April: Oh Lord, open my lips...
Pastor Mary's Blog
“O Lord, open my lips,
And my mouth shall proclaim your praise.”
Dear friends and members of RLC,
These words from Psalm 51 are the first words spoken in the church's traditional morning prayer service. In religious communities, these were to be the first words spoken together each morning.
I learned of this practice back when I was in college and would attend morning prayer in the Chapel of the Resurrection at Valparaiso University. As a personal discipline, I would avoid speaking until I had gone to worship and sung these beautiful words.
These days, in the isolation of my own home, I find myself returning to this practice. I sit in my chair by the window with a hot cup of coffee and utter these words aloud: O Lord, open my lips, and my mouth shall proclaim your praise.
It is a way of orienting myself to the coming day, of praising God for what is before me, of praying that what comes out of my mouth is praise. I invite you to try this practice yourself and see if it changes the way you view the day before you.
Macrina Wiederkehr, a woman who has lived monastic life for more than forty years with the sisters of St. Scholastica Monastery in Fort Smith, Arkansas, offers this guidance for morning prayer in her book, Seven Sacred Pauses: Living Mindfully Through the Hours of the Day.
"Gently lay your hands upon your lips, longing for the grace to speak only words that are helpful this day. Remember the words that you have already spoken. You cannot take them back. Bless them and let them go.
O Word Made Flesh, stand guard at the gate of my mouth. Be my voice this day that the words I speak will be healing, affirming, true, and gentle. Give me wisdom to think before I speak. Bless the words in me that are waiting to be spoken. Live and abide in my words so that others will feel safe in my presence. Surprise me with the words that have come from you. Oh, place my words in the kiln of your heart that they may be enduring and strong, tempered and seasoned with love and resilience. Give me a well-trained tongue that has been borne out of silent listening in the sanctuary of my heart. May my words become love in the lives of others."
I know it is easy to feel disconnected in these days of social distancing, but there are still ways we can connect with one another through words: written or spoken. And there is power in the words we speak. Perhaps your words of encouragement, of solidarity, of comfort, may be just what another person needs today.
At the conclusion of the traditional morning prayer service, the following prayer is often said. I share it with you for your own meditation and prayer:
"O God, you have called your servants to ventures of which we cannot see the ending, by paths as yet untrodden, through perils unknown. Give us faith to go out with good courage, not knowing where we go, but only that your hand is leading us and your love supporting us; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen."
With praise on my lips and love in my heart,
Let's turn anxiety into HOPE!
As we struggle with being isolated let us reflect on these questions above. Let's turn anxiety into hope!
Let us also continue to keep Tanzania in our prayers. We received this message a few days ago from our partners there.
"A Tanzanian visited a person in Belgium with the virus, has returned to Tanzania (Arusha), and is currently hospitalized with a positive test result for the virus. It is also in Kenya and Rwanda--and probably other neighboring countries even as I write this--all changes so quickly. We have also been told that all Tanzanian schools are shut down beginning tomorrow for 30 days. Let us pray that early and significant containment measures like this will prevent the kind of spread we are seeing here."
As we continue to pray for our sisters and brothers in Tanzania let us say this prayer together:
Merciful God, your healing power is everywhere about us. Strengthen those who work among the sick; give them courage and confidence in all they do. Encourage them when they are overwhelmed with many pressing needs or when their efforts seem futile. Increase their trust in your power to bring life and wholeness even in the midst of death and pain and crying. May they be thankful for every sign of health you give, and humble before the mystery of your healing grace; through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Stay healthy and remember that you can reach out if you are in need of anything!
RLC and the Pandemic
Dear members of RLC,
As I said in my previous email, the situation with the coronavirus is fluid and changing rapidly. In light of the most recent information sent to me by our Bishop, Paul Erickson, I have make the decision to cancel worship and all other activities at RLC for the month of March.
It may be that this timeframe will need to be extended, but we will do that when it becomes necessary. April 5 is Palm Sunday and the beginning of Holy Week: we will hold out hope that we will be able to remember these events in Jesus’ life in a communal setting. However, if not, we will do so connected spiritually in prayer and, to the best of our ability, through social media.
You will soon be sent information about a phone tree: we are asking that you all participate so that we can stay in contact with one another, especially those who live alone or have health issues.
Also, continue to check our webpage for updates and a place to interact and share prayer requests.
I chose the name Ubuntu over 10 years ago. It is a word that reminds us that what happens to one of us, happens to all of us. It means that “I am because we are”. This time in our collective history reminds us of the same thing. We are in this together. We are blessed to be a blessing.
God has and will continue to find a way to bring blessing, even through the coronavirus pandemic.
Peace and love,
Pastor Mary Ubuntu
The Rev. Dr. Mary Ubuntu is the spiritual leader of Resurrection Lutheran Church and has served in that capacity since 2003. More on Pastor Mary can be found HERE.