Prayers of the People

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Pastoral Prayer - Novemebr 26, 2017

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Based on Matthew 25: 31-46

We offer you our gifts today, God, in faith and trust. In this season, as days shorten, as darkness in our world seems to strengthen, remind us to watch and wait in hope, for you have shown us again and again, that no darkness can prevail against the dawn, no loss is beyond redemption, and through your help, and no exile is eternal. We trust that the calculus of possibility we employ is not your own. We trust in your broader vision.

Yet we acknowledge that so much of this life is beyond our understanding, Wise God. Is there justice to pain? A purpose to be served by hurt, hardship and heartbreak? Must loneliness and longing be part of existence? All our efforts to make sense of life’s mysteries inevitably draw us back to you. For your thoughts and your ways are higher, deeper, greater than our own. Teach us that what we do not now understand need not keep us helpless or hopeless. Show us that amid injustice we may work for equity and fairness. Show us that tragedy is never life’s final word – but presents itself as a challenge for us to meet, to overcome, to transform. Show us that even loneliness and longing prove that there are places of our hearts both tender and receptive, which in time will find comfort and joy.

When we face trials, if we are tempted to concern ourselves with our own needs and desires alone, help us to look beyond ourselves. Open our ears to the voices that speak their needs, and let us work to help them be met. Open our eyes to scenes of life we’d rather not see, and help us to make life livable for those who struggle with it daily. Open our hands and hearts, God, to give of our resources. You have gifted us with more than we need. Let us learn to distinguish our needs from our wants, and offer the surplus of our rich blessings to those whose needs are far from well met. Let us offer our wealth, our time, our caring concern, our love, our hope, a kind word of encouragement, a warm smile, a simple statement of faith. Help us appreciate that insignificant though our efforts at reaching lovingly to the world may appear to us, no effort given in love is ever lost or wasted. For when we have helped the hungry, the thirsty, the naked, the lonely, the sick, then we have done as much to your Son, our Christ.

Let us be guided through all our difficulties by Him whose life we treasure, whose death we mourn, whose resurrection we celebrate. Keep us prayerful, for he has taught us to pray, saying, Our Father …

Pastoral Prayer November 19, 2017

The Grateful Leper, Luke 17:11-19

A Thanksgiving Prayer

God, we lift up our hearts this day in thanks, and ask that you make us, every day, a more grateful people:

For the silence of the night and the bustle of the day, make us grateful. For the splashing rains and the peace of quiet seas, make us grateful. For laughter that comes unbidden and helps us lose ourselves in sudden mirth, make us grateful. For the tears that flow through our lives, marking sadnesses and showing us our deep need for you, make us grateful. For the links to friends that grow through mutual appreciation and glad obligation, make us grateful. For family whose bond to us is of flesh and also of love, make us grateful. For bountiful food, grown, shipped, prepared, cooked and served for us, make us grateful. For your presence among us, that teaches us that we may trust your provision for us always, God, make us grateful.

And for your greatest gift, the gift of love revealed to us through Jesus Christ, make us especially grateful. Let our appreciation for the gift of your Son reprioritize all other commitments and values. Help us to measure the bounty of our lives, as he did, by the depth of our loves, the breadth of our friendships, the sincerity of our faithfulness. And then let us stand in awe at our riches – a grateful people whose faith in you has healed us from lesser loyalties and saved us for communion with you.

As we look forward to sharing a splendid Thanksgiving dinner, remind us that a feast is more than food. For we have learned at Christ’s table, that even a simple taste of bread and cup satisfies our deepest hungers. So let our Thanksgiving meal be a reminder of his perfect meal, where your love for us reaches out to fill us, to comfort us, to heal us, and to satisfy us. Let our Thanksgiving meal together be a feast of splendid proportions – full of your healing, hopeful love. Hear, dear Lord, the thanks of our peaceful and grateful hearts today. Amen.