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Prayer for the Time of COVID-19
May we who are merely inconvenienced
Remember those whose lives are at stake.
May we who have no risk factors
Remember those most vulnerable.
May we who have the luxury of working from home
Remember those who must choose between preserving their health or making their rent.
May we who have the flexibility to care for our children when their schools close
Remember those who have no options.
May we who have to cancel our trips
Remember those that have no safe place to go.
May we who are losing our margin money in the tumult of the economic market
Remember those who have no margin at all.
May we who settle in for a quarantine at home
Remember those who have no home.
As fear grips our country,
let us choose love.
During this time when we cannot physically wrap our arms around each other,
Let us yet find ways to be the loving embrace of God to our neighbors.
– From the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Norwich
Invitation to Solidarity
Sunday, May 24, 2020
Throughout human history, countless people have been poor, vulnerable, or oppressed in some way. Those holding positions of authority within systems of power secure their own privilege, comfort, and wealth—almost always at the expense of those most on the margins. Much of history has been recorded to hide this fact and instead celebrates the so-called “winners.” I call this systemic reality a form of sin, or what the apostle Paul describes as the “the world” (Ephesians 2:1–2). This type of corporate evil is often culturally agreed-upon, admired, and deemed necessary, as is normally the case when a country goes to war, spends most of its budget on armaments, admires luxuries over necessities, entertains itself to death, or pollutes its common water and air.
The hidden nature of systemic oppression makes it all the more remarkable that the revelation of God in the Bible is written from the perspective of the oppressed. The Bible reveals a liberating path of humility, compassion, and nonviolence in the face of oppression that culminates in the life, ministry, and state-sponsored execution of Jesus.
We see in the Gospels that the people who tend to follow Jesus are the ones on the margins: the lame, poor, blind, prostitutes, drunkards, tax collectors, and foreigners. He lived in close proximity to and in solidarity with the excluded ones in his society. Those on the inside and at the center of power are the ones who crucify him: elders, chief priests, teachers of the Law, scribes, and Roman occupiers. Yet we still honor people in these latter roles and shun the ones in the former.
For the first three hundred years after Jesus’ death, Christians were the oppressed minority. But by the year 400 C.E., Christians had changed places. We moved from hiding in the catacombs to presiding in the basilicas. That is when we started reading the Bible not as subversive literature, the story of the oppressed, but as establishment literature to justify the status quo of people in power.
When Christians began to gain positions of power and privilege, they also began to ignore segments of Scriptures, especially the Sermon on the Mount. Our position in society determines what we pay attention to and what systems we are willing to “go along with.” This is what allowed “Christian” empires throughout history to brutalize and oppress others in the name of God. Sadly, this is still the case today.
But when the Bible is read through the eyes of solidarity—what we call the “preferential option for the poor” or the “bias from the margins”—it will always be liberating, transformative, and empowering in a completely different way. Read this way, Scripture cannot be used by those with power to oppress or impress. The question is no longer “How can I maintain my special and secure status?” It is “How can we all grow and change together?” I think the acceptance of that invitation to solidarity with the larger pain of the world is what it means to be a “Christian.”
Gateway to Action & Contemplation:
What word or phrase resonates with or challenges me? What sensations do I notice in my body? What is mine to do?
Prayer for Our Community:
O Great Love, thank you for living and loving in us and through us. May all that we do flow from our deep connection with you and all beings. Help us become a community that vulnerably shares each other’s burdens and the weight of glory. Listen to our hearts’ longings for the healing of our world. [Please add your own intentions.] . . . Knowing you are hearing us better than we are speaking, we offer these prayers in all the holy names of God, amen.
Story from Our Community:
As a nurse practitioner, since the onset of the Covid-19 epidemic, I have never worked harder or experienced more stress in this role. So much has changed in my life. Reading the Daily Meditations and my Centering Prayer practice have been two things that have carried over from my “old life.” These practices remind me I am part of a greater whole. My purpose in life is not finding emotional or physical comfort for myself, but for others. –Sharon S.
Revitalizing the Christian imagination through painting, poetry, music, and more:
https://artandtheology.org/ Holy Saturday
Revitalizing the Christian imagination through painting, poetry, music, and more
Again the Lord spoke to Ahaz, saying, Ask a sign of the Lord your God; let it be deep as Sheol or high as heaven. But Ahaz said, I will not ask, and I will not put the Lord to the test. Then Isaiah said: “Hear then, O house of David! Is it too little for you to weary mortals, that you weary my God also? Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Look, the young woman is with child and shall bear a son, and shall name him Immanuel.”
It was an old world, a weary world. It was a world of nightmares and yet a world in which a dream had not died. A dream of love and peace, a hope for justice and kindness.
It was a world that had almost forgotten to expect anything or anyone new. It was a world governed by the ambition of an empire, the craven patterns of living in a colony of this empire.
And so we, like they so many years ago, follow the predictable paths of apparently normal lives. We expect things might get a little worse and sometimes a little better. The numbness of the normal.
And yet among us there are those who bear the dream of something new, of the possibility of someone new. They bear the memory and hope of birth.
The gospel stories of the birth of Jesus take shape within the suffering of centuries, they are written on the winds of memory. They are stories about the small yet persistent possibility of something or someone new. They are the dangerous memories of birth and rebirth.
The dream of another way of being is as small and fragile as a baby. The child struggles to be born, the parents of this small hope struggle to bring it into the world. A few, those who are poor and who have nothing left but hope, recognize hope when they see it. Then as now, those who no longer expect anything from the empire are able to recognize hope – and love – when they see it.
This is a time to welcome the possibility of newness in our lives and in our world. It is a season to welcome the newcomers, whether they be babies or refugees, who arrive in our old world. They burst upon our lives as the promise of another way of being.
Let us pray
O Jesus may we draw near to you in this Advent time so we can learn how to hope and to love in small and splendid ways, how to believe that something new is coming to birth in our lives and in our world. Amen.
DR. MARY JO LEDDY is a writer, speaker, theologian and social activist and is widely recognized for her work with refugees at Toronto’s Romero House. She is the author of At the Border Called Hope: Where Refugees are Neighbours, Our Friendly Local Terrorist and The Other Face of God: When the Stranger Calls Us Home. In 1996 she received the Order of Canada.