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Through the Spring and Summer, and now into Fall, we have borne the grief of a global pandemic, endured a massive loss of life and of livelihood, and protested escalating violence against Black Lives. Even as we wait on the help of Almighty God, we are compelled to stand up; to defend the cause of righteousness. With boldness in our prayers and by our actions we seek to redeem the soul of our nation.

Love Divine  (1 Corinthians 13:1-13, NRSV)

The Scripture reading is drawn from Sunday’s lesson for Oct0ber 25, 2020 ©Uniform Lessons Series, National Council of the Churches of Christ in the USA.

13:1 If I speak in the tongues of mortals and of angels, but do not have love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give away all my possessions, and if I hand over my body so that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.

Love is patient; love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

Love never ends. But as for prophecies, they will come to an end; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will come to an end. For we know only in part, and we prophesy only in part; 10 but when the complete comes, the partial will come to an end. 11 When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child; when I became an adult, I put an end to childish ways. 12 For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then we will see face to face. Now I know only in part; then I will know fully, even as I have been fully known. 13 And now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; and the greatest of these is love.

Litany in a Time of Pandemic, for use on Reformation Sunday

Today’s litany, is written by Mark Roth and Carol Divens-Roth of Pittsburgh Presbytery in response to a resolution adopted by the 224th General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (USA). The resolution calls the church to “commit to continuous discernment of how to meet the social justice, economic, and spiritual challenges of the pandemic. We set aside Sunday, October 25, 2020, Reformation Sunday, as a day of prayer for responding to those challenges.” It is used with permission.

L:  Why have you forgotten us completely? Why have you forsaken us these many days?

P:  Restore us to yourself, O Lord, that we may be restored, renew our days as of old.  (Lamentations 5:20-21)

L:  Creator God, from sanctuaries, family rooms, parking lots, and shelters, from north, south, east and west, we gather as your church to embody the Gospel of Jesus Christ, who is the Word made flesh.

P:  As we raise our prayers in this global crisis, raise us to lives bearing witness in word and work, heart and hand, prayer and practice for the healing of the world You so love.

L:  Hear our cries as we mourn the staggering loss of precious lives, more than one million worldwide. Hear the helpless outrage of the most deeply marginalized, many of whom are at the mercy of systems and structures which oppress. Hear the deepest sighs of those cut off from contact or who have no one to care.

P:  We pray for Black, Indigenous persons and People of Color,
for the LGBTQIA+ community, for immigrant communities,
for impoverished and working poor persons,
for people whose jobs and businesses are in jeopardy,
for homeless persons and those for whom home
offers no health or safety,
for those who are challenged in body, mind or spirit,
for older persons, for nursing home residents
and the hospitalized,
for those in prisons,
for those from high-risk communities who have
little choice about their jobs,
for all who have no access to adequate,
affordable health care, and
for nations already struggling with poverty, inequality
and exploitation of their resources.

All:  We repent of the role we have played in death-dealing injustice caused by our failure to recognize and love our neighbor. Forgive us. Help us to lay down our place of privilege and pick up the cross to enact the self-giving love of Jesus Christ.

L:  As we consider how to be and do church in the midst of uncertainty and conflicting opinions, guide us so that our choices honor You far above our own desires for normalcy, whatever that may mean.

P:  Inspire the same creativity you gave us when you made this world. Focus our decisions on how to fulfill the Great Ends of the Church, how to care for one another, and how to utilize the best evidence of science for the well-being of the world.

L:  God of all the nations, we pray for leaders in every land, including ours, to respond with wisdom and grace to this medical and economic cataclysm.

P:  May all seek your peace and justice for their people and for the world.

L:  Grant hope, courage and wisdom on behalf of children and youth who must now move forward into a future where dreams and stability have been radically altered.

P:  We commit to dismantling disparities in education and in access to nutrition, technology and necessary resources. We pray for parents and guardians to have the ability to swallow their own fears as they comfort children and tackle new math.

L:  With gratitude, we support and advocate for the safety of those who put themselves at risk, such as hospital and health care staff, public safety employees, educators and staff, public transportation providers, child care workers, volunteers at food banks and other outreach programs, and the many others whose lives and well-being are just as essential as their jobs.

P:  Show each of us the special gifts you have given so we may nurture the hero within to bring your love, your light and your hope to the world in the way we live as we follow Jesus Christ. Make us your new humans.

L:  On this day when we remember our rich heritage of faith, we join the great cloud of witnesses who trust you to lead us through the wilderness of this pandemic into a land overflowing with justice and peace for all.

ALL:  For surely I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord, plans for your welfare and not for harm, to give a future with HOPE. (Jeremiah 29:11)