march 22, 2020 – peace


As we prepare to move through this liturgy, let’s take a moment to be still. 


Let’s pray:

Compassionate God we come to you in our need

confessing to you what we often

dare not admit to ourselves:


it is hard to celebrate life

when faced with the mystery of death.


It is hard to look to the future when surrounded

by the uncertainty of the present;

it is hard to embrace the day

when hope is eclipsed by despair.


Help us this day to know you and find you

in the whole of life:

in its beginnings and in its endings.

May we discover you in our pain as well as our joy,

in our doubts as well as our believing.


Help us to receive this day, and in the days to come,

comfort from your word and light for our darkness.



Hear the voice of Jesus speaking to us, ‘Come to me, all of you who are tired and have heavy loads. I will give you rest.  Accept my work and learn from me. I am gentle and humble in spirit. And you will find rest for your souls.’ 

  Matthew 11:28,29


We Come  (click here for audio)


Our hearts are empty without you

Barren and cold but for the bold hope you, yourself planted within


In the mighty name of God

In the saving name of Jesus

In the strong name of the Spirit

We come, we cry, we watch, we wait, we look, we long for You


Psalm 139:1-10

You have searched me, Lord,
    and you know me.
You know when I sit and when I rise;
    you perceive my thoughts from afar.
You discern my going out and my lying down;
    you are familiar with all my ways.

Before a word is on my tongue
    you, Lord, know it completely.
You hem me in behind and before,
    and you lay your hand upon me.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me,
    too lofty for me to attain.


Where can I go from your Spirit?
    Where can I flee from your presence?

If I go up to the heavens, you are there;
    if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.
If I rise on the wings of the dawn,
    if I settle on the far side of the sea,
 even there your hand will guide me,
    your right hand will hold me fast.


Psalm 46:1-3

God is our refuge and strength,
    an ever-present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way
    and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea,
though its waters roar and foam
    and the mountains quake with their surging.

The Lord Almighty is with us.

When we pray, we bring two tensions together in the name of Jesus—we stand in the presence of the pain, worry, and darkness of the world and we kneel in the presence of the creator of the world. In praying for God to fulfill God’s ancient promises, may we discover that our own pain, our own darkness, our own worry is somehow being dealt with as well.

 -NT Wright



Hear our cries Lord, hear our prayers

Take our burdens, calm our fears


God hear our prayers as we lift them to heaven

We’re praying that you will receive and embrace them

The hopes of the empty, the cries of the broken

We’re reaching our hands out, oh Lord will you hold them


God hear our prayers, we lift them to you

God hear our prayers, Lord make our hearts true


Let’s spend a few moments in pray.  After each section there is space for silence, in which you can voice your own prayers.


Gracious God, rejoicing in your blessings,

trusting in your loving care for all,

we bring to you our prayers for the world.


We pray for the created world:

for those who rebuild where things have been destroyed;

for those who fight hunger, poverty, and disease;

for those who have power to bring change for the better and to renew hope.




We pray for our country:

for those in leadership;

who frame our laws and shape our common life;

who keep the peace and administer justice;

for those who teach and those who heal

for all who serve the community




We pray for people in need:

those for whom life is a bitter struggle;

those whose lives are clouded by death or loss,

by pain or disability, by discouragement or fear,

by shame or rejection.




We pray for those in the circle of friendship and love around us:

children and parents; sisters and brothers; friends and neighbours;

and for those especially in our thoughts today…




We pray for the church in its stand with the poor,

in its love for the outcast and the ashamed,

in its service to the sick and the neglected,

in its proclamation of the Gospel,

in this land and in this place.




Eternal God:

hear our prayers, the spoken and the silent,

through Jesus Christ our Lord,

to whom with you and the Holy Spirit,

be all praise and glory for ever.




During the past few weeks there have been moments when I have experienced anxiety around what how the future will unfold in the face of the COVID-19 virus.  I’ve worried about family, I’ve worried about friends, I’ve worried about the economy, I’ve worried about people around the world.  Some of the worry I experience makes sense, it’s natural and there is nothing wrong with it. It’s right to be concerned for health and safety and people. Other times fear brings with it an irrationality that can be paralyzing and unhealthy.  I suspect I am not in this alone in this ‘Ping-Pong’ of emotion.


One of my favourite writers is Debbie Blue. Several years ago she wrote a reflection about fear and the presence of Jesus that has often served as a beacon for me amidst worry.  Perhaps you will find it helpful…  


Mark 4:35-41

As evening came, Jesus said to his disciples, “Let’s cross to the other side of the lake.” So they took Jesus in the boat and started out, leaving the crowds behind. But soon a fierce storm came up. High waves were breaking into the boat, and it began to fill with water.


Jesus was sleeping at the back of the boat with his head on a cushion. The disciples woke him up, shouting, “Teacher, don’t you care that we’re going to drown?”


When Jesus woke up, he rebuked the wind and said to the waves, “Silence! Be still!” Suddenly the wind stopped, and there was a great calm. Then he asked them, “Why are you afraid? Do you still have no faith?”


The disciples were absolutely terrified. “Who is this man?” they asked each other. “Even the wind and waves obey him!”


This crazy story is found in the gospel of Mark:  it’s a story in which the disciples face death and the one that is supposed to care for them sleeps.  In this account, the disciple’s storm is real, it is not a storm created from the musings of an anxiety-fuelled imagination.  They have very good reason to believe their death may be imminent.  A lot of them were fishermen, after all.  They weren’t city boy, land lovers scared of a minor squall.  They were highly experienced on the sea, and they realized they were going down.  This was a bad storm.


In a moment of terror, they scream at their leader who is fast asleep, ‘Don’t you care about us?!’  It’s actually a little hard for me to imagine.  Sleeping seems so indicative of carelessness.  And how would sleeping even be possible when you’re on a small sort of boat in a raging storm? I imagine the boat would have been tipping back and forth, heeling, like sail boats do, so that person would have to hold on if they didn’t want to slide right off into the water.  And the story says ‘the waves were breaking into their boat.’  The whole scene had to be very wet, very noisy, and very chaotic.


Could Jesus really sleep, rolling back and forth, with water crashing over him?  It’s an absurd image.


‘Who is this man?’ is the question the disciples ask in the story, and it’s not really answered.  Mark asks a lot more questions than he answers.  Maybe because questions prod the reader to respond.  Statements cut things off, in a way: they end in a period.  But questions sort of require relationship:  they require the listener to become engaged, to respond.  Maybe Mark writes with questions because living life with God, living life with a living being, is more like asking questions rat than knowing answers.


‘Who is this man?’  The implication of the question in the gospel story is really pretty important.  It implies that people who think they know Jesus, even people who become his disciples, may find themselves realizing that he’s unfamiliar.


So often what is brought out about this story is that Jesus is the victor in the struggle with chaos.  He stills the storm.  And that does seem to be what impresses the disciples.  It impresses me.  It’s so much what I want.  Chaos defeated.  But perhaps Jesus sleeping through the storm indicates that he’s a lot more relaxed about this so called chaos than we are.


Maybe Jesus sleeping in the storm gives us a glimpse of what faith looks like.  Maybe sometimes it looks more like sleeping that vigilance: an incredibly peaceful certainty that God will provide for our needs, a way of being so completely unthreatened, totally secure, complete faith in God as creator and sustainer of all, utter confidence that God will make things right.  Maybe faith could mean a relaxation so profound that one could sleep through the storm.


Perhaps this is the faith that the disciples lack in the boat in the storm.  In this story they don’t lack faith in Jesus’s ability to do something about the storm.  It seems like they expect he will.  That’s why they wake him up.


Maybe it’s not so much like:  What?  You have no faith?  Of course I’m going to fix this, you faithless people.  But more like:  What?  You have no faith?  You think if the storm tips us over and we start sinking to the bottom I wouldn’t be there with you? 


I don’t think the faith Jesus demonstrates as he sleeps, on the boat, in the storm, is the faith that we’ll all always be rescued from the chaos, the uncertainty, the deep.  I think it reaches deeper, if you will, reaches the deep.  I think the hope that faith promises is that your boat could shatter in a million pieces, and it would be okay.  There’s no place you can go, no thing you can be, nothing that can happen, that is beyond God’s reach.


If Jesus came to me in the middle of my anxiety and asked:  ‘Why are you afraid?  Have you no faith?’  I’d have to answer, ‘Well, I guess not, I’m not sleeping, I can’t sleep.  I’m afraid of the storm.  I’m afraid my boat is going to break in a million pieces.  I’m afraid to drown.’


Part of what is hopeful to me about this passage is that Jesus doesn’t abandon the disciples for being faithless cowards.


I think the faith that let Jesus sleep, must be really, profoundly, deeply, hopeful:  a faith not confined to shallow water and a quiet breeze, but one that extends through every storm, to every boat that has ever capsized, every sailor that ever sunk, to the bottom of the sea.


I think the faith that lets Jesus sleep is a faith that God reaches very far for us: if our boat is wrecked, if we’re drowning, or if, like the disciples, we have no faith.


The story points me, in my sleeplessness and my anxiety, to Jesus, whose sleeping bears witness to a promise.  The promise of a God who reaches beyond what we can ever comprehend to be with us.  It points to a God who becomes a vulnerable baby, dies a painful death, walks in the deep, calms the storm, reaches far, reaches deep, not necessarily to lift us out, but to walk with us there.  I hope, however much faith we lack, we can somehow, some way, go in peace, knowing God is with us.


I Lift My Eyes Up  (click here for audio)


I lift my eyes up to the mountains

Where does my help come from

My help comes from you, Maker of Heaven

Creator of the earth


Can you sing over me words of comfort

Can you satisfy me with sweet honey

Can you break through me with your strong hand

Can you undo me enough to heal me


Oh how I need you Lord, You are my only hope

You’re my only prayer

So I will wait for you to come and rescue me

Come and give me life


You take the weight from my shoulders

My hands were clenched now they’re open

I’ll take your goodness poured from the sky

Food from the ravens, water from the dry well


Let’s pray our closing prayer:


O Lord our God,

   as we have sinned,

      whether in word, or deed, or thought,

   forgive us all,

      for Thou art good and lovest humankind.


Grant us a peaceful and undisturbed sleep,

   and deliver us from all influence

      and temptation of the evil one.


Raise us up again in proper time,

   that we may glorify Thee

      as we learn to live alive in hope, victory,

   and power of the resurrection.


Thou art the eternal Father,

   the Only begotten Son,

      and the all holy, and good,

   and life-giving Spirit.

Now and ever, and unto the ages of ages.



Peace to you now, and in the coming week.


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