everyone else, O Gentle One,
but I can’t think that way
and I know you multiply my prayers.
And so I pray for these – breath,
access to good care,
sleep for the weariness, cool for the fever,
some chances to be connected
with people they love,
ease from fear of having infected others,
hope, and more breath,
for I pray in the name of Jesus Christ
who breathed – peace be with you –
into his disciples faces,
and in the spirit of holiness
that each of these for whom I pray hold dear. Amen.
(Maren Tirabassi, Gifts in Open Hands)

Ecumenical COVID-19 prayers gathered on World Council of Churches website.

“I am sorry for your loss”
(On the occasion of one million deaths in the U.S. from COVID-19)
These are the words that are never enough
and do not pretend to understand –
a verbal fingertip of tenderness
today offered to the world.

World, we are sorry for your loss
of a million smiles,
and a million memories,
and a million hopes for the future.

We are sorry for your loss
of stories that will never be told,
flowers never planted,
friends never made,
extraordinary gifts and simple kindnesses
that will not be received,
meals not shared; hugs not held.

We are sorry for our own loss
of a million people
whom we will never meet,
with whom we will not
laugh or cry, work or play,
argue or kiss,
and so many families and friends
to whom we will never be able
to offer our awkward words
and our inadequate but holy love.
(Maren Tirabassi, Gifts in Open Hands, Sept 2020)

Look to the light
Dear God,
we can’t heal or resolve
all the problems
this pandemic has brought.
But what we can do,
(and it is a healing work)
is to keep ourselves
turned to the Light,
to seek it
against all odds,
and to take it
into ourselves
and shine a little.
That is what
we can do,
and it matters.
(Source: Ann Siddall, Being Present, September 2020)

Your confidence in us
Gracious God, may our prayers at this time
allow You to call forth the best in us.
There will be confession, and grief, yes.
There will be confusion and anger, yes.
But when our tears are spent,
remind us of the great trust and hope
with which You regard us: instill in us
that knowing of Your love which
will make us strong and compassionate,
and creative and brave, as we rise up
to repair the world and find joy again.
Amen. May it be so.
(Source: Ann Siddall, Being Present, September 2020)

Facing the world with love
God of compassion and love,
Christ of Good News and healing,
Spirit of wisdom and power,
in these days of change and uncertainty
we turn to You because our world is hurting,
and we are overwhelmed by its needs.

We cannot turn away from its suffering
because our well-being depends
on the wellbeing of all people and creatures,
and of the earth itself. We are grieving
the injustices and lies that we see and hear,
we long for fairness and truth to prevail

In a few moments of silence we bring to mind
some of the situations which make our hearts ache:
the bitterness and division of world leaders,
the unthinking use of power, hoarding of resources
and oppression of those who are poor and ill,
the greed which has made us over-use the earth.
Silence …

We come to You now, Creator of all,
and humbly ask for the tools and resources
with which we may make our small contribution
to the healing and peace that we cry out for.
We ask for wisdom, to know what is ours to do,
and for courage and resilience to respond.

With the gift of wisdom we will see
what contributes to the greater good.
With the gift of hope we will work
with the hope You have in us.
With the gift of resilience we will
walk whatever path opens up before us.
(Source: Ann Siddall, Being Present, September 2020)

God as our Mother and Father
Beloved God, we are in need
of You as our Mother, tenderly holding
those who are suffering, weeping
with those who are grieving,
nurturing those who are broken.

Beloved God, we are in need
of You as our Father, reasoning,
struggling for wise outcomes, and
shouldering the burden of care
with those who are overcome.

Beloved God, open our minds
and soften our hearts, so that
when we pray our imagination
and our faith is not limited, our
resulting actions not constrained.
(Source: Ann Siddall, Being Present, September 2020)

Take this prayer to those who need it
Compassionate God,
we pray for those whose heads are bent
over test-tubes and microscopes, who
work long into the night to find a vaccine
and a cure. And we pray for those
whose hands and eyes and hearts and minds
are caring and healing, the weary ones
in whom we place so much hope and trust.
We pray that this prayer will go to them,
Like a small touch of encouragement
To sustain them on this long, hard journey.
(Source: Ann Siddall, Being Present, September 2020)

We Grieve 200,000
PASSION CHORALE D (“O Sacred Head, Now Wounded”)
We grieve 200,000 – yet we can’t understand;
we cannot grasp how many have died throughout this land.
We cannot see their faces or hear the stories told
of all the ways they blessed us – the young ones and the old.

O God, we grieve the struggle of those who died alone –
so far from friends and neighbors, from all they’d ever known.
We grieve for precious people who could not say good-bye;
we weep for those, now mourning, who sit alone and cry.

O God, we grieve for millions who now are unemployed
who cannot feed their families – whose hope has been destroyed.
We grieve that needed workers must worry for their health
while some with lives of privilege stay home and build their wealth.

O God of love and mercy, we cry to you, “How long?”
In troubled times remind us: Your love is ever strong.
Now as we grieve the suffering, Lord, show us how to be
A healing, loving presence in each community.

Tune: Hans Leo Hassler, 1601; harmony by Johann Sebastian Bach, 1729 (“O Sacred Head, Now Wounded”) Text: Copyright © 2020 by Carolyn Winfrey Gillette. All rights reserved.
Email: New Hymns:
PLEASE SHARE this hymn with permission for its FREE use with pastors, church musicians and other worship planners. Thank you.
We grieve that the number of those who have died in the pandemic keeps increasing so rapidly. You are welcome to change the hymn as needed, in a way that fits the meter of the hymn:
— We Grieve the Many Thousands
— We grieve 200,000 (as, sadly, the numbers seem to be going in this direction)
You are welcome to make this change without asking my permission to do so, as the need arises.
We all need to be as responsible as we can — wearing masks, social distancing, staying home when we can, and working for a more just and healthy world — to slow the spread of this disease. May God bless you and those you love in this challenging time.
Carolyn Winfrey Gillette
Some pastors and church music leaders have asked for permission to use my hymns in worship services that they are streaming live, or in other ways they are reaching out to their congregations from a distance. During these difficult times, you have my permission to go ahead and use my copyrighted hymns in these ways for FREE. See details on the home page of my web site:

The Rev. Michael Joncas composed and published “Shelter Me” in response to the global crisis of COVID-19. Spiritu’s members recorded the song from the shelter of their homes.
This painting was made in honor of all the late grandparents of Codvid 19 who didn’t manage to say goodbye to their grandchildren.
Artist Juan Lucena, Spanish painter of JEREZ DE LA BORDER.

The following is a compilation of prayers and resources in this time of COVID19.

I was sitting on my balcony looking over the moon shining like a light of God – from above. And I was seeing in my mind the corona virus suffocating our need for God like a poisonous cloud over all humanity.And it came to me: this curse will be with us for a long time – how can we keep in touch with our Lord God?We cannot show love to our neighbors because by approaching our friends or strangers in need nearby – we may die or get very sick. What is left?I pray – and sometimes I am so tired of praying – too many people need prayers – but I must pray. And I know that many are praying for me.And I remembered how a wise old man once said: If it were not the prayers offered to God continually – we all would be lost, sick and dying.So let us continue in praying for not only friends and family but also for strangers and actually all of humanity – let us pray for our entire world. With love from planet earth.
(Source: Anneli Sinkko)

Spirit of God
Your power alone can lead us from death to life
Hover over the chaos of our lives
And create a new moment for each of us
in which we hear your call to live again,
Fill us with breath of life when we are immersed in human hurt
and cosmic pain.
Then raise us in baptismal joy to proclaim your resurrection day
(Source: Iona Prayer book)

A day of prayer for the pandemic.
Gracious God, trusting in your providence and presence,
we bring our prayer for an end to this pandemic.
We pray for your strengthening of all those committed to offering costly leadership during this crisis.
We pray for all who are ill.
We pray for those anxious about getting ill.
We pray for those full of grief.
We remember those who have died.
Aware of our fragility, we pray for your grace to sustain us as we do what we can to end this pandemic.
Your compassionate, peaceful and creative response to many crises is our model, including in our Sunday Gospel (Mt. 14: 13-21).
As we worship in resurrection faith, we offer our heartfelt prayer in your Holy Spirit through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
(Source: National Council of Churches Australia, 2 August 2020)

August 2020: The ongoing reality is a sense of loss, in so many ways. One person put it this way: “ Fatigue. Stress. Exhaustion. Depression. Burnout. It’s a confronting continuum of declining well-being.” The disruption of the first lockdown was hard on so many, but there was also a sense of managing in dire circumstances, for the sake of the world. There was a surge of creativity to respond to the ‘new’, and a sense of gratitude that somehow we were finding ways to navigate our way through the crisis. An anticipation we would find a ‘new normal’. Now, months down the track, with no respite in some countries, and fresh outbreaks and lockdowns in other countries, it feels very heavy and the sense of loss is profound. Loss of life, sadly. Each day we learn about more lives lost. Front line workers – doctors, nurses, aged care workers. People from all walks of life. The young and the old. Family members. Friends. There are also other ways in which we experience loss. Loss of freedoms. Loss of opportunities. Loss of transitions – beginning and endings (from starting kinder and school to retirement, from postponed weddings, the birth of a baby – sometimes without the partner able to be present or family and friends able to meet the child. And so much more). A loss of purposeful direction. Loss of work. Loss of certainty. Loss of connection and community. Loss of self-esteem. Loss of well-being. Maybe lament for such deep loss is a way to name our lived reality – individually, as communities, as nations.

David MacGregor © 2020 – Willow Publishing

June 2020, Addressing the high-cost of COVID19 on well being and happiness: ‘Recovery will depend on saving lives, sustaining livelihoods and supporting quality of life. As national leaders turn their attention to ensuring a safe and rapid recovery from the COVID-19 crisis, they are right to focus on promoting economic growth while preventing further loss of life. A prolonged downturn could permanently hamper countries’ future growth, with the resulting income and job losses likely to disproportionately impact the most vulnerable in society. Fresh research shows why leaders can’t afford to ignore another critical and underappreciated consequence of the pandemic: the toll on happiness. The COVID-19 crisis is prompting individuals to reflect on their values and reassess their priorities in a changed world. For people who have typically enjoyed high levels of health, social interaction, and job satisfaction, the pandemic has been a brutal reminder of the consequences when those conditions suddenly change. Leaders who reinforce the factors that foster well-being could see a swifter and more sustainable recovery. Those who don’t may find the disruption and pain inflicted by this pandemic is just the start”.

Prayer of Thanksgiving for the Church by Ann Phillips
Loving and sustaining God, we thank you for our church.
We thank you that while the doors to our buildings have been closed, we have continued to be open and functioning as the church.
We thank and praise you for our church communities who have showed innovative thinking to be able to work through a new and very different style of church.
We thank you for the acceptance to change from our congregations and the boldness and creativity of our leaders.
We thank you for those who have shared their resources and we thank you for those who have been reached each week with the different styles of services offered.
We thank you that the church has still been present in the community, being your hands and feet, reaching out and serving the community.
We thank you for the resilience of communities to keep going when it was hard, and for the willingness to look out for each other and care for those in need.
Loving God we praise and thank you for journeying with us during this time of lockdown. We thank you for the ways you have spoken to your people and carried us through this time.
We give you praise for all you have done and for all you are. Thanks be to you our God, Amen.

Prayer of Lament and Prayers for the World
by Neryl McCallum
God, we have been sent into a spin of circumstances we were unprepared for. In response we have put our heads down,
focussed our vision on what has restricted us
and the borders we dare not breach;
we have shut ourselves away and closed our doors, we have done this as an act of goodness and kindness.
The rightness of this is without question,
sometimes what’s in front of us is all consuming
and we need all our strength and energy to make it through, but
this has narrowed our view.
Through fluke, good planning and the strangeness of our geography, we have been fortunate here
and we should not doubt that.
But as we begin to lift our gaze to the world
we see that our circumstances are not common.
We need not look very far to see the need in our communities. Many have been ill, and continue to be,
and people have died.
There is massive unemployment,
and we are shocked by the images of the lines for our welfare agencies as they edge around several city blocks
and the shelves of food banks that are close to bare.
So many find themselves struggling financially.
When we shift our gaze wider
we cannot avoid what is happening in our world.
A virus that cannot be cured is catastrophic,
it sweeps through communities without fear or favour,
and there are numbers and statistics that we find hard to comprehend, even with the best graphs.
As it travels it doesn’t wipe away the other difficulties that communities are facing, it exacerbates them.
There is still poverty, there is still war and conflict,
There are still refugees,
there is still persecution,
there is still hunger
and inequity.
COVID is another thing that adds to struggle and suffering.
God, we are overwhelmed by the enormity of what we see, can’t you work some magic here!
Come Spirit,
Bringer of comfort and strength.
Come Wisdom,
Guide and Companion,
We need to hear a word of courage
that we can carry on the work of justice and love with hope and compassion as we face the unprecedented
and despite our unpreparedness. Amen.

Prayer for Sabbath Rest
by Sean Gilbert
“Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and by burden is light.” (Jesus, Matthew 11:28, NRSV)
“The best prayer is to rest in the goodness of God and to allow that goodness to reach down and touch our deepest point of need.” (Julian of Norwich)
God of love and mercy,
in our yearning hear our prayer.
In sighs too deep for words
we express our weariness – exhaustion even –
born of complex, distressing circumstance,
unfamiliar schedules,
strange new tasks and inflexible technologies, flat-screen gatherings,
interrupted and blurred connections,
pressures of intruding deadlines,
and the nagging uncertainty that even our best efforts may not bear good and lasting fruit…
God of love and mercy,
in our yearning hear our prayer.
Help us, then, to come aside.
To rest, to recline, to simply be –
deeply, freely and securely:
to yield to an enfolding of grace that can only be found with you, that is you – at home in disquiet, the surprising presence of shalom-love
in the midst of repeated tremors of human fear…
God of love and mercy,
in our yearning hear our prayer.
For we long to be a people of trust, not anxiety;
fidelity, not an impossible efficiency.
Those who find their hope in hidden pearls of great price, and not in the obvious labours of minds and hands.
Lord Jesus Christ,
help us to rest wholeheartedly
in your gentleness and warmth of humility.
And may such a sabbath bearing and ‘mood’
shape our Christian worship and witness in these Covid-19 days. May it help connect us to the global family in its daily sufferings and reconnect us to the fragile, yet fertile earth
from which we all draw our being,
our life, our desiring, common soul…
God of love and mercy,
in our yearning hear our prayer. Amen.

Prayer for Ministry Leaders and the Future of the Church
Jennifer Hughes and Cheryl Wilson
Shepherding God,
In this year of mixed challenges and blessings we give thanks for ministers, ministry leaders and leaders in the church.
We give thanks for their wisdom and guidance, their courage and tenacity in the face of so much change.
For their compassion and ability to see those who are most vulnerable, for their heart for your gospel and for their faithfulness in service, we give thanks.
Some leaders have emerged from our communities, and some have discovered new gifts and skills. We give thanks that you continue to call people to witness and service, in every age and every situation. You are always faithful, steadfast God, and in this season, you continue to shape us, call us, and renew us as your people. We lift up our leaders and communities, in gratitude for your gifting and constant presence in our midst.
Gracious God, as we contemplate what lies before us now, we ask your guidance.
Some of us remain uncertain and vulnerable. Some anticipate with excitement being able to gather together for worship. For some of us, social restrictions are easing and new opportunities lie before us. Help us not to take for granted what we have, nor what we have experienced.
It seems tempting to try to rebuild life as we knew it, however we have changed, our world has changed, and our church has changed. Keep us aware of the ongoing needs around us, and responsive to your call to action.
Help us discern your ways for us, as we seek to follow Christ in mission. Lead us into new opportunities to worship, to witness, and to serve, holding fast to your vision of love, justice and reconciliation for all of creation.
Guide us in your Spirit, we pray. Amen

A prayer from Corrymeela Community in Northern Ireland as we gradually move out of isolation:
God of our healthy fears, God of our courage and faith: there is a strengthening pull wanting to carry us back to what they call normal. But there is also cautious resistance and a reluctance to embrace all that was.
Help us in this in between. As we venture out and relax restrictions, may we not forget the dangers, nor lose sight of what we’ve gained in a time of self–imposed limitation. Strengthen our patience to let this play out;
and may the lessons we carry help us pull through. Amen.

My church is conducting worship online these days.
I sing a lot of our music live;
we also pre-record some pieces
one voice at a time and mix them into an ensemble piece.
I record a guitar track. Then a vocal track or two or three.
Then I send them off to James and he adds Jenny’s voice
and mixes then into a beautiful song.
I never get to hear the whole song, just my part,
till the mix is done.
Love is like that.
God is singing in us.
You don’t hear the whole song.
You just listen to God’s love
and sing your part,
and trust the whole
is more beautiful than you can know.
That is all.
That is enough.
(Source: Steve Garnaas-Holmes, Unfolding Light)

Association of Lutheran Church Musicians – this Pentecost gift for the church

Diana Butler Bass sermon – Pentecost, Prejudice and Pandemic, on Church Anew

A Pentecost Hymn for COVID-19: Gracious God, We Will Not Gather
BEACH SPRING D (“God Whose Giving Knows No Ending”)
This hymn was requested by Bishop Sudarshana Devadhar, Resident Bishop of the Boston Area of the United Methodist Church. It is inspired by a prayer he wrote for Pentecost, 2020. Words and music: Carolyn Winfrey Gillette
Gracious God, we will not gather, side by side, this Pentecost.
How we long to be together, crowded close, beneath the cross!
Still we join our hearts with others, trusting in your love and grace.
We are here – your sons and daughters – praising you in every place.

In our houses and apartments, in the rooms where people stay,
in the midst of this pandemic, God, we worship, sing and pray.
People from each land and nation, in each language that we use,
grieve the need for separation, yet, united, share Good News.

As we’re distant from each other in the midst of so much fear,
may your churches all remember: By your Spirit, you are here!
Long ago, the wind came blowing; flames of love and boldness spread.
Soon the church went out proclaiming: “Christ is risen from the dead!”

Peter preached what Joel had promised: In the most uncertain times,
you give dreams and visions to us; you send great and wondrous signs!
By your Spirit, give us courage! May your Church unite to be
bearers of your Good News message to your world community.

Biblical reference: Acts 2:1-21
Tune: The Sacred Harp, 1844; attributed to Benjamin Franklin White
Alternate tune: BEECHER (“Love Divine, All Loves Excelling”)
Text: Copyright © 2020 by Carolyn Winfrey Gillette. All rights reserved.

Email: New Hymns:
Carolyn has given permission to use for worship; please acknowledge the source.

They asked him, “Lord, is this the time when you will restore sovereignty to Israel?” He replied, “It is not for you to know…but you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth”. (Acts 1:6-8)
Is this the time we will re-open?
Now will our political party dominate?
When will we return to normal?
Can we be safe, and privileged, and in power?
No. You can bear witness to the power of love.
It is not for you to know the future,
or to be ascendant or in power, or to control things.
It is for you to be a witness to love
even when things are not restored.
This is not second best: it is true power,
whose waves ripple through the world.
The center of the universe is not on the throne.
It is in your heart.
Receive love. Trust the power. Bear witness.
(Source: Steve Garnaas-Holmes, Unfolding Light)

Insights into ‘virtual communion’ by Jonny Baker
And another article on ‘virtual/online communion’
Singing, the Church and COVID-19 by Heather R.Nelson

Diana Butler Bass posted this on Facebook. I found it profoundly moving, as well as the poem she posted. The question about ‘online communion’ is vexed for some people. Our Pilgrim worship communities are enjoying sharing it together, in ‘real time’ via Zoom at our Sunday 8am service, as well as when prompted in our 9.30am and 11am Sunday services posted on Youtube.
Diana writes: I’ve been agitating for better, more creative theological thinking about the Eucharist, virtual community, and new forms of liturgical celebration during this pandemic – mostly on Twitter, some via email, and in private conversation. As a result, a friend (who wishes to remain anonymous) wrote this poem in honor of the theological vision for which I’ve been advocating.
My hope in raising these issues is NOT to harm the church. It is that the beauty which the church hides, the food that she is hoarding, may be spread abroad into the world as God’s greatest healing gift – and in the bountiful spirit of the Resurrected Christ, the One of Abundant Life.
I love this poem. And these words capture my sense of sacrament as if they came from my own heart:
An Order for Communing in a Pandemic
by Anonymous
She took a loaf of bread,
broke it and gave it,
half to the hungry, the poor, the millions
whose gap-toothed pantries
are emptying,
dwindling sand racing
through the widening neck of an hourglass
and she felt the weight
of a sacrament pressing
into her soul
as the body and blood of Christ
spilled out of doors,
into streets,
into homes,
flowing as freely,
as slick and messy,
as uncontrolled,
as it did from his own tortured body,
as if God really could be present
everywhere and in everything.
(the writer of the reflection preferred to be anonymous)
Indeed, God is doing a new thing in the midst of COVID19 this to reshape the Church missionally and ecclesiologically! Praise be.

Top ten reasons your pastor needs a break – good reading!

A Confession in a Season of Coronavirus
God, we confess our emotional isolation,
and pray for forgiveness
for spiritual distance from others.
Some of us are desperately lonely
and assume what defines quarantine
is endless streaming,
books, new recipes, facetime,
and envying those with family in flesh.
Some of us long for a half hour alone
that is not in the shower,
and wonder how long till our families
forget that really bad burst of temper.
Most of us do not pray daily
for those unsafe-in-place, locked down
with those who endanger their lives.
God, our empathy is withered
and we do not try enough to walk a mile
in another’s mask and gloves.

Assurance of Grace
The opening of the heart does not wait for the re-opening of schools or economies or social protocol. We are never deserted or trapped. Never alone and always alone, we are forgiven.
(Source: Maren Tirabassi, Gifts in Open Hands)

A poem shared by New Zealand Prime Minister, Jacinda Adern, to Papatūānuku (Mother Earth)
by Ngāti Hine/Ngāpuhi writer Nadine Anne Hura
🍃Rest now, e Papatūānuku
Breathe easy and settle
Right here where you are
We’ll not move upon you
For awhile🍃
We’ll stop, we’ll cease
We’ll slow down and stay home
Draw each other close and be kind
Kinder than we’ve ever been.
I wish we could say we were doing it for you
as much as ourselves
But hei aha
We’re doing it anyway
It’s right. It’s time.
Time to return
Time to remember
Time to listen and forgive
Time to withhold judgment
Time to cry
Time to think
About others
Remove our shoes
Press hands to soil
Sift grains between fingers
🍃 Gentle palms
Time to plant
Time to wait
Time to notice
To whom we belong
For now it’s just you
And the wind
And the forests and the oceans and the sky full of rain
Finally, it’s raining!
Ka turuturu te wai kamo o Rangi ki runga i a koe
🍃Embrace it
This sacrifice of solitude we have carved out for you
He iti noaiho – a small offering
People always said it wasn’t possible
To ground flights and stay home and stop our habits of consumption
But it was
It always was.
We were just afraid of how much it was going to hurt
and it IS hurting and it will hurt and continue to hurt
But not as much as you have been hurt.
So be still now
Wrap your hills around our absence
Loosen the concrete belt cinched tight at your waist
Heal –
And we will do the same.

COVID19: Resources for anxiety, stress and well-being

Centre for Ministry Liturgy and the Arts (CMLA) – worship resources in a time of self-isolation
John Squires, An Informed Faith
Uniting Church in Australia ‘Prayers for this season
N.T.Wright article, ‘Christianity offers no answers about the Coronavirus. It’s not supposed to‘: It is no part of the Christian vocation to be able to explain what’s happening and why. In fact, it is part of the Christian vocation not to be able to explain – and to lament instead. As the Spirit laments within us, so we become, even in our self-isolation, small shrines where the presence and healing love of God can dwell. And out of that there can emerge new possibilities, new acts of kindness, new scientific understanding, new hope.
Article: This is not the crisis

O God, you are our certainty in a time of uncertainty.
We find ourselves at home, feeling confused and anxious.
We watch the world shut down around us, bringing grief and fear.
We seek your comfort, and your peace.
In our separation, may we find connection, with you and with each other.
Remind us that even when we cannot gather, we are your people, the body of Christ together.
May we take up your call to be the church in your world, caring for the vulnerable, feeding the hungry, showing love and compassion and kindness to those around us.
To you be all glory, O God, we pray. Amen
(Bronte Wilson, Moderator of the UCA Synod of South Australia)

Holy Wisdom, Mother of Love beyond our Knowing,
Cradle our loved ones.
Hold them close in your loving care.
Shelter them securely in stormy weather.
Whisper words of assurance to them.
And love them tenderly.
Forever & ever & always.
(Diann Neu)

Angels in Blue Gowns
Angels in blue gowns,
They wear face masks instead of haloes.
Their gloved holy hands administer to us
Care we are too weak to provide for ourselves.
Without sleep,
Without hope of a day off,
In the face of ever-dwindling supplies,
They risk their lives at every moment
In order to save ours.
Blessed are the hands,
Rubbed raw from washing,
That connect us to ventilators.
Blessed are the feet,
Sore and swollen,
That tread the ER floors.
Blessed are the eyes
That have stared down death
Thousands of times,
And yet look upon each desperately ill patient
And refuse to give up hope.
God Most Merciful,
Preserve the health and safety
Of those who work so hard to preserve ours.
(Source: Cameron Bellm)

Prayers for Sojourners
God, we pray for your special children —
the sojourners
in this season of coronavirus.
We pray for migrant farmworkers
in this country,
considered critical to the food supply
and carrying essential worker papers
but in constant risk of deportation,
and desperate health danger,
from picking fields and packing facilities,
for asylum seekers being sent back to home countries
with Covid-19 or in the company
of those who have it,
and so many in detention centers
waiting for process
with little access to health care
and none to social distancing,
for immigrants in ICE detention
held in the prisons and jails
filled with inmates already in deep distress
at the jeopardy to their lives
when many could be securely released.
And we pray as well
a heartbreak Hosanna, God-save-us,
for refugee camps and settlements
all over the world
desperately stockpiling supplies,
disinfectant, pharmaceuticals,
PPE for health staff,
medical equipment, Covid-19 tests
against crowding conditions
hunger, the losses of fleeing, fear.
You, who call us to care
for every sojourner in our midst,
as sibling, neighbor, child of God,
guide us to offer a hand of kindness,
the handwashing
which has become a symbol for love,
and hold back the fists of violence. Amen.
(Source: Maren Tirabassi, Gifts in Open Hands)

Gracious God,
We give thanks anew for your providence and presence.
We prayerfully seek your grace, amidst COVID-19 here and overseas.
We pray for those in need of healing.
We pray for your peace with those who are anxious or grieving.
We pray you will continue to strengthen and sustain all those who are serving in response.
We pray for your Holy Spirit’s discernment amidst the many choices and decisions facing our national, community and medical leaders.
We pray we each might see quickly what more we can do to help those who are vulnerable.
This prayer for our nation in the family of nations, with all that is on our hearts, we gather now and pray through Jesus Christ our Lord. AMEN.
(Source: National Council of Churches in Australia)

World Water Day & COVID19 (March 22)
God, I missed it — World Water Day,
because I was washing my hands.
Afraid for myself of illness,
I didn’t even consider
that 790 million people have no access
to an improved water supply,
and more – nearly two billion
lack adequate sanitation.
This pandemic is traveling the world
and the easiest way to stay safe,
is so far from so many.
And I, like Pilate,
when danger draws close to me,
rinse off my usual commitment
to immigrant justice,
to those unhoused, who will increase
in the months to come,
not to speak of
political activism in an election year.
At least, may I reach for soap and the truth
that those without water
are not only thirsty
but also in in danger of the virus
that has me so many times a day –
sending compassion down the drain.
(Source: Maren Tirabassia, Gifts in Open Hands)

Prayer for a Full House
God, we pray for those for whom
lockdown and quarantine and shelter in place
do not mean loneliness.
We pray for those who, desperate to be alone,
always have someone there –
working from home, needing assistance,
or just … talking.
We pray for those who can’t work from home,
who look at the walls and wonder –
how long until the walls won’t be there
and food will be in short supply.
We pray for those with gloomy teenagers,
prostrate with the absence of friends
(like having their hearts cut out),
who are missing everything, everything, everything,
important in their lives
(parents are not on that list)
and have half the dishes in the house
crusted with food in their rooms.
We play for – whoops, pray for
parents and caregivers of small children
who have gone through the library books,
sidewalk chalk, toys, games, puzzles,
paper airplanes in the backyard,
and too much TV,
who have negotiated fights,
said things they want to take back,
counted the hours till bedtime,
and do not want to be told –
one more time – they are lucky.
We name and pray for those
for whom home is never a safe place,
and for whom home
with a person under pressure … is deadly.
God, we pray for those who are not lonely,
and, therefore, everyone assumes are fine.
Do not give them your companionship,
O Holy One, but your blessing
of an inner experience
of personal space and free time.
(Source: Maren Tirabassi, Gifts in Open Hands)

Social distancing is a privilege. It means you live in a house large enough to practise it. Hand washing is a privilege too. It means you have access to running water. Hand sanitisers are a privilege. It means you have money to buy them. Lockdowns are a privilege. It means you can afford to be at home. Most of the ways to ward the Corona off are accessible only to the affluent. In essence, a disease that was spread by the rich as they flew around the globe will now kill millions of the poor. All of us who are practising social distancing and have imposed a lockdown on ourselves must appreciate how privileged we are. Many Indians won’t be able to do any of this.
(Facebook post attributed to an Indian doctor)

When this is over,
may we never again
take for granted
A handshake with a stranger
Full shelves at the store
Conversations with neighbors
A crowded theater
Friday night out
The taste of communion
A routine checkup
The school rush each morning
Coffee with a friend
The stadium roaring
Each deep breath
A boring Tuesday
Life itself.
When this ends
may we find
that we have become
more like the people
we wanted to be
we were called to be
we hoped to be
and may we stay
that way – better
for each other
because of the worst.
(Source: Laura kelly)

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.”
(Source: “A Prayer during times of Covid-19”, published by The United Church of Canada)

A reflection in a time of COVID19
Could this be a moment that makes and shapes us into the people God created us to be? I do not believe everything happens for a reason. I do believe we are never separated from the creative and unfailing presence of God’s love and God does God’s best work in the dark. There’s a verse in the Bible that says a seed grows in the dark moist soil while you are sleeping. This mystery helps me trust something hopeful is happening in this horrific time even if I can’t see or feel it. Genesis 1 says, “In the beginning when God began to create heaven and earth…there was night and THEN morning.” This isn’t a science lesson. It is poetry reminding us that beyond the night, no matter how long and dark the night may seem, morning comes. Morning always comes. This promise helps us stay open to the gifts hidden in darkness.
The poet Rilke said, “I have faith in the night.” When we fear the dark and rush to the light, the light we return to may be artificial leaving us impoverished without the blessing the darkness was offering.
I emerged from the dark cave of depression with 3D glasses. I could see depth, texture, nuance, color and beauty I hadn’t noticed before. I no longer lived in the simplistic world of either/or judging darkness as bad and light as good. I could live creatively in the tension of both/and recognizing the kinship of light and dark. Darkness without light leads to despair. Light without darkness leads to delusion. Creativity and compassion awaken where light and darkness meet.
Barbara Brown Taylor wrote. “I have learned things in the dark that I could never have learned in the light, things that have saved my life over and over again…New life starts in the dark. Whether it is a seed in the ground, a baby in the womb, or Jesus in the tomb, it starts in the dark.”
A better world is waiting for us. We will be different on the other side. May we look for the gifts hidden in darkness knowing the morning will come.
(Source: Rev Steve Koski, First Presbyterian Church, Bend)

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)
The verse speaks 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. 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?
(Reimaginging Justice)

Life-giving God, we wonder at the life
we find in this universe which you have created.
A life that is fragile, short, unique to each one of us,
a life that is given for us to enjoy and live fully.
Jesus lived a full short life,
and we are invited to live
like him, sharing, caring, loving all creation.
Jesus died when he was young,
we do not fully understand the
sacrifice he gave, and yet we trust
that God was at work in both his life and death.
Jesus rose again and is alive
and with God in heaven and also here with us through the Holy Spirit,
we do not claim to understand it
but we are glad of it.
Jesus has a lot to teach us about life,
but also a lot to teach us about dying
and the life to come.
Help us to reflect on the life Jesus lived,
to want to be more like him,
to follow in his ways and to live fully.
Help us not to dwell on death, but to focus on living
here and now. Amen.
(Source: Spill the Beans Issue 34)

A hymn in a time of COVID19: When We Face an Unknown Future
BEACH SPRING D (“God Whose Giving Knows No Ending”)
When we face an unknown future that we can’t imagine yet,
when the closeness we have treasured turns from blessing into threat—
As we miss our friends and loved ones, as we crave community,
may we look, God, in this season, for a whole new way to be.

Jesus faced the lonely desert as a time to look within.
There he met such trial and conflict; there he knew you were with him.
In this time of separation when we miss the life we’ve known,
may we hear your voice proclaiming: “I am here! You’re not alone.”

May we cherish those around us as we never have before.
May we think much less of profit; may we learn what matters more.
May we hear our neighbors’ suffering; may we see our neighbors’ pain.
May we learn new ways of offering life and health and hope again.

God, when illness comes to threaten, and when so much here goes wrong,
may we know this thing for certain— that your love is sure and strong.
You’re beside us in our suffering, and when times are surely tough,
we may face an unknown future, but it’s filled, Lord, with your love.
© 2020 by Carolyn Winfrey Gillette.
Churches are given permission for free use of this hymn, including in live streaming and posting it online. Contact Carolyn if you want it in MS Word and/or a PDF with music:

The Hurting Places
There is a world of hurt around me today,
And my heart fills with pain.
Sometimes I hear myself saying,
‘All I can do is pray’.
And then I remember that praying
Is no small thing.
Sometimes it is the only thing,
The one true thing for this hurting world.
Healing God, send your wholeness,
Loving Christ, your strength,
Holy Spirit, your comforting presence,
To all who hurt,
To all who struggle,
To all who mourn. Amen.
(Source: Beth A. Richardson, Christ beside me, Christ within me)

May we who are merely inconvenienced
remember those whose lives are at stake.
May we who have no risk factors
remember those most vulnerable.
May we who have the luxury of working from home
remember those who must choose between
preserving their health or making their rent.
May we who have the flexibility to care
for our children when their schools close
remember those who have no options.
May we who have to cancel our trips
remember those that have no place to go.
May we who are losing our margin money
in the tumult of the economic market
remember those who have no margin at all.
May we who settle in for a quarantine at home
remember those who have no home.
As fear grips our country,
let us choose love.
During this time when we cannot
physically wrap our arms around each other,
let us yet find ways to be the loving embrace
of God to our neighbors. Amen.
(Author: Unknown)

CoronaVirus (COVID19)
Rev Dr Paul Goh’s hometown Daegu in South Korea has had many cases of Coronavirus (COVID-19). He wrote the following prayer:
Lord, in your mercy you healed those suffering in body, mind or spirit. We cry out to you now on behalf of those infected by the coronavirus. Heal the sick, and bind up the broken-hearted who grieve those felled by this illness.
As both infection and fear spread, we ask for courage and protection for healthcare workers risking their own well-being for the sake of others. We pray wisdom for government officials and those in decision-making positions. May they rightly discern what needs to be done to treat those already infected and prevent others from falling sick.
We know there are those in quarantine, afraid they might be exposed to illness, wondering when they will return to their normal lives, anxious about what might happen next. Comfort them with your peace that passes understanding and grant them patience during this liminal and frightening season.
Lord of all, we are intimately connected to one another no matter where we reside on the earth, and so we plead for healing, good healthcare, relief and wholeness for our siblings in China and in all the places where this virus has made its appearance. May our collective care, effort, resources and love bring an end to this epidemic. Amen.
(Source: Rev Dr Paul Goh, Sth Australian Synod, Uniting Church in Australia)

Jesus Christ, you traveled through towns and villages “curing every disease and illness.” At your command, the sick were made well. Come to our aid now, in the midst of the global spread of the coronavirus, that we may experience your healing love.
Heal those who are sick with the virus. May they regain their strength and health through quality medical care.
Heal us from our fear, which prevents nations from working together and neighbors from helping one another.
Heal us from our pride, which can make us claim invulnerability to a disease that knows no borders.
Jesus Christ, healer of all, stay by our side in this time of uncertainty and sorrow.
Be with those who have died from the virus. May they be at rest with you in your eternal peace.
Be with the families of those who are sick or have died. As they worry and grieve, defend them from illness and despair. May they know your peace.
Be with the doctors, nurses, researchers and all medical professionals who seek to heal and help those affected and who put themselves at risk in the process. May they know your protection and peace.
Be with the leaders of all nations. Give them the foresight to act with charity and true concern for the well-being of the people they are meant to serve. Give them the wisdom to invest in long-term solutions that will help prepare for or prevent future outbreaks. May they know your peace, as they work together to achieve it on earth.
Whether we are home or abroad, surrounded by many people suffering from this illness or only a few, Jesus Christ, stay with us as we endure and mourn, persist and prepare. In place of our anxiety, give us your peace.
Jesus Christ, heal us.
(Source: Kerry Weber, AmericaMagazine)

A Prayer in Response to Coronavirus
Gracious and loving God,
Give wisdom and strength to all those in our community and around the world, who are responding to the coronavirus – health professionals, government officials, aged care providers, school leaders.
May those who mourn the loss of loved ones to the virus, be comforted.
May those in our community who are feeling anxious, find peace and reassurance.
May our congregations, and faith communities be places of compassion, attentive to those who are impacted by the coronavirus.
May we be communities of empathy, love and care, in all we face.
Through Christ, our Lord, Amen.
(Source: Dr Deidre Palmer, President, Uniting Church in Australia)

This prayer from Dietrich Bonhoeffer:
O God, early in the morning I cry to you.
Help me to pray
and to concentrate my thoughts on you:
I cannot do this alone.
In me there is darkness,
But in you there is light;
I am lonely, but you do not leave me;
I am feeble in heart, but with you there is help;
I am restless, but with you there is peace.
In me there is bitterness, but with you there is patience;
I do not understand your ways,
But you know the way for me.
Restore me to liberty,
And enable me so to live now
that I may answer before you and before me,
Lord, whatever this day may bring,
Your name be praised.
A few hours after this, his last recorded prayer, he was hanged because of his resistance to the Nazi party and anti-Semitism.

Palm Sunday prayer
Jesus, you rode into Jerusalem to shouts of “Hosanna. Save us.”
Today stands in sharp contrast to that first Palm Sunday.
Our streets are not crowded.
As we practise social and physical isolation,
our city squares remain starkly quiet.
As we enter lockdown,
our public spaces sit unnaturally still.
Hosanna. Save us.
In this trying time, grant us your peace and strength.
Jesus, you experienced a parade of palms and shouts of joy.
Today, our cries are not jubilant celebration.
Many of us are in shock at the current state of the world.
Many cry tears of grief and loss.
Many live with fear and anxiety.
Many of us worry about the unknown future.
Hosanna. Save us.
In this trying time, grant us your peace and strength.

You, Holy Other,
do not arrive in Jerusalem on a charging steed.
You enter riding on a donkey.
You, Holy Other,
confound our love of celebrity with your humility.
You, Holy Other,
confuse our lust for winning with your vulnerability.
You, Holy Other, die on a cross.
You, Holy Other, are executed.
You are not the way of imperial power and principalities.
You are the way of righteousness and radical compassion.
In your passion, shake us, confront us, and teach us your ways.
And grant us your conviction, your strength and your peace.
(Source: Diaconal Minister Ted Dodd, United Church of Canada)

Palm Sunday with Communion
This is a service for those who want to share Communion in an online community during a time of quarantine // lockdown // shelter in place. This liturgy includes the theological premise that lay sharing in the preparation and words of consecration over a table blesses the elements received fully and completely. In other words, there is no need for a clergy person to handle them. This may be uncomfortable for some. This is a simple service which begins with an announcement on Sunday, March 29 (or during the week prior to April 5) and continues with words of liturgy, to which you can add language, music, gestures and practices. (For example, some churches pour the drink for the shared cup and some do not, some bring elements forward as part of an offertory and some do not, some include a confession and assurance of grace, musical responses or a hymn and others do not. Shape this to be familiar to the congregation but not an exact replica, which leads people to be more aware that they are missing the gathered community. Make it a celebration of the possibility of online connection, not an apology for something that is not-as-good as in-person worship.
Announcement … “Save the Date” March 29 (or during the following week) On Sunday, April 5, Palm (and, for some, Passion) Sunday we share together Holy Communion in our online interactive worship. Before the time of the service you will want to prepare some bread, a slice or a small loaf of any kind of bread. In some parts of the world tortilla, rice cake, cassava are used as this element which is defined not as a wheat product but as the most common food of the people. Let it be something you alone or you with others in your house may break and share. Prepare a cup or cups of juice – perhaps grape or cranberry – or wine, with or without alcohol. Set these elements in the living room or kitchen where you experience worship electronically with our faith community. Perhaps you want to put them on a lovely cloth or fabric that reminds you of a special time or a person deeply connected with you in the communion of saints. Perhaps you will light a candle or place a flower or plant or the photograph of someone you wish to bring into the circle of faith beside the bread and the cup. Thank you for your preparation.
Celebration of Holy Communion (Pause to invite those who have not already prepared elements to do so. Assure them that even an English muffin can become a sacrament, even a cup of water or tea become a remembrance of God’s redeeming love)
For Holy Communion this morning,
I invite you to lend Christ your table.

On the first day of Holy week long ago, people throughout Judea arrived at the dusty gates of Jerusalem, primed with “Hosanna” in their hearts
and Jesus asked to borrow a donkey.
On the Thursday that followed,
Jesus rented or was given John Mark’s mother’s Upper Room
to celebrate the Passover with the disciples.
On the afternoon of the resurrection, Jesus was invited into a house in Emmaus and used the bread of that hospitality
to break and bless.
Lend Christ your table, your bread, your cup and your heart,
for, as the disciples told the person who loaned the donkey,
“The Lord has need of it.”

Prayer of Consecration
Leader: We are one bread, one body, one cup of blessing. Though we are many throughout the earth and this church community is scattered, we are one in Christ. In your many kitchens, and living rooms, rest your hands lightly upon these elements which we set aside today to be a sacrament. Let us ask God’s blessing upon them.
Gentle Redeemer, there is no lockdown on your blessing and no quarantine on grace. Send your Spirit of life and love, power and blessing upon every table where your child shelters in place, that this Bread may be broken and gathered in love and this Cup poured out to give hope to all. Risen Christ, live in us, that we may live in you. Breathe in us, that we may breathe in you.

Words of Remembering
We remember that Paul the apostle wrote letters to congregations throughout places we now call Greece, Turkey and Macedonia, and they were the first “remote” worship resources. Our online service has a long heritage. The Communion words sent to the church at Corinth were these:
For I received from the Lord what I also handed on to you, that the Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed took a loaf of bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, “This is my body that is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” In the same way he took the cup also, after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.” For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.

Sharing of the Elements
Leader: Let us in our many places receive the gift of God, the Bread of Heaven.
We are one in Christ in the bread we share.
Leader: Let us in our many places receive the gift of God, the Cup of Blessing.
We are one in Christ in the cup we share.

Prayer of Thanksgiving
Leader: Let us pray in thanksgiving for this meal of grace, rejoicing that, by the very method of our worship, we have embodied the truth that Christ’s love is not limited by buildings made with human hands, nor contained in human ceremonies, but blows as free as the Spirit in all places.
Spirit of Christ, you have blessed our tables and our lives. May the eating of this Bread give us courage to speak faith and act love, not only in church sanctuaries, but in your precious world, and may the drinking of this Cup renew our hope even in the midst of pandemic. Wrap your hopeful presence around all whose bodies, spirits and hearts need healing, and let us become your compassion and safe refuge. Amen
(Source: Maren Tirabassi, Gifts in Open Hands)

Prayer of lament to take the place of communion due to COVID19 concerns. 
Holy God, it is our practice to come to this table to receive the bread and wine. Today we cannot do this. Yet we know that you still meet us here;
you embrace us in our brokenness, you pour out your love upon us, name us as your disciples, and claim us for an eternity. 
And we can still remember, as you commanded.
We lament that we will not share the bread and wine today.
We lament that we cannot grasp a hand in fellowship today.
We can remember that the Lord is with us.
We can remember to lift up our hearts.
We can remember to give thanks to the Lord our God.
Blessing and praise still belongs to you, God of promise and of covenant.
Through your living Word you created all things,
the majesty of the heavens and the glory of the earth.
In your wisdom and goodness you have made all people in your image and likeness.
We remember too that in the fullness of time you gave your only Son
to share our human nature, to be tempted in every way as we are,
And who set his face resolutely towards Jerusalem to be lifted high upon the cross.
We remember too that on the night of his betrayal Jesus took the bread and took the wine, blessed them and shared them with his closest friends, saying: “Remember me.”
Come now, Holy Spirit – unite us in love and peace with all your people until, with the whole company of heaven, we are brought into the presence of your eternal glory, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
(Source: Rev Elizabeth Raine)

No longer at the Temple, 
Jesus met with his disciples in a home.
I have longed to celebrate this feast with you. 
Tonight, we take time to meet with mystery,
Uncertain of the unfolding story, 
familiar, yet strange.
In absence, be present.
In faith, we dedicate time to be set aside,
To honour God’s story and pray with one another.
We come to this unexpected table, waiting upon God.
(Source: Rev Dr Amelia Koh-Butler)

Sanctified Art – resources for Lent/Easter (designed to be used in this time of COVID19)

COVID19 – Maundy Thursday: ideas for a dispersed community
(Source: A Sanctified Art)

We are connected by God’s Spirit, 
hoping for a glimpse of the holy:
the One who brooded over Creation
who engulfed a bush in flame
who made a path through the waters
who rolled away the tombstone

We are connected by God’s Spirit, 
hoping for a whisper of the truth:
the Word who first spoke in the silence
the voice who raged with prophet’s zeal
the host who sang of peace on earth
the teacher who blessed humble and poor

We are connected by God’s Spirit, 
hoping for a touch of compassion:
the tenderness that shaped the human body
the caress that opened eyes of the blind
the soothing hand that brought healing calm
the warmth that embraced lonely and lost

We are connected by God’s Spirit, 
in the presence of mystery:
of One who is revealed and hidden,
known and unknown
mother and father of Creation
human God-with-us
living Word, eternal Spirit
Three and One
Breathe into us 
hope, faith and joy
Breathe into us
compassion, truth and holiness
Breathe into us
reconciliation, justice and peace
Breathe newness of life
as we worship today
in this place and in many places
joined by your Spirit of comfort and hope
(Source: Craig Mitchell, 2020)

Easter Sunday: The Liturgy of empty hands
The following has been prepared by Amelia Koh-Butler, using her own writing and also resources from a number of sources (see acknowledgements at end). The liturgy allows for the absence of consecrated bread and wine/juice – while retaining familiar foundations, in uncertain times… This is not a replacement for Gathering as God’s People, embodied in community, but provides a way of people gathering around stories of hope from despair and resurrection after death. It is envisaged this material could be used for people in homes, possibly connected digitally or across distances. Some planned gathering in Australia will use the material over internet, by phone or from balconies across courtyards. This liturgy is offered, as a gift of prayer and solidarity from God’s People in Australia to the rest of an anxious and hurting world. Together, may we be God’s Humanity. 
* An empty cup or glass and An empty plate are place on a celebratory cloth (either white or many coloured).
* A handkerchief or tissue covers both the cup/glass and plate.
Any or all of the following symbols may be added from week to week, or you may build these up to a collection over time:
* Symbol 1 – An unlit candle is placed inside a glass or transparent vase or holder. It is also on the cloth or nearby.
* Symbol 2 – A symbol for prayer is placed alongside the other symbols. This may be a cross, a stone with a heart drawn on it, or a wooden heart.
* Symbol 3 – Photos of absent friends or loved ones or a regular place of worship.
* Symbol 4 – A Globe or small map of the world. 

Christ is Risen!
He is Risen indeed!
[Option – light the candle]
Look – the Church is Empty!
Where can Our Lord be found?
He is not here. He is Risen!
Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia!

The One who created every physical cell 
and every aspect of energy calls us together now: 
From before time, God created the lands and waters,
given into the care of the ………………… people.  
[Insert the Name of the traditional custodians of the Land]
We honour and respect those who have cared for the lands we are on,
now being woven together in this new sharing of story.
Across times and places, 
God has moved and continues to move, 
enlivening us with breath and vibrancy.
The Word who gave life before words were formed sings to us now: 
the buzz of feedback reminds us of continuing creation
and the promise of completion,
the flicker of image reminds us of past, present and future,
being stitched together from beyond time,
the wonder of time and place testifies
to the One of all times and places.
The Community of God, 
Creator, Redeemer and Comforter, 
draws us in… into the heart of God, 
to find comfort, rest, courage and home.
Come, Holy One – draw us into you!
(© Amelia Koh-Butler, 2020)

We read from the prophet Jeremiah, Chapter 31, verses 1-6

The peace of the Lord be always with you.            
And also with you.
A sign of the peace may be offered by using a nod or hands-together ‘namaste’-style gesture, with words such as ‘Christ’s peace be with you,’ ‘the peace of God’ or simply ‘Peace’ or ‘Shalom’.

We join with people across different continents and cultures, traditions and languages in our desire for peace and harmony…  
Peace, Salaam, Shalom,

Ikara is the Adnyamathanha name for Wilpena Pound, meaning meeting place. The beautiful Flinders Ranges in South Australia is also known as Ikara-Flinders and there is a National Park there. This story is shared in the book by Rev Denise Champion (an Adnyamathanha woman) and Rosemary Dewerse, Yarta Wandatha (The Land is Speaking. The People are Speaking).
Aramburra (the trapdoor spider) and Artapudapuda (the grub) have a conversation. They talk about what happens to the body  after death. They talk… again and again and again.
Artapudapuda believed the body returns to the ground and that’s where it stays. Aramburra believed the body returns to the ground but after three days the spirit rises.
After many conversations, they decided to make a decision. They went with Artapudapuda’s version. The body would return to the ground and stay there.
After a time, they missed their loved ones.they longed for them. They yearned for them. They regretted the decision they had made.
This is why the Adnyamathanha people say the Aramburra has nothing to be ashamed of. His version of the story was good, so he can come into the open, but Artapudapuda is found under the bark of a tree because of his shame at making the wrong decision.
In a time of grief and mourning, I learnt this story from my sister, Denise. It teaches me I have a choice of understanding ending and now is the time for me to choose how I will live the rest of my life. I choose the resurrection story. (AKB)

The cup and plate are uncovered.
This earth is not our earth.
This is God’s earth.
This time is not my time.
This is God’s time.
This table is not my table.
This is God’s table.
God’s earth, God’s time, God’s table…
It is God who provides this feast of place and time and community.
Provision is already made for us all to be part of God’s story. 
God longs for us to be at home with God and one another.
Place your hand on the table or the wall, set your feet on the floor,
Recognise these spaces as being of God and for God 
for everything we have comes from the One source of all that is.
In this time, we rededicate ourselves and our surroundings for God’s good purposes.

The Lord is with us.
We lift our hearts to God.
We give thanks to God.          
For God not only created the earth and heavens, 
but all things that have lived and will yet live.
Saints from ages past and those who are yet to come, 
join with us in the here and now, 
linked in miraculous ways.
The stories, described by prophets and saints 
of past, present and future, dance together 
in reflection of God’s own glory, 
for all Life has an Author.
The Author became known in the Word,
the One who came as Emmanuel, God with us,
born as One with us, living among us, 
teaching, healing, weeping and sharing with us.
Living the life of Compassion and Justice, 
The Word was rejected by the world and executed…
Christ has died.
We hear again the story of Easter morning, in the Gospel of John, Chapter 20, verses 1-18
We respond: Christ has died. Christ is risen. Christ will come again.
Christ’s coming again has begun 
in the unfolding story of the Spirit of God,
in the continual seeding of new spiritual life in every age and place.
We see the work of the Spirit in the service and self-sacrifice of so many.
We hear the song of the Spirit when people sing on balconies.
We breathe the breath of the Spirit, knowing some are breathing 
through the creativity of digital photocopying and scientific imagination.
We wonder at our coming into a spiritual age previously unknown.
Yet, our story, is grounded in the story of Jesus of Nazareth…

The Lord Jesus, on the night of his betrayal, took bread, 
and after giving thanks to God,
he broke it, and gave it to his disciples, saying:
Take, eat. This is my body, given for you. 
Do this in remembrance of me.
In the same way he took the cup, saying:
This cup is the new covenant sealed in my blood, 
shed for you for the forgiveness of sins. 
Whenever you drink it, do this in remembrance of me.
Every time you eat this bread and drink this cup 
you proclaim the death of the risen Lord, until he comes
In this empty plate/basket [lift and show], 
we choose to see the world’s hunger. 
We remember that millions of people, this day, 
lack bread for Communion, bread for breakfast, bread for life. 
We acknowledge that we ourselves hunger, this day, 
in ways that no earthly bread can satisfy. 
Hospitable God, 
meet us in our unmet hungers – 
and help us to put our abundance 
at the service of the poor.
In this empty cup [lift and show], 
we choose to see the world’s thirst. 
We remember that millions of people, this day, 
lack wine for Communion, fruit for juicing, water for life. 
We acknowledge that we ourselves thirst, this day, 
in ways that no earthly cup can quench. 
Hospitable God, 
meet us in our unmet thirsts – 
and help us to put our fullness 
at the service of the empty.
‘Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, 
for they will be filled.’ (Matthew 5:6)
In the name of Christ, Amen.
Pour out the Holy Spirit on this empty plate/basket, this empty cup, that they may be for us – even in their emptiness – the body and blood of Christ.…  so that we may take his Life into our lives, and be taken and blessed, broken and given for the world.

LORD’S PRAYER               


We hold up the empty plate…
It is Christ who is the bread of life,
Who satisfies the hungry heart.
We hold up the empty cup…
It is Christ who is the cup of hope,
Who revives the thirsty
The plate and cup are placed on the table
The gifts of God 
for the people of God.
In faith and hope, we hold out our empty hands…
In these empty vessels and in our empty hands,
we celebrate the mystery and wonder of the empty tomb.
In our hands and in our hearts, 
we leave space for resurrection, 
for new life, for new meaning.
We hold the sorrows, prayers and hopes of the world before You, O God.
[intercessions may be shared]
May Your Spirit flow among us and beyond us, 
drawing us into loving and caring for Your world.
Jesus Christ is Risen!
He is Risen indeed!
We shall not seek God among the dead.
We shall be bearers of hope among the living.
We shall carry the stories of our hurts and losses
that we may tell the story of healing and resurrection.
Live then, in the promise of Resurrection Life!
Live according to the story of the One:
Creator, Redeemer and Spirit,
[alt: Father, Son and Spirit]
Knowing that the scattered community of God 
is placed in the world, for the sake of the world. 
Glory to God  and Peace to All.
Wherever you are in the world, it is our prayer that this is a moment of comfort and hope. Be of good courage.
Sources: A Call to Worship for a Dispersed Community – © Craig Mitchell, 2020, Used with permission.
A Call to Worship for an Online Community – © Amelia Koh-Butler, 2020, Used with permission.
Sections of the Great Prayer of Thanksgiving (Sharing and Invocation) – Claire Wright, based on Uniting in Worship 2, Used with permission.
Suggested Song –  Peace, Salaam, Shalom
(Emma’s Revolution. Note: several versions can be sourced on Youtube) Yarta Wandatha (The Land is Speaking. The People are Speaking), © 2014, Denise Champion and Rosemary Dewerse  
Remaining Sections – © Amelia Koh-Butler, 2020, Used with permission.
These resources are able to be used for Worship and Devotion, with appropriate acknowledgement. Some communities may choose to reduce the test of the provided Prayer of Thanksgiving. It may be suitable to substitute the inclusion of the Nicene Creed as a way of proclaiming the Gospel story in words familiar to those who are then connecting with other faithful of many times and places.

A liturgy at the time of dying (for those who are isolated from the dying) NEW
Sunday Prayers by Nadia Bolz-Weber
A prayer in the shadow of a pandemic and the barrage of bad news by Nadia Bolz-Weber

About admin

Rev Sandy Boyce is a Uniting Church in Australia Minister (Deacon). This blog may be a help to people planning worship services.
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