“Come, bless the Lord, all you servants of the Lord, who stand by night in the house of the Lord!
Lift up your hands to the holy place, and bless the Lord.
May the Lord, maker of heaven and earth, bless you from Zion.” (Psalm 134, NRSV)
The changes to daily life that have affected everyone these last couple of months, bring the unintended benefit of helping recognize the blessings that shower every life: blessings noticed in their absence. Chats with friends. Visits with family. Chances to shop or travel or simply go about a day without worrying about dangers the day might hold.
There are blessings of everyday survival, as well. Indeed, their absence is far greater than simple inconvenience. The blessing of a job, or of a business that teeters now on the edge of insolvency. The blessing of the school that brings learning and nourishment and care. The blessing of health, un-threatened by pre-existing conditions or new pestilence.
These are things that people often learn to cherish only by missing them.
But even these distressing, frightening times bring blessings. The phone call of a friend. The offer to pick up some groceries to save a trip to the store. A walk in a springtime evening. The way that simple tasks like washing hands or wearing a mask become acts of care for each other, even as they are acts of care for ourselves.
We are also blessed with heroes! We look with thanksgiving to the brave and loving service of people whose entire profession has been an act of care. Doctors and nurses, police and fire, the people at shops and offices and agencies whose working days are spent serving and helping and empowering their clients and customers. Every time I need a bottle of Purell, a library book, or a role of stamps, I miss the smiling faces across the counters and breathe a small prayer of thanksgiving for all of the unnoticed times when they were there.
These are the people we see. The crisis can call to attention the valuable helpers whom we do not see. The people, there in the night to make sure that stores and shops are clean and shiny each morning. The people who stock the shelves, and these days may bring the groceries to the car. The people who served the meals, change the sheets, and respond to midnight cries in the hospital and nursing homes.
The people who stand watch by night.
The psalmist said ”Come, bless the Lord, all you servants of the Lord, who stand by night in the house of the Lord! … May the Lord, maker of heaven and earth, bless you from Zion..”
May we bless them as well. And may we resolve, when the crisis is passed, that the ways that we recognize and appreciate them will not pass.
Let us pray: Almighty God, may this time of sickness and fear be also a time of healing and care. We remember especially those people whom we do not see, who care for us. We pray that your protecting hand rest especially with them and your blessing be with them, and with us all. In Jesus name, Amen
Fr Frank Fuller, St Paul’s Episcopal Church