Covid-19SLD Blog

Global Ecumenical Call to Prayer for Covid – 3/26/21

Friday, 26 March 2021 – Day Five
Prayers for Protection

(With over 209 million people being vaccinated, we pray for an equitable distribution of vaccines, especially in low income countries so that people everywhere will be protected.)*

 

Opening Prayer

God, as our heavenly Father,
you are gracious and merciful, abounding in steadfast love.
You are good to all and your compassion is over all that you have made.
Gather us together, as one family.
Envelope us in your immeasurable goodness and generosity that, we too,
may recognize that bond that unites us and the dignity and worth of every human being,
never favouring one person or group over another,
but together seeking justice, equity, protection, health for every human being.
We ask this all in the name of your child, Jesus,
who in the manger and on the cross showed complete solidarity,
and now through the Holy Spirit continually opens ways of justice. Amen.

 

Scripture Reading: Isaiah 58: 6- 12

6 Is not this the fast that I choose: to loose the bonds of injustice, to undo the thongs of the yoke,
to let the oppressed go free, and to break every yoke? Is it not to share your bread with the hungry, and bring the homeless poor into your house; when you see the naked, to cover them, and not to hide yourself from your own kin? Then your light shall break forth like the dawn, and your healing shall spring up quickly; your vindicator shall go before you, the glory of  the Lord shall be your rear guard. Then you shall call, and the Lord will answer; you shall cry for help, and he will say, Here I am. If you remove the yoke from among you, the pointing of the finger, the speaking of evil, 10 if you offer your food to the hungry and satisfy the needs of the afflicted, then your light shall rise in the darkness and your gloom be like the noonday. 11 The Lord will guide you continually, and satisfy your needs in parched places, and make your bones strong; and you shall be like a watered garden, like a spring of water, whose waters never fail. 12 Your ancient ruins shall be rebuilt; you shall raise up the foundations of many generations;
you shall be called the repairer of the breach, the restorer of streets to live in.

Word of God! Word of Life!
Thanks be to God!

 

Reflection

Protection. Masks, distancing, hand washing, sheltering. These protective behaviors have become common during this year of COVID. But it took an extraordinary collaboration of organizations and governments to expedite research and develop safe vaccines. Vaccines save millions of lives each year, through a simple method. They train the body’s immune system to recognize harmful viruses or bacteria by injecting a harmless piece of that virus into the body. Your body’s natural germ fighting cells learn to recognize the harmless piece of virus and prepare antibodies in case the virus ever returns. Vaccines help your body remember.

Since the earliest Chinese and Indian methods of inoculation, the methods of vaccination have become normal. But a closer look reveals a strange logic. The cause becomes the cure.

Numbers 21:4-9 recounts a story when the Israelites were in the midst of the Exodus. Suffering from thirst and hunger in the wilderness, a new threat emerged. They encountered poisonous snakes with deadly venom. What to do? The Lord told Moses to fix a serpent to a pole. When someone is bitten by a serpent, they should look to the serpent on the staff, and they will be healed. The cause becomes the cure. Today a snake on a pole is a symbol for the medical profession. This caduceus is a symbol of healing.

The Gospel of John does not miss the parallel between the caduceus and Jesus being lifted up on a tree. The cross is the sign of cosmic healing for all who look upon Christ and remember. But a closer look reveals that Jesus’s message of healing also operated by a strange logic.

Religious and social laws of the day demanded that the sick or “impure” be kept at a distance. In an honour/shame system, a touch of impurity would contaminate the pure. But Jesus proclaimed a message of mercy, where a touch of grace heals and restores all that is wounded. The gospel upended the exclusionary logic of purity laws that lead to despair with the foolishly hopeful logic of love that holds in order to heal.

For a year we have embraced the strange logic, that the cause of our grief, physical distancing is part of the cure that can protect one another. As the prophet Isaiah recalls, our self-limitation is a holy fast that can lighten the burden of suffering with the knowledge that our restraint protects our neighbour. This strange logic even brings hope in the form of a vaccine where a bit of the cause becomes the cure. Now we seek the wisdom to distribute these vaccines to the most vulnerable, ensure just and equitable access, and sensitize people to the importance of remembering safe preventative practices until we see this journey through.

As we find our way through this wilderness to the day when we can safely gather again, may we look to the one fixed to the cross, and remember the holy and healing logic of life that comes through self-giving.

 

Prayers of Intercession

Remembering your love that encompasses all and your call to solidarity, we come before you O God with our prayer:

O God, you like a mother, gather all peoples under your wings, no one is excluded, awaken in us that love which gives itself in care and commitment for the safety and protection of all. Turn, O God,

and deliver us!

O God, our creator, as hands are outstretched and arms are waiting for the vaccine, push us to find ways of equitable distribution that all available resources be allocated without discrimination and without unequal treatment. Turn, O God,

and deliver us!

O God, our guardian, every human being carries your image. You desire that all may have life and have it abundantly. Break down barriers of wealth and illusions of superiority that all may enjoy the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health as a basic human right. Turn, O God,

and deliver us!

O God, our refuge, sustain all medical workers, nurses, doctors, attendants, all hospital and clinic workers. Strengthen them in their expertise so that the number of deaths be minimized, lives preserved, protect them as they take great risk themselves. Turn, O God,

and deliver us!

O God, our hope, inspire scientists and lab workers in their continual search to improve the vaccine. Motivate pharmaceutical companies to seek rapid and just distribution without thinking first about profit. Turn, O God,

and deliver us!

O God, our ark, gather and protect the most vulnerable, those at the greatest risk of becoming ill, shield them and all of us from the raging waters of the pandemic. Bring a swift end to the virus and the suffering it causes. Turn, O God,

and deliver us!

O God, our truth, embolden religious leaders to confront unsubstantiated rumours and conspiracy theories that undermine public trust in science and in health authorities. Encourage them to speak up for the marginalized so that public policy decisions benefit all equally. Turn, O God,

and deliver us!

 O God, our ruler, sway the governments of this world to speak truth, to provide correct and honest information and equitable policies of protection and care that the pandemic may be controlled and ended. Turn, O God,

and deliver us!

O God, our sustainer, support and preserve all workers and businesses that long-term hardship to the economy be avoided and that a peaceful and prosperous environment be created in which all are satisfied. Turn, O God,

and deliver us!

O God, hold in your tender embrace all who will die this day. Into your hands, O God,

We entrust all our prayers. Amen.

Gathered into one family by the Holy Spirit, let us pray as Jesus taught us:

Our Father, in heaven…

 

Benediction

May the goodness and favour of the Lord our God,
Eternal Majesty, Incarnate Word, Abiding Spirit
Embrace all creation
May the unconditional love of the Triune God
Envelop all in justice and peace.
O prosper the work of our hands that your shalom reigns. Amen.

 

 

The Day 6 Prayers of Hope have been written by Lieut-Colonel Jayne Roberts, Territorial Secretary for Spiritual Life Development in the UKI Territory

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