Monthly Archives: June 2013

Prayers of the People for Pentecost 6 / Ordinary 13

Trusting the promise that God will hear our prayers, we offer our concern for the world God loves, the Church God calls, and all people according to their needs, saying, “Hear us, O God,” and responding, “Your mercy is great.”

[Brief pause]

God who sets us free, you release us from all that keeps us from being your people: hatred, fear, greed, selfishness.  Enable us to live into this freedom.  Hear us, O God,
Your mercy is great.

God who sets us free, you do not define us by our brokenness.  Soften our hearts, so we do not define others by their brokenness.  Hear us, O God,
Your mercy is great.

God who sets us free, open us to the prospect of serving.  Fill us with compassion to reach out to the people around us.  Hear us, O God,
Your mercy is great.

God who sets us free, you call us to new possibilities, new ways of being church, new ways of responding to your call.  Make us eager for the future you are preparing for us.  Hear us, O God,
Your mercy is great.

God who sets us free, use us to touch the sick, the unemployed, the homeless and the hungry with your self-giving care.  We especially pray that you will reach out to those we name before you.
[Long pause]
Make us vehicles of healing.  Hear us, O God,
Your mercy is great.

God who sets us free, you walk with this congregation.  Strengthen our faith as we walk with each other, that we may reflect your love in all we do and all we are.  Hear us, O God,
Your mercy is great.

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 the Christ.
Amen.

Prayers of the People for Pentecost 5 / Ordinary 12

Trusting the promise of God that our prayers will be heard, we offer our concern for the world God loves, the Church God calls, and all people according to their needs, saying, “Hear us, O God,” and responding, “Your mercy is great.”

[Brief pause]

Faithful God, your promise surpasses our failure.  Your love exceeds our divisions.  Remind us that you call us to be your people, reflecting your light in this darkened world.  Hear us, O God,
Your mercy is great.

Faithful God, you are doing much more than we can see in our little corner of the planet.  Open our eyes to see and our ears to hear.  Then, faithful God, open our hearts to respond.  Hear us, O God,
Your mercy is great.

Faithful God, you are active in our world, our community, our congregation, our families, our lives.  Make us more sensitive to the movement of your Spirit among us, that we may join your dance.  Hear us, O God,
Your mercy is great.

Faithful God, you do not judge by our standards.  Free us from measuring worth by numbers.  Save us from determining value by utility.  Keep us from evaluating strictly by success or failure.  Open us to embrace the new, the different, the challenging.  Hear us, O God,
Your mercy is great.

Faithful God, you walk with us through all our valleys.  Enable us to reach out to the sick and suffering.  Use us as your healing hands, your listening ear, your healing presence, especially for those we name before you now.
[Long pause]
Hear us, O God,
Your mercy is great.

Faithful God, we pray for the ministry of this congregation.  Free us from fear.  Liberate us from trying to re-create the past.  Move us into your promised future.  Hear us, O God,
Your mercy is great.

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 the Christ.
Amen.

Prayers of the People for Pentecost 4 / Ordinary 10

Trusting the promise of God that our prayers will be heard, we offer our concern for the world God loves, the Church God calls, and all people according to their needs, saying, “Hear us, O God,” and responding, “Your mercy is great.”

[Brief pause]

We pray for the nameless ones: whose lives are ignored, whose pain is scorned, whose gifts are dismissed.  Open our eyes to see your presence in their very being.  Hear us, O God,
Your mercy is great.

We pray for the powerful ones: whose whims can become law, whose priorities can become skewed, whose mission, nevertheless, is the greater good.  Open our mouths to remind them of your presence in their very being.  Hear us, O God,
Your mercy is great.

We pray for the victims of violence: those who are considered expendable, those who are considered dangerous, those who are considered outsiders.  Open our hearts to refuges and immigrants, that we may rediscover your presence in their very being.  Hear us, O God,
Your mercy is great.

We pray for the suffering ones: those who are defined by their illness, those who see no way out, those who have lost hope.  Open our hands to touch all hurting people with your love, that they may sense your presence in their very being.  Hear us, O God,
Your mercy is great.

We pray for the prophetic ones: who proclaim how things can be different, who refuse to submit to the status quo, who call us to account.  Open our ears to the truth they announce, that we may respond to your presence in our very being.  Hear us, O God,
Your mercy is great.

We pray for this congregation: called to welcome the nameless; called to confront the powerful; called to support victims of oppression; called to bring healing to the sick; called to take part in the ministry of the prophets.  Open our lives to all you are doing through the people around us, that we may reflect your presence in our very being.  Hear us, O God,
Your mercy is great.

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 the Christ.
Amen.

Reflections on the end of a 9-day Life

I’ve just returned from the cemetery, at which I presided over the burial of a 9-day old baby boy.

The baby never had much of a chance at life; born 10 weeks premature with complications too many to count, he wasn’t supposed to last one day, let alone nine. But he was a fighter, who hung on for hours even after the machines were unplugged.

The feelings at the grave side were palpable: anger, unbelief, shock, anguish, hopelessness…. The whole spectrum.

Certainly expected. Completely understandable. The intensity itself was intense.

And the pastor, who is, after all, merely human, is touched by this intensity.

Then the fear and self-doubt sets in. ‘I’m supposed to speak some Word which will…, what? Make things better? Take the pain away? Make sense of it all? Give everyone hope and peace so they can get back to their lives and their jobs and their homes as if they just had a 24-hour bug? How the hell do I do that? Can I even do that?’

No.

And in that acknowledgment, there is direction, there is purpose for being here. The Pastor does have a Word to speak.

So we begin with honesty.

“The fact that we have to be here today is just wrong.”

The tears begin.

Not a bad thing. In fact, it means that this Word has spoken to their reality, brought the demon into the light and named it.

More truth. Might as well go into the deep water.

“And talking about a loving God who cares for all of us and doesn’t want us to suffer, can, in a situation like this, sound like a cruel joke.”

The religious demon needs to be named here, too. Too often the Church has not named this demon. Too often we have made Jesus into a kind of Zeus: all powerful, all controlling, capriciously deciding who lives and who dies, against whom we have no recourse but resignation and despair.

But the pastor is, quite intentionally, not a spokesperson for Zeus.

“Jesus said, ‘Let the kids come! Don’t get in their way. They are as much a part of the reign of God as anyone else.'”

This is the story that was read over the baby when he was baptized, still in the hospital, still connected to the machines, tubes still going everywhere, wearing a gown provided by the nurses.

This is the story that was read when it had become obvious that he was not going to make it; that he was, in fact, going to die.

And now it was being read as he was buried.

This Jesus, this Jesus who welcomed children, does not sit off in heaven making decisions about our lives. This Jesus comes to us, and suffers with us, and cries in hospital rooms, and moans at gravesides, and takes 9-day old babies and the baby’s parents and the baby’s grandparents and the baby’s aunts and uncles and the baby’s friends who never even met him, into his arms.

This Jesus says, to the baby, and to everyone here, ‘You are as much a part of God’s reign as anyone else.’

We belong to God, even here. With whatever feelings you have. Now or tomorrow. That’s the promise.”

The father lowers the ashes into the ground. Tears are shed.

“Our Father” is prayed. Tears are shed.

“God bless you all, now and always.” Tears are shed.

And Jesus took them, gathered them in his arms, and blessed them.

Blessed them all.

Including the Pastor.

And all of this through a 9-day life.

Amen.