Prayers of the People

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Prayers of the People March 4, 2017

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Based on John 3:1-13, Nicodemus

God, whose table is open to all, and who feeds your people with a feast of compassion and love, we are grateful.  We pray that those most in need of your tender and healing care may find their way to this table.  May all who find themselves unsettled, unsure, or unwell seek what you and your spirit can provide. 

And today, O God, we admit that though we, too, have need of your help and healing, it is sometimes hard for us to seek you for insight and answers.  Like Nicodemus, we may at times come only hesitantly to you in the quiet of the night, with our many questions and uncertainties.  Urge us to stretch beyond any tendency to remain comfortably in the dark.  Summon us to you, and bid us come openly, in light of day – where we still may not find our every question answered, but where we may instead be challenged to grow by the questions which deep faithfulness poses.  Use our alert and inquiring minds to teach us what you would have us know. 

Let us ask ourselves if we have been inquisitive enough to have learned anything new about you, or been compassionate enough to take on anyone else’s problems, or been thankful enough for the gift of Christ that our lives are infused with fresh joy.  Let these be the questions faith asks of us --- drawing us sturdily forward.  

We ask these things with gratitude that your spirit blows where it will – and that on the breeze of your love, all things are made new.  Revive us and renew us today and every day, as if with new birth.  For we come with the desire to be remade in Christ’s image each morning.  As his followers, we pray together now in his very words of prayer, as we sing them together …  Lord’s Prayer.

Prayers of the People February 25, 2018

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At Rev. Joel Reif’s retirement.

These are our gifts, O God.  Our morning offering may seem to us a meager contribution toward the elimination of the overwhelming problems our world faces.  But we trust that the calculus of possibility we employ is not yours.  Set beside the crushing needs of the world, we fear we are powerless to effect much change for the better, but you encourage us and teach us otherwise.  So take our offering, dear God, and put it to use. 

And then put us to use, as well.  Let us not remain content to tend our own gardens and manage our own affairs, but open our hearts to needs beyond our own.  Open the ears of our souls to hear the silent and sometimes desperate prayers that rise across the face of the earth today – from street corners and sanctuaries, hospital rooms and classrooms, government halls and courtrooms, offices and homes – everywhere that souls reach out to you in sorrow, urgency, anguish, hope.  Acknowledging the needs of others, move us to help where we can. 

Allow us to imagine that the ordinary-seeming gifts with which you have endowed us are in reality the precisely required means to your end.  If you have made us compassionate, help us employ our kindness where others may benefit.  If we are tenacious, then let us persevere against those seemingly intractable hardships.  If we are hopeful, let us share a vision for your kingdom’s possibility with those who long for relief from their current worldly hardship and woes.  If we are practical, let us devise ways in which the rich and harmonious life envisioned for us by your Son will not remain a far-off dream, but will develop into reality. 

Show us, God, what we are made to do.  Push us, nudge us, gnaw at us until we pay attention and respond to you.  Don’t allow us to confine our lives’ energies to insignificant matters.  Let us dare to trust your leading into places of importance.  Let us find our example for engagement with the world in your Son, Jesus, whose simple messages of justice and selfless acts of love were irresistible, setting aflame a movement that finally shook the very foundations of Rome.  Let us shake the world’s complacency, too – with our love, put to use on your behalf.

And today, O God, we give our special thanks for our brother in faith, Joel Reif, who walked with us across these past years, seeing our gifts, encouraging our growth, offering his kindness, and drawing our own in response.  He showed us Christ’s love at work.  Be with him as he heads away from here, and bless his continued ministry of care and kindness, wherever he may go.  He goes with our grateful love. 

All these things we pray, dear God, in the memory of Jesus, our Christ.  And using his words, we say together, the Lord’s Prayer.