Below is the final newsletter page I composed as a reflection upon my resignation from parish/congregational ministry. I had an idea of what I was being called to, but with an undetermined location.
I now have that next step in place, and I await the beginning, even as I come to terms with the recent ending. I know the style, format and general nature of the work in which I will be engaged, but there remain many, daily variables – each day a new venture with an unseen ending.
What now? Whatever it becomes, I must trust that God goes with me, and I with God. I believe this prayer may become a close companion along the way.
“O God, you have called your servants
to ventures of which we cannot see the ending,
by paths as yet untrodden,
Through perils unknown.
Give us faith to go out with good courage,
not knowing where we go,
but only that your hand is leading us
and your love supporting us;
Through Jesus Christ our Lord.
(ELW* Morning Prayer/Matins)
For what it is worth, I think this is a great prayer.
The first four lines, alone, contain the biblical stories of Noah, Abram and Moses to name a few. Noah could have no way of knowing where his boat would end up when the waters finally subsided (Gen. 7-8). Abram packed up and left his home with only a general direction to head (Gen. 12:1). Moses, born in a foreign country, was told to lead the children of Israel back to a homeland he had never seen (Ex. 3). And those are in just the first two books of the Bible! Then, there are the stories of the disciples who followed Jesus under similarly unknown condition.
The last four lines are an acknowledgement that neither the biblical figures, nor us, can do anything without God’s involvement. In each of these episodes, God promised that God knew the destination and the path, and would be guide and companion throughout. This is no different for us, as people of faith.
Perhaps this prayer should be as well known in our hearts and minds and the Lord’s Prayer, but that’s just my opinion. As indicated, it comes from the Morning Prayer/Matins service in our worship books, but is included in the Evening Prayer/Vespers service as well.
It is suggested, or intended, to be used as part of daily prayer practice. We can very easily find ourselves believing that every day is generally no different from others before it, except in name. You know, “Same stuff, different day” thinking. But, this prayer, used daily, reminds us that we don’t know necessarily what the day will bring. Each day IS brand new, full of possibilities, full of unexpected encounters, full of joy, full of challenges. Each day, God calls us anew to live out our faith in the ordinary, everyday things, not just the grand and epic ones. Each day, God promises to be our guide and companion, as God has always been. There is nothing about our daily journey that we can manage without God. The prayer says just that.
As we go about our days, then, another bit of Scripture provides our mission and purpose, “As you go, proclaim the good news, `The kingdom of heaven has come near.’” (Mt. 10:7)
Go in peace. Serve the Lord.
*ELW = Evangelical Lutheran Worship, the primary worship resource/hymnal of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA).