We have been ensuring the Ascend website carries a variety of resources and opportunities which will help you during this season.
As we find ourselves in week 10 of enforced quarantine I wonder if you, like me, need fresh grace each day to cope with the losses that lockdown is bringing. I just need to look at my calendar to be reminded of what has been lost – family birthdays and celebrations, holidays, my son’s pre-school graduation, a friend’s wedding postponed. Whilst I recognise how grateful I am to have not lost anyone I love to this awful virus there is grief as dates come and go and the plans I had once looked forward to never eventuate.
This week we have invited several people to share their experiences of grief in this season. We encourage you to remember that no matter what your experience has been during this time, it is important not to compare your loss to others and to give yourself permission to grieve. Your feelings matter. If at any stage you would like to explore talking to someone about your experience of grief please do contact the pastoral team and we will arrange this for you in a safe and confidential manner.
For those in ministry supporting folk in their grief brings its own significant challenges at this time. Many are being forced to grieve alone without the comfort of close friends and family around them. Many others are being denied the opportunity to attend the funerals of those they love whilst those that are able to attend are facing empty buildings and small gatherings that would otherwise be full of friends and family physically sharing the grief of the farewell. We know how important the gift of “presence” in ministry is, especially when folk are grieving. Finding ways to support folk amidst the current restrictions is both complex and exhausting and we want to acknowledge the burden you are carrying as you continue to minister during this time.
We also wanted to acknowledge the grief that we as a world are witnessing and experiencing this week as we watch with horror at some of the events going on in the world around us. Dr Martin Luther King famously said, “A riot is the language of the unheard.” We pray that as a church we will take time to listen and learn from those who are voiceless; that we will enter in and support those experiencing persecution due to the colour of their skin. That we would take Jesus’ command to love one another seriously and in doing so not allow folk to suffer alone.
A Prayer of Acknowledgement and Lament
Lord, as we become aware of the intensity of the racial divide, our hearts are broken. Help us not to rush from this place of hurting to triumph-alism or repair but rather lament as you call us to do. May our lament be a form of worship, a joining of our hearts with yours, as we grieve the lack of your kingdom justice here on earth. Strengthen us for this path, as without you, the overwhelming depth of the problems that must be addressed and acknowledged would be devastating. We know that you mourn with us and comfort us as we mourn with one another. In Christ’s holy name, amen.