Morning Prayer for the Fourth Sunday in Lent

March 22, 2020

Organ Prelude: Attende, Domine

Attende, Domine (the Lenten Prose) Played by The Rev. Clem Carelse on the Cassavant organ at St. Peter’s. Filmed March 1, 2020.

Video of the Morning Prayer Service

Officiant: The Rev. Maria Nightingale.

You may wish to play this and follow along with the liturgy below. You may also download a copy of the full order of the service (download here) including the homily. At the end of the service, you may also want to view the Children’s Talk video, told by Louise Simos. You will find it on YouTube at https://youtu.be/N2OAQK_hqXc.

Opening Reflection:

Poem by Lynn Ungar, March 11, 2020 (http://lynnunngar.com)

Pandemic

What if you thought of it
As the Jews consider the Sabbath –
the most sacred of times?
Cease from travel.
Cease from buying and selling.
Give up, just for now,
on trying to make the world
different than it is.
Sing. Pray. Touch only those
to whom you commit your life.
Center down. And when your body has become still,
reach out with your heart.
Know that we are connected
in ways that are terrifying and beautiful.
(You could hardly deny it now.)
Know that our lives are in one another’s hands.
Reach out your heart.
Reach out your words.
Reach out all the tendrils of compassion that move, invisibly,
where we cannot touch. Promise this world your love –
for better or for worse,
in sickness and in health,
so long as we all shall live.

Opening Versicles:

O Lord, open Thou our lips
and our mouth shall show forth Thy praise.
O God, make speed to save us.
O Lord, make haste to help us.

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son,
and to the Holy Spirit, as it was in the beginning,
is now, and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.

Collect of the Day

Almighty God,
through the waters of baptism
your Son has made us children of light.
May we ever walk in his light
and show forth your glory in the world;
through Jesus Christ our Lord,
who is alive and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, Now and for ever. Amen.

Scripture Reading

A reading from the letter to the Ephesians (Ephesians 5:8-14)

For once you were darkness, but now in the Lord you are light. Live as children of light— for the fruit of the light is found in all that is good and right and true. Try to find out what is pleasing to the Lord. Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them. For it is shameful even to mention what such people do secretly; but everything exposed by the light becomes visible, for everything that becomes visible is light.

Therefore it says,
‘Sleeper, awake!
   Rise from the dead,
and Christ will shine on you.’

Hear what the Spirit is saying to the Church.
Thanks be to God

Reflection on Scripture

The Rev. Maria Nightingale

I don’t know about you, but lately I’ve felt more connected to and looked more carefully at the people who are written about in the Bible and how they handled uncertainty, the anxiety of not knowing what the future might hold, fear of disease, and how God fits into all this.

This morning my focus is on the epistle reading that is the lectionary reading assigned for a celebration of the Eucharist on the fourth Sunday in Lent. For any of you lectionary purists out there, I do acknowledge that there are different readings assigned for the Daily Office (morning and evening prayer), however we had originally planned our liturgy and preaching around these lessons, so we’re going to stick to them. J For an interpretation of the gospel assigned for today, please see Louise Simos’ wonderful video retelling and reflection on it for the children. It will be linked on our Facebook pages and our website.

The passage that we just heard is from a letter written to the early Christian Church in Ephesus. The early Christians had to deal with difficulties, persecutions, and hardships; and Paul of Tarsus and other church leaders sent letters to the churches to encourage them, to teach them about the faith and how to live as Christians, and to help them navigate difficult times. This particular passage from Ephesians 5:8-14 contains in it the lovely metaphor encouraging us to be “children of light”.

This call to be “children of light” resonates strongly today during what many are perceiving as a dark time.

I am finding that the term “social distancing” is really grating on my nerves lately. What we are doing right now is PHYSICAL distancing. Everyone is working their tails off to stay SOCIALLY connected using the technology at hand. There has been a steep learning curve for me, as I’m sure there has been for many, over the past week as I have learned to use Zoom, YouTube, and Facebook Live. I have to say that I find it ironic that the use of technology for which we’ve been criticizing the younger generations for years, we are now whole-heartedly embracing as “the right thing to do.” I am grateful that I have my daughters at home with me to show me how to use features on my cell phone and apps that I’d previously ignored, even if I do have to endure some good-natured teasing from them.

They, along with James Beckwith, have taught me how to use these electronic means so that I can continue to stay connected remotely with the parishioners of St. Peter’s, family, and friends.

Physical distancing is HARD. Human beings are social creatures and we need contact with one another. Right now, for the safety of all, but especially the safety of those who are most vulnerable, we need to stay physically apart, but we don’t need to stay emotionally and spiritually apart! The Church is the people not the building, and so the Church cannot close as long as we continue to be people of faith who are praying and using the technology we have to worship and stay connected to one another. I have been much encouraged by all the good I am seeing, the thoughtfulness and care that people have for one another, the ways in which people have stepped up to make sure that the most vulnerable in our society are cared for in a way that is safe for all, and the creative ways people have used to ensure that they stay connected.

Continue to be “children of light” who encourage one another. My prayer is that we will come out of this time with a heightened awareness of those who are most vulnerable in our society, a stronger sense of community and service to others, a better appreciation for how we are connected to the wider Christian Church, and a deeper faith in the God who loves us so deeply and never abandons us. Amen.

Prayers

Litany #1, BAS, p 110-111 (modified to reflect the current situation)

In peace let us pray to the Lord, saying, “Lord, have mercy.”

For peace from on high and for our salvation, let us pray to the Lord.
Lord, have mercy.

For the peace of the whole world, for the welfare of the holy Church of God, and for the unity of all, let us pray to the Lord.
Lord, have mercy.

For our bishops, Andrew, Jenny, Kevin, Ryscilla, and Peter, and for all the clergy and people, let us pray to the Lord.
Lord, have mercy.

For Elizabeth our Queen, for the leaders of the nations, and for all in authority, let us pray to the Lord.
Lord, have mercy.

For the city of Mississauga, for every city and community, and for those who live in them in faith, let us pray to the Lord.
Lord, have mercy.

For good weather, and for abundant harvests for all to share, let us pray to the Lord.
Lord, have mercy.

For those who travel by land, water, or air, who are returning home and must self-isolate.
Lord, have mercy.

For the sick and the suffering remembering especially all those in your hearts and minds (pause for people to say names silently or aloud), for prisoners and captives, and for their safety, health, and salvation, let us pray to the Lord.
Lord, have mercy.

For our deliverance from all affliction, strife, and need, let us pray to the Lord.
Lord, have mercy.

For the absolution and remission of our sins and offences, let us pray to the Lord.
Lord, have mercy.

For all who have died remembering especially all those in your hearts and minds (pause for people to say names silently or aloud), let us pray to the Lord.
Lord, have mercy.

Remembering St. Peter and all the saints, we commit ourselves, one another, and our whole life to Christ our God.
To you, O Lord.

Almighty God, you have given us grace at this time with one accord to make our common supplications to you, and you have promised through your well-beloved Son that when two or three are gathered together you will hear their requests. Fulfil now our desires and petitions, as may be best for us, granting us in this world knowledge of your truth, and in the age to come eternal life; for you, Father, are good and loving, and we glorify you through your Son Jesus Christ our Lord, in the Holy Spirit, now and for ever. Amen.

The Lord’s Prayer

Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name,
thy kingdom come,
thy will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our trespasses,
as we forgive those who trespass against us.
And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil.
For thine is the kingdom,
the power, and the glory,
for ever and ever. Amen.

Blessing

The peace of God, which passes all understanding, keep your hearts and minds in the knowledge and love of God, and of God’s son, Jesus Christ. The blessing of God Almighty, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit be amongst you and remain with you always. Amen.