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…”

What We Contribute (Ephesians 1:3-14)

Mother God, we know that we are your children.
We know that we are each deeply loved and uniquely cherished.
We feel nurtured and blessed by your presence in our lives.
And then we face the world and are bombarded with messages.
Messages of fear.
Messages of doubt.
Messages of inferiority.
Remind us to act as if we truly believe that we are your children,
each of us equal in your eyes,
each of us given the gifts that you chose for us.
Remind us, Mother, that we are your children and that we are loved.
Give us the courage to act in ways that lead others to your love and presence.
Give us the confidence to use the gifts you have freely given us.

Teacher God, you have replaced the old laws and given us new truths and
new lessons to follow.
Through your Son, you have lavished your grace upon us
and we feel peace in your presence.
And then we face the world and that sense of peace can be shattered so easily.
Remind us, Teacher, that your lessons are as applicable today as they were back then.
You taught us that each of us, rich or poor, is equal in your Father’s eyes.
You taught us that we are to make this world more like your heaven,
to work for peace and justice.
Give us the courage to act in ways that lead others to your love and presence.
Give us the confidence to use the lessons you have freely taught us.

Creator God, you made each of us unique with different gifts and talents.
Individually, we can feel secure within our talents and capabilities.
And then we face the world and that self-confidence can be challenged
as we compare ourselves to others.
Help us to recognize and to celebrate these gifts within ourselves and in others.
Remind us that we are each uniquely special and formed in your image.
Remind us that someone else’s gifts do not detract from ours,
but that working together as your children,
our gifts complement one another allowing us to achieve your plan.
Remind us that you are with us always, supporting us and encouraging us.
We ask that you be with ___, who may need your healing power and your grace.
And we ask that you
Give us the courage to act in ways that lead others to your love and presence.
Give us the confidence to use the gifts you have freely shared with us.

Knowing deep within our souls that we are your children, we lift our voices to you,
using the words that Jesus 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…”

What We Honor (Ephesians 3:14-21)

Fill us with your spirit, Lord,
Strengthen us.

We open ourselves to you,
in love and in confidence.
We are here today to honor you,
to act in community with one another.
We ask that you be with us and
that you help us reach out to others
to share with them your love.
May they also understand the fullness of your love.

Fill us with your spirit, Lord,
Strengthen us.

We honor you and celebrate you.
We ask ourselves how we can ever be worthy.
And, yet we know that we are your children.
You have shared with us your extravagant love.
Help us to share your love with others,
to be the people you want us to be.
Be with those among us who need your healing grace.

Fill us with your spirit, Lord,
Strengthen us.

As your followers, we invite you into our lives.
We invite you into our hearts and ask that you use us to fulfill your plan
here on earth.
We may have doubts and questions
and yet are amazed as we see your work in our lives.
Remind us to pay attention to those moments of your presence.
Remind us to celebrate the gift of life, to live in the here and now,
to live a life of fullness.

Fill us with your spirit, Lord,
Strengthen us.

Help us to look at our lives.
Where do we spend our time?
How do we spend our money?
Who do we spend our affection on?
Are we fulfilling your plan?
Are we living into your teachings?
Are we acting as if you are invited into our heart?

Fill us with your spirit, Lord,
Strengthen us.

We feel you in our lives.
We feel your extravagant love.
As your people, we use the words that Jesus taught us,
“Our Father…”

What We Experience (Ephesians 4:1-16)

Once again, we join together here in this sacred space.
We thank you for those around us,
our brothers and sisters in Christ.
We lean upon each other in times of pain and stress,
we learn from each other every day,
and we celebrate each others’ joys and happiness.
As we look at one another,
help us to see your image within them.

We are one body, one church,
but as individuals, we do have our differences.
Remind us that diversity builds strength.
We are shaped by our experiences in life.
Remind us that our lives may have taken different paths
than others have explored, but we are one within your love.
Remind us to cherish and respect the journeys of others,
to hear their story without judgement or bias.
We have been called to this place, to celebrate
one Lord, one faith and one baptism.

Father, you sent your son to teach us one truth, one way of life.
We’ve taken that message and distorted it into different churches,
different truths, with each claiming to know the absolute truth.
We admit that we don’t have all the answers,
that we can never have all the answers.
But we know that our truth is that we are your children,
our truth is that we are deeply loved and uniquely cherished,
our truth is that it is up to us to make this world as it is in heaven,
our truth is to work for peace and justice for all, to respect everyone,
our truth is that we know you are with us always.
We ask that you be with those among us who need your healing grace and strength,
naming __.

As we grow together in love, fully supporting each other, defending each other,
we will truly become the body of Christ.
Give us the strength to truly love one another.
to become one with each other.
And be with us, as we use the words Jesus taught us,
“Our Father…”

What We Claim (Ephesians 4:25-5:2)

We have come to you in different stages of our lives, Lord.
Some of us were baptized as infants
and have no memory of the living water
that welcomed us into this community.
No memory of the promises that were made on our behalf.
Others joined as children, young adults, or even older.
We remember the promises that we made
to unite with Christ,
to unite with this community, and
to unite with the church.

The water of our baptism cleansed us and welcomed us.
Out of the water of baptism we rose with new life,
forgiven of sin, and renewed with the power of the Holy Spirit.
Help us to remember this feeling every day, Father.
Remind us that we are your children and we are to follow your ways.
Remind us to work for the good of the community,
rather than what is best for us individually.
Open our hearts to the needs of others,
open our eyes to see the need for justice in this world,
open our hands to fulfill your plan in our world
and open our ears so that we truly listen to one another.

We come together again this week in this holy space,
as members of your community.
We work together to feed the hungry,
to share the teaching of your word to others,
to live with one another in a committed body of Christ.
Living in community with one another,
we may find that we have different ideas on how to do something,
but remind us that each of us wants what is best for the church,
for your church, for your community of believers.
Remind us of our baptism into the community of believers.
Help us to remember this feeling every day, Father.

As your children, we know you are with us every day.
We feel your presence with us, always.
Be with those we name, those who may need your grace and healing touch,
be with __.
As members of your community,
we work to support one another.
Be with us as we grow in our faith.
Help us to be with one another
with honesty, with forgiveness,
and most of all, with understanding and acceptance.
Fill us with your Holy Spirit.
Unite us with Christ,
with this community
and, with your church.

As your children, as your community, we raise our voices to you,
using the words your Son taught us,
“Our Father…”

What We Discern (Ephesians 5:15-20)

We gather here today in this sacred space.
We have chosen to spend our time here today,
with you and with one another.
For this few moments,
we quiet our thoughts,
we open our hearts,
and we focus on your word and your teachings.
Remind us to take this time throughout the week,
to spend time with you every day,
to feel your presence in our daily interactions,
to hear your teachings as we make our choices,
and to see your image in the faces of those we meet.
Remind us to speak with love, not judgement.
Remind us to listen to the stories of each other
allowing them the time they need to feel truly heard.

We gather here today in this sacred space.
We have chosen to spend our time here today,
with you and with one another.
For this few moments,
we quiet our thoughts,
we open our hearts,
and we focus on your word and your teachings.
It can be easy to focus on the things we do not have,
the things that cause us pain and worry,
the things that society tells us we should be doing.
Remind us to be grateful for what we have,
to spend our energies on what we can change and
to worry less about what we cannot control.
Remind us to share what we have with others
freely and without judgement.
Remind us that we are your children,
each of us deeply loved and uniquely cherished.
It is not up to society to judge us or to determine our worth.
Help us to become the best version of ourselves that we can be.

We gather here today in this sacred space.
We have chosen to spend our time here today,
with you and with one another.
For this few moments,
we quiet our thoughts,
we open our hearts,
and we focus on your word and your teachings.
We feel your presence among us
and we know that you are always with us.
Be with those among us who especially need your strength and grace,
naming __.
Remind us to also support each other, to share in each other’s joys and sorrows.
As we gather together here, as your children, we use the words Jesus gave us,
“Our Father…”

What We Live (Ephesians 6:10-20)

Your teachings give us strength every day, Lord.
The world we face each day can challenge us,
with temptations,
with doubt and uncertainty,
with false promises and fear.
We don’t have a set of physical armor
to wrap ourselves in each morning.
But we lean on your teachings, on your guidance,
and we know that you are with us always.

Your teachings give us strength every day, Lord.
You taught us with more than words,
you lived your life as you would have us live ours.
To love one another without hesitation or judgment,
to speak up for those among us who have no voice,
to share freely with each other,
and to support one another within your community of believers.

Evil exists in our world, because we, as humans, make bad choices.
You gave us free will and it is up to us to make this world
as it is in your heaven.
Give us the wisdom to make better choices,
the strength to resist temptation,
the ability to recognize and to follow your guidance,
and to open our hearts so that we can love each other freely.

Your teachings give us strength every day, Lord.
We lift up our fears, our worries, and our failures to you
knowing that you are with us,
knowing that you have surrounded us with your love and grace,
knowing that we are your children and that we are loved.
We ask that you be with those among us who need your love and support,
naming __.
Remind us every day that we are your disciples on this earth.
We may not have physical armor that protects us from harm,
but we are surrounded by your presence, by your love and grace.

Your teachings give us strength every day, Lord.
And we use the words that you taught us, as we lift our voices together, to say
“Our Father…”