When you have been struggling for a very long time in a battle against an unseen viral enemy,
and your life feels smaller and your world more fragile,
grief covers everything with a blinding frost of loss.
When you feel a shortness of breath, a shortness of temper, a shortness of hope
on behalf of thousands,
it is tempting to go limp and sink into the darkness.
When the load-bearing walls of gathering you unknowingly relied upon give way,
and the virus invades the connective tissue of community herself that was worn thin already,
and there is no shelter from the storms,
this vaccine arrives as something more than clinical necessity.
It is also a moment of deep resolve and communal devotion.
Bless this vaccine.
May it be a jolt of gratitude for the hard work and investment made long before this day when success was far from guaranteed.
May this vaccine remind us how the body can learn to overcome illness,
and that means our children can learn how to overcome long seasons of disruption,
and our country can learn how to overcome the deepest alienation from each other.
May this vaccine serve as an urgent reminder that we need each other desperately,
and that we have the glad task of protecting those who remain vulnerable.
Bless this vaccine as it safeguards us from the inside out.
May fear of needles be overcome with the rush of appreciation.
May exhaustion be overcome with determination.
May the residue of resentment be sanitized by the cleanser of grace.
May what was broken in each of us by long, lonely months be tended with the salve of compassion and community.
May those who cared for us throughout the pandemic be honored through our showing up today and eventually may they be blessed with the rest they deserve.
May those who lost someone to this virus be honored by our lining up to stop it,
and eventually with the ability to mourn in fellowship with their people.
As this vaccine goes into our arms, may empty arms find embrace again.
And may we tire our arms in service to our neighbors again.
And may we lock arms in walking each other toward brighter days.
And may we be made well.
REBECCA MESSMAN is pastor at Trinity Presbyterian Church in Herndon, Virginia