Grieving

There is so much to grieve in 2020 on multiple levels including Covid. This is for all who have been touched by loss and are grieving.

Grieving

Grieving

Heart- break-ing

Sobbing

Wailing

Yearning

Longing

Searching

Stretching

Releasing

Reaching

Being

Reached

Reassured

Loved

Held

Comforted

By the Divine One 

whose heart and arms

holds it all.

By Rev. Eva Sullivan-Knoff

© Nov 2020

A Pandemic Thanksgiving

Oh God,

During this Thanksgiving season,

our hearts are immensely heavy, and so we lament.

Covid has taken so many lives and has isolated us one from another,

racism and white supremacy have claimed too many lives

as they invoke evil on the black community.

A stressful political environment has us on edge.

It has been a year of pandemics.

And if that isn’t enough,

other heartbreaks that have pushed in on us,

the loss of work, relationship, community, and storms of every kind.

And we wonder as we cry out,

How Long Oh God?

This year has been so murky,

And yet, knowing

You are a God who invites lament

is a gift beyond itself.

We not only have the freedom to lament,

but you beckon us to draw close

and to pour out our hearts to you.

You invite us to share our tears of sorrow,

to speak our sadness,

and to give you the burdens

that weigh too heavy upon us.

We are reminded in the midst of all else,

that you care about us,

that you are Emmanuel God with us.

Even when we can’t see, you remain near.

Your presence is made known through simple acts of kindness,

Through those who embody you and your compassion,

Through simple things like sunshine and wind chimes

And a warm greeting from a friend or neighbor.

So though we come with heavy hearts,

We are grateful that we can do so

and to name it all to you,

who holds us when we can’t stand anymore

and when there are no tears left.

Thank you compassionate God for the ways

You reveal yourself to us.

Open our eyes that we may recognize more.

We offer this our pandemic Thanksgiving

knowing you hurt with us

And you never leave our side.  Amen.

If you are in need of support and would like to talk to someone, we have spiritual directors who would love to meet with you. Or if you would like to be a part of an online support group, please contact us and we can connect you with one.

Lectio Divina: Isaiah 46:3,4

Opening Prayer
Oh Holy One,
We come as we are in so many different ways.
How grateful we are that you welcome us completely,
however we come.
Quiet our hearts before you now.
Meet us in the stillness
And awaken us to your care for us.

Lectio Divina or Divine Reading
Read this scripture through a few times.
The first time you read it simply take in the words.
The second time, notice to what word or phrase your heart is drawn.
Prayerfully sit with it.
The third time you read it offer the prayer of your heart to God.
The last time you read it, simply rest in God.

Scripture Reading Isaiah 46:3,4
Listen to me, O house of Jacob,
all the remnant of the house of Israel,
who have been borne by me from your birth,
carried from the womb; even to your old age I am he, even when you turn gray I will carry you.
I have made, and I will bear; I will carry and will save.

Closing Prayer
Compassionate One, in the midst of this pandemic,
When the days linger on, and uncertainty has become the norm,
Our awareness of your presence ebbs and flows,
And yet we know you will not leave us.
We lean on your promises, on your faithfulness
which are new every morning.
How we long for these words of scripture,
to enter us deeply.
We ache for the awareness of your love and presence
which gave birth to us,
Your arms which hold and carry us
Your heart which watches over us.
O God to whom we belong, we entrust ourselves to you this day, relying on you to meet us where we are, and to carry us when we are too weary to stand.
We lean our heads against your heart,
drawing in strength from your loving embrace.
May it fill us with your peace and anchor us in you.
We love you God.
Thank you for reminding us yet again
of the way in which you love and carry us.
Amen.

Copyright 2020 Rev. Eva Sullivan-Knoff

Raise Me Up by Josh Grobin

Easter Resurrection

Christ and St Mary Magdalene at the Tomb. 1638. Rembrandt.

Opening
Living Lord,
Let the light and hope of this day
Seep into every part of us.
We are longing
for the hope we know in You.

Reflection
The events of this week,
and if we are honest,
the events of so many weeks
have taken their toll on us.
Make us aware of your presence
with us right where we are.
Shine your light on us
and renew us
through your Living Word.

Invitation
As you read the scripture,
observe how Jesus is present to Mary.
What do you notice about their interchange?
If you wish, prayerfully imagine you are there
and Jesus meets you in the garden
calling you by name.
How does your conversation go
on this Resurrection morning?

Scripture: John 20:11-18
11 But Mary stood weeping outside the tomb. As she wept, she bent over to look[a] into the tomb; 12 and she saw two angels in white, sitting where the body of Jesus had been lying, one at the head and the other at the feet. 13 They said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping?” She said to them, “They have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid him.” 14 When she had said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not know that it was Jesus. 15 Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you looking for?” Supposing him to be the gardener, she said to him, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have laid him, and I will take him away.” 16 Jesus said to her, “Mary!” She turned and said to him in Hebrew,[b] “Rabbouni!” (which means Teacher). 17 Jesus said to her, “Do not hold on to me, because I have not yet ascended to the Father. But go to my brothers and say to them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’” 18 Mary Magdalene went and announced to the disciples, “I have seen the Lord”; and she told them that he had said these things to her.

Prayer Response
Risen Lord,
Thank you for the way
You see us and know us.
Nothing is hidden from you.
You know our doubts and fears
our griefs and sorrows.
You meet us right in the midst of them
just as you met the disciples
in the midst of theirs
on resurrection morning.
What good news this is for us,
Giver of Life.
May the truth of this
fill us with your deep abiding peace.
As we each hear you call our own name
may light break forth like a brilliant sunrise
within us.
May joy arise as a fountain deep within
as hope becomes reality.
Yes, shadows and death are still to be found
but they do not have the last word.
You do!
We don’t go it alone,
we have You!
Because of You we know true life..
Because of You
everything is different.
Make us ever mindful
of the hope, joy, strength,
love and life within
because You live there with us.
Christ is Risen, Hallelujah!
Hallelujah!
Amen.

Copyright © 2020, Rev. Eva Sullivan-Knoff

Holy Saturday

Opening
Today I remain quiet. Grief is ever present. I meditate on all that has been.

Reflection
Holy Saturday, often overlooked, is a holy day, it is when Jesus lies in the tomb. Darkness and grief, doubts and questions, wailing and morning fill this day for Jesus’ followers. Look at the depths Jesus goes to, to enter the darkness for us, even a tomb. There is nothing He does not know. There is no place his love does not reach.

Invitation
Read the scripture through a few times. Imagine yourself in this story as an observer. What would it be like to watch all this unfold? How deep is the grief of all. Allow yourself to pause where you are drawn.

Christ with Joseph of Arimathea. Girolamo Savoldo / Public domain

John 19:38-42
“After these things, Joseph of Arimathea, who was a disciple of Jesus, though a secret one because of his fear of the Jews, asked Pilate to let him take away the body of Jesus. Pilate gave him permission; so he came and removed his body. Nicodemus, who had at first come to Jesus by night, also came, bringing a mixture of myrrh and aloes, weighing about a hundred pounds. They took the body of Jesus and wrapped it with the spices in linen cloths, according to the burial custom of the Jews. Now there was a garden in the place where he was crucified, and in the garden there was a new tomb in which no one had ever been laid. And so, because it was the Jewish day of Preparation, and the tomb was nearby, they laid Jesus there.”

Prayer Response
Oh Lord, this day…
This day is filled
with gut wrenching grief
And heart shattering silence.
Your followers mourn
Lost and despairing.
It is confusing and scary
And they wonder what to hold onto,
not yet realizing the magnitude of this day.
For look at what you have done.
Every death we have mourned
Each tear we have shed
Every time our hearts have been broken
by the absence of those we love
Is affected by this day.
This day.
Because on this day
You entered that mournful space.
You lied in an empty tomb.
Look how far your love goes
It reaches every corner of our hearts
Every breath of our experience.
How deeply you understand us.
So as we sit in silence today,
honoring all you have done
and all you have given.
Our hearts are comforted
because your love did not stop.
It entered the tomb.
From the depths of our being
We thank you.

Amen.

Copyright © 2020, Rev. Eva Sullivan-Knoff

A Guided Meditation of St. Ignatian Imaginative Prayer

May the gift of your imagination present new ways of experiencing the love of God in this time, on Good Friday, and every time.

Created by Jess Hansen, Journey Center of Chicago intern.

 

Good Friday

Opening
Lord, help us to journey with you throughout this day, ever so mindful of you.

Reflection
This is a day that is hard to take in, the extent of God’s love for us. We pray oh Lord, please stir our hearts and change us as we humbly, enter the story again.

Invitation
Read the scripture through slowly, pausing where you are drawn. Take as long as you need. Imagine you are there. As you read keep your eyes on Jesus. Listen to His words. Imagine his face as He speaks. What do you see in His eyes? Watch his actions. How does He respond? Stay focused on Him as you read. Ask the Holy Spirit to guide you in your prayerful reading.

Drawn by Gustave Doré, engraved by J. Gauchard Brunier. Scanned by Michael Gäbler with Epson Perfection 4490 Photo. / Public domain

Scripture: Read John 19:1-6, 14-19, 28-30
(To read the whole account, read from John 18:1-19:42)
Then Pilate took Jesus and had him flogged. 2 And the soldiers wove a crown of thorns and put it on his head, and they dressed him in a purple robe. 3 They kept coming up to him, saying, “Hail, King of the Jews!” and striking him on the face. 4 Pilate went out again and said to them, “Look, I am bringing him out to you to let you know that I find no case against him.” 5 So Jesus came out, wearing the crown of thorns and the purple robe. Pilate said to them, “Here is the man!” 6 When the chief priests and the police saw him, they shouted, “Crucify him! Crucify him!” Pilate said to them, “Take him yourselves and crucify him; I find no case against him…14 Now it was the day of Preparation for the Passover; and it was about noon. He said to the Jews, “Here is your King!” 15 They cried out, “Away with him! Away with him! Crucify him!” Pilate asked them, “Shall I crucify your King?” The chief priests answered, “We have no king but the emperor.” 16 Then he handed him over to them to be crucified.
So they took Jesus; 17 and carrying the cross by himself, he went out to what is called The Place of the Skull, which in Hebrew[d] is called Golgotha. 18 There they crucified him, and with him two others, one on either side, with Jesus between them. 19 Pilate also had an inscription written and put on the cross. It read, “Jesus of Nazareth,[e] the King of the Jews… 28 After this, when Jesus knew that all was now finished, he said (in order to fulfill the scripture), “I am thirsty.” 29 A jar full of sour wine was standing there. So they put a sponge full of the wine on a branch of hyssop and held it to his mouth. 30 When Jesus had received the wine, he said, “It is finished.” Then he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.

Prayer of Response
On this day, words are hard to find.
Moved by all that has been given,
By all that has been done,
I sit in silence with Jesus.
I remain with Him.
I offer my heart in quiet
just as He offers Himself
completely to me.
Amen.