taking the words of Jesus seriously

Join us in a time of prayer for what was, is, and is to come on the anniversary of the national shutdown as COVID-19 quickly and aggressively became the lens through which we viewed the rest of our lives last year leading up to this date. On Saturday, March 13th at 5PM EST, we will be gathering together with some friends in our community to read through the liturgy below. Feel free to join us at RLC Facebook Live to read along or share this prayer in your own faith community.

It’s been a long road, and it’s not over, though it does seem to be changing. And we felt we couldn’t let this moment pass without marking it together in some way. In the Bible, we read where God’s people would lay stones of remembrance to mark a journey and God’s faithfulness through it. In our own 21st Century, socially distanced and virtual way, we hope this prayer can serve as stones to remember all we’ve lost, all we’ve seen, and all we hope to still be true. 

Thank you to the contributors of Rally: Communal Prayers for Jesus and Justice who helped identify the pieces of our prayer as well as joined us for its reading. Let us pray. 

WATCH: All Shall Be Well: A Closing Prayer for Making It Through Together

ONE: Please join me in a prayer for what was (a time of lament)

Everything can change in a moment. 

Everything did. And fast.

What was once nothing, became something.

What was once rumors, became rampant.

What was once predictable, became wildly uncertain.  

This time a year ago, normal daily lives across the United States and the world over shifted suddenly and unceremoniously. 

ALL: We mark that moment today. 

ONE: If trauma is too much, too fast, we have all known great trauma. 

For the classrooms that were left suddenly, 

The senior years whose endings were thwarted,

The nursing homes locked down without proper goodbyes,

ALL: We honor that grief today. 

ONE: For the jobs that were sacrificed and interviews canceled,

The panic of essential workers when we lacked the science, 

The medical staff who slept in their cars to keep their families safe, 

ALL: We honor that grief today. 

ONE: For the children who went without meals,

The children who went without therapies, 

All the children who went without special education services, 

ALL: We honor that grief today. 

ONE: For those who walked their neighborhoods with the dread of “how long,”

Those who said goodbye through plexiglass and screens,

The people who were already at the end of their ropes, before, 

ALL: We honor their grief today. 

ONE: For the principals and teachers weighing all the impossible options, 

The pastors and counselors navigating pain from their own wounds, 

Heads of family having to draw lines amid varying convictions,

ALL: We honor that grief today. 

ONE: For the tragedy of navigating it all, 

For the tragedy of navigating it all in an unimaginably divided political season,

For the tragedy of navigating it all amid the political divides and the injustices that were both illuminated and heightened in our country,

ALL: We honor that grief today. 

ONE: For Breonna Taylor, who was murdered on this same day a year ago, 

Whose death, along with the deaths of Ahmaud Arbery, George Floyd and others, gained the attention of a captive audience in lock-down and ignited a summer of movement for racial injustice, 

For the Black, Indigenous, Communities of Color whose long fights were further exhausted by overdue white-zeal that burned hot and fast like flash paper, 

For those who shouldn’t have had to die in order to be believed and protected, 

For those who are unable to come in and out of issues of justice when things get overwhelming,

And all those weary of educating with their pain, 

ALL: We honor that grief today. 

ONE: For the deaths of celebrities who brought us joy and leaders who brought us hope,

For how they fell on souls already numbed with “too much,” an insult to injury,

For how the responsibilities of life did not slow with the onslaught of death,

ALL: We honor that grief today. 

ONE: Jesus, for the 527,000-and-counting people who have died in twelve months from this awful infection, 

For the sisters, the daycare workers, the best friends, the mentors, the lifelines, the uncles, the matriarchs, the helpers, the elected, the ones with the history, the ones with the futures, the parents of young children, the children of heartbroken parents, the people who would still be with us had it not been for COVID-19 and, for many, how it was handled with neglect, 

ALL: We honor that grief today. 

ONE: We grieve with this grief and for all that has been lost and stolen, asking that your Holy Spirit would be ever near and would “restore the years that the locusts have eaten” (Job2:25) in ways for which we do not yet have the imagination. 

ALL: Be near our grief today. 

ONE: Join me in a prayer for what is (a time of gratitude).

Grant us an imagination for restoration, 

especially as so much continues to look the same from 2020 to 2021. 

As we did not experience a radically different key-change 

when the clock struck midnight on January 21st, 

stir within us the power of perseverance that grows through gratitude. Though we’ve considered the realities around us—

Asylum seekers still separated from their families, deadly protests in Myanmar, the continuation of virtual classrooms, the unknown realities of long-term depression and anxiety, the persisting diagnoses, and the aftershocks of economic downfall—

ALL: May we recognize gratefulness and joy as resources for sustainment and connection. 

ONE: For the life coursing underneath the melting snow, 

The migrants who have safely left sanctuary, 

And the creativity that has illuminated new paths, 

ALL: We give thanks today. 

ONE: For the small victories of accountability in our pulpits and policies, 

The technology that wasn’t possible ten years ago, 

And the goodness we’ve seen in our neighbors, 

ALL: We give thanks today. 

ONE: For the systems we’ve had to build that will stick around post-pandemic,

And the one’s that are finally being deconstructed,

For the invitation to co-create with you today and tomorrow,

ALL: We give you thanks today. 

ONE: For a vaccine that was created and rolled out in less than a year, 

For the hope that every new arm-bandaid represents, 

For the whispers of a time when we can gather safely, 

ALL: We give you thanks today. 

ONE: For the activists, artists, healers, and educators who can see the road ahead and their role in it, 

For the memories we have of what and whom we’ve lost,

For the preciousness of life that makes the loss of it so devastating, 

ALL: We thank you, loving God, today. 

ONE: Join me in a prayer for what is to come (a time of praise).

But today we can only see in part, 

And as we look ahead, we are met with a skepticism of hope 

And reservations about celebration.

We have not returned to normal, 

But we also have a hunch that maybe normal is no longer the goal. 

Instead, for equity, justice, connection, slower-paces, appreciation for loved ones, mercy for our enemies, and beauty, we now set our sights. 

Still, these yearnings rest on the feeble shoulders of exhausted people. 

ALL: Meet them now with the truth of your word, 

That when it’s time, our energy may catch up with our faith. 

ONE: For being our God forever and ever, 

For being our God till the very end (Psalm 48:14),

For taking ahold of our hands and offering help (Isaiah 41:13)

ALL: We praise you today.

ONE: For establishing our steps even when the plans we’ve set are destroyed (Proverbs 16:9),

For knowing our names and leading us out, 

For giving us a chance to know your voice (John 10:3-4),

ALL: We praise you today. 

ONE: For establishing an unmovable covenant of peace, though the mountains shake and hills disappear (Isaiah 54:10), 

For never, ever leaving or forsaking us (Deuteronomy 31:6), 

For mercies that are new every single morning (Lamentations 3:22-23),

ALL: We praise you today. 

ONE: For loving the whole world (John 3:16) and making us in your image (Genesis 1:17)

For being and creating and calling us to co-create love, 

As well as joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (Galatians 5:22-23),  

For not allowing one single thing in all of creation to separate us from that love (Romans 8:38-39)

ALL: We praise you today. 

ONE: For coming into the world as a poor, brown, eventually-fatherless refugee (Matthew 2:13) 

Whose death on the cross stood in solidarity with every act of oppression that preceded and followed it (Psalm 13), 

For standing for nonviolence and loving those who harmed you (John 18:10), 

For healing the sick (John 9:1-7), 

Multiplying the resources (Matthew 14:13-21), 

Seeing the overlooked (John 4), 

And subverting the systems (Mark 11:15-18), 

For blessing the poor, those who mourn, the meek, the hungry and thirsty, the merciful, the pure in heart, the peacemakers, and the persecuted (Matthew 5:3-12), 

ALL: We praise you today. 

ONE: For showing us that what is good and required is justice, mercy, and humility (Micah 6:8),

For allowing us to reflect you into this world (Matthew 25:37-40),

For being with us always, even until the end of the age (Matthew 28:20), 

ALL: We praise you today. 

ONE: All shall be well, because love has not, cannot, will not fail.

We will continue to make it through together.

In the name of God our Good Parent, the Holy Spirit our Comforting Guide, and Jesus the Christ our Sibling and Savior. 

ALL: Amen.

About The Author


Britney Winn Lee is an author, liturgist, and United Methodist pastor living in Shreveport, Louisiana, with her creative husband and big-hearted son. Her books include The Boy with Big, Big Feelings (Beaming Books), The Girl with Big, Big Questions (Beaming Books), Rally: Communal Prayers for Lovers of Jesus and Justice (Upper Room), Deconstructed Do-Gooder: A Memoir about Learning Mercy the Hard Way (Cascade Books), the recently released Good Night, Body: Finding Calm from Head to Toe (Tommy Nelson), and the forthcoming The Kid With Big, Big Ideas (Beaming Books). With a masters degree in nonprofit administration and her local pastor licensure, Lee has worked for over a decade in faith- and justice-based, creative community-building. She writes to make room. See what she’s creating at patreon.com/theseparticularwords and on socials @britneywinnlee .

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