Be Invested (John 17:6-19 )

Lord, when you were here,
you watched over your people.
And now you still watch over us.
You committed yourself to us completely.
Help us to do the same.
We confess that we are weak and
sometimes we allow ourselves to be distracted.

Even though you shared in our human likeness,
you remained true to our Father’s teachings.
Give us the strength to do the same.
Help us to choose to follow in your example.
You showed us how to live,
how to comfort those in pain and sickness,
how to stand up for the powerless,
and how to speak for those without a voice.
Forgive us when we fail to act and fall short.
You prayed for us then, please pray for us now.
Help us to hold each other accountable
to your teachings.
As your community of believers,
help us to support one another,
help us to learn from each other,
and help us to grow together in faith.

Lord, we freely admit we are weak and cling to excuses.
Give us the strength we need to make this world your world.
You are our example of what to do.
As you cared for your followers, help us to support and care
for those within our circle.
We name __ and lift them up to your love and care.
We know that you also know who has gone unnamed and
we ask that you be with those among us who are silent
in their need.
As you went out into the world, you send us out into the world.
And as we seek to be holy in your name, we lift up our voices
using the words you gave us so many years ago, “Our Father…”

I Believe in Joy

I believe in God even when he is silent.

My days can be very busy, Lord.
The noise of today’s world is loud and chaotic.
The demands on my attention drown out my own thoughts, much less your voice.
I confess, Lord, that I may not be listening to you and
I don’t always notice the silence.

I believe in God even when he is silent.

When things in my life are going well, Father,
I may not seek you out as often as I should.
But in the dark of night, when my fears are the loudest,
I am mindful of the silence.
When illness or injury strikes,
I am reminded of my weakness and the fragileness of life.
The news reminds me there is evil in the world.
When tragedy strikes, we ask why.
Where were you, Father?
How could you permit such terrible things to happen to innocent people?

I believe in God even when he is silent.

The silence can be deafening at times.
Mother God, we plead with you at these times.
Make our loved ones well again.
Give us one more chance to make amends,
one more time to make a relationship work.
We bargain with you and offer up promises and sacrifices if you will only,
just this time, give us what we are asking for.

We believe in God even when he is silent.

It is only later, Lord, that we realize that you were not silent at all.
It was us, all along. We could not hear you or see you.
During tragic times, we see later that you were there with us.
You were there in the form of a community who came together
to mourn with the fallen.
You were there with the strangers, the friends,
and the family who gave us strength to make it through our challenges.
You were there in the form of the unanswered prayers that in the end
were the best answer we could have been given.

You were there, Lord. You have always been there.
We know that you will always be there.

We believe in God.

Changing the Rules (Mark 1:21-28)

There is safety in the rules.

If you work hard, you will be rewarded.
If you don’t make a mistake, bad things won’t happen.
But we know that it doesn’t really work that way.
Our world is not always an orderly place.

Things happen no matter what we do.
Storms erupt.
Cancer strikes.
Jobs are lost.
Cars cross the center line.
Adhering to the rules will not prevent bad things from happening to us.

Things happen no matter what we do.
But your son changed the rules.
He taught us that it is not what we say,
but rather what we do.
We know that our deeds do not buy our salvation.
That is by your grace.

But it is up to us to make this world as it is in heaven.
It is up to us to strive constantly for peace and justice.
It is our hands who fulfill your plan here on earth.
It is our eyes who see the needs of those around us.
It is our hearts that open to your love and grace.
And it is you who have taught us to love one another.

Things happen no matter what we do.
But we know that you are with us always.
We ask that you be with __ as we know they need your healing grace.
We know that it is up to us to make this world as it is in your heaven.
And we use the words that you taught us, to remind us that it is our job,
“Our Father…”

What We Perceive (1 Samuel 15:34-16:13)

As a child, we see things in black and white.

Our world is very clear, and our boundaries are established.
A child can easily tell you if an act is right or wrong.
The world can become more gray as we get older.
Father, we have more doubts now and
sometimes we ask more questions than a two year old.

Why do we act selfishly at times?
Why do good people die before their time?
Why does a tornado hit one house and not another?
Why do I feel alone even when surrounded by many?
Why are there people in our neighborhoods who go to bed hungry?
And, why does evil sometimes seem to flourish in our world?

As adults, we see the world in shades of gray.
When asked if an act is right or wrong, we may answer, “It depends.”
We view the world based on our experiences, our biases, and our fears.
Father God, we ask that you open our eyes to your choice,
to your plan.
Open our hearts so that we can follow you without hesitation.
Mother God, comfort us in our doubt and confusion,
as a mother soothes her child.
Reassure us that while our world is sometimes lacking balance
and fairness, you are with us always.
Remind us that it is up to us to make this world as it is in your heaven.
We are to act now, to live out your word now, in this place.

Holy Creator, you have shaped us, formed us, and known us.
You see beyond what the world sees in us, beyond what we share with others.
You know us completely and you love us as completely.
We ask that you give us the faith to follow your plan
using the gifts and talents that you freely given us.
Allow us to see ourselves as you see us, each of us deeply loved and uniquely cherished.
As your children, we are to support one another in this world.
We know that you are also with us supporting us in the chaos of this world.
We ask that you be with ___ granting your comfort and peace.

We may still have questions, we may still doubt what we see around us,
but we have faith in the words your Son gave us.
We lift our hearts and our thoughts to you, using those words,
“Our Father…”