With Honor and Faith (Genesis 29:15-28)

Gracious God, despite our flaws you find ways to work with us,
to make us better people,
to use us to fulfill your plan here on earth.
Jacob cheated his brother and then was deceived by Laban.
We confess we sometimes work in ways that serve our own self interests.
But as members of your community,
we know that we should work for the good of all.
Be with us and encourage us to be honest,
to be faithful and to act in peace with one another.

Gracious God, work with us and use us to fulfill your plan here on earth.
We ask that you work with us to build and reinforce your community.
Help us to act with honor and respect toward everyone,
those who believe as we do and those who hold different beliefs.
Be with our political leaders and encourage them to act with honor,
to speak for the voiceless, to lift up the powerless, and
to provide justice for all.
Be with us and encourage us to also act with honor
and help us to share our best with others.

Gracious God, we are your children,
first born or last born,
each of us deeply loved and uniquely cherished.
As your children, we ask that you shape us and mold us.
Make us the people you want us to be.
Give us the strength and the wisdom to make the right choices.
As your children, we know that you are with us always.
We ask that you be with those among us who need your healing grace
and strength. We ask that you be with _____.

Gracious God, we trust in your promises.
We know that your timeline may differ from ours,
and yet we know that we can be impatient
We ask that you be with us and fill our hearts with your peace.
We ask that you be with us and open our eyes to your plans.
We ask that you be with us and open our ears to the cries to those around us.
We ask that you be with us and use our hands
to build this world into your world.
We ask that you be with us and use our voices to share the story of your love
with those around us.
And as we trust in your promise, we use the words that your Son taught us,
“Our Father…”

Transformation: The Places We Will Go (Acts 2:1-6, 12-21)

Pour out your spirit upon us, Lord.
Fill us with your promise,
with your grace and
with the joy of your teachings.
Remind us as we watch the baptism of ___and ___
of our own baptism.
Remind us that we are your community, your children,
baptized in the living water and
sealed with the participation of God’s grace and forgiveness.
We state today we are your children and we thank you.

Be with us in our daily lives.
Help us to see your active participation in our interactions with others,
in the mundane and in the significant.
Encourage us to spend time with you in silent reflection,
allow us to hear your guidance and your direction in that silence,
open our hearts to better understand your plan here on earth.
As your children, we long for your embrace and are comforted by your love.
We are loved, help us to feel that love and to accept that love.
Be with those among us who need an extra level of support. We name ___.

We have been cleansed by the act of baptism.
We have been filled with Holy Spirit.
Open our eyes to the signs of your involvement in our lives,
and in our future.
Help us to share those signs and your teachings with others.
As your children, we bring our own children to you
and promise to raise them in your teachings.
We pledge our children to you and as a community,
we pledge to support these children and their families.
As we look at ___and ___, remind us of our time of innocence.
Take us back to that time.
Take us back to the age of childish wonder and amazement
and fill our hearts again with that wonder.

As your children, we lift up the words you taught us and
we embrace that feeling of wonder and amazement as we do so,
“Our Father…”

We Bring Christ’s Teachings into the Light (1 Peter 2:2-10)

We gather here in this sacred place, as your people.
You have given each of us gifts,
the most precious of which is your gift of grace and mercy.
Help us to extend that grace to others.
Remind us as the people who have been given the gifts of your teachings,
we are to share those teachings with others.
Help us to serve as a role model to others,
not as a stumbling block.
Help us to lift others up and to support them in their journey.
We thank you for the teachers in our lives,
especially for the women who have influenced our lives.

We gather here today in this sacred place.
We find you here in this house of worship,
but also in our homes, in our cars, in our solitude and
in the noisy chaos of our daily lives.
We may not see our value when we look in the mirror,
but you have valued us and known us since before we were born.
We are your people, your community of believers,
and we feel you with us always.
We ask that you be with those among us who need your support and
healing touch, naming ____.

We gather here today in this sacred place.
Our building, made of bricks, is our worship temple,
but our bodies make up your living temple in this world.
Use us to fulfill your plan here on earth.
You called us out of the darkness into the light of your grace and mercy.
Help us to see our world clearly through your light and
help us to bring your light to others.
Help us to shine your light into the darkest corners of our world.

As we gather here every week, we use the words you taught us,
“Our Father…”

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…”