In times of distress

Published 8:09 pm Tuesday, March 17, 2020

Getting your Trinity Audio player ready...

By Scott Baker

Within the Book of Common Prayer there is a section called The Great Litany. True to its name, it goes on for many, many pages. We pray for almost everything under the sun, and then some. There is some commentary (rare for The Book of Common Prayer) just following The Great Litany. It states, “…especially [suitable] in times of war, or of national anxiety, or of disaster. (BCP pg. 154)” With that statement in mind we recall the worlds of the first letter of Peter, “Cast all your anxiety on God for he cares for you. (I Peter 5:7)”

Here we are for the first time in living memory thrown into disorder by the COVID-19 virus and I can think of no better time for us as a nation to be at prayer. One of the petitions within The Great Litany states, “From lightning and tempest; from earthquake, fire, and flood; from plague, pestilence and famine, Good Lord, deliver us.” Surely, we pray those words with our whole hearts now that we are facing the first pandemic in a century.

Yet, even as we boldly and bravely face this new threat to our country, we do so confident in God’s love and protection for God’s people. God does not willingly inflict or harm his creation. Mutations and the like are the result of a fallen world that we inhabit. It is in the midst of these things that we claim the name given to Christ at his birth, Emmanuel, God with us. God is with us through the thick and thin of any crisis. It is his love that sustains, and upholds us.

As St. Paul writes in his letter to the church in Rome, “If God is for us, who is against us? He who did not withhold his own Son, but gave him up for all of us, will he not with him also give us everything else? Who will bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. Who is to condemn? It is Christ Jesus, who died, yes, who was raised, who is at the right hand of God, who indeed intercedes for us. Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will hardship, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril or sword? No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:31-39)”

We are beloved of God and are reassured with the love seen in Jesus of Nazareth.

In the meantime, we work alongside of God and take all due precautions to work to prevent the spread of this virus. Additionally, we turn to the solace of prayer for the power of God to save. Above all, we care for each other. Call a neighbor to check on them; make sure the elderly (those most at risk) are well and protected. And we say with all our heart, Good Lord, deliver us.

THE REV. SCOTT BAKER is the rector of Emmanuel Episcopal Church in Franklin. Contact him at 562-4542.