Grieve and honor the losses of this past year

March 1, 2021 - Pastor Cathy Stengel

Dear friends, as we continue our way through this holy season of Lent, it feels vitally important to me that we pause to grieve and honor the losses of this past year. In mid-March, church, and life as we knew it came to a screeching halt, and we will never be the same. Our theme for Lent is healing – and in the journey of healing, there is grieving. Pray this prayer with me this season... and know that we will always be different, but we will also carry on as Christ’s beloved. 

Grieving for Lives Lost
We gather in spirit to mourn those whose lives have been lost, around us and among us.
For so many, this pandemic has taken loved ones.
We mourn the loss of those close to us and those whose names we do not know.
We mourn those who perished while working to save other lives.
We mourn those who died, not of the pandemic, but of other causes.
And we mourn the loss, in many cases, of our ability to be with them as they passed, our loss of gathering together for comfort in the ways we needed so much.
We mourn this loss of life.
We honor and remember these beloveds.
We pray for comfort and peace.

Grieving for Loss of Livelihood
We mourn the loss of livelihoods and security. 
For so many, this year, the pandemic and all it
brought with it has taken the security
of food, shelter, care for families, and medical care.
We mourn the loss of businesses that could not withstand the circumstances.
These were not just businesses, but dreams born of passion and hard work.
We mourn those who find themselves needing to rely on others for help
when what they really want to do is to be able to help others.
We mourn this loss of livelihood.
We honor and remember the dreams now deferred.
We pray for sustenance and resilience.

Grieving the Loss of Love
We mourn this night the loss of love.
This year has not been kind.  Lives and relationships have been lost.
We mourn too many lives lost to brutality and violence.
We mourn the loss of our ability to always love one another despite our differences.
We mourn that black and brown peoples have suffered, not only from higher covid fatalities, but also the pandemic of racism that harms us all.
We mourn this loss of love.
We honor and remember the work of prophets who proclaim justice.
We pray for compassion and change.

Loss of Liveliness
We mourn this night the loss of liveliness.
For so many, this year has robbed us
of our energy, our enthusiasm, and our sense of well-being.
We mourn teachers and leaders and caregivers and workers
who are struggling to help those in their care,
themselves exhausted and needing the sustenance they give to others.
We mourn the loss of all who are suffering from anxiety and depression,
who are finding it difficult to live each day with fullness or to find hope for tomorrow.
We mourn those we have lost to suicide.
We mourn those who find themselves addicted to substances
in order to ease the pain that feels unbearable.
We mourn those who are experiencing their place of shelter
as an abusive place from which they struggle to escape.
We mourn this loss of liveliness.
We honor and remember that each person is precious and whole.
We pray for recovery and renewed vigor.

Keep the Christ Light Burning
Beyond Advent, beyond Christmas, it is always bright and right to light a candle and call it the Christ Candle.
Light it as a sign of our belief… that as Christ endured the suffering on the cross
Christ has walked with us during our suffering this past year, every single step.
We believe that the Light of Christ has come and is coming.
The light of Christ casts its glow on all of the prayers we have prayed.
This light resides within us, perhaps dim for a time,
but always lit–an ember of the Holy inside us.
This light reminds us that we are not alone.

Amen, and I am blessed to be blessed among you,

Pastor Cathy