Be With Our Children (Romans 8:22-27 and Acts 2:1-21)

Heavenly Mother, we are your children.
You gave us the gift of life.
You knew us before we were created and you formed us in your image.
You surrounded us with grace as we struggled to understand how to live
and how to follow your teachings.
You nurtured us and comforted us when we fell short.
You taught us what it means to be in a family.
We especially thank you for the young adults
who have spent the last year learning about their faith
and who have chosen to join us as part of this family of believers.

Holy Spirit, intercede on their behalf.
You alone know their deepest needs, their biggest dreams,
and their unique talents and abilities.
Fill their hearts with the passion of their faith.
Strengthen them when they begin to despair.
Open their eyes to how they can make a difference in this world.
Guide them through the temptations of this world and
keep their focus on following Christ and his teachings.
As your children, we want to follow your will and your teachings.
Help us to instill this same desire in our children.
Help them to instill this same desire in their own children
in the years to come.

Heavenly Father, you declared you would pour out your Spirit onto us.
You gave us your Son to show us the way.
Fill us with your Spirit, show us your signs.
As your early church did, help us to create a community of believers.
Help us to support one another.
We lift up to you, those among us we know are in need.
We name ___
We also lift up to you those who are unnamed.
Help us to be your people and to follow your ways.

As your people, we lift up our voices using the words your Son taught us,
so many years ago, “Our Father…”

You Call Us to Your Table (Luke 14:16-24)

Lord, you call us to your table
and we accept your invitation.
We come, not because we fully understand,
but because we want to know your truth.
We come, not because we feel worthy,
but because we know you love us anyway.
We come, not because we are at peace,
but because we are in search of your peace.

We ask that you open our ears to your invitation.
Open our eyes to the opportunities you place before us,
chances to make connections in a broken world,
and encounters that open our minds to new possibilities.
Use us to extend your invitation to all that we meet.
Help us to embody your teachings in our words,
our thoughts and our daily activities.
As you have extended love to all,
fill our hearts with an unending love for others
so that we can share your love with others.
Fill us with the desire to be as invitational as you were.
Surround our table with those hungry for your truth
and your peace.

Lord, you called those to your table that others ignored
and overlooked.
You sought peace and justice for those without power.
You healed those who were sick.
We ask that you be with those among us in need of your healing grace.
We name ___ .
We ask that you also be with those who go unnamed,
with those living in fear and uncertainty,
and with those who feel forgotten and ignored.
May they feel your invitation deep within their hearts.
May they emerge from the shadows and take their place
fully in this life, healed and complete,
knowing they are loved and accepted.
And as they step forward, invite us to fully embrace and welcome them.

As we accept your invitation, we lift our hearts in celebration and joy,
and we lift our voices to you, using the words you gave us many years ago,
“Our Father….

Help Us to Follow You (Ephesians 5:1-10)

Heavenly Father, you sent your Son to us as our Teacher.
As children copy their parents, help us to copy the actions of your Son.
Open our hearts so that we can love you fully.
Open our minds so that we can be receptive to your teachings.
Most importantly, give us the strength to follow you
and to love others as you did.

Our world is not a just world.
There are many who do not act in love,
but instead act in greed or evil.
Help us to be the example of a life lived in love.
Help us to live as the good, the just and the righteous.

We mourn those who have been killed, injured or impacted
by the violence in our world.
We grieve that our children and teachers have learned the lesson of fear
instead of the lesson of education.
We find wisdom in the voices of the teenagers and young adults
who raise their voices today to say, “No More.”
They are following your teachings.

We are saddened by stories of famine, of refugees, and war.
And we admit that we turn away and
say we cannot do anything to save them.
We are sickened when we hear how pollution or chemical spills
poison our water and our land.
And yet, we choose financial gain rather than
acting as the guardians of our world.
We see courage in the voices of those who speak up in protest
of policy and legislation that harms rather than protects.
They are following your teachings.

Lord, there is so much pain and suffering in our world.
And yet, we do not give up. We are your children, your followers.
Be with us in our struggle even as we support those among us who are ill or in pain.
We ask that you be with ___ and surround them with your healing grace and peace.
Open our hearts so that we can love you fully.
Open our minds so that we can be receptive to your teachings.
Open our ears so we can hear the needs of those around us.
Most importantly, give us the strength to follow you and to love others
as you did.

And, as we follow you in love, we use the words you taught us so long ago.
“Our Father…”

Love, Yours and Ours (Matthew 22:34-46)

You told us the greatest commandment is to
Love the Lord your God with all your heart,
with all your soul and with all your mind.
Next, we are to love our neighbor as ourself.
Remind us, Lord, that love is a verb.
We are to love and to love means to act.

It is easy to love you, Lord,
and to love our family and friends.
We can say we love the stranger whom we have never met.
It is not as easy to love the stranger who cuts us off in traffic,
the person who holds a different political viewpoint than ours,
the stranger who is incarcerated,
the co-worker who doesn’t pull their weight,
or the person we think is taking advantage of the system.

Remind us that we don’t have to feel love,
but we need to act with love which means
acting in fairness.
Help us to see the image of God, your image,
in the faces of those we meet.
Help us to treat everyone with fairness.
Help us to act with love in each encounter.
Remind us that each of us is a child of God,
deeply loved and uniquely cherished.
Give us the strength to take action
to protect the powerless,
to speak for those without a voice,
to listen for the needs of those around us,
to lift up those who have stumbled,
and to feed the hungry.

As your children, and acting in your love,
we support those in our community.
We ask that you be with those among us who are in pain
and who need your extra support. We name ___.
But we also celebrate with our community.
We lift up in joy ___.

We thank you for the love you have extended to us,
love that we have not earned but freely accept.
Help us to now freely share that love with others.
As we feel your love, we lift up our voices and our hearts to you,
using the words your Son taught us, “Our Father….”

Living in Community (2 Timothy 3:10-17 and Psalm 119: 97-106)

Gracious God, we thank you for the role models in our lives.
We may not realize it until later, but in every encounter,
we share a lesson.
We are the teacher and we are the student.
Help us to carry the right message to others.
Let them see your love in our actions and in our words.
Help us to see your image in their faces,
and to see your lesson in each encounter.

Creator God, we thank you for the relationships in our lives.
You have created within us a desire for community,
a desire for family and a desire to belong.
Help us to create a world where there are no others,
a world filled instead with our brothers and sisters,
mothers and fathers, children and grandchildren.
One family.
One community.
Your children.

Teacher God, we thank you for Scripture.
Through space and time, your words continue to speak to us.
We thank you for the gift of your Son.
Through space and time, his examples continue to speak to us.
Use our hands to help the poor and sick,
as Jesus did.
Use our voices to speak up for the powerless,
as Jesus did.
Use our eyes to see the world around us clearly, without bias,
as Jesus did.
Use our ears to listen for those in need of help,
as Jesus did.
Open our hearts to follow your teachings,
as Jesus did.
We ask that you continue to speak to us
and to teach us.

Healing God, we thank you for the gift of forgiveness and renewal.
We thank you for the gift of second chances and do-overs.
And as we support one another in our learning process as your disciples,
we also support each other in times of illness and grief.
We ask that you be with those among us who need your strength and peace.
We name ___.
As your students and as your children, we lift up the words your Son taught us,
“Our Father..”

Use Us Despite Ourselves (Exodus 14:19-31)

Creator God, our story today reminds us of Creation.
There is light and there is darkness,
the water separates from the land and a path is opened.
You had the power to create us and
you used your power to lead the Israelites out of slavery.
We realize in this story that then as now,
we don’t always treat each other with love and respect.
Open our eyes, Lord, to oppression in today’s world.
Help us to work towards a peace and just world.
Remind us that each of us is a child of God and
that we are to live in community with one another.

Moses agreed to lead his people,
and we remember that he did not feel worthy at first.
Help us to hear your call and give us the strength to accept your call.
Help us to feel worthy of your call.
Help us to share your love with others.
Open our ears so that we can listen to those in need.
Open our hands so that we freely share our gifts and treasures with others.
Open our hearts so we can be kind to others.
Open our eyes so that we can see your plan here on earth.

Gracious God, just as you led the Israelites from slavery,
we know that you are with us always.
We ask that you be with those among us who need your grace and healing touch.
We name ___.
You are with us in times of trial and you are with us in times of joy.
You were with the Israelites in their time of bondage and
in their celebration of freedom.
We know that you are with us as we share your love with others.
As we gather together in this sacred place, we use the words your Son taught us,
“Our Father…”

Our Connection with Others (Exodus 12:1-14 )

Gracious God, we gather here in your name.
We are members of this church, but more importantly,
we are your children and
we are brothers and sisters with one another in faith.
As your children, we are loved and in turn,
we are to share your love with all people.
As we look around today, we see how we impact others.
We are teachers. And, we are students.
We are helpers. And we are helped by others.
We feed the hungry. And, in turn, we are fed as well.
As we touch others, we are also touched.
As we change lives, we become changed people.

We gather here in your name, with faith in your promise
that you are also here with us.
As you are connected with each of us,
we are connected with one another.
Help us to truly see one another.
Help us to see your image in their faces and
help us to follow your teachings.
Help us to share your love with others,
within our church, within our local community, and beyond.
Help us to be your people.

We gather together as your people.
We support one another in time of illness and crisis.
We ask that you be with those among us, named and unnamed,
who need your grace and strength.

As we gather together, we use the words your son taught us,
“Our Father, …”

Fearing and Obeying the Lord (Matthew 10:24-39)

Jesus, you never told us that following you would be easy.
You often warned us how difficult the road would be.
As your followers, our job should not be easy.
You taught us a different way of living,
a way of community and of being at one with each other.
What is whispered, we are to shout from the rooftops.
When we see injustice in this world, we are not to close our eyes.
We are not to look the other way and say, well that is just how things are.
But we are to take action and try to speak for those without a voice,
to stand up for those without power.

You never told us that following you would be easy.
Give us the courage we need to be your followers.
Help us to focus on your teachings
and not on our false sense of security.
Help us to be like the early church who knew they needed to break away
from a world that did not follow your teachings.
Following you will not be easy.
We will need to lift up our voices and speak out against injustice.
We will need to make ourselves vulnerable
and take a chance on being hurt.
We will need to understand our own biases
and work toward changing our unjust social and justice systems.
We will need to work together, to love one another, and to value one another.
We will need to freely share our gifts and treasures with one another.
Give us the strength, the courage and the wisdom to follow your teachings.

You never told us our new life would be easy,
but you encouraged us to be one with each other.
We lift up and support those among us who need our help.
We ask that you be with ___ and grant them your healing touch.
We celebrate being in community and
we lift up our recent Vacation Bible School with joy and happiness.
As you taught us, we are teaching our children.
Help us to share your teachings with everyone we meet.
Help us to act out your teachings in our interactions with others.
We remind ourselves of your teachings every time we use the words you gave us,
“Our Father…”

Loving One Another (Genesis 1:1-2:4a)

Creator God, we have heard the story of Creation many times.
Help us to truly hear this story.
You used chaos to create order.
You provided darkness to highlight the light of day,
a moon to glow in the night and a sun to blaze in the day.
You saw the beauty and knew how to enhance your Creation.

Help us to truly hear this story of Creation.
Help us to realize that you personally created us.
You created us in your image
and therefore each of us is loved and cherished.
We were not an accident, or a by-product.
You saw your Creation and purposely created us in your image.
Open our hearts to truly know and accept that act of love.
Help us to feel the awe of your Creation,
to feel part of your Creation, and
to feel the responsibility of acting as stewards for your Creation.

Help us to truly hear this story of our Creation.
Remind us that you did not create us separate from your Creation.
Remind us that you created us to live in community with each other
and with the rest of Creation.
As we support one another, we ask that you also be with those among us
in need of your grace and healing touch. We name ___.
We ask that you be with our elected leaders, guide them and give them
the wisdom they need to act in ways that protect your Creation.
Encourage us to also act as stewards of your Creation,
the world that you entrusted to us, your children, created in your image.

We are reminded of the story of Creation
and we are reminded that you have been with us always since those first days.
And we are reminded that you sent us your son who taught us the words that we use today,
“Our Father…”

Let Us Achieve New Heights as Followers of Christ (Acts 1:6-14)

Gracious God
Sometimes the world and its problems seem to be too much for us.
We may find ourselves waiting and unsure what to do.
Sometimes we ask you for signs of what will come,
forgetting that we are to act as your witnesses here on earth.

Jesus was taken into Heaven and until he returns, we ask,
Spirit, come to us and call us to action.

Remind us that you have given us all we need to act in your name,
to be your disciples here on earth.
Fill us with the courage we need to stand up for truth and justice.
Open our hearts with compassion for those in need.
Give us the wisdom to see your vision for this world and then
use our thoughts and energy to fulfill your plan here on earth.
Unclench our fists and replace anger and frustration
with a deep sense of peace.
Remind us that we are your children and that we are loved.

Jesus was taken into Heaven and until he returns, we ask,
Spirit, come to us and call us to action.

We are your disciples now.
Help us to be like the disciples of the early church.
Help us to feel your interaction as we pray and
help us to see you in the ordinary moments of our lives.
As we experience the joy in your teachings,
help us to share that joy with others.
Use us to bring peace to this world, one person at a time.
As we support one another, we ask that you be with those among us
who are in pain or in need of healing. We name ___
We ask that you help us become better students of your teachings,
better disciples in this world.

Jesus was taken into Heaven and until he returns, we ask,
Spirit, come to us and call us to action.

As the disciples devoted themselves to prayer, we use the same words,
the words that Jesus taught them, “Our Father…”

**Words in bold can be said by congregation