By Beth Ferguson, Lay Leader and Member to the Annual Conference.
Psalm 136 is a beautiful reminder of God’s love for all of us, manifested through God’s creation.
God is good, all the time! All the time, God is good!
We repeat “God’s faithful love lasts forever” after each line as a reminder of all that God has done for us. We remember that God rules over all. God rules over all of our secular leaders as Lord of Lords. We celebrate God’s creation, the skies, the earth, the light from the sun and the moon and the stars. We rejoice that God walks with us during our troubles and provides for food for us and protection from our enemies. And we know that God is the God of heaven and God will take us home when our earthly life ends.
On this most strange Easter Sunday, when we are worshipping in our homes and connected through computers and telephones, we remember that God’s faithful love endures forever. Christ has risen! Through his enduring love he offered himself as a sacrifice for us. He rose again to bring us eternal life. For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him won’t perish but will have eternal life. (John 3:16)
God loves all of us, whether we are at home in isolation, in hospitals working to save lives, in police departments and fire departments as first responders, in grocery stores and other essential businesses, whether we have sick family members that we can’t visit, whether we have lost a loved one, but can’t have a public celebration of life, God’s faithful love lasts forever!
Today, as we celebrate Christ’s resurrection, but aren’t together physically, we remember that God is with us in our homes, in hospitals, in every place and God’s faithful love lasts forever and finds us wherever we are.
A Prayer from the Extended Cabinet
By Bishop Sudarshana Devadhar, Resident Bishop of The New England Annual Conference (based on John 20:1-18)
God, our Creator,
Thank you —
for your generosity and mercy,
for your power and grace,
for the resurrection of Jesus,
who lives among us.
This Easter —
we will miss traditional
gatherings at sunrise,
voices raised in unison hymns,
the sound of organ, drum, and trumpet;
our sanctuaries adorned with fragrant Easter lilies.
This Easter —
there will be no
community Easter breakfast,
no Easter parades or bonnets,
no neighborhood egg hunts,
no extended family at our tables.
In the midst of our disappointment, fear, and anxiety,
in the face of a pandemic that has brought
illness, death and economic hardship,
our Easter traditions will not comfort us —
our idols of wealth, sports, pride, and competition,
will not save us.
This Easter —
we need to hear the voice of Jesus;
we need to see him and hear him ask,
“Why are you weeping?”
“For whom are you looking?”
Like Mary, we need to hear him
call us by name.
Come to us again, O God —
to shatter our idols;
to melt us and mold us,
to challenge and inspire us;
to raise us up from the tombs
where we have stayed too long.
Speak to us once more of —
your message of life,
your plan for creation,
that Easter may be the miracle
that we live every day.
God, this Easter, we pray most especially
for people everywhere —
physicians, nurses, medical support staff,
pharmacists, scientists, transportation personnel,
cashiers, farmers, first responders, clergy, civic leaders, and public servants—
who are risking their lives,
giving their best,
leaving self-interest behind,
in order to take us from a Good Friday world
to an Easter world;
we pray for people who are moving us toward
the vision of your peaceable kin-dom:
watch over them and their families,
and grant them your protection and peace
in this challenging time.
Creator God, we see your majesty all around us —
robins, crocuses, spring buds and blooms.
So may our hearts, minds, and souls
So may we be released from
apathy to service,
bitterness to love,
fear to courage;
So may we tell the resurrection story
with our lives.
Holy God, hear our prayer —
Make us bearers of Good News in the midst of bad;
Bring us hope in our hour of despair;
Grant us your peace, in Christ, through the power of your Holy Spirit.
In the precious name of Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior, who taught us to pray:
Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come.Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us, and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.
For thine is the kingdom and the power, and the glory, forever and ever. Amen.