Lord, in this time of transition, help us all to be patient and open, having faith that you are guiding us into new life. Be with our search committee, our vestry, our ordained leaders, and our entire congregation. In every stage of our journey, may we rest in your abiding love. In Christ’s name we pray. Amen.
Dear friends at Epiphany,
You’ll recognize this as the prayer for our parish that we pray each Sunday at the conclusion of the Prayers of the People. It was written by our rector search committee several months ago, and we’ve been praying it at our Sunday worship ever since. It was meant as a prayer for us as we make our way through this time of transition to the calling of a new rector.
Of course, several months ago we could not have foreseen the circumstances we now live in! The coronavirus has turned our world – and our own worlds – upside down. We are all coping with anxiety, fear, stress, and uncertainty. And yet this prayer, composed for a different reason in a different season, speaks beautifully to where we find ourselves right now. In particular, the first sentence seems to express our present need and hope.
Lord, in this time of transition – Straightaway the prayer names the situation in which we find ourselves – a time of profound change and upheaval. In this prayer, we begin by being honest with God about our situation; it is why we are praying it in the first place.
help us all to be patient and open – Our instinctive response to change is to be reactive, to respond in haste to the new demands placed upon us. We go into crisis mode, as we all did in the early weeks of the pandemic. That is often the only thing we can do early on, and we do it the best we can. Yet we’ve now experienced a transition within the transition; we know that this crisis will not end swiftly – it will be with us for quite some time.
And so, as the days and weeks now more slowly unfold, we ask God for what we most need, and that includes patience and openness. The patience and openness we need will depend on our individual circumstances. I am seeking the patience and openness that would allow me to greet each day in the spirit of Theodore Parker Ferris’ beloved prayer that begins, “This is another day, O Lord. I know not what it will bring forth, but make me ready, Lord, for whatever it may be.” (from The Book of Common Prayer, p. 461).
having faith that you are guiding us into new life – We are in the midst of Eastertide, when our hymns and readings and prayers celebrate Christ’s resurrection and victory over death. But what does new life in Christ mean in the midst of this pandemic? In his book Transitions, William Bridges writes, “To feel as though everything is up in the air, as one so often does during times of personal transition, is endurable if it means something – if it is part of a movement toward a desired end. But if it is not related to some larger and beneficial pattern, it simply becomes distressing.” (from Part I: The Need for Change)
Our prayer, written for the rector search, now points us to another and deeper search: our search for meaning in this time of upheaval and suffering. What does this all mean? What is the new life that God is revealing in and through this time? We may only have glimpses of this new life; clarity is often elusive in the midst of transition. But I imagine that we are all, each in our own way, seeking meaning and new life in this time.
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As we continue to pray the prayer for our parish – and to pray many other prayers both with each other and within the silence of our hearts – know that you are in my prayers, and that I am grateful to be with you.
Faithfully in Christ,