May 19, 2020
Dear Beloved Friends of the Diocese of Massachusetts,
We did not expect to be needing to suggest resources for liturgy in a time of social distancing beyond Easter, but here we are. We trust that you and your communities have found certain rhythms and forms of worship that work in your context and that are assuring you in some way of God’s continuing faithfulness and love.
As the need for distancing extends into new liturgical seasons, it may not always be obvious how to adapt what we have been doing so far, nor how to mark meaningfully the shifting contours of the church calendar. How to mark feast days, rites of passage, inevitable experiences of loss and lament? How to give shape to an increasingly monotonous horizon, with no clear sense of its duration? The resources listed below may help to address some of those questions and concerns.
If you have not already, you may want to consider joint virtual worship with another congregation. This can offer a break from worship planning and leading, as well as nurture relationships with other congregations. Zoom "break-out rooms" after worship can allow parishioners to meet and share stories.
Know that your faithfulness and love have not gone unheeded in this difficult time, and that you are not alone. Please don’t hesitate to be in touch with any of us with your questions, reflections and suggestions.
The Rev. Elise A. Feyerherm
Chair, Liturgy and Music Commission
Sister Kristina Frances, SSM
Assistant Superior, Society of Saint Margaret, and Secretary of Convention
The Very Rev. Amy McCreath
Dean, Cathedral Church of St. Paul, Boston
Newly added resources for Easter season and beyond
- Virginia Theological Seminary’s Center for Lifelong Learning offers carefully curated and thoughtful resources at http://www.vts.edu/lifelong-learning/lifelong-learning.
- Specific guidelines, texts, and liturgies can be found in Sundays, Major Feasts & Life Passages under Quarantine, also from Virginia Theological Seminary. It includes information on basic principles and premises for worship under quarantine; forms for an agape meal; ante-communion liturgies; a simple liturgy for Ascension Day; rites for accompanying people through major life passages; suggestions for seasonal and weekly patterns of worship that mark feast as well as feria; and careful attention to the experience of mourning and lament in this time.
- The Society of Saint Margaret has provided a number of resources, including Coronavirus Prayer and a Litany in Time of Pandemic, and Rogation Resources. (Rogation days, when priest and congregation traditionally walked the boundaries of the parish, giving thanks for the created order and the blessings of the earth, are traditionally the three days prior to Ascension Day, but the spirit of these celebrations apply throughout spring and summer. The resources for rogation celebrations could appropriately be used with children, as they help to plant gardens.)
- The website “Alone Together” at https://www.alonetogether.org.uk/ offers, from a number of faith traditions, resources for coping and living meaningfully with isolation and silence.
- Prayers for Spiritual Communion: As we continue to be separated from one another, thus unable to celebrate the Holy Eucharist, here are some additional prayers for Spiritual Communion that may better articulate your circumstances and longings.
From St. Augustine’s Prayer Book, p. 192, adapted
In union, blessed Jesus, with the faithful gathered this day, we long to offer you praise and thanksgiving, for creation and all the blessings of this life, for the redemption won for us by your life, death, and resurrection, for the means of grace and the hope of glory. We believe that you are truly present in Word and Sacrament, and, since we cannot at this time receive communion, we pray you to come into our hearts. We unite ourselves with you and embrace you with all our heart, soul, and mind. Let nothing separate us from you; let us serve you in this life until, by your grace, we come to your glorious kingdom and unending peace. Amen.
From St. Stephen Lutheran Church, ELCA, Pompano Beach, Fla.
Lord Jesus, we desire earnestly to experience your love as guests at the heavenly feast you have prepared for your children on earth in the most holy Sacrament of the Altar. As we are not able on this day to be gathered at your Table, may we receive you into our hearts by faith, trusting the word of your promise, that "those who love me will keep my word, and my Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them." Strengthen our faith, increase our love and hope; and after this life grant us a place at your heavenly table, where we shall eat of the eternal manna, and drink of the river of your pleasure forevermore. Hear us for your own Name's sake. Amen.
The Book of Common Prayer 1979
Other Prayer Resources
- Sunday Revised Common Lectionary, Episcopal edition
- Lesser Feasts and Fasts 2018
- Other Books of Common Prayer
- ChurchNext: Prayer and Worship in our Homes (an online course)
- Forward Day by Day - Daily Meditation
- Topical Prayers from Common Worship (Church of England)
- Virginia Theological Seminary Lifelong Learning Resource Pack
- COVID-19 Prayers from Cincinnati Children's Hospital Chaplains
Praying the Daily Office (Morning, Noonday, Evening Prayer & Compline)
- The Lectionary (Daily)
- Daily Prayer for All Seasons (Church Publishing)
- Praying online with the Mission of St. Clare
- The Daily Office Tutorial from St. George’s Ardmore, PA
Praying with Children
- Praying with children
- Praying Compline with your children
- Illustrated Ministry (Coloring)
- Weekly Godly Play Stories (from the Rev. Dr. Cheryl Minor, All Saints' Church, Belmont)
Graces at Meals
- Home Prayer (page 685 in the Book of Alternative Services, Anglican Church of Canada)
- Thanksgiving Prayers & Table Graces