Prayers of the People

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Prayers of the People Easter, 2018

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Based on Matthew 28:1-10

Hosanna! The night is over, dear God, and the dawn of new light and life has come.  How awed we are to hear the ancient story this day – that two thousand years ago the earth shook with a mighty earthquake, a stone was rolled away, the tomb that had held your Son was unsealed, and your love was let loose.  The women who had come to Jesus’ tomb that morning left the site with that astonishing news.  Though they had been told not to be afraid, they left that empty tomb, we are told, in fear, but also with joy.  And we come this morning, acknowledging we harbor both emotions, as well.

We harbor fear for everything broken in our world and in our lives that we cannot mend, for losses real and anticipated, for worries and struggles, for longings unfulfilled and doubts unresolved.  But you teach us that our fears cannot entomb us or seal us off from your love, and so we know the joy of the visitors at the empty tomb so long ago.  We feel that, too.

We know the joy today of children’s smiles and candy-filled Easter baskets.  We are surrounded with fragrant blooming flowers and awash in lush and jubilant song.  We remember with fondness Easters past and with gratitude those people who have gone before us.  Let all the joyful aspects of the day spill over us, God. 

For this morning, bright with spring sunlight, the wondrous good news we’ve gathered to hear reminds us that your Easter promise of new life extends beyond that cold tomb, extends beyond this day, extends beyond this lovely, fresh springtime season, extends, in fact, through every passing year of our lives, as time draws us all ever closer to you.

And so, dear God, teach us, your faithful people, that we need not let ourselves be ensnared or entombed by doubt, or disappointment, or discouragement.  For like Christ, our lives do not end in tragedy, but in surprising, joyous, eternal life! 

So send us out with that good news and let us run with it.  Send us out to follow Jesus, the One who has gone before to show us the way to rise up past every discouragement and doubt – to rise filled with as much life as love will allow, and as much love as this life will allow – until, like the Christ we follow, we rise finally, into your very presence, a joyful people, with smiles on our lips and radiating Easter wonder. 

Hear our grateful, fearless prayer this bright Easter morning, that brims with your unconquerable love, as we join our voices in now song, praying the words that Jesus taught us … The Lord’s Prayer ….

Prayers of the People March 25, 2018

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Holy and redeeming God, with Christ we enter the gates of Jerusalem on this Palm Sunday, and begin to walk with him the way of the cross. We’ve brought our gifts of offering, as we’ve brought our waving palms and our hosannas.  Let us prove truer in our gift-giving and our praise than did Jesus’ followers of so long ago.

We pray for courage to be diligent and dedicated in our walk with Christ toward Calvary.  We recognize that Christ’s way may bring us deeply into the pain of the world. Christ’s way is not boldly triumphant, not always grand or powerful, but it has persuaded us, as it has millions before us, that it is the way to which we are called –and the way that leads most decisively and directly to your kingdom. 

We earnestly pray not to fall into temptation, as we follow Christ’s way.  May we be tempted neither by inflexible patterns that grant us no new perspectives and no new dreams – nor by expedient means and worldly-wise powers that seize the day but miss the motives of eternity.

We also dare today to ask for you to take from us the cup that demands more than we feel capable of giving.  Nevertheless, we remember that it is not our will but yours to be done – even when we feel strained by the effort, and incapable of following well, the way of Christ.

On this hard road ahead, may we not trade our love and commitment to Christ for a few pieces of silver, or trinkets of little worth.  May we not hide when we are recognized as Jesus’ followers.  May we not deny him when we are asked about our allegiance.  May we fulfill his bidding, even when the tasks before us seem trivial – for we have seen that he will use our every small and humble effort to build your kingdom.  Keep us walking the way with him until we are at the cross, where we may see again the light, feel the earthquake of holy renewal as the burdens of our hearts are rolled away like a stone, and find the promises of the ages have all come true for us.

We pray these things today in the memory of our Savior, who enters our world still, with humble, simple splendor.  Hear us as we pray now in his words, as we say together: … Lord’s Prayer.