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.