Year of the Jubilee (Luke 4:14-21)

This is the year of the Lord’s favor,
the year of the Jubilee,
when captives are released,
and debts are forgiven.
Help us to see, Lord, where we are held captive.
Where in our lives are we feeling bound?
*silence*
What debts do we owe to others?
What debts do we owe to ourselves?
*silence*
Are we able to forgive ourselves
as easily as we forgive others?

*silence*

This is the year of the Lord’s favor.
What would he say to us today?
As we look at our lives,
are we living our lives the way we should be living?
*silence*
Are we walking in your
footsteps, Lord?
Are we making this world your world?
*silence*
Help us to see, Lord, where we are held captive.
Help us to see when we choose not to act
because we think that we cannot make a difference.
Help us to realize that we can make that difference.

*silence*

This is the year of the Lord’s favor
the year of the Jubilee.
Forgive us our debts as we forgive others.
We start afresh from this point forward.
As we move into the world feeling free from our burdens,
how will we change the world?
As we forgive those among us,
how does that free us?
*silence*
Help us to see that freedom.
Help us to use that freedom.

*silence*

This is the year of the Lord’s favor.
The Scripture has been fulfilled in our hearing.
We are your people, Lord.
We gather here each week to fulfill your promise.
We make up the body of Christ and carry out your teachings.
As the community of believers we support each other in our trials,
and we ask that you be with ___in particular as they need your healing grace and strength.
Remind us that in most cases, the chains that are holding us prisoner were created by ourselves.
Give us the strength to free ourselves,
give us the strength to achieve your plan.

This is the year of the Lord’s favor.
As your people, we listen to your teachings.
We follow your teachings, and we use the words you 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…”

Complete Acceptance (Mark 1:4-11)

Father God, we confess that often our focus is on how we appear to others.

Did we say the right thing?
Did we act like we were in control?
We wonder too much about what others think of us.

Mother God, remind us that we are your children.
As your children, we are deeply loved and uniquely cherished.
Our words please you when we speak to raise others up,
Our actions please you when we work for peace and justice in this world,
Our thoughts please you when we think of ways to help those who have no power in this world,
and our hearts open to you when we take a moment in prayer.

Spirit God, you fill us with your love and grace.
Your living water washes over us, cleansing us of our sins and shortcomings.
We know that no matter how hard we try, no matter how good we are,
we will never live up to your ideals.
And, yet, we know that you accept us as we are,
you not only accept us, but you loved us before we were even born.
We are your beloved, and we are loved.

We confess that we spend too much time thinking about the material world around us,
and not enough time in prayer with you, Lord.
Open our hearts to your loving embrace,
Open our minds to desire that conversation and time of reflection with you,
Open our imagination to the possibilities that are within you,
Open our hands to the work that needs to be done in this world.

Mother God, you are with us always, loving us and healing us,
be with those among us today who need your healing grace.
We name ___
As you are with us, filling us with light and love,
open our hearts to desire this time with you,
remind us that we need to spend time in contemplation and reflection.

And, as we spend time in prayer with you, we use the words that your son 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….”

Changing the Rules (Mark 1:21-28)

There is safety in the rules.

If you work hard, you will be rewarded.
If you don’t make a mistake, bad things won’t happen.
But we know that it doesn’t really work that way.
Our world is not always an orderly place.

Things happen no matter what we do.
Storms erupt.
Cancer strikes.
Jobs are lost.
Cars cross the center line.
Adhering to the rules will not prevent bad things from happening to us.

Things happen no matter what we do.
But your son changed the rules.
He taught us that it is not what we say,
but rather what we do.
We know that our deeds do not buy our salvation.
That is by your grace.

But it is up to us to make this world as it is in heaven.
It is up to us to strive constantly for peace and justice.
It is our hands who fulfill your plan here on earth.
It is our eyes who see the needs of those around us.
It is our hearts that open to your love and grace.
And it is you who have taught us to love one another.

Things happen no matter what we do.
But we know that you are with us always.
We ask that you be with __ as we know they need your healing grace.
We know that it is up to us to make this world as it is in your heaven.
And we use the words that you taught us, to remind us that it is our job,
“Our Father…”

Restoring People (Mark 1:29-39)

Lord, you had a talent for restoring people back to their rightful place in the world.
You gave them back their dignity and gave them acceptance.
You did not judge people based on how society judged them.
You gave only love and complete acceptance.

In our lives, we know we spend too much time worrying about what others think about us.
We know that we don’t always spend our time and our resources on the right things.
We allow people to become alienated and alone.

Lord, you had a talent for restoring people back to their rightful place in the world.
Open our eyes to those in our world who need to be brought back into their rightful place in the world.
Open our hearts and remove any judgement and bias.
As you freely give us love and grace, help us to also freely give love and acceptance to others.
We know that we are all brothers and sisters in the body of Christ.

Our world can be a divisive place.
But we know that we can break down the barriers.
We know that we are to support one another, to make each other whole,
to heal the differences between us.

Lord, you had a talent for restoring people back to their rightful place in the world.
It is your teachings that have restored us.
It is your teachings that have brought us here today.
We are a community of believers.
We long for the oneness within this community, and with all the people of the world.

We commit ourselves to fulfilling your plan here on earth.
Open our eyes to those among us who may feel ignored and alone.
Open our ears to those who are crying in pain and hopelessness.
Open our hearts to feel compassion and understanding for those in pain.

Lord, you had a talent for restoring people back to their rightful place in the world.
We know that you are with us always. Be with ___ who need your healing grace and support.
We are a community of believers. And as your followers, we use the words that you taught us,
“Our Father…”

Reach Out to Us (Matthew 2:1-12)

God of all Grace,
You find many ways to reach out to us.
Through our preparation for the Christmas season,
we have seen you find ways
to touch people of faith,
to touch a humble teenager in the middle of nowhere,
to touch a roaming band of shepherds,
and, now three Magi who bring gifts from afar.
The Magi were not Jewish and were from a different culture,
and yet they helped bring the news of the gift of your son.

God of all Grace,
You find many ways to reach out to us.
You reach out to us in our daily lives,
using the events of our lives to share yourself with us.
When we are fearful, you are with us to give us strength.
When we celebrate our accomplishments, you share in our joy.
When we hear devastating news, you are with us to comfort us and
to bring us hope.
When we see unfairness and injustice in our world,
you give us the strength to fight for peace and justice.
You are with us always.
Open our hearts so that we feel your presence and desire to follow you.

God of all Grace,
as our Creator, you gave us free will.
That free will allows us to make bad choices,
choices based in fear and selfishness.
Open our eyes so we can see our choices more clearly;
help us to make better choices, choices that follow your plan.
Make us more like the Magi, and less like Herod.
Help us to share our gifts freely and to listen to your teachings.
Reach out to us in ways we may not expect.
Touch us in ways that deepen our faith.
Speak to us in our dreams and in the silence of the night.
Question our choices when we fail to live up to your desired path.

God of all Grace,
You find many ways to reach out to us.
We know that you are with us always.
We ask that you be with __, members of our faith community,
who need your extra grace and healing touch.
Reach out to them, surround them with your healing light and
embrace them in your love.
Strengthen them as they face their challenges.
And, strengthen us, as your community.
We feel your presence among us.
And, as you reach out to us, we also reach out to you,
using the words your Son taught us,
“Our Father…”