John Milton’s sonnet, “When I Consider How My Life Is Spent,” is known especially for its last line: “They also serve who only stand and wait.” These words have been quoted often, even by the baseball broadcaster, Vin Scully, when the cameras would show players not currently in the game. John Milton wrote these words after going blind and they continue to speak to anyone who is unable to do all that they feel called to do. There are many seasons in our lives when these words might speak to us, but they have taken on new meaning in this time of the pandemic, as many of us have had times this year when all we can do is “stand and wait.” When this is the case, it is good to remember Milton’s words, that those who serve God best “Bear his mild yoke.” Let us pray:

Opening Prayer

To you, O Lord, I lift up my soul. In you, O God, I place my trust. Help me now to quiet myself and listen, that the thoughts and prayers of my heart might be pleasing to you. Amen

Psalm 116:12-19

What shall I return to the Lord
  for all his bounty to me?
I will lift up the cup of salvation
  and call on the name of the Lord,
I will pay my vows to the Lord
  in the presence of all his people.
Precious in the sight of the Lord
  is the death of his faithful ones.
O Lord, I am your servant;
  I am your servant, the child of your serving girl.
  You have loosed my bonds.
I will offer to you a thanksgiving sacrifice
  and call on the name of the Lord.
 I will pay my vows to the Lord
  in the presence of all his people,
in the courts of the house of the Lord,
  in your midst, O Jerusalem.
Praise the Lord!

Scripture Readings

For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven. – Ecclesiastes 3:1

“For it is as if a man, going on a journey, summoned his slaves and entrusted his property to them; to one he gave five talents, to another two, to another one, to each according to his ability. – Matthew 25:14-15

Devotional Poem: “When I Consider How My Life Is Spent” by John Milton

When I consider how my light is spent,
   Ere half my days, in this dark world and wide,
   And that one Talent which is death to hide
   Lodged with me useless, though my Soul more bent
To serve therewith my Maker, and present
   My true account, lest he returning chide;
   “Doth God exact day-labour, light denied?”
   I fondly ask. But patience, to prevent
That murmur, soon replies, “God doth not need
   Either man’s work or his own gifts; who best
   Bear his mild yoke, they serve him best. His state
Is Kingly. Thousands at his bidding speed
   And post o’er Land and Ocean without rest:
   They also serve who only stand and wait.”

Closing Prayer

Lord, when we consider how our light and life is spent, we often feel as though we could do more for you. When that is true, forgive us. When, because of illness or other circumstance, it is not true, help us to be patient and to show ourselves the same grace that you show us. And remind us that whatever our yoke, we serve you best by bearing it faithfully. Through Christ our Lord. Amen

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