Prepared by The Rev. Marilyn Zehr
Welcome: We are so fortunate to be able to connect with each other in ways that were unheard of even a generation ago. I’m grateful that technology makes it possible to create and share resources that connect us, and ground us in the Sacred Love that surrounds us all.
As you prepare: Find a comfortable place on your own or with a few others (and have a candle and some matches and a journal or a piece of paper and something to write or draw with)
Opening I invite you to take a moment now and centre yourself deeply in the Love of the Sacred.
(Some people like to plant their feet firmly on the ground; others like to open their hands. Find the position that is best for you.)
Breathe into your core the life-giving Sprit of our Eternal Source;
Breathe in goodness, compassion and truth;
Breathe out fearfulness and worry.
(Repeat these breaths a few more times – breathing in goodness and letting go of your worries)
Allow yourself to open up to the Wisdom that is here for you.
Come and Seek the Ways of Wisdom listen here
Come and Seek the Ways of Wisdom she who danced when earth was new. Follow closely what she teaches, for her words are right and true. Wisdom clears the path to justice, showing us what love must do. Wisdom clears the path to justice, showing us what love must do.
Wisdom clears the path to justice, showing us what love must do. Listen to the voice of Wisdom, crying in the marketplace. Hear the Word made flesh among us, full of glory, truth, and grace. When the word takes root and ripens, peace and righteousness embrace.
Sister Wisdom, come, assist us; nurture all who seek rebirth. Spirit-guide and close companion, bring to light our sacred worth. Free us to become your people, holy friends of God and earth.
Lighting a Christ Candle
Why do we light a Christ Candle?
We light this candle to represent Christ Jesus’ light among us. We light this candle to remind us that even in times of challenge and trial there is a light that lights the way.
OPENING PRAYER (now speak or breathe a prayer for what you desire from this time in worship/silence/contemplation)
INVITATION TO CONFESSION
We continue this Sunday with Lent in the Christian church. At the beginning of Lent this year we asked ourselves if we have ever experienced scarcity real or imagined. Pause for a moment to write down (or draw if you’d rather) any fear you may have about scarcity during this time of social distancing.
Now fold your paper in half and on the other side write any longing for abundance that might address that fear.
We placed our acknowledgements of a sense of scarcity and our longings for abundance in the shape of a cross on the bare branches of a Lent tree. I invite you to place your writing/drawing next to your candle (or later on a bare branch too if you wish).
Hear these words of assurance:
Know that Jesus told his followers that he came to offer all people life and offer it abundantly. That life and love and peace is available to us all.
LISTENING FOR A WORD OF WISDOM
Read the following passage two or three or four times. Listen with the ear of your heart or inner wisdom.
- Did anything stand out for you in this reading? A word or phrase? Say that word or phrase over and over again to yourself.
- Now read again and let any thoughts or feelings or reflections arise in you and make note of them.
- As you read a third time, speak your thoughts and feelings in prayer.
- Now rest in God’s presence. Just be.
- If there is someone with you as you have been reading this, share with each other anything that occurred to you about this passage.
Reflection (from Marilyn)
I offer here something to hold alongside your own reflections.
Have any of you felt a bit weary this week?
Has anxiety about unknowns crept into your hearts?
I admit, that I have experienced both weariness and anxiety this week. And I know I’m not alone. Unknowns commonly create anxiety for most people. And there are a lot of unknowns right now. Like how long will the pandemic last? How long will our lives be altered in the ways that they are? Are my loved ones going to be okay? How will I manage if this new way to live stretches into weeks or longer? These kinds of worries and anxieties are both common and unfortunately contagious.
The contagion of worry can be seen most clearly in herd animals. One member of the herd, say a sheep, senses danger, signals that danger to the others and the whole flock begins to run away from the danger – even if they don’t all know what the danger is. We humans may be a bit more evolved than sheep, but we are not immune to picking up on the anxiety vibes that are circulating around us.
Like those sheep from time to time we need a shepherd or shepherds to mitigate the dangers and the anxiety they create for us.
That’s why Psalm 23 is one of the most well-known and well-loved Psalms. The Good Shepherd/The Divine Shepherd, leads the sheep to places where they can rest, where they can drink from calm waters and along good paths. Even in the darkest valley, there is protection from danger. Whenever I read this psalm when I am anxious, my heart rate eases, I remember I am not alone no matter what comes along and that at this table, I am nurtured with a cup that overflows. I am nurtured with a cup of abundance and that here I am loved and I am at home. It’s profoundly comforting.
When I am thus comforted then I do not need to remain like a sheep, I can then step into the role of shepherd as well. In fact, we can all be shepherds. Years ago, I joked with the congregation that I was leading, that it was like pastoring a flock of shepherds instead of sheep. And this was a good joke. Then, as now, I was pastoring a group of leaders who had strong ideas and capacities for taking care of each other. We needed to be able to be shepherds to one another. We need that now too.
But we need both. We need a place with our Divine Shepherd where our anxieties can be calmed, our needs met, our divine belovedness assured. Then we will have the capacity to reach out with our calm and good humour and compassion to others who need that calm as well.
At the risk of mixing metaphors, it’s like putting on your own oxygen mask first so that you can then be effective for others.
Take the time you need to hang out with the Good Shepherd. Rest, refresh, be protected, be nurtured, be at home. Know deeply the restoration of your soul that the Holy One provides. Then stand up from that table and allow the calm and the quiet and renewed strength of your own heart infect the world with goodness and mercy. Amen
PRAYER. Words from a song
Grant us God, the Grace of Giving, with a spirit large and free, that ourselves and all our living we may offer faithfully.
Pause and think for a moment of how you can respond concretely.
For example: Do you need to give someone a call or text or email? Can you help a neighbour? Or, if you have your offering for the church, or money for a charity that you support – consider setting that aside now – to give as you are able, online or by mail)
Continue to pray
for our world and for our world’s leaders
for those who are ill and those who care for them
for our community and neighbours
for ourselves and our loved ones
and as you wish pray to the one who as a loving parent is like
CLOSING HYMN VU #642 Be Thou My Wisdom to the tune of Be Thou my Vision with words by Jann Aldredge-Clanton
The Images in the following YouTube video are international, beautiful and deeply moving – for such a time as this.
Come now, O Wisdom, we need your clear voice. Speak and awaken our hearts to rejoice Gracious Creator of more than we know, in your own image may we ever grow.
Come now, O Wisdom, abide in our souls. Stir in us visions of life free and whole. Stir in us visions of life free and whole. Wisdom, our pathway to justice and peace, with you our dreams find their fullest release.
Wisdom, more precious than rubies or gold, with you our graces forever unfold. No fame or fortune with you can compare; Pour out your blessings so rich and so rare.
Wisdom, your grace joins all heaven and earth, with you we labour new life to give birth. with you we labour new life to give birth. Come now, O Wisdom our midwife and friend, Open our hearts to your world without end.
Prayer and Sending
Go now to will and to work for God’s purposes.
Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus.
Be filled with the same love
and look to the interests of others.
And may your cup overflow with the goodness and mercy of God;
May Christ Jesus strengthen you and encourage you;
And may the Holy Spirit lead you on right paths and make your joy complete.
We go in peace to love and serve God,
……..In the name of Christ. Amen.