THOUGHTS AND PRAYERS
THE REV. SUZANNE LEVESCONTE, RECTOR
and DEACON JACKIE WILLIAMS
Uplifting messages to help you during these unusual times.
VIDEO: March 18, 2020
A Prayer for the Day.
A Litany Amidst the Covid-19 Outbreak
Written by Michael Kurth
VIDEO: Compline, March 17, 2020
Episcopal Book of Common Prayer
(better know as The BCP), p. 127
VIDEO: Monday March 16 2020
A Word and a Prayer
From the BCP page 461 In the Morning
This is another day, O Lord. I know not what it will bring forth, but make me ready, Lord, for whatever it may be. If I am to stand up, help me to stand bravely, if I am to sit still, help me to sit quietly. If I am to lie low. Help me to do it patiently. And if I am to do nothing, let me do it gallantly. Make these words more than words, and give me the Spirit of Jesus. Amen.
VIDEO: March15, 2020 Morning Prayer
Thoughts from Mother Suzanne and Deacon Jackie are in chronological order.
Scroll down to find the latest.
February 2020 Thoughts from Mother Suzanne LeVesconte
The weather has been so very gloomy over the last several weeks. Weeks of gloom with one day of sunshine and one day of flitting snow. The southwest Ohio winters! Ugh! But yesterday morning, when I walked out the door, with the grey sky still looming, I heard the birds beginning to chirp their spring songs and I looked down and saw the tulip tips breaking the cold and bare garden soil. Small harbingers of the coming spring, of new life already in the making despite a grey persistence.
That really is the story of our faith--that new life is being made in the midst of the darkness, even before we see signs of it. Even in the midst of our grieving or our sadness or our confusion or our fear. God can take something that seems destructive or absent or dead and bring it to life, birthing a healing without our even being aware of its beginning.
When we are in the midst of the gloom we can so easily forget that God is still gestating a new life within our darkness.
New trees can sprout and grow from the remaining stumps of old, seemingly dead trees. God works in us like that, breaking open a part of our lives buried deep in the dark soil, with tender leaves reaching for the light. Or like birds that for a season have flown away and return to their homes with a new song.
This is the Christ living in us, suffering with us, being buried with us, and being risen in us. Painful yes, but there is a holy seed in the stump of our lives. Look for it. Wait for it.
Thoughts from Mother Suzanne March 26, 2020
Dear Trinity Folks,
I long to be together with you all again. And I long for when we will all return to singing “Alleluia, Alleluia, Alleluia.” I ache when I come across the Alleluia’s in the Book of Common Prayer. I long to exclaim them despite the liturgical prohibition during Lent. I long to exclaim, “Alleluia, Christ is Risen!” And have you all respond, “Alleluia, the Lord is Risen indeed!”
The word Alleluia is the Latin and Greek word for the Hebrew word Hallelujah which mean “Praise ye the Lord!” Alleluia is the most vibrant word we as Christians have of expressing our thanks and praise to God. And we especially raise this praise of Alleluia during the Easter season, after we have buried the Alleluias for the forty penitential days of Lent.
But this is what I want us all to remember: That even though we bury the Alleluia’s for the Lenten season, they are not dead; they are held deep in our bones, called out quietly with every beat of our hearts, and strongly woven into our spirits. They are always there, even in the darkest of hours, even in our fear, even in our sorrows. Even when they feel buried deep beyond our grasp. They will rise again even in this time of pandemic and quarantine. They will rise again as surely as Christ is risen from the Dead. Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia!
Thoughts from Mother Suzanne April 4, 2020
Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, a twentieth-century Jesuit philosopher, prayed:
"Since once again, Lord, I have neither bread nor wine nor altar, I will raise myself beyond these symbols, up to the pure majesty of the real itself; I, your priest, will make the whole earth my altar and on it will offer you all the labors and suffering of the world.”
Lord God,we give you thanks that no building can house you fully and no place of worship can contain your majesty. Teach us by our deeds of peace and justice and joyful celebration to erect altars in the world, so that when some other soul comes across them, they will see that you are indeed present everywhere. Amen. ~ From “Common Prayer: a liturgy for ordinary radicals”
Dear Trinity Folks,
It does seem that at this time we “have neither bread nor wine nor altar,” but indeed our hearts are God’s altar. And God’s sacramental nature, God’s incarnational mystery and love are written on our hearts and into the very nature of ordinary creation and life.
As we enter this Holy Week, this holiest of weeks, where we remember more deeply than any other time of the year the love and sacrifice of God through our Lord Jesus Christ, I implore you to contemplate on the presence of God in your midst.
On Palm Sunday, as we sing Hosanna for Jesus' entry into Jerusalem, contemplate where it is that Christ is welcomed into your life. On Maundy Thursday, as we celebrate the institution of the Eucharistic meal, pay attention to where it is that Christ feeds you. And, as we celebrate Jesus’ washing of the feet of his disciples, look for where Christ washes your feet and how you are vulnerably loving others. And, as you wait in the Garden with Jesus, enter deeply into your own sorrows and join them with the sorrows of Christ. On Good Friday, as we remember Christ’s crucifixion, claim those places where Christ is walking with you in your own suffering. And then, in the glorious festival celebration of the Easter resurrection of Christ, rejoice in where it is that Christ has indeed raised you and us from the dead to new life.
Our hearts and the whole earth are God’s altar. And so I also ask that you enter into these same contemplations and pray about where it is you see Christ: welcomed into the world; feeding the world: washing the world’s feet; loving the world vulnerably; sharing in the world’s sorrows; bearing the world’s suffering; and bringing the world into joyous new life. This indeed is how we remain and grow in faith, individually and as the Church, in this crazy time – by holding in our hearts the life and gifts of Christ and living them out in the world. For God so loved the world!
Blessings for the Holy Week, Mother Suzanne
God in the "Re-Set' by Deacon Jackie Williams
My son and his wife are both facing total loss of income. When I asked how they are doing Tyler said, “We are using this time to plan how we will ‘re-set’ our lives when this is over. We are optimistic and we see the good in this.”
So what does it take? What do optimists have that others don’t? I don’t know. The only person I can speak for is myself. When I reach ‘the abyss’, the darkest of the dark times, I try to focus on the question, ‘At my very core identity who am I? What is my deepest essence? How am I equipped to face this?’ Usually that comes back, ‘a beloved child of God’. That recognition sometimes throws off the chains that shackle us to the values and fears of the world. Financial security, great loss, and despair have no place in the heart of a beloved child of God. I don’t have the spiritual strength to pull myself out of my place, but God sometimes opens Her arms and light shines.
Thoughts from Mother Suzanne April 7, 2020
The thought of not physically meeting together to celebrate the Triduum – Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and the Easter Vigil/Day – is hard for me to take. No foot washing, no stripping of the altar, no on-site chapel garden watch, no adoration of the Cross, no Paschal Candle in the cold pre-dawn, no singing of the Exsultet, no sunrise Easter vigil in the Memorial Garden with the Communion of Saints so palpably celebrating the Resurrection with us, no triumphant organ with sung Alleluias on Easter Day, no physically gathering together for any of this.
That’s a lot to be grieving and missing. However, this huge absence of the fullness of the Holy Week liturgical rites does not mean that the core of what we are celebrating is diminished or missing. In fact I am wondering if the Spirit of this holy time might be even more visible to us without these traditions, as we adjust to a world devoid of our normal everyday routines, as we quite our lives and run communally head-long into the work of sustaining and healing one another. Would it even be right to wear familiar traditions in a world that is stripped bare of normal? Yes, these traditions would surely be comforting. But what is more important is reflecting on how the story of Holy Week is woven into our lives, into the happenings of the world at this moment in time.
There are the circuitous walking routes to avoid others and masked runs to the grocery that make me ponder what it must have been like for Jesus and the disciples entering Jerusalem and the Upper room, surely frightfully aware of the dangers they were facing.
There is the selfless care of the sick by the medical personnel on the front lines of the pandemic, putting love into action, a living out of Jesus washing the stunned disciples’ filthy feet.
There are those who watch from the quarantined security of their homes, praying for the sick and the dying, hoping that God has not forsaken them and the world, in the way that Jesus prayed in the garden the night before his death. And, the suffering of Christ and of the women sitting at the foot of the Cross is written in every news article and video, as we learn about what is happening in New York City and Italy, and around the world.
Two thousand years ago there were no choirs of angels, no massive celebrations. Rather there was a strangely open tomb and a stunned realization that something profound had occurred. A grasping at understanding what had happened and what was in store for the future. A slow awareness that nothing would ever be the same and the world was in fact being made anew. A recognition that God was imminently closer and always and forever the life-giver, despite or perhaps because of everything that had gone before.
The open tomb was and is and forever will be. And so are the hope and promises of that first Easter morn, with or without our traditions. (Alleluia! Christ is Risen)
Thoughts from Mother Suzanne April 15, 2020
Alleluia. Christ is Risen!
Well, we made it through Holy Week and Easter Day during this coronavirus time. Now I am tired. I just want to hibernate. Perhaps it is the stress of figuring out how to do Holy Week and Easter on-line.
Perhaps it is missing the regular routines and liturgies, the drama of darkness and light. Of all, I miss
most the Easter Vigil in the Memorial Garden, in the cold morning, when we are a crazy people shivering
in the late hours of the night outside in a cemetery, reading ancient stories, praying millennials-old Psalms, sharing the first Easter Eucharist with frozen figures, deciding that yes we do want to sing a verse of Jesus Christ is Risen Today even though we desperately want to go inside. And I miss going off to the Sisters of the Transfiguration, exhausted from the week, but ready to share in the Easter meal with beloved friends.
Yes. I am grieving. I am sure we are all grieving. Not just for our old Easter traditions, but for friends and family members we cannot visit with, for old routines, for community, for
life the way it used to be. So, let yourself grieve, let yourself cry, take long naps and meandering walks.
We may be feeling a bit like the followers of Jesus on the day of Jesus’ resurrection, feeling like something has been taken away, hiding in closed rooms, wandering on the roads of the countryside,whispering in hushed tones, trying to make sense of things, wanting answers, wondering what is next. It all took time, even for those first followers of Jesus, to adjust to what had happened.
So, give yourself time, be good to yourself, find the small things that give you joy, reach out to one another. We will find our way through to new life, together, and with Jesus going before us.
Christ is Risen, indeed. Alleluia!
Thoughts from Mother Suzanne April 21, 2020
As we enter a new, hopefully temporary, new normal, I want to thank you all for your continued corporate worship, fellowship, pastoral care and prayers. We are being Church, albeit in ways we never expected! Our community of Christian fellowship is deepening as we care for one another and connect with one another out of concern during this time of COVID-19, and as we virtually worship together daily. I know we are all making sacrifices and affected in various ways. We overall are faring well as a congregation, but there are some who have lost jobs and some whose extended family members have been taken ill with the virus. Please continue to reach out to one another to care for one another and share with one another. Please continue to reach out to one another if you need help with anything or need to hear a friendly voice. And please continue in prayer. At the beginning of all of this, I called upon us to be open to the Spirit to make us Church in new ways. The Spirit is doing its work in us! Thanks be to God!
Easter Quarantine by Deacon Jackie Williams
When I was 16 I experienced being ‘sheltered in place’ for the first time. I had driven friends, 60 miles round trip, to Columbus in my family’s only car. Maybe I hadn’t asked permission to go so far, or maybe I never shifted from 2nd to 3rd gear, something I often didn’t do. But in my first ‘quarantine’, I didn’t miss much; the phone in my room took care of that.
I didn’t know then I am an introvert. It means my ‘batteries’, my social energy, get charged when I’m alone. That could be why I didn’t suffer from my first experience of sheltering in place. The informality of being home is satisfying to me. I relish jammies and sweats and breakfast until almost noon. I claim this respite as a gift of renewal, a mini-Easter of my own. My body tells me it desperately needed a reprieve.
But I was mightily troubled about missing the Triduum, the three days of services before Easter, especially Maunday Thursday when we strip the altar. That Thursday night, while we watch, someone removes, from our holy space, every item that brings comfort and inspiration to Christians. My stomach lurches when the candles, Gospel Book, chalice, paten (plate), linens, cushions, candles, cross, and offering plates are transferred to the sacristy. Without these objects the space represents who we would be without the Resurrection. We, too, would be dark, empty, and joyless. And that loss leads to the grief of Good Friday. And that Good Friday loss leads to our identity as People of the Resurrection.
Using what I had at home, I did construct an altar for the Triduum, and changed it each of the three days, a reminder that out of the worst we can imagine, will come better than we could imagine.
One glance into the outside world and I see the picture of what Jesus prepared us to face. And deep within me stirs, “Love your neighbor as I have loved you”; “Care for my sheep”.
‘… like … an oak whose stump remains standing when it is felled.’
The holy seed is its stump.Isaiah 6:13b