Live By The Spirit (Galatians 5:1, 13-26)

If we are to live by the Spirit, Lord, help us to be guided by the Spirit.
Help us to set aside our own selfish desires and
to live fully within the Spirit.
Help us to love one another as we love ourselves.
Protect us from arrogance, anger and jealousy.
Open our hearts to the desires of the Spirit.
Lord, hear our prayer.

We have become a divided country,
politically, economically, and spiritually.
As we choose new leaders,
we ask that you help us choose leaders who will unite, rather than divide.
We pray that our leaders will govern with wisdom and compassion,
focusing on what is best for all members of society,
regardless of political parties.
We pray that they are committed to justice and peace
within our communities and within the global community.
Open our hearts to the desires of the Spirit.
Lord, hear our prayer.

We pray that we can come together as a nation,
choosing the best we have to offer and leaving behind the greed and angst.
In our disagreements, open our ears to hear the potential truth in others.
Give us the strength to seek peace and reconciliation rather than righteousness.
Open our eyes to see the pain others face and
to help us recognize solutions rather than assigning blame.
Open our hearts to the desires of the Spirit.
Lord, hear our prayer.

As your people, we gather together in this sacred space.
As your people, we support one another in times of sadness and worry.
We lift up the names of those among us who need your healing touch
and gift of strength, naming ___.
As your people, we celebrate with one another in times of joy.
We also lift up __ with thanksgiving and gratitude.
Open our hearts to the desires of the Spirit.
Lord, hear our prayer.

We live by and are guided by the Spirit,
the Spirit that has given us many gifts.
Help us, Lord, to see how we can use those gifts to help others
and to fulfill your plan here on earth.
As we lift up our hearts to the desires of that Spirit, we use the words
you taught us, so many years ago,
“Our Father…”

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

Respect, Peace, Encouragement, Thankfulness and Prayer (1 Thessalonians 5: 12-24 )

Respect, peace, encouragement, thankfulness, and prayer.

These are words that may not occur often in our daily lives.
Our political climate highlights mistrust with our elected officials.
Financial institutions have failed us.
Corporations seek profit over environmental safety and
short-term profit over job security for employees.
Even our religious institutions have caused pain rather than
building peace and unity.
Fear seems to be the strongest emotion in today’s world.

As we come together this morning, here in this sacred place,
remind us, Gracious God, that we are your people, your children.
Each of us has a role to play in this body, in your church.
Respect, peace, encouragement, thankfulness, and prayer.
May these be the words that we think of when we think of our church,
when we look around at the faces of those around us.
Respect, peace, encouragement, thankfulness, and prayer.
May these words describe how we treat others in our daily lives.
Respect, peace, encouragement, thankfulness, and prayer.
May these be the words that we inspire in those we encounter.

Be with us, all loving and powerful God.
Remind us to always seek to do good for others,
help us to resist returning evil for evil.
Respect, peace, encouragement, thankfulness, and prayer.
May these words be our daily mantra,
here within our church and outside in our community.
We have come together, as your followers, as your believers.
We trust in your teachings and we lift up our worries,
our fears and our concerns to you, Gracious God.
We ask that you be with ___ and to share your strength and
healing grace with them.
Respect, peace, encouragement, thankfulness, and prayer.
Open our hearts and minds so that these words become our habits of behavior.
Respect, peace, encouragement, thankfulness, and prayer.
Your son modeled these behaviors for us and now we use the words
he taught us, lifting our voices up in prayer to you,
“Our Father…”

Be With Us (Acts 15: 1-11 )

Be with us, Gracious God.

As we sit here in this sacred place,
with others who believe as we do,
be with us.
As we wake in the morning,
be with us, Gracious God.
Be the voice in the quiet dawn that
reminds us to celebrate the new day
we have been given
Remind us to use our time here
to make the world a better place.

As we meet others in our day to day,
be with us, listening to our conversations,
watching our interactions.
Be with us, Gracious God.
Be the voice in our ear that
reminds us not to judge, but to encourage.
Be the tiny speck in our eye that reminds us
that our control and power are limited and the
smallest, most accidental encounter in life
can send us to our knees in pain and tears.
Be the friend, or the stranger, who helps us to our feet,
and reminds us of the power of the helping hand.
Be the desire in our heart that reminds us
to share your love with others.
Be with us, Gracious God,
remind us that we are all your children,
filled with your grace.

As we walk with you beside us throughout our day,
remind us of what is important in life.
Be with us always, Gracious God.
Remind us to be at one with one another.
Remind us that none of us embody your teachings fully,
no one of us is worthy of your love
and yet, we are your children, filled with your grace.
Be with us, Gracious God.
When as children, we begin to squabble,
remind us again of what is most important.
We ask that you especially be with ___.

As we prepare for the end of the day and the sleep to come,
remind us to think over our day.
Help us to see clearly where and when you were with us.
Be with us, Gracious God.

In this sacred place, we have come together to feel your grace
and to learn of your teachings.
Be with us, Gracious God.

And now, we lift up our voices, using the words your Son taught us,
“Our Father….”

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 Humility (Luke 14:1, 7-14)

Gracious God, we know that when we invite someone
to have a meal with us, that it is a special event.
We don’t have dinner with just anyone.
We give you thanks for always inviting us to your table,
for always making us welcome and
for providing a generous feast.
Sharing food with each other at a common table
sparks conversation and allows us to share ourselves with others
on an equal setting.
Help us to find opportunities to be with one another
and to share our lives with others.

As humans, we compare ourselves to others
and strive to excel, to be seated at the best seat at the table.
Remind us, Creator God, that you have made us in your Image
and that each of us is the child of God, deeply loved and uniquely cherished.
As your children, we sit around the family dinner table
and share the story of our day as equals.
May we be able to tell the story of how we shared the good news of your teachings,
the story of how our voices were raised to speak for those without a voice,
the story of how we stood up for those without power and
the story of how our love changed someone else’s day for the better.

As we join together at your table, we form your community,
the body of Christ.
We come together every week in this sacred place,
to be one with each other, to put others first before ourselves.
We ask that you be with those among us who need your grace and your healing strength.
We name ___.
We support one another and share grace at your table of abundant plenty
regardless of where we sit at the table.
Bring us together in community and in harmony.

We come together to the table set by your Son,
following the teachings of your Son, and
using the words your Son taught us,
“Our Father….”

Our Sense of Being Called (Luke 14:25-33)

The call to follow you, God, is not always easy.
We can feel embarrassed to share our faith openly
with those we don’t know well.
We can feel guilty when we realize we don’t follow
your teachings as closely as we should.
We can feel the pain in our world and
question how a loving God could allow the innocent to suffer.
We can feel the demands of the world
taking our attention away from what is important.
Be with us, Gracious God, and continue to call our name.

Call us to follow you.
Call us to be your disciples.
Help us to prioritize where we spend our time and our attention.
We can feel conflict between the material world and
the spiritual world shown to us by your Son.
Remind us of what is truly important in this world .
As we think about the end of our lives,
what will we have achieved here in this world?
What will have been the flavor of our life?
Will we have followed you by speaking up for those without a voice?
Will we have followed you by feeding the hungry?
Will we have followed you by raising up
those among us who have stumbled?
Will we have followed you by seeking to understand those with whom we disagree?
Will we have followed you by sharing our gifts freely with others?
Will we have tasted the fullness of your grace or
the bland and unfulfilling taste of the material world?

The call to follow you, God, is not always easy.
But we are your followers and we have heard your call.
We answer your call today and always,
knowing that you, in turn, are always with us.
Your love and grace seasons our lives and provides us strength.
We ask that you be with ___.
And using the words your Son taught us, we lift our voices to you,
“Our Father…”

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…”

Sense of Perseverance (Hebrews 11:29-12:2 )

Gracious and all loving God,
throughout the ages, your people have lifted up
their voices to you, asking why or pleading for a miracle.
We have cried out to you ourselves.
Each of us has experienced fear, pain and loss in our lives.
Sometimes our crises resolve themselves the way we want.
But sometimes, our worst fears come true.

Mother God, in our sorrow and grief,
you comfort us, mourning with us.
You sit with us in silence when there are no words of comfort.
You envelop us, surrounding us with your love and light.
You give us the strength to pick ourselves up and
to continue on with our lives, to choose another path,
and to find your presence again in our daily lives.

Father God, you gave us your Son,
Jesus, who showed us the way and who
shared your teachings with us.
He ran the race that was placed before him.
Give us the strength to follow his lead,
to follow your teachings.
Give us the courage to follow in his path,
to speak up for the people who don’t have a voice,
to give strength to the people who are powerless,
and to remain faithful when the future seems hopeless.
As we follow in his footsteps, we know that you are with us.
Be with those among us who need your healing grace,
we name ___.

By faith, we are your followers.
By faith, we are known.
By faith, we know that you are with us always,
in our celebrations,
and in our depths of grief.
By faith, we live our lives.
We are your children,
and it is in faith, that we can get through our darkest times.
It is in faith that we know it is up to us, to make this world your world.
In our faith, we know that you are with us always.

And as faithful people, we use the words your Son taught us,
“Our Father…”

Equip Us With Your Spirit (Acts 2:1-8, 12-21)

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 yours 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 yours, 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…”