Worship in Daily Life, while we wait, a sacramental practice
and a prayer from Nadia Bolz-Weber
For nearly three months we have refrained from gathering for “in person” worship, a reality I could never have imagined before in 35 years of pastoral ministry. We know that we are caring for one another in our separation from one another, but for many of us the weekly rhythm of praying the liturgy together is a sustaining and normative practice, and one that we deeply miss.
For those who have participated in our live streaming of “virtual worship,” invited to join in singing and praying and encountering the Word of God, an element that remains elusive in that ‘virtual’ gathering is the simple act of receiving the bread and wine of Holy Communion. A gift to strengthen faith, the Sacrament of the Altar is a communal meal that is meant to be shared in the gathering of the worshipping community. In our life as the people of Trinity Lutheran Church, we have not availed ourselves of ‘virtual communion’ at home or ‘drive by distribution’ at the church during this time of our separation. Your pastors, leading the live streaming of worship in Centennial Hall, gathered at the altar with chalice and paten in hand, have chosen to wait with you, knowing that one day we will gather again for the sacrament. Until then, until we gather again in community with one another, we wait.
On Sunday mornings, as we continue to worship remotely in the Pentecost season, we announce that we hunger and thirst for the Lord’s Supper, but that we feast on Christ present in the Word of God, in our shared worship, and in our daily lives until we can gather again at the Lord’s table. And perceiving the act of worship and the presence of the sacramental in daily living is perhaps better commended to us in our pandemic physical isolation from one another than in the typical busyness of our daily lives. Perhaps we are poised to pay attention.
A couple of weeks ago, Trinity’s Director of Family Ministry Rachele Battreall shared this little prayer from Lutheran Pastor Nadia Bolz-Weber during Staff Meeting opening devotions. Pastor Nadia invites us into the practice of perceiving worship and the sacramental in daily living as she prays:
I do not know when we can gather together again in worship, Lord.
So, for now I just ask that:
When I sing along in my kitchen to each song on Stevie Wonder’s Songs in The Key of Life Album, that it be counted as praise. (Happy 70th Birthday, SW!)
And that when I read the news and my heart tightens in my chest, may it be counted as a Kyrie.
And that when my eyes brighten in a smile behind my mask as I thank the cashier, may it be counted as passing the peace.
And that when I water my plants and wash my dishes and take a shower, may it be counted as remembering my baptism.
And that when the tears come and my shoulders shake and my breathing falters, may it be counted as prayer.
And that when I stumble upon a Tabitha Brown video and hear her grace and love of you, may it be counted as a hearing a homily.
And that as I sit at that table in my apartment, and eat one more homemade meal, slowly, joyfully, with nothing else demanding my time or attention, may it be counted as communion.
Perceiving the sacred in the ordinary is the way of the sacrament, where ordinary water, bread and wine become vessels of grace. Perceiving worship in daily living is another sacramental act, and one commended to us while we wait and, perhaps, when we finally arrive at our post pandemic lives.
On Sundays, when we remember Jesus setting forth what became the sacrament of Holy Communion, you hear these words during our time of pandemic closure:
In solidarity with all who are not receiving Holy Communion today and in anticipation of the feast to come, we dwell on the words of Jesus, and it is enough.
The Word of God will sustain us. And each time we pause before a meal and pray, “Come, Lord Jesus, be our guest . . .,” and break bread in Christ’s name, we feast on Christ present.
Christ is given for you, Christ’s body and blood are broken and shed for you.
Singing a song of praise with Stevie Wonder, a Kyrie (“Lord, have mercy”) in the face of life’s hardship, the peace in a friendly greeting, an affirmation of baptism as we wash the dishes or our bodies, communion in the breaking of bread – while we wait, let us be worshipful in our daily living, and in so doing embrace a practice of recognizing the sacramental transformation of that which we might name ordinary. When we bless the ordinary with a word of grace, Christ is present. Life’s journey becomes a feast on the grace and peace or our Lord.
It remains a privilege to serve as one of your pastors.
Grace and peace,
Pastor Bob Linstrom