As Dominicans, we welcome community. We seek to find God’s face in one another. Before March 14, 2020 our community welcomed all to gather in Dominican Chapel at Marywood, weekly, for Sunday Eucharist to celebrate God’s love in our daily lives. But in the times of COVID-19, even Holy Week leading us into Easter was incredibly unusual. How we have all been impacted by this pandemic! Who could have envisioned the changes in how we connect with one another, the ways that we worship together?
Throughout Holy Week, into on Holy Thursday, Good Friday, and Easter Sunday, I envisioned the faces of our Sunday Assembly participants. What spaces did each find to contemplate Jesus’ path toward resurrection? Did you stop to imagine the words Jesus sought in those final hours to help his followers–and us– to remember all he’d said and done to help us get the meaning of his life–- and the meaning of his death?
During the Passover meal – Jesus stood up, took a towel, and tied it around his waist. He took a basin of water and began to wash the feet of his companions… and wiped them with a towel. He washed the feet of all of them, even the one who would betray him. Then, Jesus said: As I have done to you, so you also should do for one another. There, we have it!
Jesus brought that healing power of God’s love to everyone in need, stayed close to the marginalized, lived with the smell of the sheep – because that’s what self-emptying love demanded. In God’s reign all are loved and welcome. This is what our life is about. As I have done to you, so you also should do for one another.
It’s not just about the symbolic washing of clean feet in our Holy Thursday liturgies, which do take us out of our circles of safety. It is self-emptying love– like we are seeing today in this pandemic-– in the doctors, nurses, bus drivers, grocery stores, cleaners, mask makers and so many others responding to the call to “wash feet”. In the midst of grave danger, people are there, willing to help, even walking them to death. Although we might not be out there, we also cannot turn our hearts from what God is asking us to do, tending to what is in front of each of us – what does our neighbor need? We are all in this together! We are on this journey of life, walking along side, yet distancing, as never before.
This year, we were unable to experience the humble, self-emptying symbolic act of washing another’s feet that is one of our most cherished services at Dominican Chapel at Marywood in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Nor could we partake of the communion table, the bread of His body and wine of His blood. But memories of the out-pouring of love that comes with these acts of faith and service fill my heart with joy and appreciation.
We hope this Prayer for Spiritual Communion brings you comfort and fills you with hope.
Prayer for Spiritual Communion:
Lord Jesus Christ, we know your presence among us in our gathering for the Eucharist, in our prayer, in the Word of God, in the Sacrament of the Body and Blood of Christ.
At this time, as we must refrain from sharing in Communion at the liturgy, we know that you are present in our hearts and souls. Your healing and strengthening grace is available to us every moment of every day.
In our prayer we are “in communion” with you, with one another, with all of our brothers and sisters in the human family. Give us health, peace and safety, and give us hope for the day when we gather again around your table ~ one bread and one body. You live and reign forever and ever. Amen