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Praying Together During a Pandemic, Even When Divided
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Praying Together During a Pandemic, Even When Divided

Paul Marshall

The coronavirus has divided us, but can also bring us together.

For so many the situation is far more severe than for us, but when the U.S./Canada border was closed, my wife and I found ourselves on different sides of the boundary, with no ‘non-essential’ travel between them permitted. Attempts to find out from overworked and overstretched, and little informed, authorities from both governments have so far provided little enlightenment about whether attempting our union would be allowed or else simply count as ‘non-essential’ travel.

In the hiatus, my wife, the Rev. Lyn Youll Marshall, wonderfully suggested that as a way of drawing to each other, and to God, we each night pray the Compline together. It was a wonderful suggestion.

Compline is not Evening Prayer for, of course, that is simply for evening. Compline is held at the very end, the closing, of the day. In monastic communities it is the beginning of the long silence before morning prayer. It is the developed liturgical equivalent of “now I lay me down to sleep.”

I have prayed Compline before, but in these days of the virus, it has reached and taught me as never before. It appears that it was written, among others’, our time. There are many variations in the myriad branches of the Christian church, many perhaps even more wonderful than I know, but here I will quote from the Episcopal church’s prayer book, which I know. I hope and think and pray that many who are not Christian many also find their prayers and hopes expressed in these words.

Here are some excerpts of the prayers, with many gaps, but please read all of it if you can:

An Order for Compline:

The Lord Almighty grant us a peaceful night and a perfect
end. Amen….

One of the following prayers may be added
Keep watch, dear Lord, with those who work, or watch, or
weep this night, and give your angels charge over those who
sleep. Tend the sick, Lord Christ; give rest to the weary, bless
the dying, soothe the suffering, pity the afflicted, shield the
joyous; and all for your love’s sake. Amen.

or this

O God, your unfailing providence sustains the world we live
in and the life we live: Watch over those, both night and day,
who work while others sleep, and grant that we may never
forget that our common life depends upon each other’s toil;
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

The Officiant then says one of the following Collects

Be present, O merciful God, and protect us through the hours
of this night, so that we who are wearied by the changes and
chances of this life may rest in your eternal changelessness;
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Look down, O Lord, from your heavenly throne, and
illumine this night with your celestial brightness; that by
night as by day your people may glorify your holy Name;
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Visit this place, O Lord, and drive far from it all snares of the
enemy; let your holy angels dwell with us to preserve us in
peace; and let your blessing be upon us always; through Jesus
Christ our Lord. Amen.

Guide us waking, O Lord, and guard us sleeping; that awake
we may watch with Christ, and asleep we may rest in peace.

Let us remember to: “Tend the sick… give rest to the weary, bless the dying, soothe the suffering, pity the afflicted, shield the joyous….”

To: “Watch over those, both night and day, who work while others sleep, and grant that we may never forget that our common life depends upon each other’s toil….”

And “that we who are wearied by the changes and chances of this life may rest in your eternal changelessness; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.”

Read in Religion Unplugged

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