The Lord is risen. He is risen indeed! How these words resonate in our hearts. We recall the celebrations of Easters past with nostalgia and joy. Regardless of the challenges we endured and hopefully overcame during the year, Easter was a time of delight and hope, of promise and good news. Our Lord, who was brought to the depths of physical, emotional, and spiritual suffering triumphs because of his faith and willingness to surrender all to follow the call of Yahweh. That which is last is now first.
As we offer our prayers today, I invite you to settle more deeply in your seat, let your shoulders be heavy by your side, soften your gaze, and notice the stillness of your being. When you hear the words: Holy One, to you we bring our hopes, fears, and uncertainties, please respond: “Let us be glad for today we know and believe in the salvation of our Lord! “
Throughout this past year, we have grappled with our own personal challenges of health and faith, all of which have been compounded by our fears and the constraints of the pandemic. We have been struck anew by how little our privilege of wealth, health or citizenship means in the face of a virus that has forced the global family worldwide to be as homebound as possible. While we know that we are fortunate, even in the midst of this crisis, being unable to direct our days beyond the confines of our home has put us in touch with all those who seldom travel, eat out, go to theatres or gyms, with people whose days are marked by the rising and setting of the sun, whose immediate focus is on the wellbeing of their loved ones and themselves, who don’t know if they will survive the next health crisis, who will take care of them if they are sick, and who can be trusted.
When nothing was certain, Jesus turned to God to calm his spirit, direct his actions, and discern his way forward. In the midst of our unknowing this year, we have been graced with time to listen, to be, to open ourselves to deeper ways of living in faith. Today we give thanks for all that you have given us, Lord, Holy One, to you we bring our hopes, fears, and uncertainties… Let us be glad for today we know and believe in the salvation of our Lord!
We are not alone in this world and, as others care for us, we take this time to pray for their wellbeing. We pray for the congregations of the United Churches of Langley, BC on this Easter Sunday. We pray for the peoples of the Balkans – giving thanks for the rich legacies of different ethnic and religious groups in Albania, Bosnia, Herzegovina, Croatia, Kosovo, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Serbia, and Slovenia – countries so breathtakingly beautiful. We pray that you will continue to support people throughout the region in their daily acts of faith through peacemaking in diversity, especially the women who are increasingly holding political office. Holy One, to you we bring our hopes, fears, and uncertainties… Let us be glad for today we know and believe in the salvation of our Lord!
Our actions, our words, our thoughts, all speak of our faith in your call as the way, the truth, and the light. We ask that your way, truth, and light be present this Easter Sunday for Our Bienestar partners in Guatemala who this week celebrated 23 years of struggle to become the legal stewards of the Cooperative of Nuevo Horizonte or New Horizons – blessings upon them; Our brothers & sisters at Nyanyadzi Methodist Church in Zimbabwe who celebrate the country’s banning of exploratory coal mining operations in all of its national parks thus ensuring the life of its miraculous wildlife, Peacemakers and peacekeepers, health care workers, teachers, engineers and the many who serve throughout the world through many organizations.
All affected by COVID-19, whether in body, mind or spirit.
LGBTQ2SIA+ people who are persecuted in many countries and for the leadership of the government of Rwanda who is a signatory of the United Nations joint statement condemning violence against LGBT people. The future of our environment; protecting and respecting this gift of creation.
And for those whose prayer requests to our congregation, we mindfully hold in our hearts and now name all those on our Prayer List… Each sentient being is precious in the eyes of our Lord. May all of life experience moments of healing and restoration, especially today.
On days of cloud and rain, we still know that the sun is shining. And today, despite our moments of suffering, we know that your salvation is our light. We know in our hearts that you are with us and accompanying us, so as to share our burdens, lift us up, infuse us with a deep and abiding joy and hope, and guide us home. We cherish your comfort and through our discipleship with you, we offer it to others being your hands of gentle touch, your moment of intentional pause in a conflict, your voice of compassion, and your willingness to care for the stranger as they are you incarnate. Holy One, to you we bring our hopes, fears, and uncertainties… Let us be glad for today we know and believe in the salvation of our Lord!
The Lord is risen! He is risen indeed! Amen!