As we come to the days and weeks when we turn the calendar from February to March and the seasons from Winter to Spring, a time for reflection and contemplation unlike any other in my 73 years is upon us! Sitting in isolation these 12 months has me humming Jim Reeve’s old song, as my in-laws, Helen and Melvin, often did in their old age.
“Four walls to hear me, four walls to see.
Four walls too near me, closing in on me!”
The coronavirus pandemic has gifted us a most peculiar time of Biblical proportions for asking age old questions about the meaning and value of human life and the care of others done best by absenting ourselves from them. I had to learn new habits, find new ways to love family and friends by staying distant and practice forms of creating and experiencing community by Zoom!
At the same time, the church calendar turns our attention from what it calls Ordinary Time to the Lenten season, named for the lengthening of days and focused on regular practices and disciplines of contemplation and prayer! In the Bible’s New Testament, Matthew 6:5-6 recounts the Lord giving prayer instructions in his Sermon on the Mount telling his followers to “go into your room, close the door and pray in secret, and God, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.” This is a call to private prayer! Every Lent my prayer life is re-strengthened, but this year-long season of COVID-19 has motivated me to follow more daily online devotionals from more churches than any regular Lenten season ever!
On the first day of Lent, I heard my pastor friend’s online sermon quote a line from T. S. Eliot’s very long “Ash Wednesday”, which some have called his most perfect poem.
“This is the time of tension between dying and birth.”
In this very regular but very peculiar time, the ‘tension’ within us around life and death and new life has been palpable like never before in my experience, and yours, I trust! We are helped to ask the all-important questions; “What does God expect of me?” “What do I expect of myself?” “What does it mean to be me?”
Jewish Passover is also both peculiar and regular this year because it coincides with Christian Holy Week, coming a month later because it’s a leap year according to the Jewish calendar. The ‘tensions’ between all that confines and enslaves us and the freedoms fulfilled according to God’s promises are also palpable enough to call forth much contemplation and prayer.
No matter what spiritual practice or faith community is to your liking, the approaching days and weeks are an opportunity for reflection, contemplation and prayer that remembers what we have been saying all year, “Together, we’ll get through this …with God’s help!”
So, let us pray for all our communities of faith and worship.
Let us pray for peace throughout the world.
Let us pray for the health of plants and animals and all living things.
Let us pray for all who care for the earth.
Let us pray for the increase of justice throughout the land.
Let us pray for a spirit of concord throughout society.
Let us pray for the hungry, the homeless and the unemployed.
Let us pray for all whose employment and caregiving places them in special danger.
Let us pray the end of this pandemic.
Let us pray for all who are sick and suffering.
Let us pray for all who today will die.
Let us pray for the desires of each and every heart.
Thank You, Lord for all who have gone before us in faith and their loved ones who grieve.
Into your hands we commend all for whom we pray, trusting in your mercy, O Lord! Amen.
Editor’s note: The author, Pr. Rod Anderson (retired) served as a Pastor at St. Andrew Lutheran Church in Eden Prairie for over 34-years.
The Eden Prairie Local News (EPLN) serves the people of Eden Prairie and broadly supports and invites the free expression of religious traditions and spiritual perspectives of the community.