|Compline, also known as Night Prayer or the Prayers at the End of the Day, is a service of the Divine Office of the Western Christian Church. Derived from the Latin word completorium, Compline prayerfully acknowledges the completion of the working day and is often said just before retiring for the night.
As a way for our Shaughnessy Faith Community to gather again and acknowledge the end of another challenging week, either because of social distancing and isolation or because of worrisome work conditions, we invite you to set aside some time this evening. Take a moment to catch your breath. Settle yourself into a comfortable chair, pour a cup of tea, light a candle, and allow yourself to refresh and nourish your soul. Follow the short service below, listen to the music suggestions via the Youtube links (again, ads are unfortunately unavoidable), and give yourself up to quiet meditation and reflection. And even though we are doing this as individuals, we are also doing this as a faith community, connecting ourselves to each other in prayer and intention.
You are invited to share this service with others.
We ask that anyone using this document, outside of our own SHUC community,
to please acknowledge that this is the work of
Shaughnessy Heights United Church, Vancouver, Canada
SHAUGHNESSY HEIGHTS UNITED CHURCH
PRAYERS AT THE CLOSE OF DAY
Friday, May 8, 2020
Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not.
The Lorax: Dr. Seuss
Keep watch, dear Lord, with those who work, or watch, or weep this night,
and give your angels charge over those who sleep.
Tend the sick, Lord Christ; give rest to the weary, bless the dying, soothe the suffering, pity the afflicted, shield the joyous, and all for your love’s sake. Amen.
Augustine of Hippo | Book of Common Prayer
God Grant with Grace: Thomas Tallis
God grant with grace, he us embrace,
in gentle part, bless he our heart;
With loving face shine he in place,
his mercies all on us to fall.
That we thy way may know all day.
While we do sail this world so frail,
Thy health’s reward is nigh declared,
as plain as eye all gentiles spy.
You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot. You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.
– Matthew 5: 13-15
Exalt Us in Your Love: Will Todd
Almighty God, in whom we live and move, make us as a field that You have blessed.
That whatsoever things are true, pure and just, worthy unto You, may in us forever flourish.
Preserve in us always a perfect and unblemished name, send us out as Your disciples.
Exalt us in Your love and in the love of all, as an instrument of Thy glory.
Your love is my blessing, I walk within Your light.
Guide me on to rest in Your embrace.
I pray that You will always see the reflection of Your grace in me,
Till I behold Your face.
I live in Your service to bring to earth Your endless peace.
Clothe me with courage to praise You.
Exalt us in Your love and in the love of all, as an instrument of Thy glory
May the One who created you in wholeness
meet your needs when you call.
May the Name of Love be your protection
and rise up in your heart as a tower of strength.
May all you have given in gratitude and with open hands
be returned to you a hundredfold.
Let us shout for joy as Love triumphs over fear;
Let our thankful hearts sing
in loud acclamation to the Beloved,
who answers our heartfelt prayers.
Now I know that Love comes to all who open their hearts,
and dwells therein,
offering gifts of peace and harmony.
Some may boast of wealth and personal power;
They will stumble and fall.
Let us boast of the One who comes in the Name of Love;
We shall rise up strong and sure.
O Beloved, You who have created us,
hear our call,
make your home in our hearts.
Psalm 20 excerpt from Psalms for Praying: Nan C. Merrill
Ben Kerkx | Pixabay
Excerpted from an article entitled “COVID is Us” by Philip Shepherd (April 11, 2020)
As the economic engines that propel civilization have reluctantly, suddenly, astonishingly been brought almost to a standstill, we find ourselves at a strange crossroads. This will all end, but when it does how will we move forward? At this point no one knows – but there can be no question that we are in the midst of an unprecedented opportunity to reassess. And it’s not just an opportunity – it comes upon us as a responsibility. If we are to honor the suffering and death the novel coronavirus has brought in its wake, we need to learn from it. We need to take stock. We need to newly assess what really matters in the long run. We need to open our eyes to what we have been devoted to as a culture and as individuals, and in the space of this strange pause, we need to consider what we will devote our energies to when it ends.
As I settle into the enveloping peace of my neighbourhood – punctuated by birdsong and underpinned by the whispering of the breeze through the trees – it seems to me that collectively we’re emerging from a sort of fog. There’s a sense that for decades we’ve been caught up in a giant, self-glorifying house party that has been going non-stop. Celebrating our own bravura, we’ve been obsessed merely with satisfying our desire for more: more stuff, more distractions, more status, more busyness, more titillation, more whatever. And the party has been roaring on heedless of its effect on the neighbours – but they weren’t invited anyway, and who really cares how they’re affected by our self-serving frenzy? And even as we exhaust ourselves in the process, the main thing has been to keep the party going – because we no longer remember what ‘enough’ means, and we crave and demand and feel entitled to endless more.
But now the party has been brought to a grinding halt. And as its mad energy dissipates, we begin to notice the mess we’ve made. We take stock of how our ‘neighbours’ have been affected: the bees, the monarchs, the frogs and turtles, the elephants. The trees, lakes, grasses and oceans. They are all suffering. And it slowly dawns on us that somewhere along the line we committed to a system that mistakes damaging failures for stories of success. In our muddled frenzy we got it backwards. Insanely backwards. The overriding concern of politicians and economists and corporations has been to keep the party going and growing – bigger! more! better! But in our self-obsessed, drunken oblivion we didn’t really notice that when the party is rocking the most – when our economy is firing on all cylinders – our ‘neighbours’ most deeply suffer. Disguised as a triumph of our cleverness, the system is actually set up so there can only be losers: the better the economy does, the greater the suffering of nature. And ultimately nature is all we have.
We’ve noticed the suffering of nature before, but we’ve noticed it the way one might notice the scenery outside the window of a railway carriage. We ‘know’ about the insect holocaust, the death of coral reefs, the plastics in our water, the degradation of soil, the species extinction, the melting of the permafrost, and on and on. But today the view has changed. The locomotive has come to a halt, and as we step out of the carriage onto the earth, we notice how different the world feels now that the rushing has stopped. With the most toxic effects of human activity on pause, our global neighbourhood – like a recovering COVID patient – is breathing a little easier. The birds on my street can communicate without having to compete with the roar of jet engines overhead. The air is noticeably clearer. The residents of Jalandhar in Punjab can see the peaks of the Dhauladhar mountain range for the first time in almost thirty years. Wild goats are roaming though Welsh villages. Herds of elk are strolling through downtown Banff.
As we witness these sporadic glimmerings of nature staging a tentative recovery, we are invited to see COVID-19 in a different light. When we look it in the eye, we find ourselves staring at our dopplegänger. COVID is our looking glass. It is us. The chaotic disarray it is visiting upon human life precisely mirrors how we have been affecting the delicate harmonies of life on earth. It’s as though nature were asking us, “How does it feel?” Our way of being is nature’s corona virus. How does that feel?
The crossroads at which we now sit has no sign pointing the way forward. This much is clear, though: the shutdown of the economy cannot go on indefinitely; but neither can ‘business as usual’.
…What is needed from us is a return to the body’s deepest understanding: that it indissolubly belongs to the world. Our newly awakened, heartfelt, embodied compassion for the most vulnerable among us has led us to sacrifice major conveniences and shut down the global economy. What is being asked of us now, in the midst of our hardship, is that we open our newly kindled compassion to all living beings, and feel with as much sober honesty as we can muster how they have all been ravaged by the virus of our fevered grasping. If we can extend our compassion to these ‘neighbours’ to whom we have brought so much suffering and death, we can come together in the same spirit of empowered, self-sacrificing unity with which nations around the world have faced COVID-19. The virus that is our consumer culture must be healed. And for that to happen, we need a new version of success – a version in which a healthy economy is one that promotes the health of life on earth.
Used with kind permission of the author. Philip Shepherd is recognized as an international authority on embodiment. His unique techniques have been developed to transform our disconnected experience of self and world, and are based on the vision articulated in his books, New Self, New World (2010) and Radical Wholeness (Nov 2017).
What Can We Do?
God, let us be people who do not sit by, but creatively express care toward our community.
A SONG FOR NURSES
The first time I saw a nurse when I was four year old and someone cut my tonsils out and I woke up addled to find a cheerful woman wearing white learning over me and murmuring something gentle. The room was all white and the bed was all white and there were white curtains framing the window. I thought I had died and was in heaven and the women leaning over me was an angel. I was deeply relieved to be in heaven because I had recently sinned grievously and my brother still had a black eye. For a moment I wondered if the woman smiling at me was the Madonna, but then I remembered the Madonna wore blue.
The women leaning over me then said gently everything will be all right, which it was, after a while, during which I discovered that I was not yet dead and that she was a nurse. But for me ever since nurses are essentially angelic, and even now that I am deep into my fifties and have lived long and seen much, I have never yet been disabused of the notion that nurses are gentle and witty and brilliant and holy beings who bring light and peace, even though I know they must have dark nights when they are weary and sad and thrashed by despair like a beach by a tide.
I have seen nurses help bring my children out of the sea of their mother and into the sharp and bracing air of this world. I have seen nurses praying by my tiny son’s bed before and after his heart was edited so that he could live to be a lanky and testy teenager today. I have seen nurses grappling cheerfully with the wires and coils and tubes and plugs and buttons and toggles and keyboards of vast machinery beyond my ken. I have seen nurses with blood on their blouses in the nether reaches of the night in emergency rooms. I have seen nurses hold my children’s heads as my children were sick upon their shoes, and never a snarl did I hear from those nurses but only a soothing sound deep in their throats, a sound far more ancient than any civilization. I have heard friends of mine who are nurses speak eloquently and articulately about their work as witness, as story-saving, as patience and endurance, as being those souls who stand by the door between life and death and usher other people through it in both directions. I have quietly gaped in awe at the sinewy courage and flinty strength and oceanic grace of nurses, and many times considered what our hospitals and hospices and clinics and schools and lives would be without them; which is to say starker and colder and more brittle and fearful. We would be even more alone and scared than we are now when faced with pain and confusion.
We take them for granted, yes we do. We think of them with reverence and gratitude only when we see them briskly and gently at work, learning over us and those we love, being both tart and sweetest at once; but here, this morning, let us pause a moment and pray for them in the holy cave of our mouths and thank the Mercy for these most able and skillful agents of His dream for us: that we will rise to love and joy, that we will achieve humility, that we will shape our humor and labor and creativity into lives that are prayers in motion, prayers applied to salve and solve the pain of our companions on the road. Let us, in short, pray not only for the extraordinary smiling armies of nurses among us; let us pray to be like them: sinewy and tender, gracious and honest, avatars of love.
So Very Much the Best of Us: Songs of Praise in Prose: Brian Doyle (1956-2017)
A Closing Prayer
Almighty and everlasting God, you have brought me in safety to the end of this week: Preserve me with your strength and in your love, that I may not stray away from you, nor be overcome by adversity; and in all I do direct me to the fulfilling of your purpose. Amen.
Paraphrased from The Divine Hours: Phyllis Tickle
Sabine van Erp | Pixabay
Let My Love Be Heard: Jake Runestad
Angels, where you soar up to God’s own light,
take my own lost bird on your hearts tonight;
and as grief once more mounts to heaven and sings,
let my love be heard whispering in your wings.