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…”

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…”

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…”

Teach Us (Genesis 45:1-15)

Lord, there is so much conflict in our world.

Conflict between countries, between neighbors,
and within families.
We want to be right,
sometimes more than we want to forgive
or to ask for forgiveness.

Teach us, Father, to be more like Joseph.
Teach us to forgive those who have wronged us.
Teach us to ask for forgiveness when we have behaved badly.

Lord, we know that you accept us as we are,
that you cherish us as we are.
We are your children.
As you love us, we need to love ourselves
and love those around us.
It is in loving our neighbors, near and far,
that we fulfill your plans and your commandment.

Teach us, Father, to be more like Joseph.
Teach us to forgive those who have wronged us.
Teach us to ask for forgiveness when we have behaved badly.

Lord, it is love that saves us, your love.
We are made in your image.
We are your children.
You show us mercy and give us your grace.
We ask that you be with ___

Teach us, Father, to be more like Joseph.
Teach us to forgive those who have wronged us.
Teach us to ask for forgiveness when we have behaved badly.

In your love, you sent us your Son. And in love, he gave us these words,
“Our Father…”

Love Each Other (Romans 12:9-21)

Creator of Love and Light,

Your lesson to us has always been love.
Love each other as we love ourselves.
Three easy words, Love each other.

Giver of all things,
Your lesson to us is to hate evil and cling to love.
Remind us to lift up in prayer, even those we do not care for.
Love each other as we love ourselves.
Three easy words, Love each other.

We are the children of God.
As children, we may not comprehend the meaning of all your teachings.
Three easy words, Love each other.
Your teachings come down to these three words.
As we are cherished and loved as your children,
we, too, also need to love each other.

Compassionate One,
As we are loved, we know that we are to support one another.
We lift up __ in our prayers and know that while You are also with them,
we need to show them our love and our concern, in our words and in our prayers.
As the body of Christ, we cherish each other as you cherish us.

Lord of Peace,
Remind us that by loving one another, we create peace in our world.
Love each other as we love ourselves.
In love, you sent to us your Son.
In love, He taught us these words,
“Our Father….”

Forgetting We Were Made in Your Image (1 Corinthians 12:1-13)

We often compare ourselves to each other,
sometimes favorably and sometimes unfavorably.
We compete with each other and with ourselves.
None of us believe we are as good as we should be.

We forget that you have made us in your image,
and that each of us has the gifts and challenges that you have given us.
You have shaped us to your purpose.
We forget that we are brothers and sisters in the body of Christ.

Teach us that when we are looking at others,
we should be looking to see how we can help them
or how they can help us grow.
You have shaped us to your purpose.

We have the gifts, talents and challenges that you have given us.
Teach us to use our gifts to help those around us.
Show us how our talents can be used to fulfill your plans.
Remind us how our challenges strengthen us and
help us grow.

We are your children, Lord.
Made in your image, each of us uniquely loved and cherished.
Remind us that we are good enough
Remind us to love ourselves as you love us.
Remind us to love each other and to celebrate each other.

We know that you are with us.
We ask that you be with ___.
As your children, we lift our hearts up to you
and offer ourselves to you.
We use the words your son taught us,
“Our Father…”

Light of the World (Matthew 2:1-12)

We celebrate the birth of your son,
who has come to be one with us,
to experience life as we know it.
Many others came to celebrate as well.
The Magi, ones who did not believe in you,
came to celebrate and to give their praise.

If the Magi, who did not believe,
can celebrate you and give you
their earthly treasures,
how can we not give you ourselves?
We are the believers, Lord.
We have heard your teachings and
we follow your ways.

A star lit the way for the Magi to follow.
Your teachings have told us we are to be the light of this world,
we should be the stars who light the way for those around us today.
Just as we know that the sun will rise tomorrow,
we know that you are with us always,
we know that you have given us the gifts and talents we need to fulfill your plan,
we know that together with our brothers and sisters in Christ, we are strong,
we know that our faith does not remove the struggles in our lives,
but gives us the ability to persevere and to overcome those challenges.
There are those among us today who need your grace and healing strength.
Be with them and help them to feel your presence.

We are to be the light of this world.
At the end of our lives, when we come face to face with you, Lord,
will we be asked how we loved one another?
Help us to answer that we shared ourselves freely and openly with each other.
Open our hearts today and give us the opportunity to share our love, our treasures and our talents with others.

Christ came to us in love.
Remind us to share that love with others.

In love, your son taught us to pray. And, in the spirit of love, we raise our voices together, using the words he taught us,
“Our Father…”

What Good Can Come Out of Nazareth? (John 1:43-51)

We look at something or at someone,
and we make assumptions about what we see.

We watch the woman in front of us at the grocery store using food stamps,
and we evaluate her purchases.
We critique her clothing, the fact that she has a cell phone and how many children she has.
What good can come out of Nazareth?

We see protestors in the streets.
Some of us relate to them and celebrate their presence.
Some of us think to ourselves that those people have too much time on their hands,
and don’t want to take personal responsibility for themselves.
What good can come out of Nazareth?

We are a divided people, Lord.
We view the world through our biases, our assumptions, and often, through our judgments.
The big picture escapes us, it is easier to believe the soundbite, rather than ask why.
We live in a world of us versus them.
What good can come out of Nazareth?

We are supposed to be a people of love.
Remind us that we are all interconnected,
that our energy interacts with the energy of those around us.
Remind us, Jesus, that you made no judgments about those around you.
You accepted those you encountered,
regardless of the reaction of those who considered themselves to be socially correct.
You reached out to those who were powerless and marginalized,
and empowered them with your love and acceptance.
What good can come out of Nazareth?

We are the people who come from Nazareth.
We heard your teachings,
we follow you with our lives and our deeds.
We are the good that comes from Nazareth.
We are a strong community, gathering strength from each other,
united in our faith even while we debate with each other the best way to create your world here on Earth.
It is us to us, Jesus, to make this world as it is in heaven.
Help us to do that. Give us the strength and the wisdom to make it so.
Open our eyes to your plan and open our hearts to do your bidding.

We are the people who come from Nazareth.
And, we know that you are with us always.
We ask that you be with ___, our members in the body of Christ who need your added strength and healing grace.
As your people in love, we know that we need to spend time in prayer and contemplation.
You modeled the need for prayer and you gave us the words to start with,
“Our Father….”

No Prophet Welcome in His Hometown (Luke 4:21-30)

There is no one who knows us better than our families.
And, yet, do our families really know us or do they know who we used to be?
Do they know how we have changed over time?
Or do they only know us how they want us to be?
You know us, Father, you knew us before we were born
and you know how we have grown since then
and you know how we still need to grow.

As we grow in this life, help us to see what is important in life.
Give us the strength to speak up as Jesus did when he spoke up for inclusion.
Today, many say that being inclusive is a sign of political correctness,
something we should not tolerate, something that makes us weak.
Remind us, Father God, that your Son taught us to include everyone,
to value everyone, without judgment.
Remind us, Mother God, that we are all your children,
each of us loved and each of us uniquely cherished.
When we respect each other, when we celebrate and accept our differences,
we are respecting you and acting as you taught us.

We may not have the strength or the character to live our entire lives as did Nelson Mandela,
but we can stand up in individual moments of oppression and speak up for the powerless.
When we see a bully taunt their victim,
encourage us to stand up in protest.
When we hear a racist joke,
encourage us to stand up and say we will not listen to hate.
When we notice inequality in social programs,
encourage us to ask our politicians why and to demand change.
When we see someone being ignored,
encourage us to reach out to that person and raise them up.
When we see a child without the ability to receive a quality education,
encourage us to ensure that all receive an education regardless of their school district.
When we see cities without safe drinking water,
encourage us to ask ourselves why lower-income populations are treated less fairly than those with wealth.

Give us the voice to speak for those without a voice.
Give us the ability to hear the cries of those around us in pain
and to find ways to provide comfort to them.
Give us the strength to be your children, to be your body of Christ.
Give us the courage to stand up to the majority
when we know that the minority is in the right.
As your children, we support those among us who are in pain and in need of your healing touch.
We ask that you be with ___ in particular.

We are your children, Lord.
We are your family, the body of Christ.
As your family, open our eyes to see each other,
to see each other as we really are.
And as your children, we use the words that your Son taught us,
“Our Father…”