Open Our Eyes to Your Presence (Luke 24:13-35)

Lord, how many times have you been walking beside us
without us knowing?
When we are in moments of joy with friends and family,
open our eyes so we can see you celebrating with us.
As we do the mundane tasks of the day to day,
open our eyes so we can see you with us in our daily routine.
If we awaken in the night filled with worry and fear,
open our eyes so that we can see that you are here to comfort us with your peace.

Lord, how many times during the day, do we forget to live out your teachings?
As we face the normal irritations of our day to day,
do we practice loving one another when caught in another traffic jam?
As we learn about current events,
do we seek peace and justice or do we practice judgment and condemnation?
As we interact with each other,
do we seek to build up the community or do we put ourselves first?
Open our hearts to your words, Lord, fill us with the fire of your teachings.
Remind us to grant others grace as you have granted grace to us.

Lord, how many times have you spoken in our ear and we have not heard you.
In times of anger, when voices are raised, remind us to pause and to listen for your guidance.
In times of fear and uncertainty, remind us to take a moment to breathe deeply,
to relax our shoulders, and to listen for your words of peace.
In times of success and celebration, remind us to listen to your teachings
and to know that we still need your assurance and grace.
Remind us to be in community with one another and to listen to one another
so that we can truly understand each other’s needs.

Lord, you are with us always. Help us to also be with you.
We use the words that you taught us so many years ago,
“Our Father…”

Be With Us in Relationship (Acts 2:42-47)

Fill us with the excitement of a new relationship, Loving God.
Bring us into a new relationship with you.
We all remember the feelings of a new love.
Help us to fall in love with you all over again.
Remind us what it feels like to be excited and energized
by life again.

Fill us with the comfort and ease of a long-lasting friendship, Lord.
Remind us how easy it is to talk to someone who can finish our sentences
and knows all of our old stories.
We know even if we spend time apart, that you will always be there,
waiting for us.
Like a close friend, you offer comfort, healing, and acceptance.
Remind us what it feels like to be supported and encouraged
by life again.

The early church was energized by their relationship with each other
and their new faith.
Over the years, maybe we have become more complacent.
Fill our hearts with the excitement of your teachings.
Open our eyes to the plans you have for us here on earth.
Use us to fulfill those plans here.
Help us to create a community of believers here in this place.

As a community of believers, we gather here each week.
We pledge to support one another and to work for the common good.
We ask that you be with those among us who need your healing grace.
We name ___.

As you are with us now, you were with us when you taught us to say,
“Our Father…”

A Mystical Moment (Exodus 24:12-18 ; Matthew 17:1-9)

Glorious Creator, we have all had the experience of encountering
a scene in nature that takes our breath away:
a sunrise, a sunset, the view from a mountaintop,
a rainbow, the dew glistening on a spider web,
the waves splashing up upon the shoreline,
or the lightening strike that lights up the night sky.
The majesty and the mystery of the world you have created overwhelms us.
When we come upon these scenes, we are filled with the mystery of your Spirit
and feel your closeness.

The glory of God settled on Mt Sinai and
a cloud covered the top of the mountain.
Help us, Lord, to see your glory in our daily lives.
Take us to that mountaintop and meet us in our doubt.
Help us to see your beauty and your mystery in the daily minutia of our lives.
Help us to remember the covenant you made with the people of Israel
and help us to keep your teachings.

Like Peter, we don’t fully grasp your teachings.
Help us to truly understand your mystery.
As Jesus was transfigured, we ask that you also change us.
Open our hearts to your presence all the time.
Remind us that you are with us always, and be with those among us
who need your healing grace. We name ___.
Open our eyes to those around us who are afraid or feeling lost,
those who don’t know how they will move forward.
Open our hearts to the needs of those around us
without judgment and without fear.
Help us to protect your creation, to act as stewards of your mystery.
Help us to act as Jesus taught us.

Glorious Creator, the world around us is full of your glory and your mystery.
We remember the baptism of Jesus when we hear the words
this is my son with whom I am well pleased.
We are reminded of our own baptism and
we remember that we are your children,
each of us loved and uniquely cherished.
As we seek you on the mountaintop and in your creation,
we use the words that your son taught us,
“Our Father…”

Arise and Shine! (Isaiah 60:1-5 and Matthew 3:13-17)

We know that you are with us always, Lord,
but this season reminds us that you have chosen to live with us,
to share our human experience.
We celebrate that you have come to be with us, Lord.
The darkness had covered the earth, but now we
shine with the light of your love.
Help us to carry that light forward into the world.

We know that sometimes we focus on the darker side of life.
Remind us, Lord, to see the light and sunshine in our world.
Help us to see the abundance around us.
Lift up our hearts in joy and thanksgiving
for the gifts that you have given us.
Help us to focus on the positive and not the negative.
Help us to carry the light of your truth into the world.

As we focus on your love, we are reminded of our baptism.
Water, life-giving and life-sustaining, is a symbol of your love
and acceptance.
Help us to give that gift to others.
Help us to share the gift of your love to others we encounter.
As we have been cleansed and forgiven,
help us to see others with acceptance and forgiveness.
As members of the body of Christ, we support one another.
We lift up the names of those among us who need assistance, naming ___.
We also celebrate with one another in our times of joy.
We lift up our joys and celebrations naming ___.

We are your children, Lord.
We arise and shine in the light and glory of our Lord.
Be with us as we go through our daily lives and
be with us as we use the words you taught us,
“Our Father…”

God Bless Us Everyone (Isaiah 63:7-9 and Matthew 2:1-12

God Bless Us Everyone as we start a new year, a new beginning.
We’ve made our resolutions, and maybe we’ve already broken them
even though it is only Day 1.
Some of us have made the same resolutions we made last year.
Help us to feel your presence in our life as we move into the new year.
Be with us as we seek to show and incorporate your love and
your teachings in new ways,
to ourselves and to those we meet every day.

God Bless Us Everyone. Help us to mean that, to truly
bless and accept everyone,
not just the ones who believe the same way that we do.
Continue to fill us with the peace, hope, love and joy of the Advent season
as we move into the new year.
Remind us that we do not need to make drastic resolutions for the new year.
Help us to see that one small degree of change can make a difference
in not only our lives, but to the lives of those around us.
What would happen if we did one small deed of love every day?
What would happen if we turned our cheek and
did not respond to anger with anger?
What would happen if we tried to view a situation
from someone else’s viewpoint
without judgment?
What would happen if we looked at others with love first?

God Bless Us Everyone.
Open our hearts to the excitement that Scrooge felt when he realized he had a second chance in life.
Use us to fulfill your plan here on earth.
Help us to be a blessing to someone else.
As your community, we are like a large vat of hot water,
water that is 211 degrees.
We don’t have to make major changes in our lives.
By adding one extra degree of effort to our following you and your teachings,
our community will begin to boil when we move to 212 degrees.
Boiling water creates steam and steam can power the largest machines
and create electricity for entire cities.
Help us to focus on making a 1 degree change rather than fixing all of our bad habits at one time.

God Bless Us Each and Everyone.
As your children, we support each other.
Be with those among us who need your extra grace and support.
We name ___
As the body of Christ, we are stronger together and nourish each other.
Our faith is strengthened by our experiences with one another.
Help us to be that 1 degree of change in this world.
Help us to make this world your world.

As we share in Scrooge’s joy in his second chance,
as we seek to start a new year with new promises,
we use the words your Son taught us so many years ago, “Our Father…”

— influenced by theme 212 The Extra Degree – motivational book by Mac Anderson and Sam Parker
http://www.simpletruths.com/inspirational-books/212-the-extra-degree.html
At 211 degrees, water is just hot. At 212 degrees, it boils and can create steam which can move a locomotive. One degree of effort makes a huge difference!

The Life of Christmas Yet-to-Come (Isaiah 7:11-16 and Matthew 1:18-25)

Our world can often be the busiest and most stressful
in a season that should be full of joy and anticipation.
Remind us, Lord, that we need to take time to listen.
Remind us, to take time to be quiet, and to be still.
Open our hearts and eyes to your presence in our lives.

Ring Out Your Truth
Ring out our truth
Ring out your love
Reverberate in our lives
Come, Lord, come!

We can be conflicted people, God.
On one hand, we can focus too much on today’s busyness,
that we don’t plan for the future.
On the other hand, we can fixate on the future in fear
imagining all the terrible things that could happen
until we are frozen in fear.
Remind us, Lord, that you are always with us.
Fill us with your peace and remove our fears.
As you are always with us, we share that love and support
with those in our community who are hurting.
We ask that you be with those we name today, ___
and with those we have not named.

Ring Out Your Truth
Ring out our truth
Ring out your love
Reverberate in our lives
Come, Lord, come!

We know that the future is what we make it.
We move forward in confidence that you are with us
and we take your teachings with us as we move forward.
Remind us to live a life full of joy that we have you in our lives.
Remind us, as we prepare for a new year, to live a life of purpose.
Remind us, that we can be a miracle in someone else’s life.

Ring Out Your Truth
Ring out our truth
Ring out your love
Reverberate in our lives
Come, Lord, come!

In this season of preparation and anticipation,
remind us to take time to listen for you, Lord.
Remind us to take a few minutes to sit quietly and
to open ourselves to your teachings, to your peace.
Open our hearts to your presence and your grace.
And as we open ourselves to you, we lift up our words to you
in prayer, using the words your Son taught us,
“Our Father….”

The Remembrance of Christmas Past (Isaiah 11:1-10 and Matthew 3:1-12)

Gracious God, we know that our past influences our present and our future.
The past has shaped us, taught us how to view the world around us,
and created internal truths that are not easily challenged.
Open our eyes, Lord, to your truth, to your teachings.
Remind us that while we see, our eyes may not
see clearly and that truth may be hidden
by carefully placed shadows.
Remind us that our ears can be lied to by twisted words of half-truths
and by appeals to our unknown biases.
Ring out your truth, Lord, and open our eyes to see the entire picture.
Ring out your truth, Lord, and help us to hear the call of righteousness.

When we look back on our lives, Lord, we can see where we made mistakes.
We can see where our choices hurt other people and even ourselves.
Our mistakes can weigh us down, keeping us from trusting others,
building walls between others because we don’t know how to apologize, or
filling us with fear of making new mistakes.
We can hold onto resentments and cling to our anger
until we no longer remember exactly what the issue was.
Ring out your love, Lord, and help us put down our heavy burdens.
Ring out your love, Lord, and help us to find reconciliation with one another.

In this Advent season, we remember the past and prepare again for your coming.
As we look at those around us who will be joining us at your table,
we give thanks for those who have influenced us and made us
who we are today.
We lift up those among us, here and in our daily lives, who need support.
We name ___.
We celebrate and take encouragement from the joys of life,
thanking you for the gift of laughter and fellowship.
Ring out your truth, Lord, and open our eyes to the joys and concerns of our community.
Ring out your truth, Lord, and help us to embrace all of our neighbors
building a sense of your community throughout our world.

As your people, we have followed the voice crying out in the wilderness,
to prepare a way for your truth, to follow your teachings and to share your love with others.
As your people, we use the words taught to us so many years ago,
“Our Father…”

Bah! Humbug! Time for Change (Isaiah 2:2-3 and Matthew 24:36-44)

The spirit of change, like a strong wind,
is blowing around us, pushing us one way
and then another.
We feel out of control at times,
and can easily lose our balance.
Fearful that our situation could change at any moment,
we cling to our treasures tightly and stake a claim on what is ours.
As your truth rings out,
remind us that there is more than enough for all to share.

You sent us your son and
we followed him up the mountainside.
We sat at his feet listening to his teachings.
And the spirit of change blew from Jerusalem
throughout the entire world.
The people listened and were transformed.
As your truth rings out,
remind us to also walk in your path and
to follow your teachings.

The spirit of change flows through us and around us.
We touch it in the life-giving water of our baptism and
we feel it in the wind that pulls down the colorful leaves of autumn
and we taste it when we feast on the harvest grown from the earth
and we hear it in the crackle of the Yuletide fire.
We ask you to use the spirit of change to transform us
so that we can share and use your teachings to transform others.
We lift up our cares and concerns to you, and ask that you
be with those among us who need your extra strength and healing grace.
As your truth rings out,
remind us that we may never know how much of a difference we make
in someone else’s life, but help us to realize that our every action and
our every thought does have an impact on this world.

The spirit of change is all-powerful and always present,
around us and within us.
We feel that power when we gather together as your people.
We remind ourselves of that power
every time we use the words your son taught us,
“Our Father…”

Hearts of Love (Isaiah 65:17–25)

Now more than ever, All Loving God,
we need the gift of your love in our world.
Open our hearts to accept your grace freely.
Open our hearts to share that grace with others,
without reservation and without hesitation.
As you strive to create new heavens and a new earth,
through us as we follow your teachings,
help us to truly be your church.

In a world full of conflict, open our hearts to peace,
a peace that does not compromise your teachings.
We ask that you use us to make this world, your world.
Jesus stood up for the sick, the refugee, and the beggar.
Help us to act as he taught us, to work for good,
and not to hurt or destroy.
Help us to work towards peace and equality for all your children,
rich or poor, white or of color, male or female, young or old,
gay or straight, abled or disabled, citizen or immigrant,
Christian or Muslim, rural or urban, employed or unemployed
Our list of polarizing descriptions can be endless.
We can use these descriptions to separate and divide us, and yet,
we cannot pretend that if we just ignore the label,
we are all treated equally.
Help us to truly see each other with love and with understanding.

We ask that you use us to make this world, your world.
Open our eyes to see how we can make this world, your new Jerusalem.
Use our hands to create places of shelter and to plant gardens
full of your bounty.
Use our minds to sort fact from fiction and to clearly see your truths.
We are your followers, your church, and
we are called to show your love in the world
as you have loved us.
Give us the strength to follow Christ’s teachings.
Give us the courage to help build the new Jerusalem
where no one labors in vain or has their belongings cheated from them,
where there is no fear and where there is no weeping.
As we support each other within this community, we ask that you
be with those we name today, ___

And until we are in the new Jerusalem, we continue to follow your teachings,
using the words you gave us so many years ago, “Our Father…”

Distraction (2 Thessalonians 2:1–5, 13–17)

Keep us from being distracted, Lord.
Help us to focus on the here and now.
As we sit here in this sacred space,
some of us are uncertain of the future,
and perhaps still holding our breath.
As we sit here in this sacred space,
we feel your presence.
Help us to breathe freely,
as we breathe in deeply
remind us that you are with us and
as we breathe out
remind us that our doubts and fears can be handed over to you.

Keep us from being distracted, Lord.
Help us to focus on the here and now.
As we sit here, together as your people,
we are aware of our differences but,
more importantly, we are aware of how we are alike.
Help us to breathe as one people,
as we breathe in
remind us that we are to support one another
as we breathe out
remind us that our foundation is you and your teachings.

Keep us from being distracted, Lord.
Help us to focus on the here and now.
The early church faced a fear of the future,
and still today, the church, and your people, can be fearful.
Help us to breathe in your Spirit,
as we breathe in
fill us with your love and grace
as we breathe out
open our hearts to how we can share that love with others.
We are your people, Lord.
Give us the strength to carry out your will.
Give us the courage to stand up for what is right,
to fulfill the plans you have here on earth.
As the body of Christ, we live up those among us who are in
need of healing and support. We name ___ and ask
that you be with them.

Keep us from being distracted, Lord.
Help us to focus on the here and now.
As your people, we stand firm to the foundations of your teaching.
We lift up our voices using the words that you taught us,
“Our Father…”