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

9/11 Remembrance (Romans 12:1-8)

When tragedy strikes, well-wishers may tell us it was God’s plan.
They tell us we may not understand today,
but someday it will be made clear.
But we know that you have given us free will
and it is our choices, or our failure to choose,
that cause accidents, pain and injury to ourselves and others.
We know there is true evil in this world and
we know there are people who choose evil
and people who choose to hate.
As we remember the pain of 9/11,
we recognize our lives began to change at that point in time.
We came together then in grief and shock
but we have now allowed fear to separate and divide us.

Help us to choose love.
Transform us with your grace.

When tragedy strikes, remind us to see the first responders
who risk their lives to save others.
Remind us to see the helpers,
the people that use their gifts to heal and comfort those in distress.
Help us to use our gifts to be those helpers,
to fulfill your teachings here on earth.
Give us the strength to stand up to hate.

Help us to choose love.
Transform us with your grace.

When we look at the people around us, Gracious God,
help help us to see who is missing and marginalized.
Help us to seek understanding over being right.
Help us to use our gifts to fulfill your plan here on earth.
We ask that you be with those who are grieving,
those those who are angry, and those who are fearful.

Help us to choose love.
Transform us with your grace.

As your children, we know that we are loved.
We lift up our voices using the words your Son taught us,
“Our Father…”

**Bold text may be read responsively by the congregation.

Our Sense of Knowing and Being Known (Luke 13:10-17)

We are created in your image, Lord.
Each of us are unique,
with different skills and different talents.
We may compare ourselves to others,
judging ourselves better or worse, but
You know us completely.
Open our eyes to the gifts you have given to us
and also to the gifts of others.
Help us to celebrate those gifts.
Help us to use our skills and talents
to fulfill your work here on earth.

We are created in your image, Lord.
Some of us have bodies that appear to work well,
while others wear their imperfections on the outside.
And some of us are experiencing the transition
of an aging body.
We are human and none of us are perfect, but
You know us completely with only love.
We ask for your healing touch within us.
Even if we cannot be physically healed,
calm our thoughts and give us the strength we need.
We ask that you be with those among us who need
your extra comfort and strength, naming ____.
Help us to accept and to celebrate our human experience.
Help us to use our bodies and minds in ways
that fulfill your work here on earth.

We are created in your image, Lord.
We can choose to conceal our hearts from others,
but You know us completely and accept us.
We may hide our fears from others,
but You know us completely and accept us.
We may present a confident face to the outside world,
while inside we are filled with doubt,
but You know us completely and accept us.
We may not fully share ourselves with others,
but we cannot hide ourselves from you.
Remind us that together we are the body of Christ.
Open our hearts to each other,
remove our fear of intimacy and
help us to see each other without judgment or envy.
Use us, as your community of believers, ‘
to make this world a better place.
We are your children and in faith and trust,
we use the words your Son gave us, “Our Father…”

Our Sense of Faith (Hebrews 11:1–3, 8–16)

Faith is the assurance of things hoped for,
without proven evidence.
But our faith allows us to see that evidence,
in our daily lives.
The Bible tells us about those before us,
who had faith in their interactions with God.
And we’ve heard about those who lost their faith,
and then found it again despite their doubts.

Gracious God, we confess it can be hard to keep the faith.
But then we see the signs of your connection to us,
in our daily lives
and our faith is renewed.
We feel you throughout our days,
in the people that we meet,
and in the beauty of your creation.
We realize that you are with us,
you know our hopes and our fears,
and you know us completely.
And when we live in faith, we allow our faith to grow.

Faith is the assurance of things hoped for,
without proven evidence.
Part of our hope are the words that your Son
taught us:
Thy will be done here on earth as in heaven.
We need to take our faith and turn it into action,
to step out boldly into the world
knowing that we are following your plan
and following your Son’s teachings.
Be with us as we carry out your plan.
Be with us as we share the joyful news of your love
with others.
And be with those among us who are hurting
or need your strength. We name ____.

Gracious and loving God, you are the assurance
of our hopes.
In faith, we lift up our voices using the prayer
your Son taught us, “Our Father…”

Our Sense of Compassion (1 Kings 17:8-16)

God of human relationships, you created us as your people,
a people who come together in community.
Our choices and our actions inter-twine in the lives of those around us.
As water ripples in a pond, we touch others
even when we are unaware of their very existence.
Our lives are shaped every day by the people we meet
in the most mundane of encounters.

God of Love, you have provided for us,
giving us a world that contains everything we need.
We may not have a jar of flour that never empties,
but our God has given us all the resources that we need
and charged us to care for them wisely.
Remind us to be grateful for what we have and
to spend our time and treasures in ways that reflect our beliefs.
Remind us that the idols in our world may distract us
but they are not where our attention should be.
Remind us to live as your Son showed us,
seeking peace and justice for all.
Remind us to trust in your love and your guidance,
just as the widow placed her trust in you.

God of Compassion, allow us to feel empathy for those we meet.
We may not agree with each other, nor may we share the same beliefs,
but we are each your children.
Help us to treat each other with dignity and respect.
Help us to disagree in ways that do not demonize the other,
but rather help us to see your image in the face of others.
Help us to remember that we are each a child of God,
and remind us of your teachings and how we should practice those teachings.
You told us you would be with us always.
We ask that you be with those among us
who need your extra strength and healing grace.

God of Justice and Peace,
remind us of our duty to care for the powerless and
to speak out for those without a voice.
As your Son taught us, it is our job to make this world like your heaven.
We use the words he taught us, saying,
“Our Father…”

Transform Us To Be Easter People (Acts 10:34-43)

The message spread throughout the land, from Galilee through Judea.
The message spread throughout time, growing in strength,
the witnesses growing in numbers over the centuries.
We stand as your witnesses today.
We tell your story to our children and share your love with others.

You taught peace, Jesus.
We hunger for peace in our world today,
a world that is filled with noise, anger and chaos.
Remind us to practice peace in our daily lives.
Remind us to listen for understanding and
to seek out that which we can agree upon
while accepting differences in opinions.
Remind us to adhere to your teachings
and to share your peace with others.

Your message spread throughout the land and through the centuries.
We stand as your witnesses this morning, filled with the joy of your return.
Our hearts beat faster as we allow our celebration
to fill us with hope and with your grace.
The flowers of rebirth surround us, the music embraces us,
and our belief in second chances and a new beginning is strengthened.
We are transformed as your children, as your believers.

Even on your way to the cross, Jesus, your focus did not change.
You still cared about the poor, still continued to teach your disciples,
and still had complete faith in God, the Father.
Fill us with that same strength, with that focus on your teachings.
Help us to be the Easter people, filled with hope and joy!
Help us to transform our lives to truly be your people,
to show your love at all times to all people.
Help us to stand up for those who have no power, no money,
and no voice.
Help us to encourage peace, not anger and hatred.
Help us to always feel the joy of your resurrection,
to keep hope alive in our hearts.
In this time of renewal, we ask that you be with ___
sharing your gift of healing and strength with those who need it the most.

Your message spread throughout the land and throughout the centuries.
We stand as your witnesses this morning, filled with the joy of your return.
Easter is finally here.
You have returned.
Hallelujah! Hallelujah!

Now hear us as we pray the way you taught us saying,
“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…”

We Sing to You a New Song (Psalm 96)

Gracious God, we sing to you a new song and give you our praise.
As the sun rises in the east,
we marvel at the creation that you have set before us,
the new day with new potential.
The noontime sun casts away the shadows
and helps us see our world and ourselves more clearly.
We see the glory of the creation you have provided to us.
We see where we have not shared those resources fairly
and where we have not protected the environment.
We see the other idols of this world that we have allowed to compete
with our focus on you.
Yet as the sun sets in the west and
we snuggle into the darkness of the night,
we are reminded that you have provided us a sanctuary of strength and beauty.
You are our God and you alone deserve our praise.

Almighty God, we declare to everyone around us, the power of your love,
and share the good news of your teachings with our children.
We give to you all glory and honor, and lift up your name in praise.
Let everyone celebrate and help us to work to establish your justice
here on earth.
We proclaim your power and yet recognize with the gift of free will,
much depends upon us and our choices.
Be with us as we work to establish justice in this world.
Be with us as we work to make things right.
Be with us as we work to make things fair.
Be with those among us today who need your strength and protection.
We lift up the names of ___.

All Powerful God, we sing to you a new song and give you our praise.
As your people, we celebrate your teachings and know that we are loved.
You created our world, gave us life and everything that we need on this earth.
You gave us your Son who showed us how to live in a way
that follows your teachings.
We lift up our voices in praise to you, using the words Jesus taught us,
“Our Father….”

Abundant Patience (Genesis 15:1-12, 17-18)

We can be an impatient people, Lord.
We want things to happen on our timeline,
when we want it.
Remind us that all things work together,
in a dance of influence and reaction,
creating and building a new reality
in a timeline that is determined
by more than ourselves.

We can also be people of little faith, Lord.
Sometimes it can be hard for us to trust in you,
to trust in your teachings.
Remind us that you are always there for us, Father.
When we turn our backs on you,
you circle around and approach us from the front.
When we make plans that don’t include you,
you wait patiently for us to invite you into our lives.
When we try to change the rules of the game and
make things happen on our own,
you help us see that it would be better
to follow your teachings and your suggested rules.
You never give up on us and we thank you for that.

You gave us free will, Lord.
You gave us a living world,
a world full of universes and galaxies that appear
to us as stars in the night skies.
A free will sometimes encourages us to think we are in control.
But a living world is ever changing, ever growing,
and change can lead to earthquakes and melting ice caps.
We soon realize that we are not in control.
As we gaze at the stars in the sky and feel the vastness of that space,
remind us that your patience with us is as infinite as the space above us,
remind us that your love for us is also infinite,
remind us that the gifts of this earth are infinitely abundant if we use them wisely.

We know that you are with us, Lord, even when we turn our faces away from you.
We ask that you be with those among us who need your healing grace and strength,
naming __.
As a sign of your love and your patience, you gave the gift of your son to us.
We use the words he taught us as we say,
“Our Father….”

sky-sunset-night-space

I Believe in Love

I believe in love
even when no one is there.

I have felt love as a child and
when I have looked at my own child.
I have felt love as a parent and
when I have looked at my own parents.

I have loved people who have not loved me in return.
People, who I did not love, have loved me.

There have been times in my life when I have felt completely loved and accepted.
There have been times in my life that I have not felt loveable
and have felt alone, even when surrounded by others.

I believe in love
even when no one is there.

I believe in Your love, God.
With my heart and my soul, I believe in Your love, God.
With my heart and my soul, I am one with Your love.

Your love fills me and restores me. In your love, I know completeness.
As You have loved me, I need to love others.

In sharing Your love, we will become one.
We are Your children, Lord.
We believe in Your love, Lord.
With our hearts and our souls, we believe in Your love.
With our hearts and our souls, we are one with Your love.

In this Advent time, we will seek to love one another as a parent loves and nurtures a child.
We will accept each other despite our differences.
We will seek to love one another, even when we are not loveable.
We will be united with each other, as Your children, even when we disagree.
We are your children, Lord.

We believe in love
even when no one is there.