Rev. Robert Shaner
Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice. Let your gentleness be known to everyone. The Lord is near. Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
“For health and strength, and daily bread, we praise your name, O Lord.” AND, for what else should we pray? St. Paul writes, “in EVERYTHING.” In our liturgy we pray for the world, the church, and our neighbors—first responders, schools and students, un/under-employed, nations and governments, equality and justice, refugees and our sisters/brothers who are homeless, for penal reform, the arts and sciences, “end of life” concerns….Yes, as St. Paul admonishes the Philippians, “IN EVERYTHING by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving, let your request be made known to God.” Even in pandemics, in death, in the 17th century when the plague left his community with over 50,000 funerals in one year, including the death of his family, Martin Rinkart composed a hymn: “Now thank we all our God with, hearts, and hands, and voices.” In the midst of tremendous loss and grief came the note of thanksgiving.
Fast forward to three years ago: While within ten minutes of being discharged from the hospital, 97-year-old Victor Brandt (retired pastor, former Grace Visitation Pastor and former bishop of the Association of Evangelical Lutheran Churches, a predecessor of the ELCA) was informed of his beloved wife Irene’s death. From his bed and from memory he prayed all three stanzas of Rinkart’s hymn. Then released from the hospital and within the hour, taken to be with her in her room, he continued his thanksgiving, summing up their 67 years of marriage with three powerful statements from his heart:
“Irene, you are beautiful. Thank you for our partnership in ministry. I love you!“
Scripture, hymnists, and beloved saints teach and inspire us to pray and offer our supplications for EVERYTHING, in all seasons of life with THANKS.
Prayer: For health and strength, and daily bread, for our loved ones, our neighbors, the lonely and estranged, those suffering and mistreated, for refugees and homeless persons, orphans, widows and widowers, for the cross of Christ, for victory in life and in death, we praise your name, O Lord. Into your hands we commend our spirits. In Jesus’ name, Amen.