Devotion - May 14

We have been reflecting on worship all this week, and most of us are used to the idea of morning devotions. I wonder how familiar you are with praying at different hours of the day -- midday, at the end of work or evening?

This past Christmas, David's sister sent us the book Every Moment Holy, a collection of liturgies written by Douglas McKelvery. There are liturgies (prayers & readings) for different times of day as well as liturgies for work ("For the preparation of the meal" or "For Waiters and Waitresses"), for creation and recreation, celebration, petition and provision, laments, blessings -- even liturgies of the moment (for practicing the presence of God). The prayers are written to keep us alert to the presence of God in every moment and every activity. [The foreword to the collection references John Baillie's book A Diary of Private Prayer. The link will take you to today's prayer from Baillie's classic book!]

You've noticed that I practice a daily morning liturgy taken from Psalms and Proverbs -- I usually include those in the readings. Tonight I wanted to encourage you (and me!) to adopt the practice of a prayer to end the workday. One of the challenges of this COVID-19 experience for me has been to have any sense of daily rhythm. I get to the evening and wonder what I've been doing all day!

Setting patterns of daily prayer help to organize time and space in awareness of Jesus' presence and submission to God's will (to be one on earth as it is in heaven ...). Many pray at midday. I've tried -- but failed -- to remember to do this many times. However, an end of day prayer ritual has become important. Even when my work will continue with evening Zoom meetings, something about entrusting the daytime work to the Lord is important for realigning heart, soul, mind and body around Jesus.

The evening liturgy in McKelvery's book is fairly long, so here to close your work day is another prayer borrowed from Every Moment Holy that you may find helpful.

"A liturgy for those flooded by Too Much Information" (pg.'s 157-159).

The voice of the Lord is over the waters.
The God of glory thunders,
The Lord, over many waters.
The voice of the Lord is powerful;
The voice of the Lord is full of majesty.
Psalm 29:3-4

In a world so wired and interconnected,
our anxious hearts are pummeled by
an endless barrage of troubling news.
We are daily aware of more grief, O Lord,
than we can rightly consider,
of more suffering and scandal
than we can respond to, of more
hostility, hatred, horror, and injustice
than we can engage with compassion.

But you, O Jesus, are not disquieted
by such news of cruelty and terror and war [and pandemic].
You are neither anxious nor overwhelmed.
You carry the full weight of the suffering
of a broken world when you hung upon
the cross, and you carry it still.

When the cacophony of universal distress
unsettles us, remind us that we are but small
and finite creatures, never designed to carry
the vast abstractions of great burdens,
for our arms are too short, and our strength
is too small. Justice and mercy, healing and
redemption are your great labors.

And yes, it is your good pleasure to accomplish
such works through your people,
but you have never asked any one of us
to undertake more than your grace
will enable us to fulfill.

Guard us then from shutting down our empathy
or walling off our hearts because of the glut of
unactionable misery that floods our awareness.

You have many children in many places
around this globe, Move each of our hearts
to compassionately respond to those needs
that intersect our actual lives, that in all places
your body might be actively addressing
the pain and brokenness of this world,
each of us liberated and empowered by
your Spirit to fulfill the small part
of your redemptive work assigned to us.

Give us discernment
     in the face of troubling news reports
Give us discernment
     to know when to pray,
     when to speak out,
     when to act,
     and when to simply shut off our screens
     and our devices,
     and to sit quietly
     in your presence,

Casting the burdens of this world
upon the strong shoulders
of the one who
is able to bear them up.

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