I Am (John 15:1-8)

Lord, in your teachings to us, you often use the words “I Am”
You are the bread of life.
You are the light of the world.
You are the gate for the sheep.
You are the resurrection and the life.
You are the vine and we are the branches.

We are part of you and you are part of us.
Your teachings have shaped us,
molded us, and guided our growth.
The way we live our lives,
the way we reflect your teachings in our lives,
is the fruit on the branches.

Remind us to use those same words in our lives.
“I am” a member of the body of Christ.
“I am” a follower of Jesus.
“I am” determined to share your teachings with the world.
“I am” willing to share my gifts and talents with others.
“I am” trying to love others as I love myself.
“I am” not afraid to speak up for those who are less powerless.
“I am” sure I do not have all the answers,
but “I am” asking the right questions.
“I am” a child of God and “I am” loved.
“I am” loved unconditionally.

Lord, you are the bread of life.
We celebrate the community around us,
as we come together at your table.
Lord, you are the light of the world.
We celebrate how your teachings illuminate
the dark corners of our world.
Lord, you are the gate for the sheep.
We celebrate that you are always with us,
guarding us, protecting us.
We ask that you be with those among us
who need your grace and your healing touch.
Be with ___
Lord, you are the resurrection and the life.
We celebrate your resurrection and we are the people of the resurrection.
Lord, you are the vine and we are your branches.
We celebrate that you are with us and we are with you,
intertwined with you and with one another.

You taught us to be your community,
to be brothers and sisters in Christ,
to make this world as it is in heaven.
You taught us the words we use today,
“Our Father…”

Remembering Our Baptism (Luke 3:15-17, 21-22)

As we enter into a new calendar year and the church season of Epiphany,
our expectations are high.
We have made resolutions and plans for the upcoming year.
But some of our resolutions have already been broken.
Some have been forgotten and
we have already made excuses for why we will not be able to keep others.
Our willpower can be weak and we know that we are not worthy.

And yet, All Loving and Personal God, you know us to our very depths.
You know our strengths and our weaknesses.
And you love us anyway and in all ways.
You see who we are today and who we could become tomorrow.
You know our thoughts, our deepest desires and our darkest fears.
We are your children, Lord, and as such,
we are deeply loved and uniquely cherished.

Lord, you chose to be baptized within a group, sharing in their sense of community.
We have joined your community, with our baptism, with our confirmation,
and with our pledge to be your disciple.
We ask that you be with us in our journey,
that you help us to see what needs to be done here to make this world your world.
We ask that you give us the strength we need to carry out your plan.
We ask that you support us in our desire to be better people,
to help us to keep our New Year’s resolutions, but most importantly, to be your people.
We ask that you remind us of our baptism, remind us that at that time,
we joined your universal church, the body of Christ.
And as the body of Christ, we support each other and raise each other up in prayer.
We ask that you be with those among us who need your healing touch and sense of grace.
We name ___.

In the act of baptism, we know that you are with us.
You give us the power of forgiveness.
You renew our spirits.
And, you call us to be your people, always.
As your people, we use the words your Son taught us,
“Our Father,…”

What We Reconcile (Ephesians 2:11-22)

One thing that humans do very well
is to identify differences between ourselves.
White, black, rich, poor, educated, illiterate,
conservative, liberal, male, female, young, old.
It is easy to see these different labels and
to hear the biased arguments on the daily news and talk shows.
Lord, we ask that you be with our political leaders and
to focus their hearts on what is best for the country,
not on what is best for them or for their party.
We ask that you open their eyes to your plan here on earth
and open their hearts to lead our country to work towards that plan
as a united people.

We gather here each week in this sacred place.
As we look around the community that you have gathered here today,
remind us to reach out to those we don’t yet know,
to say a simple hello and to start getting to know one another.
Each of us may know you differently, Father,
but we come here each week because we want you in our lives
and we want to know you better.
We know that your Son taught us that we strengthen our faith
by living in community with one another,
growing and nurturing one another.
Our differences can make us stronger,
remind us to celebrate the gifts and talents of others,
knowing that we are each unique and deeply loved
and knowing that we are called to be your people.

You gave us your Son who taught us peace,
peace and justice for all, regardless of our status.
Encourage us to seek out peace and justice for all we encounter.
Open our hearts to your will and to your plan.
Remind us that we are one with Christ, one with each other as your community.
We know that you are with us always.
We ask that you make your grace and presence known to ___
as they are in special need of your healing touch.
We are citizens of the United States, but also citizens of the world.
Remind us that every nation is our neighbor,
remind us that this creation is ours to protect,
remind us that we are all your children,
remind us that we are one.

As your children, as your united people,
we use the words you taught us,
“Our Father…”

Created in God’s Image (Mark 10:35-45)

We call ourselves your followers, Lord.
We are your children, we call ourselves Christians.
Remind us what that really means.
We were told to love one another as we love ourselves. 

We are to love our neighbor as we love ourselves.
But who do we consider to be our neighbor?
The person who looks like us, talks like us
     and shares our common experience?
Or is our neighbor a different color?
Does our neighbor make less money than we do?
Does our neighbor speak the same language that we speak?
Does our neighbor have more kids than they can afford to feed?
Did our neighbor drop out of high school?
Has our neighbor escaped a country full of violence
     to find safety in the United States?
Take our judgmental views from our thoughts, Lord.
Help us to see each other as you see us, without bias and in love.
It can be easy for us to look down upon others in an attempt to build up
     our own status and self-importance.

Help us, Father, to treat each other as your children, as our brothers and sisters in Christ.
We do not choose our starting point in life,
     and each of us makes both good and bad choices as we travel
     through life's paths.
Our wealth and comfort in this life is not our right,
     nor is someone else's poverty their penalty for a failed life.
Remind us that none of us are better than another,
     and remind us that we may see each other through biased eyes.
Help us to see your image in the face of those around us.
You created us in your image,
     we are each your children, regardless of what we look like,
     regardless of our talents and skills.
You created us in your image.
We are your children, each of us deeply loved and uniquely cherished.

As we look at others, it is natural for us to classify others, to compare
     ourselves to others.
Remind us when we do that, we will give in to either envy or
     disappointment.
These are not feelings that you want us to experience.
God, you are love, light and grace. That is what you want us to experience,
     to be.
We are unique, created in your image, and each of us possess gifts and
     talents given to us for a purpose.
As your children, we know that you are with us always and we ask that you
     be with __
We know that you have reached out to us in love, and given us your son to
     share your teachings.
For those of us in need of healing, we ask that your Holy Spirit flows
     through us, healing us, strengthening us, making us whole.

As your children, we know that we are equal with one another,
     we know that we were each created in your image and that each of us
     fulfills your particular plan here on earth.
As your children, we celebrate that you gave us your Son to teach us,
     to share your love and grace, and to build a community of believers.
As your followers, we use the words given to us by your Son,
     "Our Father..."