march 29th, 2020 – disorientation

*The liturgy ends with the opportunity to have communion together.  Before we begin, you may wish to have some bread and wine/juice ready.

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.


Psalm 27 (click here for audio link)

Lord, You are our light and our salvation
Why should we be afraid
Lord, You are our shelter, protector and defender
Why should we be afraid


Hear us O Lord, answer our prayers
Have mercy on us, Our hearts … have heard You say


Come, come with Me, Our hearts will say,
Lord we are coming, Lord, you say,
Come, come with Me, Our hearts will say,
Lord we are coming,  O Lord

Let’s spend a few moments in prayer.  After each section there is space for silence, in which you can voice your own prayers: (click here for audio link)


God of kindness,

you gave your only Son,

because you loved the world so much.

We pray for the peace of the world.

Move among us by your Spirit,

break down barriers

of fear, suspicion, and hatred.

Heal the human family of its divisions

and unite in us the bonds of justice and peace.


We pray for our country.

Enrich our common life;

strengthen the forces of truth and goodness;

teach us to share prosperity,

that those whose lives are impoverished

may pass from need and despair

to dignity and joy.

We pray for those who suffer.

Surround them with your love,

support them with your strength,

console them with your comfort,

and give them hope

and courage beyond themselves.


We pray for families,

for those whom we love.

Protect them at home;

support them in times of difficulty and anxiety,

that we may grow together

in mutual love and understanding,

and rest content in one another.


We pray for the Church.

Keep her true to the Gospel

and responsive to the gifts and needs of all.

Make known your love and saving power in Jesus Christ

by the witness of our faith,

our worship

and our lives.
I waited patiently for the Lord
     he inclined and heard my cry
He brought me up out of the pit
     out of the miry clay


I will sing, sing a new song
     I will sing, sing a new song
How long to sing this song
     how long to sing this song
You set my feet upon a rock
     You made my footsteps firm
Many will see
     many will see and hear
This past week was my foray into working from home.  While the commute time has significantly decreased and the dress code has become more lenient, it’s been a little disorientating trying to find a rhythm and structure in this new context.  Several times I found myself wandering around the house feeling lost, inevitably looking for my compass bearings in the snack food section of our kitchen.  I think all of us, in a variety of ways, are feeling the strain of navigating the disruption and ensuing chaos of the COVID 19 pandemic.   In this, I have been reminded of Walter Brueggemann’s ideas around orientation, disorientation, and reorientation.  Although if I’m honest, what I really feel an affinity with is the movement from orientation to disorientation. That being said, I have found myself spending time reading through the psalms.
Just a quick side note to refresh our memories: Brueggemann suggests that human experience consists of movements between orientation, disorientation, and new orientation.  In the place of orientation life is good. things make sense, and there is gratitude for God’s ordering of life.  In disorientation, the ordered world has come undone, life is turned upside down; sadness, anger, disillusionment bring questions about God’s ordering of life. In new orientation there is resolution of disorientation.  A new and deeper place of orientation is established, along with an accompanying awareness of and gratitude for God’s faithfulness.  Brueggemann points to the psalms as a place to read the written songs and prayers reflecting on experiences of orientation, disorientation, and new orientation. (His book is titled The Spirituality of the Psalms if you want to go deeper.)
Back to the psalms….the psalms are shaped by the full spectrum of life experience.  Some speak to God’s dependability, faithfulness, and care while others question the very existence of God’s presence.  There are psalms depicting a loving, gracious, and forgiving Creator while others paint pictures of a God who turns God’s back on those who fail.  Some are filled with pain – they are dark, desperate, and even vengeful.  At the same time, there are psalms expressing joy, hope, love, and generosity.  It doesn’t take long to discover that the personal experiences of the writers shaped the way they wrote; their vantage points shifting as life circumstances changed.  That hits closer to home than maybe I care to admit, but also brings with it a level of comfort in knowing that I am not alone in this.  The psalmists were ok in honest offerings of their experiences, secure in their understanding that God had the ability to hold both tensions on their behalf.  That is good news for us because it means that God hears our questions, our anger, our fear, our pain, and our critique without it negating the affection we carry for God and our desire to follow after God.  God has the ability to hold space for all of our experiences – even the ones that are seem contradictory – to make it possible for us to find our way into a deeper place.  That brings me peace and gives me some amount of hope as I navigate through my place of disorientation.
In my reading last week I was drawn to Psalm 77 and Psalm 40.  They served as an inner monologue for me, allowing me to feel both despair and hope.  For me, the juxtaposition of the two Psalms worked as a kind of call and answer.  Psalm 77 giving voice to the place where I presently find myself and Psalm 40 reminding me of God’s faithfulness. 


Peace Sign and Psalm 77 and Psalm 40

And when it’s all a blur, You are the hard line
In the disorder, You are the peace sign
And when the riots stir, You are the sound mind
In the disorder, You are the peace sign
I cry aloud to God;
    I cry aloud, and he hears me.
 In times of trouble I pray to the Lord;
    all night long I lift my hands in prayer,
    but I cannot find comfort.
When I think of God, I sigh;
    when I meditate, I feel discouraged.


I waited patiently for the Lord;
    he inclined to me and heard my cry.
He drew me up from the desolate pit,    
out of the miry bog,
and set my feet upon a rock,
    making my steps secure.


And when it’s all a blur, You are the hard line
In the disorder, You are the peace sign
And when the riots stir, You are the sound mind
In the disorder, You are the peace sign


I spend the night in deep thought;    
     I meditate, and this is what I ask myself:
Has the Lord stopped loving us?    
     Does his promise no longer stand?
Has God forgotten to be merciful?
    Has anger taken the place of his compassion?”
He put a new song in my mouth,    
     a song of praise to our God.
Many will see and be amazed,
    and put their trust in the Lord.


And when it’s all a blur, You are the hard line
In the disorder, You are the peace sign
And when the riots stir, You are the sound mind
In the disorder, You are the peace sign
Then I thought, “To this I will appeal:
    I will remember your great deeds, Lord;
I will recall the wonders you did in the past.
    I will think about all that you have done;
I will meditate on all your mighty acts.”
May all who seek you    
     rejoice and be glad in you;
may those who love your salvation
    say continually, “Great is the Lord!”
As for me, I am poor and needy,
    but the Lord takes thought for me.
You are my help and my deliverer;
    do not delay, O my God.


One of the ways we connect with the presence of Jesus is through the act of taking communion.  The bread, the wine – the body, the blood of Jesus.  They are tangible, physical, tactile reminders of who Jesus is.  As we eat, we take in Jesus so to speak.  We are reminded of how great his love is for us – that he loves us with everything that He is.   So in the action of eating  may we encounter the presence of Christ.  Jesus, who sits with us in whatever places we find ourselves in, promises to always be with us.  And in that place may we find hope.
Let’s take a moment of silence for prayer and then as the music plays take in Jesus through the action of eating the bread and drinking the wine.

Holy Communion (click here for audio link)


Gracious Father we give you praise

     and thanks for this holy communion

The body and blood of your beloved Son


The body is broken

     God’s love poured open to make us new

Lord make us new


Abba Father we bless your name

     and take part in this holy communion

Make us all one to love like your Son


Let’s pray our closing prayer:  (click here for audio link)


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.


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