How can we sing the Lord’s song in a strange land?

How will I pray this week, when I cannot get to church?

Palm Sunday

Even though I walk through the dark valley I will fear no evil
We want to worship together and sing our hymns
We want to walk together and enjoy the day
We want to celebrate because today we remember Christ coming as the King.
How can we sing – when we cannot gather?
It feels wrong to be away, and I feel sad to be away

Be with me Lord in my apartness,
Remind me you are with me always.
Give me strength and patience to walk at your pace.
Help me sing Hosanna, even on my own, and help me hear the echo of 100 hosannas as we welcome you as Lord and king

Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday

How do we find spiritual peace when the world and the soul are troubled? You might like to use this psalm over the next three days.
Psalm 84 is a psalm which both acknowledges the place of the temple (or church) as a place of worship – ‘How lovely is your dwelling place’, ‘better to be a doorkeeper’ etc – but which also acknowledges we can find God and know his blessing when we are unable to get to the Temple.
The birds can nest safely in the Temple, but ‘blessed are those whose strength is in God, who go through the dry valley’.
Each day, ask for the knowledge of God’s blessing as we endure being in a ‘dry valley’ but pray also that we may bring hope and peace, ‘rain’ to that valley.
The person in the psalm who goes through this valley makes it a place of springs, their presence brings the rains. We can bring hope to others.
Notice also that those who live in God’s house are blessed, but so are those whose strength is in God (even though they are away) and the psalm ends by affirming that all who trust in God are blessed.
Pray that blessing on our communities as we endure a dry valley.

Psalm 84

1 How lovely is your dwelling place, O Lord of hosts!
2 My soul longs, indeed it faints for the courts of the Lord;
my heart and my flesh sing for joy to the living God.
3 Even the sparrow finds a home, and the swallow a nest for herself,
where she may lay her young,
at your altars, O Lord of hosts, my King and my God.
4 Blessed are those who live in your house, ever singing your praise.
5 Blessed are those whose strength is in you,
in whose heart are the highways to Zion.
6 As they go through the valley of Baca
they make it a place of springs;
the early rain also covers it with pools.
7 They go from strength to strength;
the God of gods will be seen in Zion.
8 O Lord God of hosts, hear my prayer; give ear, O God of Jacob!
9 Behold our shield, O God; look on the face of your anointed.
10 For a day in your courts is better than a thousand elsewhere.
I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God
than live in the tents of wickedness.
11 For the Lord God is a sun and shield;
he bestows favour and honour.
No good thing does the Lord withhold
from those who walk uprightly.
12 O Lord of hosts, blessed is everyone who trusts in you.

Maundy Thursday

We celebrate the Last Supper unable to eat together as a church.
We could not process in celebration on Palm Sunday, and we cannot gather to remember and share a meal today.
Someone has commented that in this crisis we have to endure a Fast of the Sacrament and today of all days it will hit home.
Maybe the challenge is to acknowledge what we are missing, and to reflect on what this signifies; not to take it for granted.
Rather than togetherness, we have separation
Rather than communion, we have isolation
Rather than eating and drinking in remembrance,
we can only remember eating and drinking/partaking in the Sacrament
After our service, we would strip the altar of its vestments and pray.
We can make space to pray – we remember Jesus praying in Gethsemane, and prayer can be hard, very hard; and the disciples praying, except that they fell asleep: “Could you not even pray for an hour?” Jesus asks as he hoped for their shared prayer with him.
Can we pray today, make space to pray .. but it is difficult so be warned!

Good Friday

How do we pray today and remember this most public of events when we are at home.
Along with reading the Gospel account, and finding some of our favourite hymns to listen to, we may want to focus on the words of Jesus, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”
We may feel forsaken by God, we may feel lost and uncertain, but Jesus has not only shared that sense but for him, the forsaken-ness was much deeper.

The Cross is a place where we can cry, where we can ask “Why?” where we can express our emotions to God. And even in his own agony, Jesus was still concerned for his mother, for others, whether the soldiers who killed him, the others executed alongside him. In his deep darkness, he is with us in our weakness.

Easter Sunday

Let all the world in every corner sing
‘My God and King!’
The Church with psalms must shout,
No door can keep them out,
But above all the heart must bear the longest part.
Let all the world in every corner sing
‘My God and King!’

Not a hymn associated with Easter, but maybe quite topical with the doors of church shut. In all our corners let us sing “My God and King”, let us sing “Jesus Christ is risen today, Alleluia”. The Resurrection is not stopped by a virus; not even a brutal death, and burial in a tomb could destroy the love and life of God in Jesus.

But above all the heart must bear the longest part.

Easter won’t be pure joy and exhilaration this year. The Resurrection is sure, but the pains and problems in the world don’t just vanish. As we live in the real world so we also proclaim, look forward to and are sustained by the reality of our hope in Jesus.

Death is not the end,
The world as we know it will be transformed
All that is good will be held and kept safe in God
There will be no more crying and sorrow and pain and death
May our hearts be strengthened in hope and joy as we hear and know the truth of the resurrection. May the peace of God garrison our hearts today.