The Sense of Mystery (1 Kings 19:1-15a)

Gracious and all protecting God,
Elijah, like each of us, found himself alone and afraid.

And, like each of us, he realized that he needed to get up,
to shake off his fear, to get up and just get it done.
There is no one else to do your work, to share your news.
We cannot pull the covers over our heads
and hope the world will be a better place when we wake up.
We cannot hide our faces and pretend that we don’t see what is going on.
It is up to us to make this world, your world.

But it can be easy to be fearful in this world.
We see terror on the news everyday.
We see happiness and laughter obliterated in an instant.
We see hate appearing to triumph over justice and
appearing to divide our nation and our communities.
Sometimes our fears are based on reality, but more often,
our fears are based on whispers, rumors, and half-truths.
Give us the strength to stand up to those fears,
to not give into a feeling of helplessness and hopelessness.

Open our eyes to the mysteries and the joys of this world.
A world where first responders run bravely into burning buildings,
a world where strangers give shelter to the injured and to those in danger,
a world where search parties give of their time and energy
to look for those who are lost
and a world where death is met by new life and new hopes for the future.
You gave us a world with everything we need.
You gave us your Son, who came to us and shared his life with us, as a man,
teaching us how to make this world your world,
showing us by his actions, not just in words.
Give us the strength to do the same for those around us.
Give us the strength to get up, to get up and just get it done.

We ask that you be with those among us who need your extra strength today.
We name ___

Open our eyes to the mysteries of this world and
help us to stand up to our fears to do what is right and just.
We use the words that your Son gave 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….”

Teach Us (Matthew 22:34-46)

God of Love, Life and Laughter
Teach us to celebrate each day
and to cherish our loved ones.
Remind us that life is to be enjoyed
and experiences are to be shared.
Laugh with us as we make our journey,
sometimes gracefully and sometimes
rather clumsily.

God of Forgiveness and Grace
Teach us to freely apologize when we are wrong
and to set blame aside when we have been wronged.
Remind us that we are humans and
we will make mistakes.
Comfort us when we feel alone and isolated.

God of Strength and Wisdom
Teach us that it is alright to lean on others
and to accept their help.
Remind us to be aware of those around us who need our help.
Empower us to speak for those without a voice
and to make a way for those who are lost.

God of Creation, our Father God and our Mother God,
Remind us to follow in your son’s footsteps.
Jesus taught us to love one another as we love ourselves,
Teaching us in words and in deeds.
We are also your children, made in your image.
Open our eyes so that we see that image of God
in each other’s faces and in their actions.
Soften our hearts so that we can allow others to touch us
and impact our lives.
Use our hands to do your will in this world.

God of Love and Light
You are with us always
showing us the way.
We ask that you be with __
And we use the words that Your Son taught us,
“Our Father…”

The Gifts You Have Given Us (Matthew 25:31-46)

God of Thanksgiving
We are your people.
You have given us the gifts of empathy and compassion
Your son showed us how to value the powerless,
Open our hearts to the powerless today.
Help us to stand up for them and to support them in their journey,
recognizing that we are on this journey together.

God of Thanksgiving
We are your people.
You have given us the gifts of insight and appreciation.
We realize that as you have blessed us, we must also bless one another.
You have given us gifts, spiritual and monetary.
Open our hearts so that we share willingly with one another.
Take the judgment away from our acts of charity.
Help us realize that we are no better than the ones we are helping.

God of Thanksgiving
We are your people.
You have given us the gifts of responsiveness and recognition.
We know that we have the strength to stand up for those who have no voice
You have given us the task of making this earth the same as heaven,
we say those words every week, and every day,
your will be done here on earth as it is in heaven
Help us to make it so.

God of Thanksgiving
We are your people.
You have given us the gifts of mercy and humanity.
We are your children and we know that you are with us
Be with ___
Open our hearts to those around us who are in need
Give us the strength to stand up for those who need support
Make us the ones who not only share your story but also put your words into action.

As your children, we use the words that your Son taught us:
“Our Father, …”

We Remember Your Promise (Habakkuk 1:1-4; 2:2-4, 3:17-19)

Sometimes when we look at our world,
our eyes fill with tears.
We wonder why hate seems to thrive,
why pain is a constant presence
and why greed champions over justice.
We cry out at times that it is not fair.
We ask where you are, Lord,
and lift our fears up to you
hoping you will give us peace and power.

Our brothers and sisters march in protest,
asking if they matter, if they have any importance.
We find ourselves judged and given privilege or censure
based on our appearance, our education, and
our social class.
Our young people ask, what is important in this life?
Our middle-aged ask, why have the rules changed?
Our elderly ask, who will take care of us?

If we are honest with ourselves, Lord,
we know that our world is a reflection of our choices.
It is not you who has set up a battle between good and evil,
it is us.
When we allow ourselves to focus on money and power,
we forget to focus on what is important and on what we need,
instead we focus on what we want.
When we focus on ourselves,
we ignore those among us who need our help.

Sometimes when we look at our world,
our eyes fill with tears.
But, we remember, your promise, your strength.
You are our Savior and
we will learn to answer our questions by truly practicing your teachings.
We are the ones who can make a difference in this world.
Fill us with your strength and grace.
Be with those among us who need you the most, ___

We wait for you, and as we wait,
remind us to also act,
to make this world a more just and peaceful place.
As we wait, we use the words your son taught us,
“Our Father…”

Year of the Jubilee (Luke 4:14-21)

This is the year of the Lord’s favor,
the year of the Jubilee,
when captives are released,
and debts are forgiven.
Help us to see, Lord, where we are held captive.
Where in our lives are we feeling bound?
*silence*
What debts do we owe to others?
What debts do we owe to ourselves?
*silence*
Are we able to forgive ourselves
as easily as we forgive others?

*silence*

This is the year of the Lord’s favor.
What would he say to us today?
As we look at our lives,
are we living our lives the way we should be living?
*silence*
Are we walking in your
footsteps, Lord?
Are we making this world your world?
*silence*
Help us to see, Lord, where we are held captive.
Help us to see when we choose not to act
because we think that we cannot make a difference.
Help us to realize that we can make that difference.

*silence*

This is the year of the Lord’s favor
the year of the Jubilee.
Forgive us our debts as we forgive others.
We start afresh from this point forward.
As we move into the world feeling free from our burdens,
how will we change the world?
As we forgive those among us,
how does that free us?
*silence*
Help us to see that freedom.
Help us to use that freedom.

*silence*

This is the year of the Lord’s favor.
The Scripture has been fulfilled in our hearing.
We are your people, Lord.
We gather here each week to fulfill your promise.
We make up the body of Christ and carry out your teachings.
As the community of believers we support each other in our trials,
and we ask that you be with ___in particular as they need your healing grace and strength.
Remind us that in most cases, the chains that are holding us prisoner were created by ourselves.
Give us the strength to free ourselves,
give us the strength to achieve your plan.

This is the year of the Lord’s favor.
As your people, we listen to your teachings.
We follow your teachings, and we use the words you taught us,
“Our Father…”

No Prophet Welcome in His Hometown (Luke 4:21-30)

There is no one who knows us better than our families.
And, yet, do our families really know us or do they know who we used to be?
Do they know how we have changed over time?
Or do they only know us how they want us to be?
You know us, Father, you knew us before we were born
and you know how we have grown since then
and you know how we still need to grow.

As we grow in this life, help us to see what is important in life.
Give us the strength to speak up as Jesus did when he spoke up for inclusion.
Today, many say that being inclusive is a sign of political correctness,
something we should not tolerate, something that makes us weak.
Remind us, Father God, that your Son taught us to include everyone,
to value everyone, without judgment.
Remind us, Mother God, that we are all your children,
each of us loved and each of us uniquely cherished.
When we respect each other, when we celebrate and accept our differences,
we are respecting you and acting as you taught us.

We may not have the strength or the character to live our entire lives as did Nelson Mandela,
but we can stand up in individual moments of oppression and speak up for the powerless.
When we see a bully taunt their victim,
encourage us to stand up in protest.
When we hear a racist joke,
encourage us to stand up and say we will not listen to hate.
When we notice inequality in social programs,
encourage us to ask our politicians why and to demand change.
When we see someone being ignored,
encourage us to reach out to that person and raise them up.
When we see a child without the ability to receive a quality education,
encourage us to ensure that all receive an education regardless of their school district.
When we see cities without safe drinking water,
encourage us to ask ourselves why lower-income populations are treated less fairly than those with wealth.

Give us the voice to speak for those without a voice.
Give us the ability to hear the cries of those around us in pain
and to find ways to provide comfort to them.
Give us the strength to be your children, to be your body of Christ.
Give us the courage to stand up to the majority
when we know that the minority is in the right.
As your children, we support those among us who are in pain and in need of your healing touch.
We ask that you be with ___ in particular.

We are your children, Lord.
We are your family, the body of Christ.
As your family, open our eyes to see each other,
to see each other as we really are.
And as your children, we use the words that your Son taught us,
“Our Father…”

Because We Believe (John 3:14-21)

Like you, Father, we understand the love you have for your children.
Until our children were put in our arms, we had no idea how much love we could feel.
We are your children, Lord, each of us uniquely cherished and deeply loved.

You gave your Son to us, not to condemn us but to save us.
Help us to truly follow his teachings.
He taught us that we should act as one body,
to treat each other as we would want to be treated.
Help us to freely love one another without reservation.
He taught us to love the unlovable,
to comfort those in pain or illness,
to speak for those who have no voice,
and to value those who have no power.
Help us to realize it is not enough to say we believe,
help us to understand that our actions truly define our beliefs.

We cannot say we believe in your teachings
if our actions tell a different story.
We believe in your Son, and that he is the way to your light and your love.
And, because we believe, we act in ways that uphold those beliefs.
We cannot say we love your Son
if we do not freely love our brothers and sisters.
We cannot say we love your Son
if we do not seek out opportunities to make this earth as it is in your heaven.
We cannot say we love your Son
if we do not love ourselves completely.
We cannot say we love your Son
until we are willing to sacrifice our needs and wants for those around us.

Give us the strength to carry out your plan on earth.
Open our hearts to share your love freely with our brothers and sisters in Christ.
Help us share your message of love and healing to those we encounter in our daily lives.
Be with those among us who need your healing touch and your sense of peace.
We name ___.

We are your children, Lord. As your children, we know that you are with us always.
We are comforted by your love and we use the words that you have taught us,
“Our Father…”

You Are Our Shepherd (John 10:11-18)

We are your children, Lord.

You watch over us as a shepherd watches over his flock.
We have come together to this place.
We have come from different backgrounds,
from different flocks.
But we have joined together as your people.

Remind us that it is
our job to look after those who need protection,
our job to look for the wolf and to speak out for those in danger,
our job to pick up those who stumble and to seek out those who get lost.
You are our shepherd, Lord, but we act as your shepherds here on earth.
We share your teachings in order to gather others into your flock.

We are your children, Lord.
We celebrate the gift of your life.
Like you, we would gladly give our lives for our children.
Remind us to live our lives every day to honor you,
to reflect your teachings in our actions and in our thoughts.
Remind us to dance with joy as our hearts are filled with your love.
Remind us to share your love with everyone we meet,
even if we don’t really like them.
Remind us that you are with us always, watching over us,
embracing us with your grace and your love.
We ask that you grant your healing touch and your strength to ___.

We are your children, Lord.
Remind us that our membership
in the body of Christ is a full and complete membership.
We are not hired hands who will run at the first sign of trouble.
We are your disciples, your followers.
We have come to this holy place for a purpose.
We gather strength from one another,
from this community of believers.
We share our doubts, our fears, our worries,
and we celebrate our births, our joys, and our celebrations.
We are your followers, your flock of believers,
and we know it is up to us to share your good news with others.

As your followers, we use the words that you taught us
“Our Father..”

Filled by the Spirit (Acts 2:1-21)

Creator God, you equipped those who followed you with the gifts that they needed,
you gave them the words that they needed to share your teachings,
your spirit marked them and filled them with prophecy,
with visions and dreams.
Fill us today with your prophecy.
Mark us as your’s and remind us of the gifts you have freely given us.

We come here each week to gain strength from one another,
to learn from one another,
to care for one another.
Mark us as your’s, fill us with your dreams and visions,

Your early church was at first afraid and stayed huddled together.
But your Spirit filled them, gave them strength, gave them courage and wisdom.
Your Spirit fills us, draws us here each week.
Strengthen our faith, give us the courage to share your teachings with others,
give us the wisdom to understand your plan for this church,
open our hearts to your desire for us and for this congregation.

The Spirit descended upon your followers in the past,
descend upon us now today and in our future.
Father, Son and Holy Ghost, you are with us always.
You provide the strength we need in today’s chaotic world,
you encourage community and taught us to work together to fulfill your plan.
We ask that you be with ___ and fill them with your healing grace.

Your early church gained strength and spread out across the world, carrying your word.
Give us the strength to open our hearts to those we encounter in our daily lives,
help us to share the story of our faith with others.
Open our minds and hearts to where you are calling Church of the Apostles today and in the future.
We have accomplished much in forty years.
Stir our imagination for what should take place in the next forty years.
Fill us with your Spirit, your visions, your dreams, and your prophecy.

Creator, you equipped those who followed you with the gifts that they needed,
you gave them the words that they needed to share your teachings,
We use the word your Son taught us,
“Our Father…”