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…”

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!

Live By The Spirit (Galatians 5:1, 13-26)

If we are to live by the Spirit, Lord, help us to be guided by the Spirit.
Help us to set aside our own selfish desires and
to live fully within the Spirit.
Help us to love one another as we love ourselves.
Protect us from arrogance, anger and jealousy.
Open our hearts to the desires of the Spirit.
Lord, hear our prayer.

We have become a divided country,
politically, economically, and spiritually.
As we choose new leaders,
we ask that you help us choose leaders who will unite, rather than divide.
We pray that our leaders will govern with wisdom and compassion,
focusing on what is best for all members of society,
regardless of political parties.
We pray that they are committed to justice and peace
within our communities and within the global community.
Open our hearts to the desires of the Spirit.
Lord, hear our prayer.

We pray that we can come together as a nation,
choosing the best we have to offer and leaving behind the greed and angst.
In our disagreements, open our ears to hear the potential truth in others.
Give us the strength to seek peace and reconciliation rather than righteousness.
Open our eyes to see the pain others face and
to help us recognize solutions rather than assigning blame.
Open our hearts to the desires of the Spirit.
Lord, hear our prayer.

As your people, we gather together in this sacred space.
As your people, we support one another in times of sadness and worry.
We lift up the names of those among us who need your healing touch
and gift of strength, naming ___.
As your people, we celebrate with one another in times of joy.
We also lift up __ with thanksgiving and gratitude.
Open our hearts to the desires of the Spirit.
Lord, hear our prayer.

We live by and are guided by the Spirit,
the Spirit that has given us many gifts.
Help us, Lord, to see how we can use those gifts to help others
and to fulfill your plan here on earth.
As we lift up our hearts to the desires of that Spirit, we use the words
you taught us, so many years ago,
“Our Father…”

Sharing in the Needs of the World (Matthew 25:31-46 )

Gracious God, we gather together in this sacred place,
as your people, as your followers.
We know your love and believe in your promise and your grace.
We know the story of your Son and we shared in his teachings.

As your people, how can it be that we don’t live our lives
to fulfill your plan?
We have been touched by your love, and yet we withhold our love from others.
We have received your forgiveness and absolution,
and yet we refuse to forgive others.
We have been given many talents and gifts,
and yet we refuse to share with others.
We have been granted your peace, and yet we refuse to make peace with others.

Make us sheep and not goats, Lord.
Open our hearts to feel the needs of those around us,
to truly understand how to empower others.
Open our ears to hear the cries of those around us,
to truly hear their pain and their desires.
Open our eyes to see the reality of the world around us,
to truly believe in the needs of others and the societal need for reform.

Make us sheep and not goats, Lord.
The needs of those in our community may not match our personal desires.
There are people in our community who are hungry, God.
We may not be hungry, but use our gifts and our talents to feed the hungry,
physically, emotionally and spiritually.
There are people in our community who feel oppressed and victimized, God.
We may not feel oppressed, but help us to recognize oppression in others,
and give us the strength to stand up for those without power.
There are people in our community who are unable to achieve acceptance, God.
We know that we are beloved in your eyes,
help us to share that love and acceptance to all we meet.

Make us sheep and not goats, Lord.
Remind us that just because it is not our problem,
does not mean that the problem does not exist.
Remind us that we don’t need to have all the answers,
but we need to listen openly with a desire to understand.
We know your love and believe in your promise and your grace.
We know the story of your Son and we shared in his teachings.
As your followers, we know that you are with us.
We ask that you be with ___ as they need your healing grace and strength.

As your followers, as your sheep, we lift our voices up to you,
using the words your Son taught us, “Our Father…”

inspired by http://www.ministrymatters.com/all/entry/7762/whitechurchquiet-and-the-inconvenience-of-love

Our Sense of Humility (Luke 14:1, 7-14)

Gracious God, we know that when we invite someone
to have a meal with us, that it is a special event.
We don’t have dinner with just anyone.
We give you thanks for always inviting us to your table,
for always making us welcome and
for providing a generous feast.
Sharing food with each other at a common table
sparks conversation and allows us to share ourselves with others
on an equal setting.
Help us to find opportunities to be with one another
and to share our lives with others.

As humans, we compare ourselves to others
and strive to excel, to be seated at the best seat at the table.
Remind us, Creator God, that you have made us in your Image
and that each of us is the child of God, deeply loved and uniquely cherished.
As your children, we sit around the family dinner table
and share the story of our day as equals.
May we be able to tell the story of how we shared the good news of your teachings,
the story of how our voices were raised to speak for those without a voice,
the story of how we stood up for those without power and
the story of how our love changed someone else’s day for the better.

As we join together at your table, we form your community,
the body of Christ.
We come together every week in this sacred place,
to be one with each other, to put others first before ourselves.
We ask that you be with those among us who need your grace and your healing strength.
We name ___.
We support one another and share grace at your table of abundant plenty
regardless of where we sit at the table.
Bring us together in community and in harmony.

We come together to the table set by your Son,
following the teachings of your Son, and
using the words your Son taught us,
“Our Father….”

Our Sense of Being Called (Luke 14:25-33)

The call to follow you, God, is not always easy.
We can feel embarrassed to share our faith openly
with those we don’t know well.
We can feel guilty when we realize we don’t follow
your teachings as closely as we should.
We can feel the pain in our world and
question how a loving God could allow the innocent to suffer.
We can feel the demands of the world
taking our attention away from what is important.
Be with us, Gracious God, and continue to call our name.

Call us to follow you.
Call us to be your disciples.
Help us to prioritize where we spend our time and our attention.
We can feel conflict between the material world and
the spiritual world shown to us by your Son.
Remind us of what is truly important in this world .
As we think about the end of our lives,
what will we have achieved here in this world?
What will have been the flavor of our life?
Will we have followed you by speaking up for those without a voice?
Will we have followed you by feeding the hungry?
Will we have followed you by raising up
those among us who have stumbled?
Will we have followed you by seeking to understand those with whom we disagree?
Will we have followed you by sharing our gifts freely with others?
Will we have tasted the fullness of your grace or
the bland and unfulfilling taste of the material world?

The call to follow you, God, is not always easy.
But we are your followers and we have heard your call.
We answer your call today and always,
knowing that you, in turn, are always with us.
Your love and grace seasons our lives and provides us strength.
We ask that you be with ___.
And using the words your Son taught us, we lift our voices to you,
“Our Father…”

Our Sense of Knowing and Being Known (Luke 13:10-17)

We are created in your image, Lord.
Each of us are unique,
with different skills and different talents.
We may compare ourselves to others,
judging ourselves better or worse, but
You know us completely.
Open our eyes to the gifts you have given to us
and also to the gifts of others.
Help us to celebrate those gifts.
Help us to use our skills and talents
to fulfill your work here on earth.

We are created in your image, Lord.
Some of us have bodies that appear to work well,
while others wear their imperfections on the outside.
And some of us are experiencing the transition
of an aging body.
We are human and none of us are perfect, but
You know us completely with only love.
We ask for your healing touch within us.
Even if we cannot be physically healed,
calm our thoughts and give us the strength we need.
We ask that you be with those among us who need
your extra comfort and strength, naming ____.
Help us to accept and to celebrate our human experience.
Help us to use our bodies and minds in ways
that fulfill your work here on earth.

We are created in your image, Lord.
We can choose to conceal our hearts from others,
but You know us completely and accept us.
We may hide our fears from others,
but You know us completely and accept us.
We may present a confident face to the outside world,
while inside we are filled with doubt,
but You know us completely and accept us.
We may not fully share ourselves with others,
but we cannot hide ourselves from you.
Remind us that together we are the body of Christ.
Open our hearts to each other,
remove our fear of intimacy and
help us to see each other without judgment or envy.
Use us, as your community of believers, ‘
to make this world a better place.
We are your children and in faith and trust,
we use the words your Son gave us, “Our Father…”

Equip Us With Your Spirit (Acts 2:1-8, 12-21)

Creator God, you equipped those who followed you with the gifts that they needed,
you gave them the words that they needed to share your teachings,
your spirit marked them and filled them with prophecy,
with visions and dreams.
Fill us today with your prophecy.
Mark us as yours and remind us of the gifts you have freely given us.

We come here each week to gain strength from one another,
to learn from one another,
to care for one another.
Mark us as yours, fill us with your dreams and visions,

Your early church was at first afraid and stayed huddled together.
But your Spirit filled them, gave them strength, gave them courage and wisdom.
Your Spirit fills us, draws us here each week.
Strengthen our faith, give us the courage to share your teachings with others,
give us the wisdom to understand your plan for this church,
open our hearts to your desire for us and for this congregation.

The Spirit descended upon your followers in the past,
descend upon us now today and in our future.
Father, Son and Holy Ghost, you are with us always.
You provide the strength we need in today’s chaotic world,
you encourage community and taught us to work together to fulfill your plan.
We ask that you be with ___ and fill them with your healing grace.

Your early church gained strength and spread out across the world, carrying your word.
Give us the strength to open our hearts to those we encounter in our daily lives,
help us to share the story of our faith with others.
Open our minds and hearts to where you are calling Church of the Apostles today and in the future.
We have accomplished much in forty years.
Stir our imagination for what should take place in the next forty years.
Fill us with your Spirit, your visions, your dreams, and your prophecy.

Creator, you equipped those who followed you with the gifts that they needed,
you gave them the words that they needed to share your teachings,
We use the word your Son taught us,
“Our Father…”

Seeing From the Viewpoint of the Other (Luke 10:25-37)

God of Compassion and Mercy, you have always been with us
challenging us when we need to be challenged,
and sending to us your Son who modeled your love in his teachings.
Be with us now and help us to see the world from the viewpoint of the other.

As we sit here in this sacred space, open our hearts and our minds.
Open our eyes to see a different world than what we usually see.
As we look at ourselves, help us to imagine ourselves as different people.
Our skin is no longer white, but instead different shades of brown.
Open our eyes to notice how others may now treat us.

As we look at ourselves, help us to imagine ourselves as different people.
Our salary level is now lower than it was when we walked into this sanctuary.
Open our eyes to notice how others may now treat us.

As we look at ourselves, help us to imagine ourselves as different people.
Our country of origin is different than the US and we have recently moved here.
Open our eyes to notice how others may now treat us.

As we sit here in this sacred place, and later as we move from here out into the world,
open our hearts and our minds.
Help us to listen to the story of those who are not like us.
Help us to listen without trying to defend ourselves and our behaviors.
Help us to listen without feeling guilty or accused.
Help us to listen without judgment and without reservation.
Help us to just listen, to hear the story from the view of the other,
and to accept the truth of how they see their life and their experiences.

Gracious God, you created us in your image, each of us your beloved child.
Help us to see your image in the face of those we encounter.
Help us to share the love you have generously provided to us,
to those that we meet in our daily lives.
Help us to accept the differences between us
and even to celebrate those differences.
Help us to stand up for those who are different
and to fight for those without a voice.

Gracious God, we are your children.
You have been with us always, and we ask that you especially be with ___.
The teacher that you sent us, your son, Jesus,
championed the cause of the other.
He showed us how we should live.
And he gave us the words we should use in prayer,
and we use those words today,
“Our Father…”