Guiding and guarding

ive ear to our prayers, O Lord, and direct the way of your servants in safety under your protection, that, amid all the changes of our earthly pilgrimage, we may be guarded by your mighty aid; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Yesterday I joined thousands of other folks in Richmond at the Arthur Ashe Junior Athletic Center (right next door to the Diamond, where the Richmond Flying Squirrels play minor league baseball) to receive my first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. What a well-organized production! National Guardspeople were stationed all over the parking lot to help us find a space as we drove in and to point out the entry door to the building. More stood outside the building to check our QR codes and inside the building to show us where to go to register and then where to go to get the vaccine itself and then where to go to schedule our second doses, and finally how to get back outside to our cars. Then the Guardspeople directed traffic for us to get out of the complex lot, too. Other volunteers screened us, checked us in, kept an eye on us during the 15 minute post-shot monitoring, and scheduled our next appointments.

So today's prayer really resonates with that experience. I felt directed in safety under protection during this important but potentially confusing experience. I felt that everyone there (most of them literally wearing safety vests!) was looking out for my well-being. I am grateful - so grateful.

Our world has felt dangerous this last year especially. Suddenly even going to the grocery store was a potentially dangerous event. Church gatherings, normally places of joy, refuge, and comfort, became places where the deadly virus spread and put people at risk. And our civic leadership sent out confusing and contradictory information about what we should and should not do. Caring for our community and following science became a political issue. And millions of people have become ill and hundreds of thousands of them have died. Grandparents have not been able to hug their grandchildren and people began to have to work at home or give up work altogether in the face of family needs. Many of us have really felt alone and on our own about our well being and safety.

So what better time than now to ask God to direct us in safety under protection of God Almighty, to ask God to guard us in these chaotic times? Asking to be guided, to be under God's protection, to be sent out to do our work in safety amid the chaos feels like the most important prayer for me these days. Therefore, this prayer is going on my "regular prayers" list, not just for a weekday in Lent but any day or night when I feel vulnerable. Direct us in safety, under your protection, guarding us with your mighty aid, O Lord.

Thank you for hearing our prayers, Lord. And thank you for your servants who do the in-person directing and protecting!