Prayer in a Time of Coronavirus

March 12, 2020Rabbi Joseph R. Black

Our God, and God of all people:
God of the rich and God of the poor;
God of the healthy, and God of the afflicted;
God of those with healthcare, and God of the uninsured;
God of the hoarder, and God of the helper;
God of those who have no God.

We are acutely aware of the gnawing unease that has been inspired by a global pandemic. Everywhere we look, we see apprehension and uncertainty unleashed all around us. The impact of this illness is very real. Its presence is felt every time we wash our hands, clear our throats or flinch in response to someone coughing behind us.

A virus cannot be seen by the human eye – and yet it makes its presence known in the empty classrooms and cancelled events that increasingly are becoming the norm around our city, state, nation and throughout the world.

It inspires fear as we await news of its arrival in our midst. We struggle to avoid contact with our faces and abandon all gestures of human touch that, just last month were expressions of friendship and affection.

We have heard stories of how the virus has brought out the worst in some of us. We have hoarded vital supplies and taken advantage of shortages to gouge our fellow citizens on the secondary market. We have taken solace in the fact that it is projected to most severely impact the most vulnerable in our midst: the aged and indisposed; the compromised and infirm;

We have watched in horror as racists have targeted Asian and other ethnic communities, using our fears to reinforce their hideous agendas. 

But along with the ugliness, we also have seen simple beauty:

  • Outpourings of caring and concern; 
  • Communities coming together to ensure that the frailest among us will be safe and secure; 
  • Doctors, nurses and healthcare workers who have labored in dangerous conditions in order to care for their patients; 
  • Researchers and students who valiantly search for cures and vaccines to stem the tide of infection.

The Psalmist wrote: “Who may ascend the mountain of the Eternal? Who may stand in God’s holy place? Those with clean hands and a pure heart.” (Psalm 24:3-4)

We pray that, as we wash our hands (for 20 seconds – no less…) we also might strive to find You, O God – in our hearts our hopes and our homes.

Eternal One: Bless all who come to this sacred place. Keep them healthy. Give them strength to find ways to safeguard our State and protect the lives and livelihoods of every one of its citizens.

We pray for healing of those who are affected. We pray that those who are healthy will remain so. We pray that this crisis will end and that lives and livelihoods will be spared.

And let us say: Amen

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