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…”

Promises of God (Genesis 28:10-19a)

Gracious God, you are with us always.
Be with those in our world who are fleeing their homes in fear.
Be with those in our world who have had their lives disrupted
by the loss of a job,
by the loss of a spouse,
by the loss of health and mobility.
As they start anew, help them to feel your presence in their lives.
Help them build a new life that revolves around
your promise and your teachings.

Gracious God, you are with us always.
But sometimes, we allow this world to distract us
with both the good and the bad.
When we are focused on success and wealth, we overlook our need for you
and think only of our own strength and talents.
When the world treats us badly and we feel pain instead of joy,
we can overlook your healing presence and cling to our suffering.
Remind us to feel your presence always.
Remind us to say prayers of thanksgiving in times of success
and prayers for your support and grace in times of need.

Gracious God, you are with us always.
You made promises to our ancestors and promises to our future generations.
You were the God for our great-, great- grandparents
and you will be the God for the children of our great-, great-grandchildren.
No matter what the world is like now or in the future, you are our God
and you are with us.
There are many among us who feel insecure and powerless.
Remind us that you are with us and in your teachings, we find peace.
As your followers, give us the strength to stand up for those who feel powerless.
As your followers, give us the wisdom to see the plans you have for this world.
As your followers, give us the desire to share the
good news of your teachings to others.
We support one another in their time of need and
we ask that you especially be with ___.
We celebrate one another in their time of joy and we name ___.

Gracious God, you are with us always.
This world can be full of tension and danger,
but it can also be a world filled with joy.
Remind us of your presence in times of stress and in times of joy.
There are nations who are in strife with millions of refugees
who have fled their homes.
Be with our leaders and encourage them to work towards peaceful solutions.
Be with our leaders and encourage them to find ways
to give voice to the powerless,
to restore dignity to those who have lost everything,
to work toward a world where peace and justice is the norm, not the exception.

Gracious God, you are with us always.
We feel your presence and your peace with us,
as we use the words your Son taught us,
“Our Father…”

Called to New Heights (Acts 17:22-31)

Creator God, in the story of our creation,
you walked with us in the garden.
Throughout time, you walked with your people,
providing manna,
providing laws and guidance,
and then providing your son.
You have been with us always.

We are your children.
We know that you are with us and
yet we confess that we may not always know you.
We may not always see you when we search for you.
You are bigger than we can comprehend.
You call us to be better than ourselves.
We ask that you be with us.
Remind us that in you, we live
and in you, we have our being.
Open our hearts to you and
open our eyes to your plan here on earth.

We are your children and you are with us,
even when we pull away and focus on other things.
You are still with us.
We ask that you be with those among us who are hurting
or are in need of healing. We name ___.
In you, we live and in you, we have our being.
You have given us hope.
You have given us grace.

And using the words your Son taught us,
we lift up our voices to you,
“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…”

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

Be With Us (Acts 15: 1-11 )

Be with us, Gracious God.

As we sit here in this sacred place,
with others who believe as we do,
be with us.
As we wake in the morning,
be with us, Gracious God.
Be the voice in the quiet dawn that
reminds us to celebrate the new day
we have been given
Remind us to use our time here
to make the world a better place.

As we meet others in our day to day,
be with us, listening to our conversations,
watching our interactions.
Be with us, Gracious God.
Be the voice in our ear that
reminds us not to judge, but to encourage.
Be the tiny speck in our eye that reminds us
that our control and power are limited and the
smallest, most accidental encounter in life
can send us to our knees in pain and tears.
Be the friend, or the stranger, who helps us to our feet,
and reminds us of the power of the helping hand.
Be the desire in our heart that reminds us
to share your love with others.
Be with us, Gracious God,
remind us that we are all your children,
filled with your grace.

As we walk with you beside us throughout our day,
remind us of what is important in life.
Be with us always, Gracious God.
Remind us to be at one with one another.
Remind us that none of us embody your teachings fully,
no one of us is worthy of your love
and yet, we are your children, filled with your grace.
Be with us, Gracious God.
When as children, we begin to squabble,
remind us again of what is most important.
We ask that you especially be with ___.

As we prepare for the end of the day and the sleep to come,
remind us to think over our day.
Help us to see clearly where and when you were with us.
Be with us, Gracious God.

In this sacred place, we have come together to feel your grace
and to learn of your teachings.
Be with us, Gracious God.

And now, we lift up our voices, using the words your Son taught us,
“Our Father….”

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 Woe (1 Kings 21:1-21, 27)

As we look back at our week, gracious God,
there were probably times
when we did not behave in a charitable manner
toward our brothers and sisters.
We didn’t kill anyone to get what we wanted, but
we may have focused more on hearing our voice
than in understanding someone else,
we may have focused more on getting our share
than in helping someone else get theirs,
we may have focused more on our wants
than in seeing someone else’s needs.
We are your children, God,
and sometimes we act like children.

We come here today to this sacred space.
We hear your teachings and
interpret them to fit our world today.
We are not ruled by kings today.
We don’t hold our land and property for tens of generations.
But we know the difference between right and wrong,
then and now.
Even knowing that difference, we can still make bad choices.
We don’t always make the right decision,
even when we think we are.
Our choices can hurt us and can hurt others.

As we look back at our week, All Knowing God,
open our eyes to where we strayed away from your teachings.
As we move forward, remind us to do better,
remind us to make better choices.
Remind us that we are forgiven and that you are always with us.
We are your children, uniquely cherished and deeply loved,
despite our failings.
Help us to see more clearly where we can fulfill your teachings
here on earth.
Help us to put our wants aside and help us to focus instead on the needs of others.
We ask that you be with __ as they
especially need your strength and healing grace.

We come here today to this sacred space.
As we look around at those among us, help us to see your image in their faces.
As we move through our world in the coming week,
help us to see your image more clearly in the faces of those we encounter.
Remind us that it is up to us to make this world into your world,
a place where your will is done, not ours.
To that end, we use the words 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…”