“Be present, O merciful God, and protect us through the hours
of this night, so that we who are wearied by the changes and
chances of this life may rest in your eternal changelessness;
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.”
The Book of Common Prayer, the Episcopal Church
Many years ago, I embroidered this prayer from the Episcopal Service of Compline on the back of my wedding quilt. I could feel its comforting presence covering me as I slept. Life is full of changes-some we anticipate and others that are totally unexpected. Sometimes those changes bring blessings and joy such as a new baby and others bring worry and struggle. As we walk through the stories of Jesus and his disciples this Lent, as we accompany them on their journey to Jerusalem and Jesus’ passion, we can see how they went through very difficult changes. We see how God accompanied them through the changes and we see God’s power to bring life even out of death.
The thing I really appreciate about our Bible stories is that it doesn’t hide the failings of the disciples. Sometimes they failed to get the lessons Jesus was trying to teach them. After walking with him daily for three years, they still didn’t understand servant leadership. He had to teach the lesson again as he washed their feet. (John 13:1-20) They loved him as their Teacher and yet they abandoned him in his most painful hours. I don’t find pleasure in their failings, but I do find hope. Even with my own failings and foibles, Jesus can still accept me as his disciple. He will still allow me to walk with him, learn from him, and he will teach me the same lessons until I finally get them. He will forgive me in those times I let him down and betray him. The disciples’ story is my story. They lived through the very painful changes of the passion and came out with new life. This Lenten journey offers us hope.
I don’t know what changes I will face over this Lenten and Easter season and I don’t know what changes you and your churches will face. I do know our Lord who accompanies us through those changes. I know of his compassion, his power, and his love. When you have times that you feel overwhelmed or weary, I offer you the prayer of compline. I invite you to rest in God’s eternal changeless love.
Jesus said, “I’ve said these things to you so that you will have peace in me. In the world you have distress. But be encouraged! I have conquered the world.” John 16:33
May God bless you with a holy Lent,