Changes and Chances
Throughout this season of Lent, I have been taking time at the end of the day to pray. The goal was two-fold, to make space to listen to God, and to avoid absentmindedly scrolling through my phone at bedtime. It turns out that prayer is much better, not just for my eyes, but for my head and heart, too.
Every night, I have been praying a simple order of prayer called Compline or Night Prayer. It is the last of the daily prayers said by monastics and other people of faith. With ancient words, they close their day with prayers of confession, and confidence in the care of God. It is kind of like getting tucked into bed by generations of our faithful ancestors. There are a series of beautiful prayers, including one that says, “Be present, merciful God, and protect us through the hours of this night, that we who are wearied by the changes and chances of this life may find our rest in you.”
These words provide such comfort to me. Each of us, in our own ways, have been wearied by the changes and chances of life in this last year. It has been a year full of griefs and joys, new beginnings and tragic endings, and all sorts of twists and turns, ups and downs. The changes and chances have been significant. Some are deeply personal and known only to your heart. Others are communal as our hearts break at too many deaths, not just from the pandemic, but also through gun violence, and acts of hate and racism.
But in our exhaustion, our sense of being overwhelmed, or just plain worn out, we can find restoration and healing in God. Jesus came into this tired world and said to us, “come to me all you who are weary and heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” This is the rest we need, to continue the sustained work of building God’s way of love in this world.
Jesus knew a thing or two about being worn down. As we will remember again next week, during Holy Week, Jesus knew grief and violence, pain and suffering. For our sake, Jesus came to know in his body the sorrows and challenges of human life. But Jesus gathered to himself all our griefs and all our weariness, all our fears, and all our shame, all of us. Carrying this whole world with him, Jesus died and rose to bring all of us life, restoration, and healing.
This coming week, we will enter this saving story, yet again. Throughout Holy Week, let this promise of life anchor you in hope. We can trust that our God never wearies of showing mercy. We can relax into the love of God which never changes. And it was out of loving choice, not chance, that Jesus died and rose to bring life and rest to you and to all this weary world.