Monthly Archives: May 2013

Prayers for the Second Sunday of Pentecost – June 2/13

Joining creation’s song of praise, we pray for the world God loves, the church God calls, and all people in need, saying, “Hear us, O God,” and responding, “Your mercy is great.”

[Short pause]

O God, we sing of you, creator of all.  Open our mouths to sing of your gifts.  Open our hearts to share what you give.  Hear us, O God,
Your mercy is great.

O God, we sing of your presence.  You walk with us through all of our valleys, over all of our mountain tops, across every plain.  Help us sing our way into a deeper trust.  Hear us, O God,
Your mercy is great.

O God, we sing of your promise.  You assure us of love, forgiveness, and a future beyond our imagining.  Free us from demanding proof of your care, so that we may let go of our fear, and embrace what you provide.  Hear us, O God,
Your mercy is great.

O God, we sing of your healing.  Surrounded by sickness, greed, poverty and desperation, we sing you into the darkness of this broken world, praying for light, praying for health, praying for hope, especially for those we name before you.
[Long pause]
Hear us, O God,
Your mercy is great.

O God, we sing of your grace.  We pray for Maranatha congregation as they sing through their last Sunday at Waterloo Lutheran Seminary, and as we anticipate singing your praises together into the future.  Hear us, O God,
Your mercy is great.

O God, we sing of you: you in this place, you in our lives, you in our hopes and our fears, our tears and our dreams.  Give us faith to sing patiently, hope to sing joyfully, and love to sing honestly.  Hear us, O God,
Your mercy is great.

We pray this world into the arms of your merciful compassion, O God, in the loving name of Jesus.
Amen.

Prayers for the Festival of the Holy Trinity

All of creation is enfolded in the loving arms of God.  In response, we pray for the world God loves, the church God calls, and all people in need, saying, “In your mercy,” and responding, “Hear us, O God.”

[Short pause]

God who is love, set us free from rigid philosophy.  Set us free from believing that we are saved by being right.  Set us free to love as you love, so we may care for the people and world you give us.  In your mercy,
Hear us, O God.

God who is love, creation proclaims your abundance.  Use us to share the gifts you provide, so that no one goes hungry.  In your mercy,
Hear us, O God.

God who is love, you continue to reach out to us, and call us to a better way.  Give us faith to let go of measuring value by results.  Give us grace to trust your promise.  In your mercy,
Hear us, O God.

God who is love, you send us as your hands and feet, ears and eyes into this broken, hurting world.  Save us from despair in the face of danger and loss.  Strengthen us to respond to whatever need confronts us.  In your mercy,
Hear us, O God.

God who is love, you do not abandon us in our illness, our poverty, our anger, our isolation.  Use us to touch those whom we name before you with your healing presence.
[Long pause]
In your mercy,
Hear us, O God.

God who is love, you share your very self with us.  As this congregation strives to grow and mature in our relationship with each other, help us remember that your love is given, not just for us, but for the sake of all.  In your mercy,
Hear us, O God.

Celebrating the love which will never let us go, we offer these prayers in the name of our living Saviour, Jesus the Christ.
Amen.

Prayers for the Fesitval of Penetcost

We have been claimed by the Spirit of God.  In response, we pray for the world God loves, the church God calls, and all people in need, saying, “Breathe on us, O God,” and responding, “Fill us with new life.”

[Short pause]

God who names us, you tell us who we are.  Enable us to live as people whose identity truly comes from you.  Breathe on us, O God.
Fill us with new life.

God who calls us, you reach out to us.  Enable us to respond joyfully to what you ask of us.  Breathe on us, O God.
Fill us with new life.

God who fills us, you provide both our abilities and our opportunities.  Enable us to share what you give.  Breathe on us, O God.
Fill us with new life.

God who enlivens us, you rejuvenate us when we grow weary.  Enable us to find rest on the way, and energy for the tasks we face.  Breathe on us, O God.
Fill us with new life.

God who strengthens us, you promise healing for all of creation.  Enable us to touch the injured, the wounded, and the suffering with your restoring love, especially those we name before you.
[Long pause]
Breathe on us, O God.
Fill us with new life.

God who sends us, you drive us to care, push us to reach out, compel us to serve.  Enable us to leave fear and anxiety behind, and follow where you lead, where ever you lead.  Breathe on us, O God.
Fill us with new life.

Trusting the Spirit’s presence and guidance, we offer these prayers in the name of our living Saviour, Jesus the Christ.
Amen.

A Day in the Life….

Spent this morning and early aft walking through the Court system with a family. After waiting interminably, the charges were finally dropped. Big sighs of relief all around!

What struck me as we waited (and waited and waited!), was how similar the process felt to going to the hospital.

– You go to a foreign-feeling institution through no choice of your own.

– The building itself is overwhelming, let alone the situation.

– You feel lost and alone. And afraid.

– People in uniform are walking around looking important (and also looking like they know what they are doing).

– There’s a lot of “Hurry up and wait” that takes place.

– All you have is your own story, and at that particular moment, that doesn’t feel anything like enough.

– Maybe you make small talk with whoever is around (friends, strangers, anyone who is nearby) just to pass the time, while you try to ignore the lead ball in your stomach.

– You want to go the washroom, or the cafeteria, or outside, but are afraid you’ll miss something if you do.

– You try to be optimistic, but you know that things can go either way.

– Your name is called, and you force yourself to go in.

– People are there who “know things,” either law or medicine, about which you haven’t got a clue. You are a stranger to them, yet they hold your life in their hands.

– You know in your head that the people around you are just “doing their job,” but your gut tells you that some of the people around you might not have your best interest at heart; they might have other priorities.

– Then, you are confronted by the “Important Person” (doctor or judge), who has a hideous amount of power over you.

– You are terrified to hear what the “Important Person” is going to say, yet know that your life can’t continue until you do.

– At the same time, the “Important Person” might say something which will change absolutely everything in ways you can’t even imagine.

– The only prayer you can pray is, “Please, God!”

– In this case, the “Important Person” said, “You are free to go.”

– The lead ball in your stomach begins to fade (slowly, though, because it took a while to form in there).

– You’ve been sitting all day, but suddenly you can’t stand.

– And yet, for now anyway, life can begin again.

And what was, and is, the humbling part for me is that I was allowed to walk through this valley with these people.

Every once is a while, as a pastor, you get to do what you thought you would be doing.

Prayers of the People for the Seventh Sunday of Easter

As we celebrate God’s salvation, shown in the resurrection of Jesus, we pray for the world God loves, the church God calls, and all people according to their needs, saying, “God of new life,” and responding, “Hear our prayer.”

[Short pause]

God of Resurrection, Hallelujah!  You bring new life through Jesus.  You call us to a new solidarity through Jesus.  Help us embrace your call.  God of new life,
Hear our prayer.

God of Resurrection, Hallelujah!  You are free from our structures and expectations.  You speak in ways which catch us off guard.  You come to us in people who are different.  Help us celebrate the diversity you have created.  God of new life,
Hear our prayer.

God of Resurrection, Hallelujah!  Give us openness to a unity which is not uniformity, but an embracing of variety.  Give us openness to change which is not danger, but the challenge of being alive.  Give us openness to growth which is not just survival, but movement toward maturity.  God of new life,
Hear our prayer.

God of Resurrection, Hallelujah!  Grant this congregation your wisdom to discern the faithful way before us.  Let all we do, all we decide, all we are, point to your loving promise.  God of new life,
Hear our prayer.

God of Resurrection, Hallelujah!  May we express your solidarity with us by living in solidarity with those whose lives and circumstances deny your presence – the unemployed and under-employed, the poor and hungry, the stranger and outsider, the sick and forgotten, especially those we name before you.
[Long pause]
God of new life,
Hear our prayer.

God of Resurrection, Hallelujah!  As this Easter season draws to a close, fire us with hope, that we may be your New Life people every day.  God of new life,
Hear our prayer.

Trusting your life-giving promise, we offer these prayers in the name of Jesus, our living Saviour.
Amen.

A bit of a theological rant

The comments below were posted on a preaching website I frequent. I’d be interested in your thoughts…

“Having been on the receiving end of my share of similar messages (“Let’s not talk theology, Rick; let’s talk life.”), I offer a comment in favor of talking theology (since, for me, theology IS about life!).

Gerhard Ebeling was a Lutheran theologian (he died in 2001). My favorite Ebeling quote is, “Theology exists to make preaching as hard as it needs to be.”

I like this for several reason.

1 – It rescues is from using theology as an “entrance exam” into the reign of God, in which only those who know the “correct answers” get in. Theology is not about right answers, because FAITH isn’t about right answers.

2 – It puts theology at the heart of what we, as preachers, do. Not for the sake of showing  off our education (or to tell people what the “correct answer” is (see above)), but in order to help us do the work we need to do, so what we say on Sunday morning (and our other preaching opportunities) is actually something akin to Good News.

3 – Articulating Good News ain’t easy! It takes effort, along with prayer, study, and a good dose of humility.

And here’s why it’s not easy – Good News is not our default setting! Works Righteousness is! In our fallen state, we humans seem hard-wired for trying to do it all ourselves. It is far too easy for us preacher types to get up and simply spew religious jargon (which never really addresses our sinful default setting), and as long as we throw in enough random references from the Bible, refer to Jesus a certain number of times, and use a new quote from C.S. Lewis or Martin Luther every once in a while, we figure we’ve done our job. Not necessarily so!

4 – One more thing. I submit that “Theology exists to make *everything the Church does* as hard as it needs to be.” This rescues theology from being a purely academic exercise for clergy types, and puts it squarely in the court of every single Christian.

We ALL need to be wrestling with articulating and living out Good News; we ALL need to recognize that we don’t “do” Good News naturally; we ALL need to realize that pretty much all of life contradicts Good News.

Which is why we ALL need the promise of this passage from John [14: 26, “But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you everything, and remind you of all that I have said to you.”]. The presence of the Holy Spirit with us is not just about comfort. It’s about being remade, in very concrete and sometimes painful ways, into Good News people.

Here endeth the rant. Go in peace!”