Sunday Devotion 22nd of August 2021
For the church of St. Mark’s physically distanced but connected in heart
in the midst of uniting against COVID-19 Delta
A Song to begin with as a prayer –
Your love is enough by Jon Foreman
Click the link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cHO9SBiHEds
Be attentive to the voice of joy. Notice where this joy is anchored and grounded. Where is my joy anchored? Who or what determines my worth? Make this Psalm your prayer.
Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth.
Worship the Lord with gladness;
come before him with joyful songs.
Know that the Lord is God.
It is he who made us, and we are his;
we are his people,
the sheep of his pasture.
Enter his gates with thanksgiving
and his courts with praise;
give thanks to him
and praise his name.
For the Lord is good;
his love endures forever,
his faithfulness continues through
Scripture reading: Matthew 26:36-46
36 Then Jesus went with them to a place called Gethsemane; and he said to his disciples, “Sit here while I go over there and pray.” 37 He took with him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, and began to be grieved and agitated. 38 Then he said to them, “I am deeply grieved, even to death; remain here, and stay awake with me.” 39 And going a little farther, he threw himself on the ground and prayed, “My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from me; yet not what I want but what you want.” 40 Then he came to the disciples and found them sleeping; and he said to Peter, “So, could you not stay awake with me one hour? 41 Stay awake and pray that you may not come into the time of trial;[a] the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.” 42 Again he went away for the second time and prayed, “My Father, if this cannot pass unless I drink it, your will be done.” 43 Again he came and found them sleeping, for their eyes were heavy. 44 So leaving them again, he went away and prayed for the third time, saying the same words. 45 Then he came to the disciples and said to them, “Are you still sleeping and taking your rest? See, the hour is at hand, and the Son of Man is betrayed into the hands of sinners. 46 Get up, let us be going. See, my betrayer is at hand.”
“Mate, you alright?” I had just gone back to my gym. I hadn’t exercised for a while. I was gasping for air, I wanted to stop. It was tough. The trainer noticed I was struggling through my exercises. She came near and asked after me: “Mate, you alright?” While gasping for air, I replied: “Just clearing the cobwebs in my lungs. Thanks, mate.” Then she did something, which I was grateful for. I will tell you a little later.
In Aotearoa, we hear that and go, that’s nice, we look after one another. Anywhere else around the world, while people will agree with this but they will be certainly surprised by the word “mate.”
During my university days, I learnt that this “mateship” was what marked the New Zealand soldiers in the World Wars. This mateship, of course, is grounded in the quintessential Kiwi egalitarianism – no person above or below another person but along side. Aussies claim this as theirs, we’ll forgive them for that.
Someone tells me that you know your friends when the going gets tough. While we are all mates in New Zealand, this still holds true. Who are your friends when the going gets tough?
In the reading, the going was indeed tough for Jesus. The betrayal and trial was just around the corner. He prayed to his Father. He urged his friends to stay awake with him and pray. Jesus wasn’t asking them merely to pray for him but to pray with him. Pray with him because what is at hand isn’t just about him but about him and his friends, about humanity.
With the news of community transmission of the Delta variant of COVID-19, we have gone into national lockdown for the second time. What has been your reaction? I keep down playing it saying things like “Here we go again.” I think I do this when I feel anxious. I felt anxious for those who have been infected, those who may be further isolated in the lockdown. I felt stressed as I didn’t know what I needed to prepare for, for this Sunday worship. I felt grateful for the frontline workers and essential workers as well as officials who are working around the clock to keep us safe.
The going is tough. Anxiety levels are up. Especially for those who have been in those locations of interest. Some don’t take it seriously. Some find it a nice holiday. While stress piles up for many who must juggle and prepare for what ifs as well as what is. My gym trainers aren’t sure whether they will get paid. I really hope they do.
So at the gym, the going was tough for me, and it always does when I am doing sit ups. While lying on the mat wanting to call it quits, my trainer came along side me. She lied down on the grotty gym floor next to me and said: “Come on, let’s get through this together. You will thank me later.”
In this volatile circumstance we are in, let us hear the voice of Christ, calling to us, “stay awake and pray with me.” Let us be awake to the truth that we are in this together. Let us not just pray for someone as if this has nothing to do with us but pray with others for we enter this tough season along side with one another though physically apart. Let the voice of our Lord echo in our voices that we are in this together as mates. There is no other way, together or never. Later when we come out the other end of Delta tunnel, we sure will be grateful that we did it together.
Do you have a friend during this time? I pray that St. Mark’s church is where you find friends when the going gets tough. I pray that friends at St. Mark’s does stand along side one another when the going gets tough.
We give thanks for our friends.
Our dear friends.
We anger each other.
We fail each other.
We share this sad earth, this tender life,
this precious time.
Such richness. Such wildness.
Together we are blown about.
Together we are dragged along.
All this delight.
All this suffering.
All this forgiving life.
We hold it together.
By Michael Leunig
Questions for Prayerful Reflection
Where do you hear the voice of Christ who says “stay awake and pray with me” in the midst of this pandemic response?
To whom is Christ leading you to stand along side during this tough season?
A song for prayerful reflection:
We are all in this together by Ben Lee (he is an Aussie!)
Click the link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zTlI0Q94MHc
A song to sing along!
There is a hope
Click the link:
The Grace of our Lord Jesus Christ,
the Love of God,
and the Communion of the Holy Spirit
be with us all, now and always, Amen.