As we transition into a season of online interaction here on campus, we do so ever believing in the power and presence prayer provides—whether 2 or more are gathered together (in person or virtually) and especially in instances where we find ourselves absent other companions. Sharing spiritual practices even when we are not together can be for our spirits as handwashing is to our hands.
The following liturgy is provided to you for just such moments as these, in just such a time as we find ourselves living. May this liturgy of sacred text, music, ritual, and prayer provide healing to all who engage with it. (Special gratitude to PSR’s Assistant Professor of Christian Worship and Director of Worship Life Dr. Sharon Fennema for the handwashing prayers used in this liturgy.)
You are invited to share elements of this liturgy with those who would find comfort in them. We have also included the individual prayers to post or print and place around your home—near sinks, door frames, and so on. This liturgy is also available on our Facebook page.
Blessings to you,
Rev. Todd Atkins-Whitley
Interim Director of Worship, Spring 2020

A Liturgy in the Wake of the Coronavirus

Prepare a space where you can be comfortable and uninterrupted for a few moments.

Add items such as a small dish of water, cleanser or soap, a washcloth, lotion, a candle, and any other items sacred to you—perhaps even a photo of someone special to you.

Invite someone to share the space with you or enjoy this spiritual practice alone.

As you begin, light the candle and take a few cleansing breaths.

Spend a few moments in silence.
Then play the following song.


Stay With Me (in the style of Taize)

Selections from Psalm 91 (NRSV, adapted)

You who live in the shelter of the Most High
who abide in the shadow of the Almighty,
will say to the Lord, “My refuge and my fortress;
my God, in whom I trust.”

For she will deliver you from the snare of the fowler
and from the deadly pestilence;

She will cover you with her pinions,
and under her wings you will find refuge;
her faithfulness is a shield and buckler.

You will not fear the terror of the night,
or the arrow that flies by day,
or the pestilence that stalks in darkness,
or the destruction that wastes at noonday.

Because you have made the Lord your refuge,
the Most High your dwelling place,
no evil shall befall you,
no scourge come near your tent.

For She will command his angels concerning you
to guard you in all your ways.

“Those who love me, I will deliver;
I will protect those who know my name.

When they call to me, I will answer them;
I will be with them in trouble,
I will rescue them and honor them.

With long life I will satisfy them,
and show them my salvation.”

A Prayer in the Days of the Coronavirus

As you pray this prayer aloud, imagine that many people are reading it along with you or hearing these words as you read.

Merciful God/Goddess, hear our fervent prayer for all who suffer the effects of the coronavirus—its infection of sickness, fear, and anxiety.
God, in your mercy:

            Hear our prayer.

May those who are infected receive the proper treatment and the comfort of your healing presence. God, in your mercy:

            Hear our prayer.

May their caregivers, families and neighbors be shielded from the onslaught of the virus and give solace to those who grieve the loss of loved ones. God, in your mercy:

            Hear our prayer.

Calm the anxiety and fear of those who fear its advent and protect those who are most vulnerable to its spread—the marginalized,
the un- and under-insured, the immune-compromised, the elderly. God, in your mercy:

            Hear our prayer.

Guide those who strive to develop tests, vaccines, and cure—that their work may limit and conquer the virus and restore communities to wholeness and health. God, in your mercy:

            Hear our prayer.

Holy One known by many names, help us rise above fear:

Assure us of your presence when we are fearful. 

Calm anxieties with your holy Spirit. 

Bring healing to all in need of it.

We ask all this through the intercession of your child, Jesus,
through the Holy Spirit, and in the name of all that is holy, just, and compassionate.

Amen and Ashe

(Adapted from A Prayer for Persons Suffering from Ebola,

Handwashing Ritual

Handwashing Ritual

Place your hands in the dish of water and let them linger there, feeling the water.
     Look at your hands, your fingers. What do you notice? What sensations do you feel?   

After a time, pour water from one hand onto the other as if you are cleansing them.

Offer the Prayer for Handwashing (1) below aloud. Repeat it at least one time.

Add a small amount of cleanser or soap to one hand and slowly, gently—but with intention—massage it from the tip of each finger, along the nailbed, to the knuckle, down the back of your hand and up your palm. Rub the crevices, each line, the spaces in between your fingers—leave no spot uncared for, unnoticed.
Repeat with the other hand.

Take a moment to look at your soap-covered hands.

   What do you see? What do you notice? How does this make you feel?
Place your hands into the dish of water and wash each hand clean of residue.
Allow your fingers to drip back into the dish for a few moments. Then, hold them up.
What thoughts fill your mind as you look on your cleansed hands? How do you feel?

Take the washcloth and gently dry each area of both your hands—as intentionally and gently and carefully as you washed them.

Apply lotion to your hands in a deliberate and loving manner, appreciating how they move, the uniqueness of the lines and prints, and locking in the moisture from the water.

Offer the Prayer for Handwashing (2) below.
Then play the following song.

Wade in the Water (performed by Sweet Honey in the Rock with ASL interpretation)

Spend a moment in silence and gratitude. Take a deep breath and exhale.

Repeat this ritual any time you feel the need to engage in a cleansing experience.

Prayer for Handwashing in the time of COVID-19 (1)

by Dr. Sharon Fennema, inspired Dori Midnight, via Adrienne Maree Brown

this water is sacred
these hands are sacred
all that these hands will touch
is sacred
this cleansing is sacred because
the well-being of all creatures
is sacred
this moment of washing away
all that does not serve is sacred
this resistance to fear is sacred
this way of tending to the most
vulnerable I encounter is sacred
this act of care for myself and
others is sacred because
touch is sacred and
all that these hands will touch
is sacred
these hands are sacred
this water is sacred

Prayer for Handwashing in the time of COVID-19 (2)

by Dr. Sharon Fennema, inspired Dori Midnight, via Adrienne Maree Brown

Holy One who has promised to be our Living Water,
make this moment of hand washing a time to remember
all the ways water has protected, blessed, cherished, and upheld us,
from the waters that covered the earth before creation, to the waters of the womb,
from the waters that parted to make a way for freedom,
to the waters that roll down like justice.
As we take the time to wash our hands with intention,
teach us to treat our bodies, all bodies, with tenderness and grace
like we would the feet of our most beloved ones.
Tell us again the story of how flesh is love and Love is flesh
and that loving each other is our calling,
is our way in this world,
is what this simple act of cleansing is all about.
In the moments to come,
as we return to a world of uncertainty and turmoil,
use the lingering scent of soap
and the dampness that remains on our skin
to remind us of the persistence of your love for all created beings
so that each time we smell and feel it,
we will return to ourselves, as people of care and compassion
and not allow our fears to grow or be turned into prejudice.
As this water drains away from our hands,
take away from it all that might cause harm
to our bodies, our watersheds, our planet,
so that it might return again to fulfill its holy purpose.
Holy One, who is the Water of Life, bless us
and bless the world through us. Amen.