Prayers of the People

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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.

Prayers of the People February 18, 2018

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Based on Mark  9:2-9, Transfiguration:

With deep sadness at the tragic losses of this week and with true and searching humility, we have come today, O God, recalling that you bid us listen to your Son, Jesus.  And so we must.  Let us treasure his teachings, his compassion, his forgiveness, his challenges, his selflessness, his peace.  We acknowledge that there is no voice more worthy of our attention.  Help us, day by day, to listen for that voice in every form, in every situation, and every person through which we may hear it.  Keep us unafraid to focus upon his message to us – unconcerned that it may ask us to follow him into new places – uninhibited in trusting his guidance and his call.  Uncloud our vision and show us, as you showed the disciples of old, the dazzling brilliance of love made flesh.

Then give us courage, dear God, to face the fullness that life with Christ offers us: both bright mountain-top moments and walks through the dark valleys.  Remind us that the disciples walked from their moments of glory with Jesus, to the cross and beyond.  Let that knowledge help us to face seasons of darkness and defeat, knowing, by faith, that though clouds may overshadow us – or those we love – or the world we inhabit - yet your love shines through to encourage us, and to instill the confidence we need to believe that ultimately, your light for the world shall not be overcome.  It cannot be extinguished by poverty or illness, by pain or grief, by disaster or ignorance, not even by heartbreaking violence that steals innocent life.  For your goodness will shine through again, even beyond these tragedies.  Grant us the gift of awe before your tenacious grace, God.

And help us, through your transformative spirit, to become, like your beloved Son, open people, whose inner goodness is readily visible, a mirror of your own bright and shining image.  Keep us mindful always of the identity with which we have been imprinted and the high calling that accompanies it – we are your children.  We are asked to walk the challenging way with Christ.  So let us get up and get to work on his behalf.

We pray all these things, O God, using words your beloved Son was once heard to teach his followers.  We are listening to him still, and speaking now with his voice, we say together … The Lord’s Prayer.

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