To Act as Your Follower (Matthew 25:31-46)

Gracious God, your teachings have changed our lives.
We can no longer pretend that what happens to others
does not affect us.
We can no longer pretend that our actions and choices
impact only ourselves.
As your followers, we are part of your community
here in this world.
We realize it is our responsibility to make this world,
your world.

We ask for your wisdom to know what and when to act.
We ask for your strength to take action.
We ask for your peace as we reflect on what we cannot change.
We ask for your grace as we fall short in our efforts.

Gracious God, your teachings have changed our lives.
Help us to share your love with those around us.
Help us to freely welcome others as you have welcomed us.
Help us to share our gifts and talents to change the lives of those around us.
Help us to stand up for those who are powerless and
to speak for those without a voice.
Help us to act out your teachings and to live as you did.

We ask for your wisdom to recognize the truths of your teachings.
We ask for your strength to follow your teachings.
We ask for your peace as we choose to focus on spiritual rather than material.
We ask for your grace as we fall short as your followers.

Gracious God, you sent us your son to be our teacher.
Today, we lift up our voices to use the words that he taught us,
“Our Father…”

Love, Yours and Ours (Matthew 22:34-46)

You told us the greatest commandment is to
Love the Lord your God with all your heart,
with all your soul and with all your mind.
Next, we are to love our neighbor as ourself.
Remind us, Lord, that love is a verb.
We are to love and to love means to act.

It is easy to love you, Lord,
and to love our family and friends.
We can say we love the stranger whom we have never met.
It is not as easy to love the stranger who cuts us off in traffic,
the person who holds a different political viewpoint than ours,
the stranger who is incarcerated,
the co-worker who doesn’t pull their weight,
or the person we think is taking advantage of the system.

Remind us that we don’t have to feel love,
but we need to act with love which means
acting in fairness.
Help us to see the image of God, your image,
in the faces of those we meet.
Help us to treat everyone with fairness.
Help us to act with love in each encounter.
Remind us that each of us is a child of God,
deeply loved and uniquely cherished.
Give us the strength to take action
to protect the powerless,
to speak for those without a voice,
to listen for the needs of those around us,
to lift up those who have stumbled,
and to feed the hungry.

As your children, and acting in your love,
we support those in our community.
We ask that you be with those among us who are in pain
and who need your extra support. We name ___.
But we also celebrate with our community.
We lift up in joy ___.

We thank you for the love you have extended to us,
love that we have not earned but freely accept.
Help us to now freely share that love with others.
As we feel your love, we lift up our voices and our hearts to you,
using the words your Son taught us, “Our Father….”

Delight In God (Matthew 11:25-30)

Lord, don’t make us too wise to see you.
Make us, instead, like the little child who lifts up his or her arms
to their parent knowing they will be picked up and carried.
We ask that you help us carry our burdens and
yet we know we don’t always give them up willingly.
Sometimes we allow our burdens
to define us,
to contain us,
to protect us or
to separate us.
Remind us to be as a child.
Help us to give up our burdens and find our peace in you.

Lord, don’t make us too wise to see you.
Make us, instead, like the little child who lifts up his or her arms
to their parent knowing they will be quickly embraced.
As your children, we know we are loved by you.
We know that we are to act together in community
and to love one another.
Help us remove the barriers between ourselves.
Take us back to the time of the early church
when your followers worked together to support one another,
and to protect one another.
We ask that you be with those among us who need your healing grace.
We name __.
Remind us to be as a child.
Help us to freely share our love and concern with one another.

Lord, don’t make us too wise to see you.
Make us, instead, like the little child who lifts up his or her arms
to their parent knowing they will always be forgiven.
As the forgiven people, we ask that you remind us to also
forgive those who may have wronged us.
Help us to forgive, to lessen the burden of those who may have wronged us.
Encourage us to seek reconciliation, to work towards understanding,
and to work towards justice and peace for all.
We are your children, deeply loved and uniquely cherished.
Help us to feel your presence in our lives.
Help us to share your love with others.

Lord, give us the wisdom we need to truly see you.
Give us the wisdom we need to truly give up our burdens to you.
Be with us, share rest with us, grant us peace.
Make us like a child, open our hearts to you,
and as we use the words your Son taught us, bless us with your peace,
“Our Father…”

Acting in Hospitality (Matthew 10:40-42)

For those among us who are the peacemakers,
For those among us who pray for others,
For those among us who give of themselves.

We give thanks, O God.

For those among us who speak up for those without a voice,
For those among us who work for justice,
For those among us who are teachers.

We give thanks, O God.

For those among us who show mercy to others,
For those among us who feed the hungry,
For those among us who comfort the grieving.

We give thanks, O God.

For those among us who lift up the fallen,
For those of us who practice the art of healing,
For those of us who protect the weak.

We give thanks, O God.

For those among us who speak prophetically,
For those among us who carry the burden for others,
For those among us who shed tears for the pain of this world
but still try to make things better.

We give thanks, O God.

For the fact that we are your children,
For the fact that you freely love us and fill us with your grace,
For the gift of your son, Jesus, and his teachings.

We give thanks, O God.

For the spirit of community instilled in us by our faith,
For the comfort of your constant presence and
For knowing that you are with those among us who need you the most right now,
naming ___.

We give thanks, O God.

For knowing that we are your disciples and your followers,
For knowing that it is our job to carry your word to others,
For knowing that we are never alone.

We give thanks, O God.

For the words that your Son taught us,
For the words we still use today,
“Our Father…”

**Words in bold can be the congregational response.

Fearing and Obeying the Lord (Matthew 10:24-39)

Jesus, you never told us that following you would be easy.
You often warned us how difficult the road would be.
As your followers, our job should not be easy.
You taught us a different way of living,
a way of community and of being at one with each other.
What is whispered, we are to shout from the rooftops.
When we see injustice in this world, we are not to close our eyes.
We are not to look the other way and say, well that is just how things are.
But we are to take action and try to speak for those without a voice,
to stand up for those without power.

You never told us that following you would be easy.
Give us the courage we need to be your followers.
Help us to focus on your teachings
and not on our false sense of security.
Help us to be like the early church who knew they needed to break away
from a world that did not follow your teachings.
Following you will not be easy.
We will need to lift up our voices and speak out against injustice.
We will need to make ourselves vulnerable
and take a chance on being hurt.
We will need to understand our own biases
and work toward changing our unjust social and justice systems.
We will need to work together, to love one another, and to value one another.
We will need to freely share our gifts and treasures with one another.
Give us the strength, the courage and the wisdom to follow your teachings.

You never told us our new life would be easy,
but you encouraged us to be one with each other.
We lift up and support those among us who need our help.
We ask that you be with ___ and grant them your healing touch.
We celebrate being in community and
we lift up our recent Vacation Bible School with joy and happiness.
As you taught us, we are teaching our children.
Help us to share your teachings with everyone we meet.
Help us to act out your teachings in our interactions with others.
We remind ourselves of your teachings every time we use the words you gave us,
“Our Father…”

Reaching Out to Others (Matthew 9:35—10:1, 5-8)

Gracious God, we confess we completely relate to the phrase,
“The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few.”
The needs of our world can be overwhelming.
Our lives are overbooked and the demands on our time grow exponentially.
Remind us to stop, take a breath,
and choose where we spend our time and energy.

Lord, you saw the needs of the people in your time and
sent out your disciples.
We are your disciples today.
We gather here today as your community.
We make up the body of Christ in today’s world.
We are the laborers who are to make this world your world.
Remind us to stop, take a breath,
and choose where we spend our time and energy.

We have received the gift of your grace and the gift of your love,
and we have made no payments for these gifts.
You offered them to us freely because we are your children.
You freely offered these gifts to us,
as you also offered to us the gift of your Son.
Open our eyes to your plan here on earth.
Use us to fulfill that plan.
Give us the strength to share the good news of your teaching.
As we support those among us who are in need of healing,
we ask that you be with those among us who need your strength.
We name _____.
We are the laborers who are to make this world your world.
Remind us to stop, take a breath,
and choose where we spend our time and energy.

As your followers, and as your children,
use us as your disciples.
Send us out to proclaim the good news and to share your teachings.
Send us out to feed the hungry.
Send us out to speak for those without a voice.
Send us out to shelter those who have no home.
Send us out to protect those who are in danger.
Send us out to listen for the needs of those around us.
Send us out to embrace those who feel unlovable.

As you send us out, we lift up our voices as one,
using the words your Son taught us,
“Our Father…”

A Mystical Moment (Exodus 24:12-18 ; Matthew 17:1-9)

Glorious Creator, we have all had the experience of encountering
a scene in nature that takes our breath away:
a sunrise, a sunset, the view from a mountaintop,
a rainbow, the dew glistening on a spider web,
the waves splashing up upon the shoreline,
or the lightening strike that lights up the night sky.
The majesty and the mystery of the world you have created overwhelms us.
When we come upon these scenes, we are filled with the mystery of your Spirit
and feel your closeness.

The glory of God settled on Mt Sinai and
a cloud covered the top of the mountain.
Help us, Lord, to see your glory in our daily lives.
Take us to that mountaintop and meet us in our doubt.
Help us to see your beauty and your mystery in the daily minutia of our lives.
Help us to remember the covenant you made with the people of Israel
and help us to keep your teachings.

Like Peter, we don’t fully grasp your teachings.
Help us to truly understand your mystery.
As Jesus was transfigured, we ask that you also change us.
Open our hearts to your presence all the time.
Remind us that you are with us always, and be with those among us
who need your healing grace. We name ___.
Open our eyes to those around us who are afraid or feeling lost,
those who don’t know how they will move forward.
Open our hearts to the needs of those around us
without judgment and without fear.
Help us to protect your creation, to act as stewards of your mystery.
Help us to act as Jesus taught us.

Glorious Creator, the world around us is full of your glory and your mystery.
We remember the baptism of Jesus when we hear the words
this is my son with whom I am well pleased.
We are reminded of our own baptism and
we remember that we are your children,
each of us loved and uniquely cherished.
As we seek you on the mountaintop and in your creation,
we use the words that your son taught us,
“Our Father…”

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….”