Dear New Life in Christ Church Family,
This is a time to continue to fast and pray for our families, church, nation, and the world. The curve has not flattened, people are out of work, loved ones are sick, businesses are closed, people feel alone and isolated. I am asking that the people of New Life in Christ Church take Monday, March 30, 2020 as a day of prayer and fasting.
There is no set structure for fasting and prayer, but usually during these times, we set aside our typical routines, distractions, and regular comforts to spend time in prayer. We suggest using one of two kinds of fasts: 1) skipping eating for all of the day or large sections or 2) stopping use of social media and/or coronavirus news for the day. Instead, use that time to pray.
This week, we have included a prayer that was offered to the Presbyterian Church in America in our denominational magazine. Why don’t you print this out, or bookmark it, and make it available to print multiple times through the day? In order for it to not be vain repetition, pray for specific needs as you read through the prayer yourself. Try praying it out loud, stopping and adding things you think about as your pray? Go for a walk or into a quiet space. Take a break through your day and read it out loud.
A Prayer for the Church in the Early Days of the COVID-19 Pandemic
BY WALTER HENEGAR (source)
MARCH 24TH, 2020
Our Maker, Defender, Redeemer, and Friend,
You who sit enthroned over the flood—
We are staggering in the surf of breakers
bringing bad news, and worse news,
while an invisible menace laps at our doorstep.
Father of all mercies, have mercy on us.
We are anxious, exhausted, angry, and sad.
We need your peace that surpasses understanding
to guard our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.
Be our refuge and strength;
be our very present help in this time of trouble.
Even in this trouble we thank you:
for green Spring life that refuses to wait for death’s shadow to pass;
for technology that unites exiles and draws the solitary near;
for your church that prevails in catacombs and quarantine;
for your own Holy Spirit who is socially present with us, always.
But Oh, forgive us, Holy Lord:
for hating our unwashed neighbors in our heart;
for opening our hearts to unfettered fear;
for closing our hearts, and our pockets, to any in need;
for loosening our grip on your precious and very great promises.
Assure us, our Gracious Redeemer:
that our sins are nailed to the cross of Jesus;
that we are clothed in the righteous white robes of Christ;
that you will never leave us nor forsake us;
that nothing – nothing – can separate us from your love.
Great Physician, we pray for those most vulnerable to this virus:
for the elderly, the weak, and those with chronic conditions;
for the poor, the hungry, and the isolated;
for those already infected.
Deliver them from this evil,
and prevent the rest of us from carrying it to them.
God of Hosts, we pray for the caregivers on the front lines:
for doctors and nurses and healthcare workers;
for police and firefighters and government officials;
for parents in the home and under-shepherds in the church:
Guard and guide them; shield and sustain them.
Rock of Ages, we pray for the newly unstable:
for those who have lost jobs, lost businesses, lost savings, lost homes;
for those facing the likelihood of losing even more
Hide them in the cool shadow of your wings;
provide every good thing for them
that you, as a good Father, know they need.
Indwelling Spirit, empower your people to serve:
to get wisdom, and live by it, and share it freely;
to embody peace amid the strife of tongues;
to present our bodies as living sacrifices;
to suffer with Christ in patient endurance.
Give us all fresh confidence that there is:
no future where you are not present,
no sorrow where you are not near,
no tears not kept in your bottle,
no locust-eaten years you will not restore.
And so we trust you, our generous Provider:
if the curve does not flatten,
if the market does not pull up,
if the shelves go empty,
and if all our accounts drain to pennies—
Even still, let us rejoice in the Lord, our strength;
let us take joy in the God of our salvation.
In the name of Jesus we ask, Amen.
If you have specific needs, please let us know (firstname.lastname@example.org || 540-786-4848) so that we can pray for you and offer any practical help. Our elders are available as are our deacons (https://goo.gl/forms/wZ8miuU2BptSmOtG3). Please be aware of your neighbors needs, especially the elderly and vulnerable. Please let us know if any have needs.
One more thing. We encourage you to take time with your family or on your own to sing (or listen) to the upcoming hymns for Sunday. Hymns for the Week: All Glory, Laud, and Honor (#235); What a Friend We Have in Jesus (#629). This is something you can do every day through the week, maybe as part of dinner devotions or a morning quiet time.