Holy Week feels wrong this year. We have been exiled from our routines. We have been exiled from our feelings of security. And, we have been exiled from one another. When the people of Israel were in exile, they struggled to sing the songs of home. They struggled to keep singing praises to God in the midst of their suffering. The Psalmist wrote in Psalm 137:
“By the rivers of Babylon—
there we sat down and there we wept
when we remembered Zion.
On the willows there
we hung up our harps.
For there our captors
asked us for songs,
and our tormentors asked for mirth, saying,
‘Sing us one of the songs of Zion!’
How could we sing the Lord’s song
in a foreign land?”
This feels like a Holy Week in exile. Even though we are home, we are not “at home.” Even though we may recognize our surroundings, they have suddenly become different to us. As we draw closer to Easter, how are we to “sing the Lord’s song” during such strange times?
Yet, somehow we still do. We may not sing will full voices. Our throats might clench in a whispered song of praise. We will continue to sing the Lord’s song, though we are exiled from our communities and our rhythms, until the day we can sing them with abandon in each other’s presence again.
I wanted to share with you a prayer you are free to use at home, or with your churches if you are a church leader looking for a communion prayer that works for an online service. Somehow, some way, we will sing together the Lord’s song today, tomorrow, and until our faith shall be sight.
Invitation to the Table
We have gathered together around our many tables,
trusting that through the power of the Holy Spirit,
God is building a great table,
one that transcends the distance between us.
When Jesus took the bread and broke it
in the presence of those disciples he
walked with on the Emmaus road,
they recognized him.
May we, those who gather around Christ’s spiritual table,
recognize him in this meal that unites us in Christ and with one another.
May we find in this meal both compassion and joy,
strength and consolation,
healing and wholeness,
as we walk together in Easter light.
Prayer of Thanksgiving
Leader: The Lord be with you.
People: And also with you.
Leader: Lift up your hearts.
People: We lift them up to the Lord.
Leader: Let us give thanks to the Lord our God.
People: It is right to give our thanks and praise.
O God, we give you all our thanks and praise for you have done marvelous things. Our hearts rejoice and overflow on this Easter morning that death did not have the last word. But, our voices also tremble, and our eyes fill with tears as we look into the empty tomb and wonder what it all means. On this Easter morning that both celebrates the good news of your resurrection but also contains the sting that things are not yet as they are supposed to be, we worship you. Whether our voices can only whisper or shout out your praise, we join our voices together in praise and adoration:
Holy, holy, holy Lord, God of power and might,
heaven and earth are full of your glory.
Hosanna in the highest.
Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.
Hosanna in the highest.
We have gathered with one another around our various tables to remember the extent of your love for us. You spared nothing, gave up everything, and showed us the way to life everlasting. Through the giving of yourself on the cross, you reconciled us to yourself before we were even aware of the distance between us. In the breaking of the bread, you showed us who you are. And in the sharing of the cup, you invited us into communion with you. In the instituting of this meal, you invited us to share with you and with one another until the day when we can all do so face to face. Together, we share these mysteries that unite us:
Christ has died,
Christ is risen.
Christ will come again.
Merciful God, send your Holy Spirit on all of us gathered to share this meal. May the broken loaf feed our spirits, and may these poured cups quench the thirst of our hearts. Transform the distance that separates us into a banquet table where we are all gathered to proclaim your coming kingdom. As it says in your Word: nothing can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus. May we be knit together into your body, a body which cannot be separated even if we are separated from one another physically for a time. May all glory, and honor, and power be yours. Amen.