Monthly Archives: November 2012

Prayers for the First Sunday of Advent

Filled with expectation and longing, we pray for the world God loves, the Church God calls, and all people according to their needs, saying, Lord, in your mercy, and responding, Hear our prayer.

[Brief pause]

God of beginnings and endings, of big bangs and super novas, we pray for your creation and the role you have given us in it.  In the middle of natural changes, give us patience to endure.  In the middle of changes which we have caused, give us determination to alter our course.  Strengthen us to be faithful.  Lord, in your mercy,
Hear our prayer.

God of beginnings and endings, of new technologies and obsolete ideologies, we pray for the human family.  Open our minds to fresh ways of approaching life, open our hands to let go of whatever denies life, and open our hearts to those who live life differently.  Lord, in your mercy,
Hear our prayer.

God of beginning s and endings, of modern prophets and dying structures, we pray for your church.  Give us wisdom to discern the difference between what is central and what is optional to being your gospel people.  Give us faith to trust your presence among us.  Give us courage to take the risk of ministry.  Lord, in your mercy,
Hear our prayer.

God of beginnings and endings, of births and deaths, we pray for those who are experiencing transitions and challenges.  Make us willing to reach out to those whose lives are being launched, those whose lives are drawing to a close, and all those in between who face uncounted struggles, including those we name before you now.
[Long pause]
Lord, in your mercy,
Hear our prayer.

God of beginnings and endings, of “Let there be light” and “It is finished,” we pray for our own commencements and conclusions.  Free us from desiring to perpetuate the old simply because it is comfortable.  Free us from grasping the new simply because it is novel.  Help us recognize and respond to your Call to build what needs building and dismantle what needs tearing down.  Lord, in your mercy,
Hear our prayer.

Hear the prayers of your people, O God, and in your mercy grant us what we need through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Amen.

Prayers for the Reign of Christ

Trusting the promise that God will hear us, we offer our prayers for the world God loves, the Church God calls, and all people according to their needs, saying, Lord, in your mercy, and responding, Hear our prayer.

[Brief pause]

God of all, we praise you for galaxies and stars, for dust clouds and black holes, for oceans and deserts, for jungles and forests, for meadows and mountains, insects and mammals, flying fish and swimming birds. Enable us to proclaim you sovereign over all creation. Lord, in your mercy,
Hear our prayer.

God of all, we praise you for men and women, infants and seniors, parents and neighbours, siblings and strangers, teachers and students, doctors and nurses, social workers and politicians, protesters and marchers, factory workers and dreamers. Enable us to proclaim you sovereign over all human society. Lord, in your mercy,
Hear our prayer.

God of all, we praise you for clergy and council members, organists and choir members, lay people and bishops, old idealists and youthful traditionalists, new members and former pastors, chapels and cathedrals, drums and guitars, word and sacrament, missionaries and opportunities to serve right where we are. Enable us to proclaim you sovereign over all the church. Lord, in your mercy,
Hear our prayer.

God of all, we praise you for your presence with shut-ins and patients, the sick and the lonely, the unemployed and the addicted, single parents and homeless children, refugees and aid workers, child soldiers and wounded civilians, those who are mourning and those who are dying, and those we name before you.
[Long pause]
Enable us to proclaim you sovereign over all human misery. Lord, in your mercy,
Hear our prayer.

God of all, we praise you for prophets and preachers, truth proclaimers and honesty cravers, those who say what needs to be said and those who hear what needs to be heard, those who speak with integrity and those who listen with openness, those whom we crucify on the cross of convenience and those who refuse to hate, the rich who embrace their responsibility and the poor who are embraced by you. Enable us to proclaim you sovereign over all human wisdom. Lord, in your mercy,
Hear our prayer.

We offer these spoken prayers, as well as those offered in the silence of our hearts, to you, O God, in the name of Jesus.
Amen.

Birth pangs

Jesus is describing the coming of the reign of God, and about this he says, “Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom; there will be earthquakes in various places; there will be famines. This is but the beginning of the birth pangs.”  Mark 13:8

Birth pangs.

Signs not just of life, but of a seismic shift in life.

A true new beginning, but a completely dangerous one. No birth is routine, no birth is safe, for either participant. Either or both can die in this process of bringing forth new life.

Nor is it safe for the father! In the ideal world, he is as worried as anyone else, completely invested in the outcome, praying for the mother *and* the child.

Heaven forbid the father is forced to decide, forced to make a choice between one or the other, forced to decide which life continues and which ends.

No. Birth is anything BUT safe. For anyone.

Including the birth of the reign of God in our midst.

And we, as followers of Jesus, are part of this birth, this dangerous process of witnessing God’s new life being born among us.

The question for us is this – Do we see ourselves as midwives, holding the hand of the mother, comforting the father, being present as God brings new possibilities to life right in front of us?

Or do we see ourselves merely as undertakers, waiting in the wings for the inevitable bad news, assuming that the danger will prove overwhelming, assuming that life is too fragile, assuming that all we can really do is prepare to bury the dead, and hope that we can avoid being caught up in the distress?

There *IS* Good News here. God’s reign will come! Is coming! Right now! Among us! Among US!

We have no choice about that. God has already decided.

But we do have a choice about our response. And let’s be honest: there is no risk free choice! There’s danger whichever way we go. And we’d better not kid ourselves either: not to decide is to decide!

There really are only two choices we can make.

So.

Midwife?

Or undertaker?

Which will it be?

Oh. And by the way. Here comes another cramp….

Abrahamic Prayers

These are the prayers which were offered at Waterloo Lutheran Seminary on November 7, 2012. The service was planned and led by representatives of the three main Abrahamic faiths: Judaism, Christianity and Islam, and was entitled, “The Legacy of Abraham.”

These prayers concluded the service,and are shared here in the hope of God healing our broken relationships.

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We do not pray, we cannot pray, in complete unity. We do and can, however, pray as we are. Each of our prayers will end with the words, “Gracious and Merciful God.” You are invited to respond with, “Hear our prayer.”

[Brief pause]

God of Abraham, God who is God, you called Abraham to follow you, to be the father of many, to be a blessing to the world. Strengthen us to hear and respond to your call to us today. Gracious and merciful God, Hear our prayer.

God of Abraham, God who is God, the sons of Abraham struggled, yet you did not abandon them, and, in spite of their difficulties, they did not abandon each other. In the middle of the challenges we present to each other, show us your faithful presence, that we may walk with each other as well. Gracious and merciful God, Hear our prayer.

God of Abraham, God who is God, you have reached out to us, in our various traditions, through the stories of Abraham and his family. Enable each of us to share the gifts you have given us, even as we learn to acknowledge the gifts you have given others. Gracious and merciful God, Hear our prayer.

God of Abraham, God who is God, forgive us children of Abraham for our wars and our hatred, our stereotypes and our prejudices. Enable us to let go of our fears, break down what separates, and embrace what builds up. Gracious and merciful God, Hear our prayer.

God of Abraham, God who is God, raise up people of good will to bring your peace among the nations, your salaam between religious traditions, your shalom between us. Send us out from here as bearers of your peace, that the world may know you as God. Gracious and merciful God, Hear our prayer.

God of Abraham, God who is God, hear our prayers. Amen.