Holy and beloved God, there are so many ways in which we have never been in this place before, and honestly, if we’re never here again, that would be just fine with us. We’re unfamiliar worshiping through our computers and phones, and we miss the friends we usually sit beside, the handbells and smells of coffee coming from the other end of the room. This social distancing thing doesn’t suit us well, and we chafe against other people telling us to stay away and stay apart. And yet, in the midst of all that we don’t recognize and don’t like, there are pieces that are delightfully and graciously familiar, that give us joy. First of all and most of all, we thank you for your presence with us through every aspect and angle of this pandemic. We give thanks that you hold and comfort us, encourage and sustain us. We thank you that in the midst of such suffering, illness and even death, we also are surrounded by countless signs of new life and the promise that long though this journey may be, it will not last forever. We will come through on the other side, and you will be with us to welcome us into the new day that awaits.
We pray this day for all those most intimately affected by the coronavirus: for the sick, those with mild symptoms recovering at home, in ICU beds and on ventilators fighting for their lives, those who are carrying and spreading the virus without even knowing it, as well as the most vulnerable and unprotected. We pray for those who are losing their jobs and are at risk of losing their homes, for families struggling with the closure of schools, access to food and the need for day care, and all of the disruptions in family life. And we give thanks for health care workers, for all those who are giving of what they have and who they are to reach out and help one another. Bind us together, especially in these days of separation. Bless, encourage and direct us to care for one another even as we protect ourselves. Help us to walk in your ways and live by your love.
We pray for all those who are sick, for the grieving, for caregivers who grow weary. We pray for the hungry, the unemployed, those who search for a people and a place to call home. We pray for those whose lives have been shattered by acts of violence, the ravages of war, the destruction of storms, the far-reaching tentacles of COVID-19. Show us, O God, how you would have us respond: how to love, where to touch and when to keep a distance, when to speak and when to stay silent, what it means to reflect your light and walk in your ways.
Hear our prayers, spoken and unspoken. And hear us as we join together in the prayer Jesus taught us, saying: Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed by thy name. Thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.