O God, the protector of all who trust in you, without whom nothing is strong, nothing is holy: Increase and multiply upon us your mercy; that, with you as our ruler and guide, we may so pass through things temporal, that we lose not the things eternal; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen. (Proper 12, BCP pg. 231)
The collect from this past Sunday is one of the most famous of Thomas Cranmer’s translations from the Gregorian Sacramentary into the first Book of Common Prayer.
The prayer acknowledges the transitory state in which we live our lives. At times it feels like we are running a race through an obstacle course. At least this is how I have experienced the past fourteen months. Jumping over one hurdle after another as the pandemic has shifted with variants and continues to threaten our normal routines.
With the rise of infections and increased hospitalizations due to the Delta variant – especially among younger people – there are updated guidelines from the CDC. It was my intention to make mask wearing optional for the fully vaccinated, but for the time being we are going to stay the course and continue wearing masks during worship services. We will continue to monitor the data and make changes, including relaxing the wearing of masks, as we are able. This action will disappoint some and be a relief for others. We are in a time of anxiety and uncertainty, but our call in Jesus Christ is to join God in protecting and caring for the least and the little. To provide a sanctuary where all may be safe.
When I introduced myself to you last December, I quoted a passage from Isaiah. The prophet proclaims to the Jewish people in Babylonian captivity a message of hope, “Fear not, for I have redeemed you and called you by name and you are mine. When you pass through the waters and rivers they will not harm or overwhelm you, when you go through fire you will not be burned, for I am the Lord you God.” God does not promise that life will be without challenges. Our hope is found in God’s abiding presence in the midst of the transitory passages of life.
The collect and Isaiah remind us that we endure the transitions of life because we are the beloved of God and place our trust in God’s protection. They keep us grounded in the reality that the Christian life is not about escaping the transitory realities of this world, but about passing through these times, and in that process of encountering the Divine.