I Believe in Hope

The words of Luke could describe today’s world.
There is great distress among nations.
Economies are crumbling.
Nations are at war, internally, and against each other.
Our earth has given us tsunamis, earthquakes, volcanos, hurricanes,
droughts and floods.
Where do we turn, Lord? Where is our justice, our security, our protection?

Luke tells us there will be fear and foreboding.
People will be afraid, very afraid.
We are afraid, Lord. How should we react to today’s world?
Throughout the ages, the end of the world has been predicted and prepared for.
But we are still here, Lord.
The end of the world is not yet here nor has the Son of Man returned to us. Not yet, Lord.

We choose to live our lives according to your teaching.
We do not cower in fear or give up in despair.
We know that the days are coming, the days when You will fulfill Your promise.
By your words and deeds, you have shown us we must create a world of justice
and righteousness here on earth.
We are still here, Lord. We know that we can place our hope and trust in You.
We choose to live our lives according to your teaching.
We remind ourselves that you are with us, now and always,
and we are not afraid, Lord.
You are our Hope, our Teacher and our Protector.
You have shown us a new world, Lord,
a world that is up to us to create here on earth.

We are still here, Lord.
We wait for your return,
but are confident in your love and with your teachings.
You are our Hope, our Teacher, and our Protector.

I Believe in Peace

Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.”

Do not worry. Lord, it is hard not to worry.
So much is going wrong in our world.
We can feel powerless to make effective changes in our world.
And during the Advent season, when we should be focused on you,
we spend our time worrying about Christmas decorations and family traditions,
getting the right presents for those on our list,
and fulfilling our own and others expectations.
But our expectations can be so unrealistic during the holiday season.

Do not worry.
Lift up our concerns in prayer and let our requests be known to you.
Lord, it is hard not to worry.
No matter how much we believe in you,
we don’t want to give up our worries, our fears, to you.
We pray to you and ask for your help, for your healing and your grace.
But yet, we still worry. We cling tightly to our fears and concerns.

Calm our minds, Lord. Open our hearts to your peace and healing.
Relax our tension-filled bodies and remind us to breathe deeply.
Your peace, Lord, reminds us that when we worry,
we change our focus to what is not important.
If we worry about a Christmas tradition or
meeting someone’s expectations of the holiday,
we are not focusing on the reason for the holiday – the gift of Your Son.
When we worry about the future, we are missing out on the present.

Remind us, Lord, that it is Your will that should and will be done.
Give us the peace to accept the here and now, to live in the here and now,
and to let the future take care of itself.
We lift our concerns to you, Lord,
and know that all of our requests and worries can be lifted up to you.
When we are lost, we can trust that in You, we will be found.
We have found peace in your teachings and
in your love and acceptance.
When we doubt, remind us that Mary, a pregnant teenager
who could have faced public ridicule and scorn,
accepted the news of her virgin birth and the long trip to Bethlehem with peace
and acceptance.
She did not give in her fears and worries, but instead felt joy and peace.

We will not worry, Lord.
We lift up our prayers to you, giving you our fears and pain.
We open our hearts and our minds to your peace.
We accept and celebrate the here and now, and trust in the future,
in your future.

I Believe in Joy

I believe in God even when he is silent.

My days can be very busy, Lord.
The noise of today’s world is loud and chaotic.
The demands on my attention drown out my own thoughts, much less your voice.
I confess, Lord, that I may not be listening to you and
I don’t always notice the silence.

I believe in God even when he is silent.

When things in my life are going well, Father,
I may not seek you out as often as I should.
But in the dark of night, when my fears are the loudest,
I am mindful of the silence.
When illness or injury strikes,
I am reminded of my weakness and the fragileness of life.
The news reminds me there is evil in the world.
When tragedy strikes, we ask why.
Where were you, Father?
How could you permit such terrible things to happen to innocent people?

I believe in God even when he is silent.

The silence can be deafening at times.
Mother God, we plead with you at these times.
Make our loved ones well again.
Give us one more chance to make amends,
one more time to make a relationship work.
We bargain with you and offer up promises and sacrifices if you will only,
just this time, give us what we are asking for.

We believe in God even when he is silent.

It is only later, Lord, that we realize that you were not silent at all.
It was us, all along. We could not hear you or see you.
During tragic times, we see later that you were there with us.
You were there in the form of a community who came together
to mourn with the fallen.
You were there with the strangers, the friends,
and the family who gave us strength to make it through our challenges.
You were there in the form of the unanswered prayers that in the end
were the best answer we could have been given.

You were there, Lord. You have always been there.
We know that you will always be there.

We believe in God.

Water of Our Baptism (Matthew 28:16-23)

We are often unprepared for the situations we find ourselves in.

No matter how many parenting books we read, no matter how many conversations we have before the birth,
no one is prepared for that moment we realize we are now the parents.
We alone are responsible for this child.
We talk about how to drive in the snow and ice,
but the first time we find ourselves sliding on the ice,
we are never prepared for that sinking feeling and the panic of being out of control.
We say that we stand up for our principles and for what we believe in.
And then we are faced with peer pressure,
opposition from those we believe have power over us,
and we give in.

You have shown us that even Jesus’ disciples faced doubt
and were unprepared at times.
Fill us with your Holy Spirit, prepare us for those unexpected moments.
Give us the strength and wisdom we will need to get
through those moments of panic.
Remind us we are not alone in those cold and lonely moments
in the middle of the night.

The water of our baptism poured into us, filled us with your grace.
Grace we cannot earn and cannot say we deserve.
But as our parents loved us,
you love us unconditionally and without reservation.
Open our hearts to your love.
Fill us again, and always, with your grace.

The water of our baptism heals us.
The water of our baptism flows to and from each of us,
connecting us as the body of Christ,
uniting us as one.
We know that you are with us now as you were with us then.
Be with those among us today who are feeling pain and need your healing touch.

As your baptized children, we know the power of prayer.
We lift our hearts to you in prayer, using the words your Son taught us,
“Our Father…”

We Cling to Our Fears (Mark 9:2-9)

Our worries and fears weigh us down at times.
We know that we are to depend on you, and yet we cling to our fears.
We tell ourselves to lift our concerns up to the Lord and He will assume our burdens.
But we know that it is not that easy because

We cling to our fear.
We cling to our burdens.
And, yet, even while we do that, we know that you already know us.
You, who formed us before we were born, you know what worries us.
You know what fears keep us up at night.

Our world is full of uncertainty.
We can be filled with fear.
And , yet, we are also filled with your strength.
You, who formed us before we were born, you have given us the strength we need.
We know that you are with us.
We ask that you be with ___ granting them your peace and healing grace.

We let go of our fear.
We know that we were made in your image.
We know that before our birth, you celebrated us, knowing us within every inch of our being.
We are your children, Lord.
You know what our hearts yearn for, before we even ask you,
We raise our fears, our burdens and and our concerns to you.

As your children, we use the words your Son taught us,
“Our Father…”

People of the Good News (John 20:19-31)

We are the people of the good news.
Our grief at the cross, our fear of being left alone,
our uncertainty when the tomb was found empty,
has turned into joy with the news of your resurrection.
Open our hearts in joy with this good news.
Lift our hands up in celebration.

We are the people of the good news.
We gain comfort knowing that you are with us always,
despite our doubts, despite our failings,
you are with us always.
Open our hearts in joy with this good news.
Encourage us to dance with joy,
as if no one is watching us.
Encourage us to share your news
with those we meet in our lives.

We are the people of the good news.
Knowing the good news does not free us from worry
or fear.
Your disciples locked themselves in a room.
Unlock the barriers we place between ourselves and others.
Remind us that we can lift our burdens up to you
Free us from our fear and concerns of this world,
and open our hearts to the concerns of others.

We are the people of the good news.
Remind us to act as if we are full of this joy,
as if we are full of your love.
We are your children, Lord,
each of us uniquely cherished and completely loved by you.
Open our eyes to your love,
call us into your dance,
remind us that we don’t dance alone.
We are the people of the good news;
we are your people, your children.
You are with us always, and we ask that you specifically be with ___ .

We are the people of the good news.
We can’t sit out this dance, we are unable to be quiet.
We have to share the news of your love, your resurrection.
Your teachings, the way you lived your life, have inspired us,
have shown us the way.

As the people of the good news,
we dance freely without reservation,
we celebrate and embrace the life you have given us.
We use the words you taught us, saying
“Our Father, …”