Compassionate God, for many of us these days feel like an exile. We remember that your people have walked through exile of many different kinds. You walked with them, and you walk with us now.
We pray for the senior class of 2020. May your grace be sufficient during these strange and chaotic days. We pray for students who did not realize that an ordinary school day just like any other might be their only closure to a lifetime of education when they waved goodbye to each other when the bell rang. Be and abide with the class of 2020.
May they find a deep breath of peace and love when the air is thin. Be with them when their grief wells up and when they mourn the loss of experiences that might have been. As cancellations build up, sit with them in their grief: over prom, over sports, over awards nights, over graduation. Be and abide with our students, O God.
May they love and be loved. Even in this unexpected “exile,” we hope that they might still be able to discover new opportunities to connect with family, to find rest when they need it, to re-center themselves, and t0 maybe even find new ways to connect with each other, with you and their community in our “disconnectedness.”
Open their hearts to lift each other up when they are sad, lonely, frustrated or simply grateful. May we discover a Lenten journey of our own even during “shelter-in-place.” Help them, and us, to discover a time of profound renewal. Empower us all. Move us from despair to hope, from divisiveness to neighborliness, and from being strangers to being the Body of Christ.
May this unexpected Lenten and Easter season still manage to surprise with new life even if it’s not the life that we expected. Help us to experience resurrection in new ways through the person of your Son. We pray for the class of 2020 and for each of us in the name of the one who walks this journey with us, Amen.
MICHELLE THOMAS-BUSH is associate pastor for youth and their families at Myers Park Presbyterian Church in Charlotte, North Carolina.
MARK VAN BULCK is associate pastor at Oxford Presbyterian Church in Oxford, Ohio.