The first Sunday of Lent is the often the only time of year when The Great Litany is sung or said in The Episcopal Church, which is perhaps why I relish the opportunity so much. As I was walking in procession yesterday, each bidding washed over me and with each “We beseech thee to hear us, good Lord,” I was reminded of our utter dependence upon God. As Ian Markham underscores in today’s meditation, this is a fact that we easily forget when things are going our way. We need to be grateful for all of life’s benefits and successes and realize that the greatest joy comes not in hoarding them, but in sharing them with others.
Both The Great Litany and today’s Daily Office remind us that we do not possess God’s good fortune, but are merely stewards of it. Indeed, when we reached the verse in the Litany where it asks to be delivered from "earthquake, fire and flood" I could not help but turn my thoughts to the people of Japan and others affected by Friday’s terrible earthquake and tsunami. "Good Lord, deliver us."
In addition to the Great Litany, the First Sunday of Lent is also a time to mark the work of Episcopal Relief & Development. A time to remember that just as we are dependent upon God for everything, so, too, communities are depending on us to partner with them in promoting health, addressing the causes of hunger and reducing poverty.
Today’s Gospel tells the story of Jesus’ miracle at the Wedding of Cana, and as I read it I was reminded of our friends at St Paul’s Franklin, Tennessee, who creatively held a “Wedding at Cana” fundraising event to assist those who lack access to clean water and sanitation.
As we say prayers for Japan and other needs worldwide throughout the week, let us remember today’s meditation and The Great Litany: “That it may please thee to preserve, and provide for, all women in childbirth, young children and orphans, the widowed, and all whose homes are broken or torn by strife, We beseech thee to hear us, good Lord.” (Book of Common Prayer, 151)
The Rev. Luke Fodor is Episcopal Relief & Development's Network Coordinator.