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…”

I Believe in Salvation

Lord, as children, we were brought to your church and learned your ways.
As parents, we have brought our own children to your church
and taught them your ways.

We are still your children, Lord, and each of us have much yet to learn.
You have given us your Son, Lord,
a child born to a destiny that was unimaginable to Mary and Joseph.
But can any child live up to the dreams and hopes of their parents?
Have we lived up to your dreams and hopes?

We are still your children, Lord, and each of us have much yet to learn.
We ask for your grace and for your wisdom.
Open our eyes to your dreams and hopes for each of us.
Show us our destiny, the plan that you have designed for each of us.
We ask for your strength so that we can live up to your dreams and hopes.

We are still your children, Lord, and each of us have much yet to learn.
All too often we still act like children.
We squabble with each other and refuse to share the gifts
you have given so freely to us.
Remind us, Lord, of the hopes and dreams that surround the birth of a child; the anticipation of a new beginning.
We lift our lives up to you, Lord.
Like Jesus, Lord, help us to grow, to become strong.
Fill us with wisdom and grant us your grace.

I Believe in Grace

The mystery of God’s Grace, the mystery of Christ.
The mystery of the Christmas story, the gift of God’s Son, .

Our world is full of mystery and wonder.
We marvel at the world you have provided for your children.
Sometimes we think we have the answers,
but all too often, we are asking you, “Why?”

The mystery of God’s Grace, the mystery of Christ.
It was not a secret that the Jewish world was waiting for a Messiah.
The mystery that was revealed to us in Christ is the
joining of the Gentiles and the Jews
into one body, the body of Christ.
The mystery that was revealed to us in Christ is the boundless riches
of the gifts You have given us,
the gift of Your grace and
the gift of Your Son who allows us
to approach You Father
with the confidence of a child who knows their parents love them.

The mystery of God’s Grace, the mystery of Christ.
We are your children, Lord.
Together we are the body of Christ, members together of one body.
We share in the promise of Christ Jesus
equally without favoritism, without division.

As the Magi provided gifts to Jesus, remind us Lord,
to share our gifts with others.
Together we are the body of Christ, members together of one body.
Remind us to strive to work together
to share your love and your grace with others.
Remind us of those among us who are hurting and in need of comfort or healing.
Remind us to celebrate often and to have fun in your world,
to laugh with each other
and to lift each other up in spirit and in prayer.

We are your children, Lord.

A Place to Call Home (Deuteronomy 26:1-11)

Each of us longs for a place to call home,
a place that we are safe and cherished.
Home is a place where when we walk through the door,
we can drop our public face and become who we truly are.

Lord, we ask you to be with those in this world who have no home,
no safe place to live, who may not feel welcome,
and who feel alone and helpless.
We ask that you open our eyes to the needs
of those who live in war zones,
of those who live in underdeveloped countries,
and those who live in poverty within our own country.
Remind us that our public policies and our private choices
have contributed to their situations.
Remind us how fortunate we have been to be born
in this place and in this time,
how fortunate we are
to have the opportunity to improve ourselves and our situations.

Each of us longs for a place to call home,
a place that we are safe and cherished.
As we come here each week to this sacred place,
we feel your presence and we know that we are cherished.
This place, this home, is always here for us even as our lives change.
Your teachings and your grace are always here for us
even as the world changes around us.
No matter where we travel in this world, no matter where our home may be,
you are with us always.
We know that you walk with us on our journey and
we ask that you make your will known to us.
We ask that you be with those among us
who especially need your healing touch, and we name ___.
As the world changes too quickly for us to comprehend,
we ask that you be with us and fill us with your peace.

Lord, there are far too many people in this world
who have no place to call their home.
There is too much violence, too much economic uncertainty,
and too much political upheaval for any of us to feel comfortable.
Remind us that we are your children.
Remind us that as your children,
each of us is deeply loved and uniquely cherished.
Remind us that as your children,
as your followers, we are to support one another.
Remind us to help each other find their home, their safe place.
Remind us to share our fortune with others,
and especially to share the good news of your love and your teachings.

Each of us longs for a place to call home,
a place that we are safe and cherished.
If we cannot find our home in the earthly world,
we know we have a home with you.
We know that we can be ourselves with you
because we are your children.
You know us completely and you love and accept us.
In this sacred place, in this home, we use the words that your Son taught us,
“Our Father…”

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…”