Archive for August 1st, 2021

In the Midst


Written by Martha Spong, a contemporary pastor, clergy coach, and writer.

On my first Sunday back in the sanctuary after fifteen months, I made sure to mark the moment. Masked, I looked for a pew labeled with the service time, every other one wearing a sign for 8:15 or 11 a.m. During Covid-19, the sanctuary received a glow-up; the new cushion on which I sat felt firm and supportive, grounding me in a well-loved space that is familiar but different after all this time. Fresh paint, new blinds and lights, and new flooring have changed the landscape, but not whose it is. This space belonged and belongs to God.

Sitting up front, knowing the limited seating would fill up quickly, I felt the weight of waiting’s end in a space that – like so many churches I have loved – breathes the Spirit of God into me. Like mouth-to-mouth, it resuscitates me. We have not arrived at normal, whether the old version or a new one we may yet reach. On that morning, in the midst of the sanctuary, I pondered the steadfast love of God that sustains me and mine, and I hope yours, too. While the organ played, I heard murmurs behind masks, “Holy, holy, holy,” one of the hymns I have known the longest and sung the most in my 60 years. Early in the morning, 8:25ish, my song, though not full-throated, rose, hopeful. Wherever we are, God is there with us.


Written by John Calvin (1509-1564), a French theologian, pastor, reformer of the Protestant Reformation, and principal figure in developing the theology known as Calvinism. This prayer is from his work “Lectures on Haggai.”

Grant, Almighty God, that as we must carry on a warfare in this world, and as it is thy will to try us with many contests,—O grant, that we may never faint, however extreme may be the trials which we shall have to endure: and as thou hast favored us with so great an honor as to make us the framers and builders of thy spiritual temple, may every one of us present and consecrate himself wholly to thee: and, inasmuch as each of us has received some peculiar gift, may we strive to employ it in building this temple, so that thou mayest be worshipped among us perpetually; and especially, may each of us offer himself wholly as a spiritual sacrifice to thee, until we shall at length be renewed in thine image, and be received into a full participation of that glory, which has been attained for us by the blood of thy only-begotten Son. Amen.

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