What we did in worship today
Our small congregation decided to meet this morning for worship. However, I adjusted the contents of the service to reflect the Covid-19 pandemic. I preached on Martin Luther’s counsel to the Christian leaders and residents of Breslau during the 1527 plague epidemic (an excerpt of which we ran yesterday). We followed the regular liturgy, but here are the sections I adapted.
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When anxiety is high in our culture, corporate worship is a primary location for proclaiming the good news of Jesus Christ and the continuing care of God for all people. Here we can find solace and reassurance in the midst of our fears.
However, we must also remember to use common sense and intentional action with regard to preventing the spread of pathogens as we gather.
First of all, in weeks to come, if you find yourself suffering the symptoms of a cold or other respiratory illness, please refrain from joining us in worship. Stay home and get well!
Second, we are an affectionate congregation that shows our love for each other with handshakes, hugs, and other gestures of physical touch. Today and for the foreseeable future, we will ask that we limit these physical expressions out of concern for one another. When we arrive and depart, and when we share the peace during worship, please greet each other without handshakes and hugs. We also invite you to use the hand sanitizer that is placed in both the back and front of the sanctuary to keep your hands clean.
Third, we will celebrate communion today as usual, and I will encourage all servers to make sure they use hand sanitizer before offering the elements to the congregation. If you have concerns about receiving communion and wish to refrain, we still invite you to come forward, cross your arms over your chest, and you will receive a blessing.
In our service today, our prayers and message will be focused on the current situation we face. I believe we have some distinctive contributions we can make as Christians. One is to offer our prayers for God’s mercy and help in this time of need, and to hear God’s word to us so that we might have the mind of Christ in these days.
The Apostle Paul wrote that God has not given us a spirit of fear, but rather a spirit of power and of love and of self-discipline. May this spirit of God lead us and bless us in our worship together today.
We pray for the church, the world, those in need, and for all creation. We especially pray for our lives and those of our neighbors in this extraordinary time of pandemic.
God, our peace and our strength, we pray for our nation and the world as we face new uncertainties around coronavirus. Protect the most vulnerable among us, especially all who are currently sick or in isolation. Lord in your mercy/hear our prayer.
Grant wisdom, patience, and clarity to health care workers, especially when their work caring for others puts them at risk. Lord in your mercy/hear our prayer.
Open the understanding of scientists, lab workers, and those in the public health community, that they may know how to respond as this situation develops. Lead them to increase the medical community’s capacity to handle this crisis and to develop vaccines and methods of care that will bring healing, comfort, and help to those threatened by this virus. Lord in your mercy/hear our prayer.
Give wisdom, compassion, and good communication skills to our elected representatives, to public health officials, and others who address the public with words of instruction and guidance in these days. Lord in your mercy/hear our prayer.
We dare not forget those who are suffering in a variety of ways even as our attention is focused on the coronavirus. Remember all who are sick or injured, those who are suffering from mental illness, those who are hospitalized or in care facilities, those recuperating from surgery, and all those who need your healing touch. We especially remember: ___________________________________________________________.
Lord in your mercy/hear our prayer.
All wise and caring God, guide us as we consider how best to prepare and respond to the extraordinary events around us today in our families, congregations, workplaces, and communities. Give us courage to face these days not with fear but with compassion, concern, and acts of service, trusting that you abide with us always.
Through Jesus Christ our Lord we pray. Amen.
In times of need we are reminded that Jesus Christ is the bread of life and God’s living water, given for the life of the world. During these times, particularly with communal health concerns, we will continue to gather as long as is deemed wise, as a sign of resurrection hope in the midst of fear and trouble. Here we taste and see the Risen Christ’s presence through word and meal. Here in the Spirit we pray for the needs of a suffering world. And from these moments of gathering together we are sent to care for all our neighbors who are sick, hurt and hungry.
So go in peace, and serve the Lord. Thanks be to God.
Prayers and other materials adapted from content provided for congregations by the ELCA.
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