Pope Francis and Archbishop Justin Welby urged Christians worldwide to pause at noon on Wednesday to say the Lord’s Prayer. I gathered in the sanctuary at St. Peter’s, placed my cell phone on a music stand at the altar, and streamed live from to Facebook page as 43 others joined me in reciting the Lord’s Prayer. It was a powerful moment as I imagined two billion Christians saying this prayer in their own language.
What might the Lord’s Prayer teach us about the trying times in which we live?
Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name…
God is still God. While we may be experiencing the confusion and anxiety of losing our control over this situation, we remember that we worship a God who created the heavens and the earth. We worship a God who became flesh, who bore our infirmities, who knows our deepest pains, desires, disappointments, and longings. God is still God. Nothing will change that.
Thy Kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven…
We do not know the outcome of this crisis, but we do know from Holy Scripture and from our faith that God’s will is for us to be reconciled to God and to each other. In this time of uncertainty, we should hold on to all that is true, loving our neighbors as ourselves and lifting one another up in prayer. If you know someone who is lonely, sick, or grieving, give them a call or send them a card. Love your neighbor.
Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us…
Be reconciled to each other. Know now, more than ever, that our lives depend on one another. And as we pray for each other, remember that countless others are praying for you. It is easy to be overcome by the anxiety of this crisis. Be sure to take care of yourself. Trust that God will provide what we need. We do not have control over this situation, but we can control how we respond, one day at a time. Pray for one another, reach out, and trust that you belong to God.
And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil…
I don’t know about you, but the temptation for me is to simply give up, to withdraw, to spiritually isolate instead of leaning on those around me. This time of uncertainty has the potential to bring out the best or the worst in each of us. As we recite the Lord’s Prayer, may we pray for strength and courage to follow the way of Jesus, to trust that all is in his hands, and love the world for which he gave his life.
For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever and ever. Amen.
This world belongs to God, and so do you. As we enter the holiest season of the Church year, may we remember that there is nowhere we can go and nothing we can do that will separate us from God’s love. In our baptism we are marked as Christ’s own forever. Even in death, we belong to God. Though we’re unable to gather as a community for Holy Week and Easter, we must remember that there is nothing in this world, not even a pandemic, that can keep Christ from rising. He has conquered death and sin once and for all.
In a few days the clergy and music staff of St. Peter’s will gather to observe Holy Week and Easter, shared through live-stream worship. Also, we are developing resources for individuals and families to observe this season in their homes. The situation may change in the coming days, but no matter how we celebrate, we cling to this eternal truth: Christ has died. Christ is risen. Christ will come again.
The Reverend Jacob E. Pierce, Priest-in-Charge