Prayers of the People

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Prayers of the People September 30, 2018

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Receive our offering this morning, God.  Some of us have brought costly gifts for your use.  Some of us have brought open hearts, curious minds, prayerful spirits, or dedicated hands and feet to place before you and offer in your service.  We ask that you take whatever we can give, and use our gifts for a purpose worthy of us, as your church.

Today we recall with gratitude the many individuals who rose to the occasion, when called by outer circumstance and by inner character, to serve others with empathy and commitment.  Sometimes these servants and heroes have become household names, saints well-known and well-acknowledged.  But we know, too, that there have been many unsung heroes who have cared widely, deeply, in costly and meaningful ways, and whose gifts and sacrifices for others’ sake may have gone unnoticed and unremarked.  We ask that you, by your loving grace, may find a way to convey the age-old blessing of thanks to these people… “Well done, good and faithful servant!”

Because ultimately, we, too, wish to hear such an accolade from you, God.  We, too, wish to know that when an occasion of difficulty is placed before us, we will not succumb to discouragement or anxiety or self-absorption, but will open our hearts and hands – get to work in ways that will please you.  We pray we will then recognize that just perhaps, we have been put in that very place, for just such a moment. 

The stories told about you and your people throughout history do teach us of power and promise inherent in our lives.  Potential exists in every minute and in every one of us.  Help us to see our own – and to act upon it, acknowledging that we may be braver, stronger, and smarter than we knew, and that perhaps we will find this very day the issue we were meant to address, the hardship we were meant to alleviate, the person we were meant to uplift, the barrenness we were meant to make fruitful, the burden we were meant to remove.  Help us to see today those places and people we alone stand uniquely prepared to touch and change with our gifts.  And let us do so with the same self-giving assurance as the one we follow and call our messiah.  We pray in his memory, with joy and pride at being his own people.  And using his words, we say together now… Lord’s Prayer.

Prayers of the People September 16, 2018

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Based on Mark 7:24-30, Jesus’ encounter with the Syrophoenician woman

 

Take these gifts, God, which we have brought with deeply grateful hearts to you today.  In giving them, we acknowledge we owe everything to you --- and that we give back but a part of what is yours.  We pray you will continue to bless us, as we seek to rightly share what you have entrusted to us.

And we pray that we, along with your children across the globe, may learn to share more than resources.  We pray we may find ways to share the loving, compassionate, hopeful and affirming spirit of Jesus.  Where there is warfare, terrorism, or political strife, let his spirit of reconciliation emerge among us and prevail, calming bitterness, anger, and vengeance.  Where there is hunger, homelessness, joblessness, hopelessness for the future, let his spirit of confident expectation grow among us, quieting fears.  Where there is illness, loneliness, regret, or grief, let his spirit of healing and renewal suffuse the hurting places within us, as your soothing balm. 

And remind us that Jesus consistently looked beyond the customary boundaries of social obligation, and offered all his astonishing gifts of grace to those who would have been easy and acceptable to ignore.  Help us, then, as his followers not to take the easy, customary paths if more might be asked of us.  Let us step out, and offer whatever gifts of hope and grace we have to share, with whoever needs them most.  Let us, like Jesus, acknowledge that while the world might label people in ways that diminish their significance, we need not continue that practice.  We, as Jesus’ own friends and followers, have the capacity to acknowledge the “realness” of each person – each one’s dignity, unique potential, and inherent worth.  For Jesus has seen each of us as real in this light.

And so, dear God, wherever we might see as Jesus saw, with the light of love; wherever we might speak as he spoke, with nourishing words; and wherever we might act as he acted, overcoming divisions and claiming friends among every group and family; urge us to do so, God.  If we are tempted to be satisfied with anything less, remind us that it’s never good enough to delay kindness or moderate compassion.  Let us offer swift and substantial help, where we can, and feel the privilege of doing so in Jesus’ name. 

We pray these things today with gratitude that Jesus has awakened us to our own worth and that of each person we meet.  We all stand as sisters and brothers, we all stand as your children, God.  And so we pray to you, our Father, in Jesus’ own words of trust and hope, as we say together: The Lord’s Prayer.

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