Vicar's Blog ~ May 2020
ASK Easter 4
Perhaps this saying is familiar to you:
God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
courage to change the things I can,
and wisdom to know the difference.
The prayer this is based on was composed by American theologian Reinhold Niebuhr sometime around 1932. It has been widely quoted and adapted, and turned from prose into a poetic form.
However we are feeling at the moment, heavily restricted in movement, relationships and social contact, we can remain close to God in prayer, and perhaps find some serenity in the midst of isolation and worry.
There could not be a better text for today, the fortieth day of our lock down, than the story of Noah’s Ark. It resonates deeply with our current predicament. This week’s sermon, which you can find online in the usual way, reflects on the fact that today, Saturday, is the Fortieth Day and Night of Lockdown. Our lockdown began on March 24th. That was forty days and nights ago. Which is a bit spooky really!
But notice that it didn’t suddenly end on the fortieth day. Noah’s easing out of maritime lockdown was gradual as the waters receded. The flood actually lasted 150 days. That’s five months. After forty days it stopped raining. The worst was over. But then the waters had to recede and took more than three times as long. Noah and his gang, floating on their planks of wood needed not only faith and hope, but patience. Birds were sent out, only to return empty-beaked, until eventually one dud not return. It was not until the seventh month that the ark ‘landed’ on Mount Ararat, and if you read the story carefully, we are told that the duration of the Noah family lockdown, their isolation in the Ark was around eleven months. Then, when it was all over, there was a big celebration of thanksgiving and there were sacrifices and feasting (which involved eating some of the animals, of course).
So, as we pass forty days of lockdown, with at least 110 to go in some form or another, and the prospect of it taking even eleven months or more, we give thanks for the protection, wisdom, advice and care we receive and benefit from, in so many quarters. Naturally we weep with those who weep and pray for the sick and dying, and for the protection of all. But we do so in the light of the illuminating stories from the past which remind us that God is in control, and Christ is our God Shepherd, who brings us home, on earth and in heaven.
God, give me grace to accept with serenity the things that cannot be changed,
Courage to change the things which should be changed,
and the Wisdom to distinguish the one from the other.
Living one day at a time, enjoying one moment at a time, accepting hardship as a pathway to peace,
Taking, as Jesus did, this sinful world as it is, not as I would have it,
Trusting that you will make all things right, if I surrender to your will,
So that I may be reasonably happy in this life, and supremely happy with you forever in the next.
For you are God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, Amen.