Prayers of the People

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Prayers of the People July 22, 2018

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Based on Psalm 51:1-17

Wondrous God, accept, we pray, the offerings we have brought today to contribute to making our world a better place for all your children.  Direct our gifts that they may help to heal division, strengthen injury and relieve sorrow, restore health and enliven hope.  And help us to give beyond these gifts in ways that will stretch and even test our commitment – by also giving of our store of forgiveness, offering love and kindness and compassion – even where we may not feel they are deserved… for we recognize that we have sometimes received just that generously and undeservedly from you. 

We pray today for our world that struggles on, week by week, year by year, to achieve goodness and justice in fuller ways.  We pray for our nation and its leaders in these contentious, troubling times.  We ask that you guide us all, God, in knowing how we may help to establish peace and fairness, order and mercy, freedom and responsibility.  Keep us watching with hopeful anticipation, even if some cracks appear in our treasured ideas and best-laid plans.  Remind us that perhaps it will be through those very cracks that your life-giving spirit may find room to bubble up and bring the restoration we crave. 

We pray for our neighbors and for this church.  We pray for our loved ones and friends.  You know their needs surely better and more fully than we do, O God.  We ask your presence, your aid, in providing for them, graciously and compassionately, in ways our prayers may not know how to ask. 

And we pray for everything that lingers still in our hearts and minds … our own troubles, our joys, our losses, our successes and yes, perhaps, our sins.  Write your covenant of love boldly across our imperfect hearts – erasing records of our wrongs, claiming us for your own, shaping us to your purposes, drawing us ever nearer to you.  Help us to be, no matter how else the world may define us, Christ’s people -- people of pliable minds and hearts who follow his call to meet new challenges, to love new people, to care with new depth, to learn new duties, to strive for greater good, to receive grace upon grace.

These things we pray in the name of Christ, by whose life we are directed, and with whose words we have learned how best to pray.  Hear us as we say together his words …the Lord’s Prayer.

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 ….