Arise and Shine! (Isaiah 60:1-5 and Matthew 3:13-17)

We know that you are with us always, Lord,
but this season reminds us that you have chosen to live with us,
to share our human experience.
We celebrate that you have come to be with us, Lord.
The darkness had covered the earth, but now we
shine with the light of your love.
Help us to carry that light forward into the world.

We know that sometimes we focus on the darker side of life.
Remind us, Lord, to see the light and sunshine in our world.
Help us to see the abundance around us.
Lift up our hearts in joy and thanksgiving
for the gifts that you have given us.
Help us to focus on the positive and not the negative.
Help us to carry the light of your truth into the world.

As we focus on your love, we are reminded of our baptism.
Water, life-giving and life-sustaining, is a symbol of your love
and acceptance.
Help us to give that gift to others.
Help us to share the gift of your love to others we encounter.
As we have been cleansed and forgiven,
help us to see others with acceptance and forgiveness.
As members of the body of Christ, we support one another.
We lift up the names of those among us who need assistance, naming ___.
We also celebrate with one another in our times of joy.
We lift up our joys and celebrations naming ___.

We are your children, Lord.
We arise and shine in the light and glory of our Lord.
Be with us as we go through our daily lives and
be with us as we use the words you taught us,
“Our Father…”

God Bless Us Everyone (Isaiah 63:7-9 and Matthew 2:1-12

God Bless Us Everyone as we start a new year, a new beginning.
We’ve made our resolutions, and maybe we’ve already broken them
even though it is only Day 1.
Some of us have made the same resolutions we made last year.
Help us to feel your presence in our life as we move into the new year.
Be with us as we seek to show and incorporate your love and
your teachings in new ways,
to ourselves and to those we meet every day.

God Bless Us Everyone. Help us to mean that, to truly
bless and accept everyone,
not just the ones who believe the same way that we do.
Continue to fill us with the peace, hope, love and joy of the Advent season
as we move into the new year.
Remind us that we do not need to make drastic resolutions for the new year.
Help us to see that one small degree of change can make a difference
in not only our lives, but to the lives of those around us.
What would happen if we did one small deed of love every day?
What would happen if we turned our cheek and
did not respond to anger with anger?
What would happen if we tried to view a situation
from someone else’s viewpoint
without judgment?
What would happen if we looked at others with love first?

God Bless Us Everyone.
Open our hearts to the excitement that Scrooge felt when he realized he had a second chance in life.
Use us to fulfill your plan here on earth.
Help us to be a blessing to someone else.
As your community, we are like a large vat of hot water,
water that is 211 degrees.
We don’t have to make major changes in our lives.
By adding one extra degree of effort to our following you and your teachings,
our community will begin to boil when we move to 212 degrees.
Boiling water creates steam and steam can power the largest machines
and create electricity for entire cities.
Help us to focus on making a 1 degree change rather than fixing all of our bad habits at one time.

God Bless Us Each and Everyone.
As your children, we support each other.
Be with those among us who need your extra grace and support.
We name ___
As the body of Christ, we are stronger together and nourish each other.
Our faith is strengthened by our experiences with one another.
Help us to be that 1 degree of change in this world.
Help us to make this world your world.

As we share in Scrooge’s joy in his second chance,
as we seek to start a new year with new promises,
we use the words your Son taught us so many years ago, “Our Father…”

— influenced by theme 212 The Extra Degree – motivational book by Mac Anderson and Sam Parker
http://www.simpletruths.com/inspirational-books/212-the-extra-degree.html
At 211 degrees, water is just hot. At 212 degrees, it boils and can create steam which can move a locomotive. One degree of effort makes a huge difference!

The Life of Christmas Yet-to-Come (Isaiah 7:11-16 and Matthew 1:18-25)

Our world can often be the busiest and most stressful
in a season that should be full of joy and anticipation.
Remind us, Lord, that we need to take time to listen.
Remind us, to take time to be quiet, and to be still.
Open our hearts and eyes to your presence in our lives.

Ring Out Your Truth
Ring out our truth
Ring out your love
Reverberate in our lives
Come, Lord, come!

We can be conflicted people, God.
On one hand, we can focus too much on today’s busyness,
that we don’t plan for the future.
On the other hand, we can fixate on the future in fear
imagining all the terrible things that could happen
until we are frozen in fear.
Remind us, Lord, that you are always with us.
Fill us with your peace and remove our fears.
As you are always with us, we share that love and support
with those in our community who are hurting.
We ask that you be with those we name today, ___
and with those we have not named.

Ring Out Your Truth
Ring out our truth
Ring out your love
Reverberate in our lives
Come, Lord, come!

We know that the future is what we make it.
We move forward in confidence that you are with us
and we take your teachings with us as we move forward.
Remind us to live a life full of joy that we have you in our lives.
Remind us, as we prepare for a new year, to live a life of purpose.
Remind us, that we can be a miracle in someone else’s life.

Ring Out Your Truth
Ring out our truth
Ring out your love
Reverberate in our lives
Come, Lord, come!

In this season of preparation and anticipation,
remind us to take time to listen for you, Lord.
Remind us to take a few minutes to sit quietly and
to open ourselves to your teachings, to your peace.
Open our hearts to your presence and your grace.
And as we open ourselves to you, we lift up our words to you
in prayer, using the words your Son taught us,
“Our Father….”

The Remembrance of Christmas Past (Isaiah 11:1-10 and Matthew 3:1-12)

Gracious God, we know that our past influences our present and our future.
The past has shaped us, taught us how to view the world around us,
and created internal truths that are not easily challenged.
Open our eyes, Lord, to your truth, to your teachings.
Remind us that while we see, our eyes may not
see clearly and that truth may be hidden
by carefully placed shadows.
Remind us that our ears can be lied to by twisted words of half-truths
and by appeals to our unknown biases.
Ring out your truth, Lord, and open our eyes to see the entire picture.
Ring out your truth, Lord, and help us to hear the call of righteousness.

When we look back on our lives, Lord, we can see where we made mistakes.
We can see where our choices hurt other people and even ourselves.
Our mistakes can weigh us down, keeping us from trusting others,
building walls between others because we don’t know how to apologize, or
filling us with fear of making new mistakes.
We can hold onto resentments and cling to our anger
until we no longer remember exactly what the issue was.
Ring out your love, Lord, and help us put down our heavy burdens.
Ring out your love, Lord, and help us to find reconciliation with one another.

In this Advent season, we remember the past and prepare again for your coming.
As we look at those around us who will be joining us at your table,
we give thanks for those who have influenced us and made us
who we are today.
We lift up those among us, here and in our daily lives, who need support.
We name ___.
We celebrate and take encouragement from the joys of life,
thanking you for the gift of laughter and fellowship.
Ring out your truth, Lord, and open our eyes to the joys and concerns of our community.
Ring out your truth, Lord, and help us to embrace all of our neighbors
building a sense of your community throughout our world.

As your people, we have followed the voice crying out in the wilderness,
to prepare a way for your truth, to follow your teachings and to share your love with others.
As your people, we use the words taught to us so many years ago,
“Our Father…”

Bah! Humbug! Time for Change (Isaiah 2:2-3 and Matthew 24:36-44)

The spirit of change, like a strong wind,
is blowing around us, pushing us one way
and then another.
We feel out of control at times,
and can easily lose our balance.
Fearful that our situation could change at any moment,
we cling to our treasures tightly and stake a claim on what is ours.
As your truth rings out,
remind us that there is more than enough for all to share.

You sent us your son and
we followed him up the mountainside.
We sat at his feet listening to his teachings.
And the spirit of change blew from Jerusalem
throughout the entire world.
The people listened and were transformed.
As your truth rings out,
remind us to also walk in your path and
to follow your teachings.

The spirit of change flows through us and around us.
We touch it in the life-giving water of our baptism and
we feel it in the wind that pulls down the colorful leaves of autumn
and we taste it when we feast on the harvest grown from the earth
and we hear it in the crackle of the Yuletide fire.
We ask you to use the spirit of change to transform us
so that we can share and use your teachings to transform others.
We lift up our cares and concerns to you, and ask that you
be with those among us who need your extra strength and healing grace.
As your truth rings out,
remind us that we may never know how much of a difference we make
in someone else’s life, but help us to realize that our every action and
our every thought does have an impact on this world.

The spirit of change is all-powerful and always present,
around us and within us.
We feel that power when we gather together as your people.
We remind ourselves of that power
every time we use the words your son taught us,
“Our Father…”

Hearts of Love (Isaiah 65:17–25)

Now more than ever, All Loving God,
we need the gift of your love in our world.
Open our hearts to accept your grace freely.
Open our hearts to share that grace with others,
without reservation and without hesitation.
As you strive to create new heavens and a new earth,
through us as we follow your teachings,
help us to truly be your church.

In a world full of conflict, open our hearts to peace,
a peace that does not compromise your teachings.
We ask that you use us to make this world, your world.
Jesus stood up for the sick, the refugee, and the beggar.
Help us to act as he taught us, to work for good,
and not to hurt or destroy.
Help us to work towards peace and equality for all your children,
rich or poor, white or of color, male or female, young or old,
gay or straight, abled or disabled, citizen or immigrant,
Christian or Muslim, rural or urban, employed or unemployed
Our list of polarizing descriptions can be endless.
We can use these descriptions to separate and divide us, and yet,
we cannot pretend that if we just ignore the label,
we are all treated equally.
Help us to truly see each other with love and with understanding.

We ask that you use us to make this world, your world.
Open our eyes to see how we can make this world, your new Jerusalem.
Use our hands to create places of shelter and to plant gardens
full of your bounty.
Use our minds to sort fact from fiction and to clearly see your truths.
We are your followers, your church, and
we are called to show your love in the world
as you have loved us.
Give us the strength to follow Christ’s teachings.
Give us the courage to help build the new Jerusalem
where no one labors in vain or has their belongings cheated from them,
where there is no fear and where there is no weeping.
As we support each other within this community, we ask that you
be with those we name today, ___

And until we are in the new Jerusalem, we continue to follow your teachings,
using the words you gave us so many years ago, “Our Father…”

Changing Rules (Isaiah 50:4-9a)

The world we live in today is not the world we used to know.
The rules have changed, but we are not sure when or how they changed.
We don’t even know who changed the rules,
but the world is different now.

The institutions we used to trust have failed us.
Our leaders in the government, in business, and in the church have failed us.
The plans we made for our lives have been thrown into turmoil
and the world we see on the news and social media is not the world we used to know.

Jesus entered the eastern gates of Jerusalem in triumph
on the back of a borrowed donkey.
Pontius Pilate entered the western gates of Jerusalem
in triumph at the head of the Roman army.
The world they lived in was not the world they used to know.
Their plans were going to be thrown into turmoil.

Lord, you have taught us the truth.
You have given us the words to share,
the words to help calm the turmoil around us.
Words of love to answer the words of hate that fill our ears on a daily basis.
Words of justice to answer the words of oppression
that hold some in poverty and without a voice.
Words of healing to soothe the pain of hurt and loss.
Words of forgiveness to heal the wounds caused by jealousy and fear.

You open our ears and our hearts.
You sustain us when we grow weary.
You awaken us every morning with the call to listen to your teachings,
to be your followers.
You give us the strength to stand up to our convictions,
to uphold your teachings.
You sent your Son to us to reinforce your teachings.

The rules of our world have shifted underneath our feet.
But as your children, we know though that you are always with us.
We ask that you give your strength and healing to ___.
As your community of believers, we stand together.
We stand up together as a united family, brothers and sisters in Christ.
And we use the words that your Son taught us,
“Our Father…”

An Everlasting Covenant (Isaiah 55:1-9)

We often dream of a world of plenty,
a world where we have won the lottery,
a world where our wishes will come true.
We compare ourselves to others and
can be jealous of what we don’t have.
We forget that the happiness
about a new possession is a temporary mood.
We forget that the newest electronic gadget
will be out of date next month.

Help us, Creator God, to recognize the gifts you have given us.
You have given us an earth full of wonders,
lands of plenty and bodies of fresh water.
Creator God, help us to respect the gift of the earth,
the animals and the natural resources.
You have given us a society in which we live and people to interact with,
to learn from and to grow with.
Creator God, help us to respect one another and
to seek justice and peace for all.
You have given us free will and the ability to learn from our past.
Creator God, help us to see our past clearly,
to recognize where we have made mistakes or redefined history,
and help us to make a better future for our children.
You have given us your Son to share your teachings and your plans with us.
Creator God, help us to understand those teachings and encourage us
to follow in His path.

Most importantly, remind us that this is a material world.
A material world does not last and possessions become a burden to maintain.
Free us from that burden, Lord.
Remind us to go through this world unencumbered by things.
Focus our attention on your teachings, Lord.
Remind us to share the resources of this earth with others.
Remind us to treat each other with respect and caring.
Remind us to be aware of the choices we make and how they impact others.

You have given us the ever living water of your truth.
We celebrate those truths and teachings here in this sacred place
and in our daily lives.
As your followers, we support one another, but we ask that you be with ___.
And as we seek out a closer relationship with you, we use the words you taught us,
“Our Father…”

Call Us Today (Isaiah 42:1-9)

Some of us have grown up in the church,
and we cannot remember not knowing you, God.
Some of us have come to you through marriage,
through relationships, or on our own.
But, when we take the time to think about it,
we know when you called us to be your own.

You have called each of us to be here today.
You called out our names and we have responded.
We are in awe of you,
you who have created the heavens and the earth.
Before we were born, you knew us and loved us.

Call us today, set your plans before us.
Remind us that it is up to us to make this earth
as it is in your heaven.
You taught us to be a light to others,
light the flame within us.
You taught us to fight for those who are powerless,
give us the strength to take on those battles.
You taught us to share our resources with each other,
open our eyes to the needs of those around us.
You taught us to love our enemies as we love ourselves,
surround us with your love and forgiveness to soften our hearts
so that we can pray freely for our enemies.
You taught us that you are always with us, Lord.
Be with those among us who need your strength and grace today.

You have called us to be your followers.
We are here, Lord.
Call us to do your will.
As we lift our hearts to you, we also lift our prayers to you, using the words that your Son taught us,
“Our Father…”