Friends and Members of the Iowa, Nebraska, and South Dakota Conferences of the United Church of Christ,

I want to offer you a prayer today. Will you take just a minute to pause with me?

First, move your body a bit, so that you are aware of where your fingers and toes, and head and hips, and shoulders are in space. And take breath. Fill your lungs slowly and fully.

Let us pray.

Holy One, thank you that you are already here. Thank you that you already hold the hearts and minds and bodies and souls of all us connected across the miles in this prayer. Oh Lord, I pause today to pray because I love these dear ones so deeply and I love their loved ones and their communities too. And, well, we are still in the middle of the Covid-19 pandemic and we are so tired of it. We are tired of the disappointments of canceled plans and postponed connections. We are tired of the disagreements about what is safe and what isn’t. We are tired of the pits in our stomachs when we hear of another loved one’s positive diagnosis. We are tired of not giving and receiving hugs. We are tired because we care. The truth is that our exhaustion is mostly grief. You know that even when we don’t. Help us to sit with you and our grief for a moment. Help us to remember that you promise us that you are here with us and our grief. And that matters. When we notice your presence, we are reminded that we won’t be consumed by our grief because your goodness and you Love pierce through it. Thank you. Even with a Covid-19 vaccine on the horizon, we still have many months of vigilance required of us. And those months are going to include really hard things, like physically distant Advent and Christmas plans, and more grief. Send us reminders to notice you with us and our grief. Remind us over and over again in surprising, silly, poignant, loud, soft, and sparkly ways that you are with us and that really matters. And when we’re done sitting for a bit, encourage us forward, help us stay the course by staying physically apart from other humans for a bit longer, maybe just each day as it shows up, so that we may protect as many precious lives as we can. Hold us and help us, oh God. I ask all these things in the name of the beautiful Christ whose birth we make preparations for in this Advent season. Blessings and honor. Amen.

Thank you for praying with me. Thank you for being steadfast and connected across the miles. In the coming weeks you will see messages from friends and members that I’ve invited from around our conferences to share their stories of encouragement and love with us from their unique perspectives and ministries during Covid-19. Please keep watch for their offerings.

Many Advent blessings to you!

ECM Rev. Brigit Stevens