Coronavirus Message – April 1st

Devotions at night – looking expectantly to a new day, new joys, new possibilities . . .


7Where can I go from your spirit?
 Or where can I flee from your presence?

11If I say, “Surely the darkness shall cover me,
 and the light around me become night,”
 12even the darkness is not dark to you;
 the night is as bright as the day,
 for darkness is as light to you.

Psalm 139:7, 11-12

8I will both lie down and sleep in peace;
 for you alone, O LORD, make me lie down in safety.

Psalm 4:8

8By day the LORD commands his steadfast love,
 and at night his song is with me,
 a prayer to the God of my life.

Psalm 42:8

1I lift up my eyes to the hills —
 from where will my help come?
 2My help comes from the LORD,
 who made heaven and earth.
 3He will not let your foot be moved;
 he who keeps you will not slumber.
 4He who keeps Israel
 will neither slumber nor sleep.

8The LORD will keep
 your going out and your coming in
 from this time on and forevermore.

Psalm 121:1-4, 8


Pausing in prayer before bed is an age-old act of spiritual devotion at the close of the day.  Even those who do not regularly gather to pray in worship or have disciplines of prayer in times of gratitude or at mealtimes, may find a certain moment of prayerfulness as dusk passes and the day comes to an end.  


Perhaps you learned the prayer “Now I lay me down to sleep” as a child, a prayer in its variations that has been a mainstay for families praying with children for generations.  Another rich source of evening devotion is found in the Psalms, including the four short passages above. Those “nighttime Psalms” offer a word of hope and promise as darkness closes in, and there are potential “memory verses” that individuals and families can learn in the richness of such Psalms to welcome day’s end.  


Martin Luther proposed a pattern for prayer at the close of the day, the following discipline of Evening Blessing:


In the evening, when you go to bed, you are to make the sign of the holy cross and say:


“God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit watch over me. Amen.”


Then, kneeling or standing, say the Apostles’ Creed and the Lord’s Prayer.


If you wish, you may in addition recite this little prayer as well:


“I give thanks to you, heavenly Father, through Jesus Christ your dear Son, that you have graciously protected me today. I ask you to forgive me all my sins, where I have done wrong, and graciously to protect me tonight. Into your hands I commend myself: my body, my soul, and all that is mine. Let your holy angel be with me, so that the wicked foe may have no power over me. Amen.”


Then you are to go to sleep quickly and cheerfully.


✠ ✠ ✠


Last Sunday, after our live streaming of Trinity’s worship service for the Fifth Sunday in Lent, I was the last to leave the church building.  I miss being onsite at Trinity in this time of our “stay-at-home” protocol, but the facility is so very empty in the absence of the gathering of the people of God.  Still, I chose to pause in the sanctuary upstairs for a short time in prayer before making the drive home. With the ceiling lights off, it’s a beautiful, peaceful room as the light moves through the high clerestory west windows, the Caemmerer art glass on the south wall and the everchanging architectural ‘lantern’ above the altar.  I found my afternoon prayer with my eyes wide open, giving thanks for the dance of natural light through our sanctuary and nave.


My eye was also drawn to the ‘eternal light,’ the hanging vessel that contains a lit candle to the left of the sanctuary altar.  It is our tradition that there is a burning candle in that place 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Symbolic of the light of Christ in the world, even during this time of closure we are replacing the candle weekly under the stewardship of Sexton Steven Basher and Office Coordinator Kris Baker.  The single flame burns all day, every day, even when we are not present to witness it. Like the very presence of Christ in us, the light burns always, calling us to an inspired, holy hope and a confidence as darkness descends.


The last “in person” service of worship at Trinity as the COVID-19 closure descended upon us was the Lenten Midweek worship service on March 11.  We sang the ancient service of ‘Compline,’ Prayer at the Close of the Day, that evening, unaware that our plainsong chanting would be the last song of the people of Trinity onsite in Lent of 2020.  Compline closes with a beautiful prayer from the Anglican community in New Zealand, a prayer that I share with you to close my reflection today. We would have prayed it this evening to close the last of our Lenten Midweek services:


Lord, it is night.

The night is for stillness.

Let us be still in the presence of God.

It is night after a long day.

What has been done has been done;

What has not been done has not been done;

Let it be.

The night is dark.

Let our fears of the darkness of the world and of our own lives rest in you.

The night is quiet.

Let the quietness of your peace enfold us, all dear to us, and all who have no peace.

The night heralds the dawn.

Let us look expectantly to a new day, new joys, new possibilities.

In your name we pray.



from A New Zealand Prayer Book (He Karakia Mihinare o Aotearoa), Harper San Francisco, 1997.


The LORD will watch over your going out and your coming in from this time on and forevermore.  


Let us look expectantly to a new day, new joys, new possibilities.


Grace and peace.


Pastor Bob Linstrom



2700 Fulton St. E
Grand Rapids, MI 49506


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Trinity Lutheran Church is a dynamic family called by God to nurture each other in our daily journeys of faith and to joyfully increase our response to all people in need, sharing God’s gifts of love and grace.