First Sunday of Advent Isaiah 2:1-5 Psalm 122 November 28, 2004 Romans 13:11-14 Matthew 24:36-44
Eternal God, as we begin another advent season, help us to be faithful to the ancient vision. May we find in our hearts that ancient vision of the mountain of the Lord whereby we may be taught your ways and walk in your paths.
Make us more teachable.
Make us more inwardly changeable.
Make us hunger for the Word which is eternal.
Make us renewed people who are able to give up the ways of war, force, and violence as ways to solve conflicts.
Make us as nations willing to give up the sword for plowshares, spears for pruning hooks, armored vehicles for tractors and vehicles of transportation, guns for computers, ammunition for food.
Make this advent season a season of quiet retooling of our own souls. Shake up our values. Cause us to commit our energies to making this world a place where there is greater justice for all peoples and where all your people have a place to live in safety and have adequate food and nutrition. Cause us to create a world where there is less cause for resentment, where there is less cause for terrorists to seek their own kind of redress for the world’s wrongs, and where there is a diminished chasm between the world of those who have and those who have not.
As we prepare the way of the Lord we pray that you will keep in your gentle care all those in our world who suffer. Be with the lonely, those who go to bed hungry, the refugees and the displaced. May they all be touched by your compassionate love. Amen
Second Sunday of Advent Isaiah 11:1-10 Psalm 22
December 5, 2004 Romans 13:11-14 Matt. 24:36-44
Eternal God, we come to you during this season of hope. May the power of Jesus be born in us again.
Rekindle that power in those who have grown weary.
Restore hope to those whose present or past lives have become a burden.
Renew within us the vision and excitement of lives which are motivated, which have a sense of mission, and which are directed toward a lofty purpose.
If any is imprisoned in a past which is crippling or which tenaciously diminishes new possibilities for today, provide a way of reframing that past so that it no longer imprisons, so that it can be transcended, so that it can be seen as an asset rich with the ability to understand the human experience and relate to the sufferings of others.
You come, gentle Jesus, to a world of broken people. Come again to us and transform us as you did those who experienced your touch and your grace. May some new truth excite us, may the possibility of some new loving behaviour look achievable, and may some new vision claim us.
We pray for those who need your special touch: those who are ill; those for whom the season causes sadness or depression; those who are lonely; those who are on our prayer list; those whose lives are forever compromised by frailty of the body and who will never be fully active again. We pray also for our world: confused, in constant strife, filled with passions and rage and uncertainty. Hold this world in your compassionate embrace. Enable us as a global people to care for one another and to see those who are different from us less as threats and enemies and more as your loving children. May a new world be born. Amen
Third Sunday of Advent Isaiah 35:1-10 Psalm 146:5-10 or Luke 1:47-55
December 12, 2004 James 5:7-10 John 1:6-8, 19-28
Our gracious, eternal God, energize our weary spirits this day. Fill us with the ancient vision of Isaiah so that the wilderness of our lives and the desert places of our spirits and the badlands of our interior space might celebrate and blossom. May we behold your awesome love for all peoples.
We confess that we often are a weak-kneed and fearful people. We are fearful and anxious of heart.
We are often anxious about our tomorrows.
We are anxious about our health.
We are anxious and fearful of our own interior shadow and darkness, fearful to embrace it and simply to say: “you too are a part of my being.”
We are anxious and fearful about our body politic where statesmanship often yields to unbridled power and self-interest.
We are anxious about our world where there seems always to be so much hostility.
We find comfort that Isaiah’s world, simple and much less sophisticated than ours, also had fearful people. Imprint his message in our hearts and souls this day. Help us to be strong and not to fear. May we find courage enough for each difficult experience. May we find the resolve to choose to receive grace enough just for today and to trust you for tomorrow.
In this advent preparation time help us to prepare for new comings of your holy one. May we be open to and grasped by a new truth so that we may fulfill our complete destiny as a part of your redeemed people. May we reach out to those in need and resolve to contribute to making this a better world where all obtain greater joy and gladness. May all peoples be captured by a new vision of love and peace. Amen.
Fourth Sunday of Advent Isaiah 7:10-16 Psalm 80:1-7, 17-19
December 19, 2004 Romans 1:1-7 Matthew 1:18-25
God, we come to you toward the end of this season of hope. We thank you for our annual journey to Bethlehem. Help us to learn anew Bethlehem’s lessons. Help us to know this long ago and eagerly hoped for child called Emmanuel. You came, Lord Jesus, to a world of broken people. Come again to us. Enable us to see you in the broken whom we meet and to minister to them in your name. Lead us again to receive you who were known as Emmanuel, God with us. May we know that you are indeed with us.
May we know you are with us in our moments of boredom and disinterest.
May we know you are with us in our homes and families.
May we know you are with us in our sufferings.
May we know you are with us in our triumphs but also our defeats.
May we know that you are in the events of life and the God of history.
O COME, O COME, EMMANUEL!
Come and make yourself known to the little people of the world.
Come and make yourself known to the forgotten and the powerless.
Come and make yourself known to the powerful who are confident in their own powers and who often do not see their need of you.
Come and make yourself known to the leaders of this world and give them a vision of a world at peace.
Come and make yourself known in all of the darkest places of human life.
O COME, O COME, EMMANUEL! Amen
Christmas Eve & Day Isaiah 9:2-7 Psalm 96
December 24/25, 2004 Titus 2:11-14 Luke 2:1-14; (15-20)
Eternal God, we bow in awe this holy night. On our journey through advent, like so many previous advent seasons, we still come to this Christmas eve and bow in wonder, awe, and adoration. We bow before your mystery. The wonder and mystery of your workings in Jesus continue to astound and surprise us. We are surprised by his coming into our world in such an unexpected place. We are surprised by his coming to an unexpecting mother. We are surprised by his coming in such an unheralded way and so unnoticed by most of the nations of the earth.
Like the ancients we thank you that Jesus is an ever-present voice crying out to us:
reminding us that the dry places of life hold within them a sense of promise;
reminding us that despair need only be momentary and not a permanent place of dwelling for our souls;
reminding us that the worst of times have always the potential to draw from within us the best of our resources and abilities;
reminding us that the darkness can never overcome the light and that hope can never be extinguished from the human breast.
BE PRESENT WITH US IN OUR JOURNEY, GENTLE JESUS.
Be also with those whose hope is diminished this Christmas time. Be with the homeless, the weary, the over-worked, the unemployed, the hungry, the refugees, all suffering children everywhere, the grieving. Be with those who live in lands where there is war and strife and who suffer innocently. Be with our soldiers far from home. Bring us peace and cradle this world of yours in your special love. Amen
First Sunday after Christmas Isaiah 63:7-9 Psalm 148
January 2, 2005 Hebrews 2:10-18 Matthew 2:13-23
Eternal God, we thank you that in the fullness of time you came among us in Jesus and visited us with your grace. We thank you that you forever hold us in your loving embrace. Yet we are reminded by the flight of Mary and Joseph to Egypt that there is a continuing battle between principalities and powers and that when the powerful are threatened horrific evil can result and innocent people suffer. We pray for those who suffer innocently.
As we look at a new year we are also aware of the fragility of life. Make us also aware of the prayer of the Psalmist who said: “Teach us to number our days that we may gain a heart of wisdom.” Our reflections on the mystery of time always create anxiety within us, for we know that our days are numbered and there will be a time when we are no more. In such anxious moments help us to place our trust in you, the eternal rock of ages.
Be with those for whom time has become a burden and for whom time seems to stand still.
Be with those whose strength is diminishing.
Be with those who can no longer engage the world beyond their own walls and are confined to their homes or a living center.
Be with those who suffer from illnesses which slowly destroy the mind and quietly but persistently steal a person from his or her family.
Be with those who grieve and feel as if they have been cheated of more good time with their loved one and who feel that their best life is past.
Be present with them all and grant them your gracious comfort.
Be also in all of the troubled spots of earth and lead all nations to work for peace. Help us all to temper our hatreds and learn your ways of love. Amen
Second Sunday after Christmas Jeremiah 31:7-14 or Sirach 24:1-12
January 2, 2005 Psalm 147:12-20 or Wisdom 10:15-21
Ephesians 1:3-14 John 1:(1-9), 10-18
Eternal God, you in whom all beginnings are a mystery but in whom also was the “Word,” your creative passion to create and to communicate, we thank you for your Word made flesh. We thank you that in that Word there was life bringing light to all people. May your Word continue to penetrate our beings and our behaviours. We are grateful today.
We are grateful for the richness of the Biblical witness and its reminders of the potential we hold within us.
We are grateful for the reminders of the heavenly vision which leads us onward and causes us to grow and to reach for gains not yet realized.
We are grateful for the reminders that our lives are intended for rich community, fellowship, and responsible service.
We ask for your continued care for a greater mastery of life. Help us to lean upon you and find strength for our journey.
When we are timid give us courage.
When we are anxious give us peace.
When we falter gently nudge us to continue.
When we are offended enable us to forgive.
When we are discouraged uplift our spirits.
As we lean into this new year lead us to a deeper understanding of your Word made flesh. Give us his compassion for the disadvantaged, the disenfranchised, the forgotten, the embittered. May we look for the Christ in these neighbours whom we usually forget. May we find new ways to love our sisters and brothers. Amen
Baptism of the Lord Isaiah 42:1-9 Psalm 29
January9, 2005 Acts 10:34-43 Matthew 3:13-17
Our gracious God, we thank you this day for the opportunity to worship and open our souls to you. As Jesus was baptized we too need the newness of life and the rebirth which it symbolizes. For we have many needs. And we have many behaviours which look considerably less than baptized. We have many things to confess.
We nurture slights and become preoccupied with how ill-willed some people are.
We hold onto old wrongs which feel like weights on our spirits.
We worry about tomorrow as if you will not go before us.
We draw erroneous conclusions from others’ behaviour or words which are based only on our faulty perceptions.
We insist on our own way.
O God, be with us on our journey because our souls need regular re-working. Help us to know that it truly is we who stand in the need of prayer.
Help us to find healing for our own souls in order that we may put aside the baggage of the past which weighs so heavily upon us. Help us to try new and more generous behaviours which are filled with love and good will. Help us to withhold our judgments until we truly understand.
Instead of asking for life to be all smooth sailing give us the courage to ask for challenges. Instead of cowering before difficulty give us the strength to stretch for greater mastery of greater challenges.
Again we ask your gracious mercy upon those whose lives are disrupted by illness, uncertainty, and death. And swing low over all those whose souls are so encapsulated in hatred that they can only wish to kill and maim and hurt their fellow human beings. Amen
Second Sunday after the Epiphany Isaiah 49:1-7 Psalm 40:1-11
January 16, 2005 I Corinthians 1:1-9 John 1:29-42
Eternal God, whose majesty is beyond our comprehension; whose love is so great, so broad, so deep and so high, that we cannot imagine it; cast your loving spell over the earth these days.
Melt the hatreds of humankind which we think we cannot live without and which we so carefully nurture. Dispel the notions within any of your children that cause them to feel that they have been permanently wronged. And dispel the illusion that by hurting another anything can be made right. Jesus taught us a better way, a way of hungering and thirsting after righteousness, which your children have struggled with for centuries. Right the wrongs in our thinking and in our behaviours. Instead of pointing fingers of blame at others may all the earth be softened by your love so that we may say and claim with the old spiritual, that is we “O Lord, standing in the need of prayer.”
Hover over those places of special need where there is human suffering, conflict, and war. Penetrate those dark places with your light that the world may achieve a new order and harmony.
Help us to hear again the simple invitation Jesus gave to his disciples when they wondered what he was all about. May we hear again the words of the excited disciple: “Come and see.”
Help us to come and see this one whom the prophet John called “the lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.”
Help us to come and see and explore the calling of our spirits to make sense out of life and to make life commitments.
Help us to come and see the tasks to which Jesus calls us in our time.
Help us to come and see and be transformed as was Peter.
O God, help us to “come and see” and trust. Amen
Third Sunday after the Epiphany Isaiah 9:1-4 Psalm 24:1, 4-9
January 23, 2005 I Corinthians 1:10-18 Matthew 4:12-23
Eternal God, strong to save, we come to you with divided hearts. e would wish to escape the constant din of war and hatred and grief which infects the earth but we cannot for there is nowhere to hide. We would wish to escape the darker sides of our own nature which entice us to wish and long for more than justice and want revenge for evil people. This day may we affirm with Paul our powerlessness on the one hand. But let us not linger there.
Help us to affirm with him: “Thanks be to God through our Lord Jesus Christ!”
Help us in this process not to become like our enemies.
Help us in this time to turn more deeply to you, to affirm again that we will be your followers, to respond as did your disciples to your bidding: “Follow me.”
Calm the angry waves of our souls with your words: “Peace, be still.”
Teach us anew that this, and every day, is a day which you have made, and we will choose to rejoice and be glad in it.
Deepen our realization that you are the rock of ages, and we that we cling to you for strength and transformation.
We ask your gentle care in those war torn areas of our world. We pray for the uprooted, the refugees, the hungry, the children and all those innocents who find themselves in the wrong place at this very wrong time. Be with our armed forces as they daily are in danger. Be with our world leaders and cause them to be statesmen. Bend low your presence to all of the suffering and provide them with courage and a renewed hope for a better life. May we see a new world born. Amen
Fourth Sunday after the Epiphany Micah 6:1-8 Psalm 15
January 30, 2005 I Cor. 1:18-31 Matthew 5:1-12
Our gracious, eternal God, we cannot hear the words of Jesus without a profound sense of humility.
We confess that our pride gets in the way of being poor in spirit.
We confess that our desire for happiness is frustrated when we must grieve and we would rather have instant comfort.
We confess that we do not trust that enough will come to us if we are meek so we expend too much aggressive energy into making sure that enough gets to our table.
We confess that our hungers and thirsts are so great they keep us always striving for more.
We confess that when it comes to mercy we are not always filled with grace. We want to get even when wronged.
We confess that we are far from pure of heart and we play inwardly deceptive games to deny the depth and breadth of our own shadow and sinful side because of the terror of being found out for, or admitting, what we are.
We confess that we are often not willing to make peace and we have no interest in being persecuted.
Help us this day to hear the gospel plainly. Help us to find some small ways in which we can make some gains and progress in our Christian endeavor. Accepted by your gracious love, help us to know that we are truly yours in spite of our shortcomings. And with that knowledge may we move forward boldly as your people.
We pray not only for ourselves but for all those whose situations are not as favorable as ours. Be with those who suffer, those whose lives are diminished by disease, those whose minds are anxious because of financial insecurity and inadequate means to provide for their needs, and those who are in harms way. Amen
Transfiguration Sunday Exodus 24:12-18 Psalm 2 or 89
February 6, 2005 2 Peter 1:16-21 Matthew 17:1-9
Most gracious, eternal God, we come to you on this winter day aware that so much of our lives are flat, as if we live on a dreary plain. The daylight is diminished with shorter days of sunshine and we are aware of a restlessness within.
We pray that you might make us aware of your powerful and challenging presence. Lead us to your spiritual mountain as you led both Moses and Jesus.
Lead us to your mountain and teach us to wait.
Lead us to your mountain, and on our journey when the destination is not clear teach us also to walk in faith and trust.
Lead us to your mountain even if it means going through haze, clouds and darkness to experience your power.
Lead us to your mountain to find new truth and the truth of your law which we would have you burn into our souls.
Lead us to your mountain where we might have a vision of peace among all of your warlike children.
Lead us to your mountain where we might have a vision of a world remade:
where all your children know justice;
where all your children have the opportunity to have adequate food and nourishment;
where all your children have the gift of literacy and reading great books;
where all your children have the joy of meaningful work.
We pray for all those who have special needs: those at war away from family and friends; those who are ill; those facing life-threatening or chronic illness; those unemployed; those living in the shadows of depression. Grant them all your grace and strength and the courage to move forward to each new day. Amen
First Sunday in Lent Genesis 2:15-17; 3:1-7 Psalm 32
February 13, 2005 Romans 5:12-19 Matthew 4:1-11
O holy One, we bow this day aware of the great propensity for evil which exists among all humankind. We wish for an explanation of it but can only stand as did Job after he had asked all of his questions, and expended all of his fury, and realize we do not understand life’s mysteries. Yet like the ancients who saw evil and who explained it in the simple story in the garden, who saw evil resulting from the sin of Adam and Eve, we know that we all have our gardens of evil. We all have known wrong-doing, guilt, and shame. We all are guilty. And we all share responsibility for the evil which is always so rampant among us. We cope so poorly with it.
We would like to distance ourselves from it because it makes us so uncomfortable.
We would like to use the mechanism of blame and project the evil bubbling within us onto others where it is more comfortable.
We would like to remove the speck from our neighbour’s eye and leave for another time the beam which is in our own eye.
We would like to think that the troubles of the world reside in the waywardness of other nations of the world and not our own.
We would like to absolve ourselves of responsibility because that would mean confronting the need for repentance.
Deliver us, gracious God, from the powers of darkness. Help us to find the honesty and courage which would enable us to look at our interior selves and own the truth. May we not fear the shadow within but embrace its reality. And in so doing may we discover the vastness of your redeeming love which is able to remove our transgressions, “as far as the east is from the west.” May we become more gracious to our neighbours and more loving. We pray in your name. Amen
Second Sunday in Lent Genesis 12:1-4a Psalm 121
February 20, 2005 Romans 4:1-5,13-17 John 3:1-17 or Matt. 17:1-9
Our gracious, eternal God, we bow with thankful hearts. When we reflect upon life we can find a litany of things for which we are grateful.
We are grateful for the splendour of stunningly beautiful sunsets.
We are grateful for the quiet of winter.
We are grateful for the beautiful clouds, for rainfall, for snow, for Lent and for the hope of seeing flowers and crops and the green world which we are privileged to behold in spring and summer.
We are grateful for the mountains to which when we look we cannot but help knowing from whence our help comes.
When we reflect upon our faith we again find reason for gratitude. We thank you for the upward vision to which you call us in Jesus Christ. We thank you for the self-giving love to which his life was committed and the ideal of loving others to which we have been called. Be also our redeemer when we fall short of that ideal.
When we feel enmity or hatred toward others remind us of our need to love and temper our spirits.
When we act selfishly remind us our need to consider others.
When we are seeking to impose our will upon others remind us to listen to and hear the needs of those around us.
And when we are inclined to keep the circle of those whom we love small remind us that love demands a wider justice for all of your children.
Cause love to abound among us and cause it to be contagious for our world. Cause us to serve you with joy and eager enthusiasm. Amen
Third Sunday in Lent Exodus 17:1-7 Psalm 95
February 27, 2005 Romans 5:1-11 John 4:5-42
O holy One, always calling your people on a journey, we bow this day so aware of our similarity to the peoples of the past. The Israelites journeyed through the wilderness. Life for us often seems like a wilderness. They grumbled and complained. We too grumble and complain. We too live in those places called Massah and Meribah and wonder as did they: “Is the Lord among us or not?” We often feel unsure of our answer. We sometimes wonder where on earth we are going; why on earth we do what we do. We are unclear if you are leading us or perhaps we are just going along anyway. The temptation to return to the familiarity and comfort of an Egypt past is strong.
O holy One, we need your guidance and help.
When the way seems dark and unclear give us enough light to find courage to take another step.
When we are frightened and fearful give us enough courage not to falter.
When we seem to be wandering give us enough assurance and trust to believe that in some way you are still leading us.
When life is overwhelming give us enough strength to continue our journey.
When our will and determination is low give us enough perseverance to continue.
O God, we wish to be faithful to the heavenly vision. We wish to reach out and embrace those with human needs and alleviate human suffering. Give us enough victories to keep us from despair and cynicism. Give us enough satisfaction and fulfillment to make it worth the effort. And even when it seems as if we are stepping forward into the darkness give us enough faith to know that you will always meet us there. Amen
Fourth Sunday in Lent I Samuel 16:1-13 Psalm 23
March 6, 2005 Ephesians 5:8-14 John 9:1-41
Eternal God, we come before you with a mixture of feelings and a need of confession.
We hear of the sufferings of Jesus yet resist hardship for ourselves.
We set high expectations for others but resist them for ourselves.
We clamour for attention to our needs but are often unfeeling toward the needs of others in our world.
We are lenient with our own faults but severe with the faults of others.
We are weak when things go poorly and self-satisfied when they go well.
We are quick to speak and slow to listen.
We often judge on outward appearances before discovering the character within others.
We ask that you be patient with us and continue assisting us in crafting our souls and values. Forgive us our foolish and selfish ways. Be patient when we slip and falter. Lead us onward in moments of despair and disequilibrium. Above all make us ever aware that you extend your great graciousness and love to us. Make us also aware that we cannot pray and acknowledge your presence without also bringing with us all of your other children of this world. They stand with us this day. Help us embrace them in our concern: our sisters and brothers in Christ; the wayward and the hateful; the broken and the lost; the warring and destructive, even our enemies; the suffering and the defeated.
Help us to make room in our hearts for all your children, however unattractive they may be to us. Help us to be loving people and make room in our hearts for all. And cause us to reach out and to find that special task to which you would call each of us. Amen
Fifth Sunday in Lent Ezekiel 37:1-14 Psalm 130
March 13, 2005 Romans 8:6-11 John 11:1-45
Our gracious and eternal God, we thank you for the splendour of the earth about us and for your beautiful creation.
We thank you for the brilliant sun and clear blue skies.
We thank you for the lake country and hills through which we walk and drive and which constantly impress us with your splendour.
We thank you for the return of springtime, color and hope.
Gracious God, compassionate and caring, we thank you that our sufferings are not undergone apart from your watchful eye and care. We thank you that you know when we hurt. We thank you that Jesus walked with those who went through difficult valleys. We thank you that he cared for those who grieved and was touched by their sorrow when he awakened Lazarus.
We need your assistance with us on our life journeys. Be with each of us when we walk through the darkness. Be with each of us as we seek to keep our lives in perspective. Be with us; teach us the art of humility.
Help us always to see you as the source of all our blessings and to resist the pride of thinking our successes are only due to our own ingenuity.
Help us to affirm our gifts but save us from thinking, or conveying to others, that our gifts are a cut above others.
Help us, most of all, to be protected from our vain selves.
Help us always to elevate others and never to put them down.
And help us to see ourselves as, and always attempt to be, your faithful servants.
. Be with the suffering, the discouraged, the lonely, the depressed, the grieving. Amen
Liturgy of the Palms Matthew 21:1-11
March 20, 2005 Psalm 118:1-2, 19-29
O eternal God, like those early folk who lined the road into Jerusalem as Jesus passed by we too are guilty of holding the wrong hopes and expectations from him.
They wanted a warrior. We too idolize and place our trust in warriors and superior and sophisticated weaponry.
They wanted a political solution where Jesus would take power. We too want to trust more in might and in power.
They wanted revenge. We too often inwardly want and crave for revenge.
They identified their oppressors as evil. We too are inclined toward the simplistic and we want to divide up the world into good and evil people.
Gentle Jesus, parade yourself again on this Palm Sunday. And do not pass by but stay and invade the inward citadels of our souls with your ways.
Correct us where we go astray.
Assist us with the almost impossible human task of loving the unlovable which includes our enemies.
Help us to learn how to transcend the differences we have and to learn the art of reconciliation and forgiveness.
Bring peace to our souls, O Prince of Peace!
Make us a part of a great Christian force which brings healing of the human spirit and joy and laughter to our broken world. Help us not to use our faith to build walls, to condemn anyone in your human family, to support our wars or our politics, or to set us apart from others. Instead may we be made more aware of our identification and bond with all of your children.
For those who suffer and mourn we ask your care. For our divided world we ask for a vision among its leaders to work for peace and reconciliation. Amen
Easter Day Acts 10:34-43 or Jeremiah 31:1-6 Psalm 118:1-2, 14-24
March 27, 2005 Colossians 3:1-4 or Acts 10:34-43 John 20:1-18 or Matthew 28:1-10
Eternal God, we bow before you in awe this Easter day. We bow because of a mystery beyond our comprehension. Twenty centuries later we are as much novices about the resurrection as were those early witnesses. We are as much in need of Jesus’ words, “Peace be still” as were his disciples. We thank you that he left word that he would go before them to Galilee and he goes before us.
He goes before us to the places where we have fears and
He goes before us to the places where we feel vulnerable and threatened.
He goes before us to the places to which we are called but which we feel afraid to venture.
He goes before us to the places where we humanly posture and compete for positions of honor and privilege.
We thank you that you know our human failings and still call us, nurture us, and lead us. Remake us and make us victorious people. Make us receptive to growth and mastery of life and assist us to overcome the world. Make us resurrection people who are able to dream bigger dreams and able to make this a better world.
Be with those who struggle with illness, disability, grief and transitions not of their own making. Grant comfort, courage, and strength to them. Be also with those who suffer from war, ancient hatreds, terror, and all other forms of inhumanity to others. We find it hard to pray for the perpetrators of violence because it stirs up so much anger, frustration, and hatred within us. But pray for them we must. So be with our enemies and all who are hard of heart. Bring your world to a resurrection of peace. Give us courage to trust in love rather than force, persuasion rather than coercion. Amen
Second Sunday of Easter Acts 2:14a, 22-32 Psalm 16
April 3, 2005 I Peter 1:3-9 John 20:19-31
Eternal God, we come before you a bit shaky some days. The world is so much with us that we lose our focus and our center. We become obsessed with cares and concerns. We witness continued rancorous behaviour among our politicians. Our attentions become scattered, our perspective skewed, and our vision diminished. Come to us and heal us.
Heal us, so that where we have lost our way or where we have compromised our integrity you might restore us to better behaviour.
Heal us, so that when we lose ourselves in rage over that which cannot be controlled we learn to let go and come to a quiet acceptance.
Heal us, so that when we lose sight of whose we are we may know once again that we are embraced by you in Jesus the Christ.
Heal us, so that when we feel alienated from others we may reach out to embrace, and be embraced by, your Christian community and know we have a spiritual home with our fellow seekers.
Heal us, so that when we fail to fulfill the mission to which you have called us we may be refocused on those values and treasures which are eternal.
In times of joy may we rejoice. In times of sorrow and pain for others may we support and reach out to them and offer support. In times of conflict may we be understanding. We pray that you will guide us as we make our claims on today and tomorrow. May we have long arms with a long reach to include the least of your children throughout the earth. Amen
Third Sunday of Easter Acts 2:14a, 36-41 Psalm 116:1-4, 12-19
April 10, 2005 I Peter 1:17-23 Luke 24:13-35
Our gracious, eternal God, like these two on the Emaus Road we frequently walk along our roads of life in despair and without hope.
Like them we walk in sadness.
Like them we are impatient with those who do not understand life and events as we do.
Like them we reel and allow ourselves to be set back by disappointments.
Like them we fail to see the Jesus who would walk along with us.
Like them we too readily see evil triumph over good and think that is the last word.
And like them we too quickly and too easily succumb to hopelessness.
Forgive us our foolishness and resurrect our spirits so that we may we see you in the breaking of bread, so that we may we see you in our neighbours, and so that we may we see you in the events of history and the events of each day.
Remove our blindness so that our eyes may be opened and our spirits renewed and our minds astounded. Send us scurrying to the Christian community to share our testimony, to tell of your power, to be renewed by the witness and confirmation of the stories of others. Then fill us all, O Jesus, with your words: “Peace be still,” and send us forth confidently to serve this world.
We pray also for our world. Where there is conflict bring peace. Where there is uncertainty and anxiousness bring inner quiet. Where there is hatred bring understanding and love. Where there is the terror of war hover over your earth and bring a change to people’s hearts. Where there is selfishness bring generosity and a change of heart. Where there is peril bring comfort and courage. Amen
Fourth Sunday of Easter Acts 2:42-47 Psalm 23
April 17, 2005 I Peter 2:19-25 John 10:1-10
O holy One, we come thankful for a new day. We thank you for the coming of spring-like weather and the hope of having winter behind us. We thank you for the gentle skies and warmer temperatures which also moderate our spirits.
We also thank you for those venturous folk who so long ago encountered Jesus and risked their all.
We thank you that they did not devalue their potential in spite of their fears.
We thank you that they saw hope in community and were willing to sacrifice for one another.
We thank you that they had the courage to put themselves to your service.
We thank you that they broke bread with glad and generous hearts.
And we thank you that they trusted you to increase their numbers.
We pray that we might have their kind of courage and trust. We pray that we might be willing to sacrifice for the needs of others. Help us to learn the lessons they would still teach us as their engagement with their world reverberates through the centuries and still is challenging today. Instil within us the same restless stirrings which will cause us anew to consider our purpose and vision. And cause us to have their contagious excitement about our faith.
Be with all this day who have special needs. For those living with the emptiness of grief we ask a sense of your companionship. May they know the tenderness of Jesus as he wept over a friend who died. Be with our friends who are away or travelling. Be with those facing changes in their lives and all who need strength for tomorrow. Amen
Fifth Sunday of Easter Acts 7:55-60 Psalm 31:1-5, 15-16
April 24, 2005 I Peter 2:2-10 John 14:1-14
Our gracious, eternal God, we are blessed to live in a land of religious freedom. We have never had to experience our faith under the fire of persecution as did Stephen. We are grateful for that. But we also ask that you help us to be faithful in this generation. We ask your blessing upon the church in our time and in all places.
Give it conviction and a certainty of faith but save it from a crippling over-zealousness.
Give it zeal but save it from a rigidity which is exclusive and judgmental and which fails to respect those whose faith is different but equally followed.
Give it truth but save it from the rigidity of an orthodoxy which enslaves and has not the grace to be inclusive.
Give it civic responsibility but save it from imposing its agenda upon others.
Give it a commitment to values but save it from imposing narrow values upon others.
Above all give us love and the grace to be open to all peoples, to have the receptive grace of Jesus, to reach out to the lost and the suffering, to know the grace of a forgiving heart, and to be your servant to all forms of human brokenness. Make of us, and make of the church everywhere, communities which are noted for care, committed in faith, and contagious in enthusiasm.
In our world where we see religion in which zeal and anger have overcome grace and compassion we ask your healing. Be with the churches and the nations, O God. Teach us that there are no righteous wars, only groups or nations which have gone astray. Teach us to learn to love and to forgive and to love our enemies. And teach the nations to seek justice and equity. Amen
Sixth Sunday of Easter Acts 17:22-31 Psalm 68:8-20
May 1, 2005 I Peter 3:13-22 John 14:15-21
Our gracious, eternal God, as we reflect upon our modern life we almost feel as if we are in Athens and Paul is speaking to us again. We live in a world where there is considerable talk about spirituality. Yet we are confused about the meaning of our religious symbols. We are divided both between and among what ought to be the same Christian faith, to say nothing of other world religions. As we build cathedrals of belief that wall out others we refuse to listen to or to hear or to give credibility to the integrity within other belief systems. We need your saving help on our journey.
Save us from our narrowness.
Save us from the confusion of our minds.
Save us from a wandering tentativeness and lead us to a convinced and committed faith.
Save us from searching for unknown gods and lead us to know you whom Paul proclaimed that day in the Areopagus.
Above all save us from trying to define you who are the creator, who are from everlasting to everlasting, and to make you too small. May we see you in the majesty of your creation, in the beautiful surrounding lakes, in the act of a mother wood duck coaxing her brood out of their home and into the water, in all acts of human kindness, and in the majesty of your love and care.
We pray for those who continue in harms way: for those who are in our military and far from home, for those weekend warriors who have had their lives interrupted by a surprise recall to active duty, for those maimed in war, for those in daily danger. Especially be with those who are called to dangerous missions and who carry out what is always the brutality of war. Be with the innocent. Be with our enemies. Amen
Seventh Sunday of Easter
or Ascension Day Acts 1:6-14 Psalm 68:1-10, 32-35
May 8, 2005 I Peter 4:12-14, 5:6-11 John 17:1-11
Eternal God, we bow with gratitude on this Mother’s Day and Festival of the Christian Home. We give you our deepest thanks for so many blessings.
We thank you for the nurture which was ours in our homes and families.
We thank you for parents who helped shape within us a vision for life and a heavenly vision.
We thank you for families which, though sometimes struggling, continue to work faithfully to create a safe and loving environment for their children.
We thank you for children and grandchildren who continue to bring us joy, who teach us to see things in life we would otherwise hurriedly pass by, and who with their freshness and spontaneity remind us that life is an interesting and exciting enterprise.
Enable us to provide children and their families support, care, and direction. May we receive each one as one of your “little ones,” Lord Jesus, to whom you so gently bid a welcoming “come unto me.”
We pray also for families which are less traditional. Be with those who are single parents. Be with those of the same gender. Be with those who are multigenerational. Be with those who are working hard to believe in their children and to bring them to belief. Be with those who are trying to instil in their children a vision of a moral and Christian life. Wherever they are trying to give them a vision for a better world and a sense of responsibility in working for the larger kingdom we ask that you give blessing. We pray also for families less fortunate where a pattern of abuse has been the only coping path available for the frustrated. Bring to them healing, hope and a vision of a better life and world. Amen
Day of Pentecost Acts 2:1-21 or Numbers 11:24-30 Psalm 104:24-34, 35b
May 15, 2005 I Cor. 12:3b-13 John 20:19-23 or John 7:37-39
O gentle Spirit, on this Pentecost Sunday we ask that you woo us once again from the falseness of our human foolishness.
Woo us from our tendency to build walls between our sisters and brothers and bring us unity of heart and understanding like that first Pentecost day.
Woo us from the divisiveness and confusion of all that is symbolized by Babylon and lead us to receive and to understand others’ truths.
Woo us from ever thinking that war can ever be a real solution to the differences of the world.
Woo us to wish for, and to work for, peace and justice among all of your peoples.
Woo us as nations to correct the injustices which lead to such a clearly defined map in our world where poverty and terrorism live hand in hand.
We are grateful, O God, for those who have gone before us and carried the tradition of the Spirit forward: for those who have been able to dream distant dreams; for those whose visions can always see light however much darkness there seems to be; for those who teach us that life always leans forward and that to clutch too closely to the past is always a destructive posture.
On this great Pentecost day renew our spirits. If any be walking through dark valleys point them to the mountaintops. If any be facing difficulty grant them strength, certainty, and your gentle presence. If any be facing transitions lead them firmly forward.
Be with the physically needy. Comfort the grieving, especially in those moments of intense emptiness when life seems as if it will never have quality again. Bless our world and bring hope to those in danger. Amen
Trinity Sunday Genesis 1:1-2:4a Psalm 8
May 22, 2005 2 Corinthians 13:11-13 Matthew 28:16-20
O Eternal One, the biblical descriptions of your majestic creative work in calling this world into being create in us a sense of reverence, awe, and great mystery. The ancient people’s journey from understanding you as a tribal, territorial, limited deity to understanding you as the creative God of all the universe was punctuated with much suffering, struggle, questioning, anxiety, and then finally a larger vision. By the waters of Babylon the prophet challenged his people for their small and limited vision of God:
“Have you not known? Have you not heard?
The Lord is the everlasting God, the
creator of the ends of the earth.
He does not faint or grow weary;
his understanding is unsearchable.
He gives power to the faint,
and strengthens the powerless.” Is. 40:28
It is almost beyond our comprehension that you, the Creator of all, should also care for each of us in times when our power is faint. Yet we find comfort in those words of Isaiah “…that we shall run and not be weary, we shall walk but not faint.” Help us to trust and save us from those times when our concept of you is too small.
May we bow before the mystery of your creative power.
May we never fail to see the beauty of your creation because we pass through life hurriedly.
May we, having seen glimpses of the vastness of space which were denied to the ancient folk, never fail to have a sense of wonder and awe and appreciation for your creative handiwork.
May we always stop to consider the “lilies of the field” and the glory and beauty of creation.
May we also be good caretakers of the environment of nature which we have inherited. Amen
Proper 4(9) Genesis 6:9-22; 7:24; 8:14-19 Psalm 46 or Deut. 11:18-21, 26-28
May 29, 2005 Romans 1:16-17; 3:22b-28 Matthew 7:21-29
Our gracious, eternal God, we bow on a beautiful morning with adoration, wonder, and awe. We experience great wonder whenever we ponder life. We are amazed that somehow in the vastness of human history, somehow in the vastness of the universe, somehow in the vastness of the human genetic pool with its myriad possibilities, somehow you have seen fit to call each one of us in our uniqueness into being. You call us by name, you love us with an everlasting love, and you place us within this faithful community. We are reminded powerfully of the Psalmist’s confession that we are fearfully and wonderfully made. And we bow again in wonder over your creative love.
We need your help on our Christian journey. We do not wish to be people who call on you on Sunday and forget you on Monday. We need congruence in our Christian walk. While our Christian walk will never approximate our talk help us daily to make it more so. Help us to be doers of your will. Help us to build our lives on a solid rock and a firm foundation.
Teach us to respond to your love so that we may in turn love you with all our hearts, minds, souls, and strength.
Teach us to walk lovingly with our brothers and sisters.
Teach us always to remember that you love others even as you love us.
Teach us to learn behaviours which demonstrate love and honour for all. Teach us sensitivity to others needs and hurts.
Where our vision of ministry is too small stretch our souls. Make us effective instruments for outreach, for ministries of compassion, and for hospitality and embrace for those who are our guests. May we welcome all in the name of our welcoming Jesus. Amen
Proper 5 (10) Genesis 12:1-9 Psalm 33:1-12 or Hosea 5:15-6:6
June 5, 2005 Psalm 50:7-15 Romans 4:13-25
Matthew 9:9-13, 18-26
Our gracious, eternal God, we are reminded this day of so much that is ungracious in our collective religious unconscious. When Jesus called Matthew and ate with sinners he set off an emotional firestorm.
He provoked feelings of disgust.
He provoked feelings of anger.
He provoked feelings of distrust.
He provoked feelings of resentment.
He provoked feelings of betrayal of the favouritism which the folk around him thought was their due.
He provoked strong feelings of disappointment.
They were not prepared for, or willing to accept, or to receive, Jesus’ statement of grace that “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick.” Unfortunately we are not unlike those angry folk.
Like them we so easily get caught up in thinking how bad others are.
Like them we get entrapped by the trappings of our faith and lose its central truth of grace.
Like them we long for special privilege.
Like them we think we should be rewarded for our grand religious performances.
And like them we are reluctant to make room for the sinners and the lost and find it easier to push them away.
Save, us gracious God, from this destructive behaviour. Redeem us once again. Grow our souls large that we might make room for those who struggle, those who stray, and those who have lost their way. Help us to withhold our judgment which is often so harsh. And help to embrace each of your children you present to us. Amen
Proper 6 (11) Genesis 18:1-15, (21:1-7) Psalm 116:1-2, 12-19 or
June 12, 2005 Exodus 19:2-8a Psalm 100 Romans 5:1-8
Matthew 9:35-10:8, (9-23)
Our gracious, eternal God, we bow this day aware of how much we need your compassion.
We come before you sometimes with little expectation because of the “dry and weary land” nature of our lives at those moments.
We come before you sometimes as did the crowds, harassed, under stress, wondering how we will meet the demands about us.
We come before you sometimes with little confidence in our own adequacy to meet the expectations placed upon us.
We come before you sometimes feeling like helpless children.
We come before you sometimes as did that crowd feeling like sheep without a shepherd.
We come before you sometime in such personal confusion that we find the call to be your labourers to the world daunting and impossible.
We ask for your compassion anew. Brace up our faltering wills. Help us less to rely upon ourselves and more to rely upon and to place our trust in you and your strength. Give us courage in the face of a vision which seems impossible. Give us the fortitude to rise to the serious challenge of being your servant people. Give us authority to confront the demons of our age and to present the message of the holy one Jesus to the world. In the process we pray that you would help us rid from our souls all haughtiness, false pride, and all of our tendencies to draw circles which are too small and shut others out. Expand our ability to love others by your great love demonstrated in the cross of Jesus where you have met and embraced all the earth. Amen
Proper 7 (12) Genesis 21:8-21 Psalm 86:1-10 or Jeremiah 20:7-13
June 19, 2005 Romans 6:1b-11 Matthew 10:24-39
Eternal God, we thank you for each new day you grant to us. Help us always to remember that it is you who have bestowed life upon us and it is to you to whom we give appropriate thanks. Help us in those moments when we take life for granted or when we have a tendency to grumble and complain. Remind us then of whose we are. We ask not to be reminded harshly, but to be reminded to pause and thank you.
Remind us to thank you for all of your blessings and your mercies to us.
Remind us to thank you for our dear ones.
Remind us to thank you for the Christian community and our sisters and brothers in Christ.
Remind us to thank you for a glorious and spectacular creation here in our lake and hill country which daily cause us to pause, to behold, and to give praise.
Remind us to thank you for those who provide us encouragement and vision.
Be with us in our journey as we seek to give serious heed to the words and teachings of Jesus. When fear would paralyze us give us the ability somehow to trust you, to know that we are of more value than the sparrows which are also under your watchful eye. When loyalties would divide us give us the ability to be like Jesus, the teacher and master. Help us to be his followers. Give us the ability to put aside our selfish desires and to commit ourselves and lose ourselves in the centuries old cause of Jesus
O God, there are those who find it difficult to be thankful because they are overwhelmed by the pains and anguish of their journey. Be a strong presence for them. Hold them gently and tenderly in your love and give them strength when theirs seems to be exhausted. Be also in all those places of the earth where folk suffer and use the resources of the Christian community in binding up their wounds. Amen
Proper 8 (13) Genesis 22:1-14 Psalm 13 or Jeremiah 28:5-9
June 26, 2005 Romans 6:12-23 Matthew 10:40-42
O Eternal one, we thank you for the record of the biblical witness which documents your love affair with our humankind. We thank you for these words of Jesus which remind us of our need to be welcoming. We thank you that you continually stretch us to reach beyond ourselves.
Stretch us to widen our souls to include others of your children whom we might naturally exclude.
Stretch us to grasp for more than we can reach.
Stretch us to believe in ourselves and others.
Stretch us to support and encourage others.
Stretch us to offer a cup of cold water, food, shelter and a safe-haven in your name.
We pray that we might learn the lessons of Christian community. Help us to be instructed by the errors of the past in order that we may be saved from repeating them. Help us to learn exciting new behaviours and new ways. Temper our penchant for holding resentments.
Teach us that life does not have to be marred permanently by resentments.
Teach us that life is much more positive and meaningful and satisfying when it is focused on love.
Teach us that forgiveness is not a sign of weakness but of strength.
Teach us to build more expansive souls which can reach out and embrace the least of your little ones.
Send your peace and love and overwhelm and transform all of the bitterness and anger which we so often want to hold close to our souls. So lead us in your higher way.
For all who suffer and need your special grace we lift up our prayers today. Amen
Proper 9 (14) Genesis 24:34-38, 42-49, 58-67 Psalm 45:10-17 or
July 3, 2005 Song of Solomon 2:8-13 or Zechariah 9:9-12 Psalm 145:8-14 Romans 6:15-25a
Matthew 11:16-19, 25-30
Eternal God, we thank you that we have been planted in this great land. We could have been born in the third world somewhere with little opportunity either to learn or to dream or to live beyond childhood. We are grateful for our country. May our actions as a people be congruent with what we with our lips profess. We have been among the most privileged people in all of history. Many of our public places have engraved the powerful words: “The truth shall make you free.” And in one of our hymns we claim you as “Our Father’s God…Author of Liberty, to thee we sing.”
Yet we have been a land which has known slavery and terrible cruelty and we still bear the scars from generation to generation. Many are still disenfranchised from an equal opportunity for a quality education and employment. O God, may we never forget to proclaim: “From every mountainside, let freedom ring.” May all be granted a place at the table of opportunity. Give us courage to work for that ideal.
Having been blest with the most lavish bounties the earth has ever known may we never forget to care for the least of those among us. May we provide open doors for the disadvantaged, protection and care for the handicapped, and sharing of our resources with those who are disenfranchised from our economic abundance.
Teach us generosity and save us from the greed and avarice which so punctuates our economic and corporate world. Save us all from the darkness and deviousness to which we are so easily inclined, in order that:
“Long may our land be bright,
With freedom’s holy light.”
Lead us, O God, to reach for the highest and best in our national life. Amen
Proper 10 (15) Genesis 25:19-34 Psalm 119:105-112 or Isaiah 55:10-13
July 10, 2005 Psalm 65:(1-8), 9-13 Romans 8:1-11
Matthew 13:1-9, 18-23
Our gracious eternal God, we thank you for making the earth produce in such abundance. We thank you for the warm gentle summer days, for beautiful lakes, for the warm sun and the cool water, for the restoring rains. We thank you for those who have been toiling to produce the nation’s food. And we thank you for the abundance of conveniences which allow us time, in this generation, for considerable leisure and the pursuit of interests other than work.
We pray that you would guide us on our journeys through this land of such abundance. Help us not to be seduced into thinking that material resources can ever make us happy or content. Help us as we see our neighbours’ success not to feel inadequate, deprived, or greedy. Help us rather to find our strength, our comfort, and our satisfaction in knowing whose we are and to live life with a sense of peace. Provide us an inner serenity which exterior things can never bring.
We are reminded by the parable of the sower that we carry a huge responsibility for spreading the good news in our time. Give us eyes to see and ears to hear.
Purge our souls of the rocky ground where your seed cannot grow.
Purge our souls of the thorns and thistles and of the distractions of life which would lure us to fleeting and competing treasures.
Purge our souls of the wish to build storehouses with the elusive hope of ridding ourselves of anxiety about the future.
Make us grow from the kind of soil which knows the value of commitment, the risk of trust, and the mystery of your grace and love. Amen
Proper 11 (16) Genesis 28:10-19a Psalm 139:1-12, 23-24 or Wisdom of
July 17, 2005 Solomon 12:13, 16-19 or Isaiah 44:6-8 Psalm 86:11-17
Romans 8:12-25 Matthew 13:24-30, 36-43
Our gracious, eternal God, we come before you with gratitude this day.
We are grateful that we are a part of a long and struggling, yet victorious community.
We are grateful that the upward path of your realm, always beset with obstacles and difficulties, nonetheless remains our vision.
We are grateful that life, while stained with imperfections, yet can be ennobled by those who persist and persevere.
We are grateful with St. Paul that we did not receive a “spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but (we) have received a spirit of adoption.”
And we are grateful that we have received a spirit of freedom and grace to know that we are indeed your children.
We pray that you will continue to provide correction for us when we miss the mark. We pray that we may be stretched to learn and to grow. We pray that we might be enabled to grow bigger, more generous, more inclusive, and more loving hearts. Help us to affirm one another and to build up and embrace the gifts among us.
We also pray for our world. Beset with wars, conflicts, famine, corruption, domination by the powerful, suffering of the weak, there hardly seems a time in which your creation has been groaning with such travail as it is now. Where there is conflict, bring peace. Where there is suffering bring healing and compassion. Where there is uncertainty and anxiousness bring inner peace. Where there is hatred and enmity bring understanding and unity and love. Amen
Proper 12 (17) Genesis 29:15-28 Psalm 105:1-11, 45b or Psalm 128
July 24, 2005 or I Kings 3:5-12 Psalm 119:129-136
Romans 8:26-39 Matthew 13:31-33, 44-52
O Eternal One, whatever our attitude is as we bow today, whether upbeat or depressed, we are comforted by those stirring words of St. Paul that “If God is for us, who is against us?” We thank you for this breakthrough in our human understanding of you which put behind us the concept of a punitive God. We thank you for all of the gentle reminders of how much you love us. Whenever we become anxious in our souls we pray that you would remind us that you are still in charge of the universe. Provide us with an inner serenity which outward circumstances cannot shake. Remind us to use the treasures of earth to meet our needs but may we never confuse them with the treasures of the eternal.
WALK WITH US IN THE UPS AND DOWNS OF LIFE.
Grant to those who are sad, comfort.
Grant to those who feel weak, strength.
Grant to the strong and confident, understanding and compassion.
Grant to the successful, humility.
Grant to those experiencing doubt, faith.
Grant to those facing a critical decision, wisdom and guidance.
Grant to the confused, clarity of purpose.
Grant to those whose hold on life is tenuous, the comfort of Jesus who does not condemn but who justifies and receives with such gentle grace.
Whatever our circumstance, give to all of us the confidence that we are “more than conquerors,” so that when the great call comes we know with assurance that “nothing in all creation will be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Amen
Proper 13 (18) Genesis 32:22-31 Psalm 17:1-7, 15 or Isaiah 55:1-5
July 31, 2005 Psalm 145:8-9, 14-21 Romans 9:1-5
Our gracious, eternal God, we bow and acknowledge how near you are to us.
You are nearer than our thoughts but beyond our thoughts and unable to be grasped completely by thought or concept however hard we try.
You are enshrouded in mystery yet you invite us to speak to you as a loving parent.
You invite us to seek that we might find, yet we have been found and embraced by you before we even venture forth.
We thank you for your love and graciousness to us. Teach us as Jesus instructed his disciples of old. Like them we seek retreat and quiet for ourselves but we ask that you teach us when to step forward with boldness and trust. Teach us not to minimize the resources you have given us but to know that when we move at your command you will multiply our scant resources and make them not only adequate but plenty. Like those who offered the loaves and fishes help us to offer what we have in the service of your children.
Lead us gently but steadily toward the heavenly vision. Making no claims for ourselves may we ever know that we have been claimed by you in your son Jesus.
We pray for our world, groaning with travail, war and suffering. Be with those who must carry out the horrors of war and who live with the scars of what they see daily and what they are called upon to do. Be with the innocent victims. Be with the maimed, the suffering, the grieving. We pray again that you would lead us to peace. And lead the nations of the earth and help them find better ways of resolving conflict. Amen
Proper 14 (19) Genesis 37:1-4, 12-28 Psalm 105:1-6, 16-22, 45b or
August 7, 2005 I Kings 19:9-18 Psalm 85:8-13
Romans 10:5-15 Matthew 14:22-33
Eternal One, we thank you that we can pause and worship on a day like this. We thank you for the freedom we have to worship.
Forgive us our ambivalence when we turn that freedom into a gnawing guilt-ridden exercise which brings us to worship but only reluctantly.
Forgive us our tendency to complain that this, your world, is not a better place due to humankind’s sinfulness.
Forgive us our tendency to be complacent and expect someone else to make improvements when we are unwilling to be involved.
Forgive us our inability to trust in you when the cares of the world rise up before us and cause us to fear and to cower.
Be to us a powerful, healing presence when our fears and anxieties become overwhelming. Like Peter when he was sinking we too sometimes feel like we are sinking and overwhelmed by life. We look at the storm around us, and sometimes the storm within us, and our fears intensify. Be the source of our strength when we are weak. Be a solid rock beneath our feet when we wander and when we falter and slip. Be our shield and wrap your protective arms around us when we face danger and cause the wind and the storms of life within to be calmed.
Be with those whose walk is lonely. Be with those who have been forced to go off to war. Be with those who are in danger daily. Be with the hungry and the destitute and the homeless. Give us the grace and the vision to craft a new world where all of your children eat at a table of plenty, where all are sheltered, and where peace and love and justice abound. Amen
Proper 15 (20) Genesis 45:1-15 Psalm 133 or Isaiah 56:1, 6-8 Psalm 67
August 14, 2005 Romans 11:1-2a, 29-32 Matthew 15:(10-20), 21-28
Our gracious, eternal God, on this Lord’s day we join with the ancient hymn of the Psalm writer:
“May God be gracious to us and bless us,
And make his face to shine upon us.”
We join further in praise with that same ancient hymn:
“Let the peoples praise you O God;
Let all the peoples praise you.”
As your people we are grateful that when we behold the world, even when times are difficult, we find more than ample reason to express our gratitude.
We are grateful for our magnificent creation.
We are grateful for the majesty of the mountains.
We are grateful for the vastness and beauty of the oceans and the varied but always beautiful coastal areas.
We are grateful for thick, tall forests.
We are grateful for the diversity of people and the diversity of their gifts.
We are grateful for the splendour of beautiful sunsets.
We are grateful for family and friends and a Christian community to receive us.
We are of all people most richly blessed. Let us praise you, O God, let all of us praise you.
Yet there are so many in our world whose journeys provide little hope. Be with those whose cities and countries are punctuated with bullets, bombs, and terror. Be with those for whom there is no justice and equity. Be with those who suffer innocently at the hand of brutal governments or systems. Be also with the homeless and the helpless; the ill and the indigent; the discouraged and the despondent; the lost and the lonely. Amen
Proper 16 (21) Exodus 1:8 – 2:10 Psalm 124 or Isaiah 51:1-6
August 21, 2005 Psalm 138 Romans 12:1-8 Matthew 16:13-20
Our gracious, eternal God, we thank you this day for the instruction of scripture. Paul reminds us of our human struggle for self worth and a positive self image. Yet in that struggle how quickly we become vulnerable to thinking more highly of ourselves than we ought. We know that we succumb to false pride. We know that the other side of false pride is that we really are feeling poorly about ourselves. Yet how often we lose our way and lose perspective. We confess that in this competitive society of ours we want to rise above others. Lend us sober judgment.
Remind us that we were made for community.
Remind us that we are meant to walk with our sisters and brothers in the faith.
Remind us to set forth our views to others but not to insist always on our own way.
Remind us not to minimize our own gifts but to present them for the betterment of the Christian community.
Remind us to tease forth and bless the gifts of others.
Remind us that we are all one body of Christ and members one of another.
In all things make us compassionate. In all things continue to transform us and to renew our minds, hearts, and spirits so that we may truly discern your will and your ways.
We pray for our world. We have witnessed so much brutality these past years. We pray that you would implant within the hearts of all your creatures the desire to diminish the inhumanity to others which is so prevalent in our broken world. Bring peace. But also bring peaceful and loving hearts.
We would also breathe a prayer for those who must walk through the valley of suffering. Bring them healing and hope. Amen
Proper 17 (22) Exodus 3:1-15 Psalm 105:1-6, 23-26, 45c or
August 28, 2005 Jeremiah 15:15-21 Psalm 26:1-8 Romans 12:9-21
Eternal God, we bow with thankful hearts today. We have been blessed with a gentle summer and consistent rains. Those who raise our nations’ food have had a good growing season. The mountains have been wonderfully green and the rivers and streams have been full and clear. The beauty around us has been spectacular. We are so blessed and we thank you.
We give thanks today for Paul’s pep talk to the church which was in Rome. But we also struggle because we need your help in the ups and downs of our lives.
Help us to love more completely and to control the ever-present tendency to give in to hatred.
Help us to show honour to others and not to have resentment or envy when they do well.
Help us when we grow weary and feel defeated to find new zeal and ardour on our Christian journey.
Help us to maintain a hopeful attitude and a hopeful spirit even when life takes a difficult turn.
Help especially when we are called upon to go through the valley of suffering, when the “why?” questions surface our anger.
Help us to find the empathy and compassion needed to rejoice with those who rejoice and to weep with those who weep.
Help us not to think we are better than others but enable us to relate to and be genuine with people at all levels of our society.
And help us not to return evil for evil even when we would most wish to get even with another person. Amen
Proper 18 (23) Exodus 12:1-14 Psalm 149 or Ezekiel 33:7-11
September 4, 2005 Psalm 119:33-40 Romans 13:8-14 Matthew 18:15-20
Our gracious, eternal God, we sometimes feel too much like a work in progress and wonder if we are not really making false starts. We have much to confess.
We poison relationships with others by drawing faulty conclusions from our limited perceptions.
We nurture slights even though we are far from sure a slight has occurred.
We find it easier to blame others when a relationship becomes strained rather than looking to our role in the cause.
We find it so much easier to think we have been sinned against than to think that we are the ones who have sinned.
We find it easier to nurture a wrong when it is committed against us than to go directly to the person and surface the issue openly.
And we find it difficult to admit our own wrongs and ask another for forgiveness.
Forgive us our foolish ways, O gracious, loving, God.
Give us the courage both to forgive and to ask forgiveness.
Give us confidence in the integrity of others to trust that they too wish to walk in a covenanted relationship with us.
Give us the courage to deepen relationships by keeping them honest and open.
Give us the courage to heed the ancient words we have heard today and go to the other person directly to clear the air and heal the relationship when we feel we have been wronged. Amen
Proper 19 (24) Exodus 14:19-31 Psalm 114 or Exodus 15:1b-11, 20-21 or
September 11, 2005 Genesis 50:15-21 Psalm 103: (1-7), 8-13
Romans 14:1-12 Matthew 18:21-35
Eternal God, we have learned so little since the ancient wisdom of Israel began to be articulated. You provide for us a way and we turn a deaf ear.
We confess especially on this anniversary of 9/11 that we have not learned the futility of war and violence. We still think we can resolve differences by brute force. We project the worst of motives to our enemies and the best to ours. We continue to demonize our enemies in order to justify killing them. We speak of others as evil but forget or deny the evil which resides in each of us.
Deliver us from this body of death, O God. Save us from refusing to learn. Help us to revise our lives and our culture so that we may gain a heart of wisdom and know you who are the beginning of wisdom. Teach us the difficult spiritual act of learning how to forgive others and to forgive our enemies. Take away from us the calculating spirit of Peter which resides in each one of us and which would measure out forgiveness with a careful and reluctant eye. Transform us, O God.
Save us from growing weary in the steady and tedious task of keeping relationships cleaned up.
Save us from trying to set some artificial limits on how far we will go with those who offend us.
Save us from a calculating faith which tries to put another person outside the Christian circle.
Save us from being stingy of spirit and denying grace to others.
O God, give us generous and forgiving spirits which make room for the sins and foibles of others. Amen
Proper 20 (25) Exodus 16:2-15 Psalm 105:1-6, 37-45 or Jonah 3:10-4:11
September 18, 2005 Psalm 145:1-8 Philippians 1:21-30 Matthew 20:1-16
Eternal God, we open our collective souls to your presence. We come needing to empty ourselves of the baggage and cares of the week and in some cases of life.
Some have had heavy burdens to bear.
Some have seen a glimpse of our fragility and mortality and faced the terror and prospect of losing a dear one and come away grateful that they have been spared.
Some have suffered a disappointment.
Some have been walking through the dark valleys of the soul and are despondent.
Some are facing life-changing decisions.
And many have private worries of their own.
O God, be with us in our common cares and empty us of our worries and anxiousness. Free us from the desire and temptation to clutch and hold close our human treasures. Teach us the wisdom that it is only in losing ourselves in causes and service which transcend ourselves that we truly find ourselves. Help us to cast all our cares upon you, knowing that you love us with an everlasting love. And fill us this day with your peace.
Make us valiant in the service of our world. May we never be discouraged, but as Paul suggested may we be worthy of the gospel of Christ. Even though we will never achieve completely the mission to which you call us we ask for the courage to begin the journey. Enable us to visit the sick, the hurting, the imprisoned. Enable us to care for the least of your children.
Bless our world and bring us peace. Bless our sick and dying and give them hope. Bless our children and give them a gentle and nurturing world. Bless our nation’s and world’s leaders and give them wisdom and the will to be statesmen. Amen
Proper 21 (26) Exodus 17:1-7 Psalm 78:1-4, 12-16 or
September 25, 2005 Ezekiel 18:1-4, 25-32 Psalm 25:1-9
Philippians 2:1-13 Matthew 21:23-32
Eternal God, we thank you that you have placed us within your church. We thank you for the great cloud of witnesses who have gone before us and who carried the lamp of faith to our generation. And we thank you that we now, for a time, have the responsibility to hold it aloft for others. Let the “same mind be in us (you) that was in Christ.” Help us to be faithful to the heavenly vision in this place. Give us will and resolve.
Give us the resolve to put our gifts and talents forward for your use and for others.
Give us the resolve to support and encourage the gifts of others.
Give us the resolve to build up a stalwart community with vision and daring and service to our world.
Give us the resolve to nurture a loving, caring community which reaches out always to the least of your children.
Give us the resolve to help you put a tap on the shoulder of young people with the gifts to consider some form of ministry.
Give us the resolve to commit our lives and energy on the side of justice and equity for all of the peoples of the earth.
Give us the resolve to right the wrongs and the discrimination of the past and to transcend prejudice and racism.
And give us the resolve to be a people of peace who work for peace.
Cause us to be strong in faith, loyal in service, and patient in hope. Work in us your way, you who are the ageless potter working your clay. Amen
Proper 22 (27) Exodus 20:1-4, 7-9, 12-20 Psalm 19 or Isaiah 5:1-7
October 2, 2005 Psalm 80:7-15 Philippians 3:4b-14
Eternal God, we thank you for this week which has presented us with a panorama of exploding autumn colors. We thank you that you have so painted this world with colors that our eyes almost catch a glow from the brilliance.
We pause on this world-wide communion day, aware of the millions of our sisters and brothers with whom we are united at the table of Jesus Christ. Unite us also in a commitment to service. Bless your people wherever they gather this day in your name. Create unity, love, and Christian witness in each place.
In this great land of so much abundance there are still so many people with great need. In the aftermath of hurricane Katrina people are uprooted, families are separated, a city has been rendered unfit in which to live, other cities and villages have been destroyed. May your church be moved with compassion for all of these “Neighbours in Need.” May we who have been spared give generously.
May we have the vision to give to help the hungry.
May we have the vision to give to provide an opportunity for a child.
May we have the vision to give in order to alleviate suffering among the elderly.
May we have the vision to give to open some doors for those who need opportunity.
May we have the vision to do all we can to help people rebuild their lives.
May we join St. Paul in “forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead,” pressing “on toward the goal for the prize of the heavenly call in Christ Jesus.” Amen
Proper 23 (23) Exodus 32:1-14 Psalm 106:1-6, 19-23 or Isaiah 25:1-9
October 9, 2005 Psalm 23 Philippians 4:1-9 Matthew 22:1-14
O Eternal One, we come before you with grateful hearts this day.
You have placed us in this beautiful place with hills and valleys which are dotted with lakes outlined by awesome trees.
You have peopled our lives generously with those who have taught and mentored us and believed in us long before we believed in ourselves.
You have provided us in this land with an abundance unknown to so many peoples of the earth.
Yet we confess that with such blessings we oftentimes find that the world is heavy and too much with us. Paul admonishes us not to worry but to rejoice. And yet we worry. Our spirits sag and our joy diminishes.
Give us the resilience of spirit to “rejoice in the Lord always” in spite of the bad news of the world.
Give us a spirit of gentleness when our rage would rather be unleashed because of the horrific conditions which so many of your children must endure.
Give us the ability to cast our cares upon you and to present to you the deepest concerns of our hearts.
Give us your quieting and steadying “peace which passes all understanding.”
Give us joy in the Lord and the gratitude which knows that all our blessings flow from you.
Help us to rejoice in the Lord always! Be also with this congregation and direct our paths. Lead us in being faithful to the heavenly vision. Lead us in deepening our commitments to you and to one another. Lead us in discerning your will among us. Lead us in serving your people. Amen
Proper 24 (29) Exodus 33:12-23 Psalm 99 or Isaiah 45:1-7
October 16, 2005 Psalm 96:1-9, (10-13) I Thessalonians 1:1-10
Eternal God, we thank you for this day. We are grateful for all that you have granted to us to make our lives full and meaningful.
We confess that we fall short of the Christian walk in so many ways. In our reflections we sometimes wonder if it can be said of us, as it was said of old, that the gospel came to us “not in word only, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction;….” We confess that like the Pharisees we are often inwardly glad that we are not as other people. Whenever we confront one of your children from whom we recoil we demonstrate that we are glad we are not as other people. We need healing, O God.
We take pride in our righteousness, forgetting that it is you alone who make righteous.
We take pride in the good things we do, forgetting that our purpose is to glorify you and not ourselves.
We take pride in what we regard as our good motives and impugn to others the worst of motives.
We take pride in whatever performances we can give which display our piety but are remiss in developing a private, closet piety where we are alone with you.
Forgive us our sins and failings. Give us the courage to own the sin which so easily besets us and to know once again the power of your grace to embrace and restore us. Likewise give us grace-filled spirits. Cause us to be less condemning of others. Cause us to be less judgmental and to temper our rejecting behaviours. Cause us to be less exclusive and to reach out to all of your children you set in our path. Cause us to be less inclined to build walls between ourselves and others. Cause us to deal with that within us which makes us want to reject any of your children. Cause us to love. Cause us to serve you with power. Amen
Proper 25 (30) Deuteronomy 34:1-12 Psalm 90:1-6, 13-17 or
October 23, 2005 Leviticus 19:1-2, 15-18 Psalm 1
I Thessalonians 2:1-8 Matthew 22:34-46
Our gracious, eternal God, help us this day to draw our minds and spirits from the hectic confusion of the week. Take our minds from all that would distract us.
Take from us our cares, our fears, our apprehension about our tomorrows.
Take from us our resentments, our angers, and all that is negative and destructive, every tendency to want to get even for some perceived wrong.
Take from us our concerns about earthly treasures and our avaricious desires.
Take from us our lethargy regarding our spiritual journey.
Take from us our hatred toward our enemies, however demonically they have acted.
Take from us all efforts to act deceitfully and to veil the truth from others.
Take our minds from all of this. Help us to focus on your grace which is extended to the greatest of sinners. May we be bathed by your love today, a love which will not let us go. May we be filled with a trust that floods our souls with peace and love. May we be transformed.
Give us leaders with the courage to present the gospel clearly even in the face of opposition. Give them and us integrity as we walk together. Give us a church where there is straight forward communication, where there are no ulterior motives, where there is no false flattery, where there is no greed, where our main motivation is to seek to do your will and not seek the praise of others, where there is mutuality and love. Give us victory and mastery in our common life. Amen
Proper 26 (31) Joshua 3:7-17 Psalm 107:1-7, 33-37 or
October 30, 2005 Micah 3:5-12 Psalm 43
I Thessalonians 2:9-13 Matthew 23:1-12
Our gracious eternal God, we have need to pray this day. We have so much internal confusion and noise and chatter going on all the time. We find ourselves distracted from the good and living the evil.
We nurture slights and become preoccupied with how ill-willed others often are.
We hold onto old wrongs which feel like weights on our souls, yet we are reluctant to relinquish them and look for a new start.
We worry about tomorrow and wonder if you will go before us.
We draw erroneous conclusions from others’ behaviour which are based only on our faulty perceptions.
And too often we are insistent on our own way.
God, be with us on our journey and walk with us through these internal wars which are so much with us.
Help us to know that it is our own souls which need re-working.
Help us to know that it is we who are in need of redemption and reconciliation.
Help us to know that it is we who are in the need of prayer.
Help us to try new and more generous behaviours which are filled with love and good will.
O God, transform us and change our defeatist attitudes. Instead of asking for life to be all smooth sailing give us the courage for challenges. Instead of cowering before difficulty give us the strength to embrace it and to overcome. Lead us to be a people of victory, of faith in the future, and of the attitude that with your aid we can overcome the world. Amen
Proper 27 (32) Joshua 24:1-3a, 14-25 Psalm 78:1-7 or
November 6, 2005 Wisdom of Solomon 6:12-16 or Amos 5:18-24
Wisdom of Solomon 6:17-20 or Psalm 70
I Thessalonians 4:13-18 Matthew 25:1-13
O eternal One, we bow this day in grateful remembrance. Make us resurrection people.
Make us a people able to dream bigger dreams.
Make us a people able to make this a better world.
Make us a people with care and compassion.
Make us a people who bind up the wounds of the sick, who care enough to feed the poor, who visit the imprisoned.
Make us a people committed to justice, working for a nation and a world where there is equal opportunity for every person and every child growing up.
Make us a people who know how to love.
We are particularly mindful on this all saints day that we are surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses. We thank you for our forbears who have enriched our church community by their long ago dreams. We thank you for those who wished to plant a church here. We thank you for those who wished to live the gospel in their time and who cared enough to pass it on to those who would follow. We thank you for those whose faith could see beyond their own time and needs and had hope beyond the grave. We thank you for those who trusted you, the God of our human history. And we thank you for those whose hope could not be diminished by difficulty and hardship. Bless their memory and help us to carry on with the help of that great cloud if witnesses who have gone before us.
Bless the sick and suffering; those whose lives are uprooted; those engaged in war and those suffering from war and violence; those who have special needs. Amen
Proper 28 (33) Judges 4:1-7 Psalm 123 or Zephaniah 1:7, 12-18
November 13, 2005 Psalm 90:1-8, (9-11), 12 I Thessalonians 5:1-11
Our gracious eternal God, the ancient words of Paul echo in our souls this day. We are so much like the people of the Thessalonian Church and its culture.
We want to have glimpses of the future so that we might know that we are secure.
We want to have the security to know that tomorrow will be alright.
We want to have life all buttoned down and figured out so there will be no surprises.
We want you to rid us of all anxiety and worry and fear.
We want to know that when the great call comes for us we will be safe.
We want all darkness and all uncertainty removed from our lives.
Become alive for us again in these quiet moments. We pray that in this teachable moment you would again open to us your powerful and grace-filled presence.
Lead our spirits to find the courage to say, “All will be well because we are yours.”
Lead our spirits to find the ability to live one moment and one day at a time.
Lead our spirits to serenity and a peace which the world cannot give.
Lead our spirits to know that with your power we can cope with whatever surprises life presents to us.
Lead our spirits to know that we are destined “not for wrath” but for your redeeming.
And lead our spirits to know that “whether we wake or sleep,” living or dying, we are yours into the ages of all ages. Amen
Proper 29 (34) Ezekiel 34:11-16, 20-24 Psalm 100 or Psalm 95:1-7a
November 20, 2005 Ephesians 1:15-23 Matthew 25:31-46
O eternal one, we come before you with gratitude this Thanksgiving week. Of all people we have been inordinately blessed with bounty and a standard of living which the world has never seen. We have so much for which to be thankful.
We thank you for plentiful food.
We thank you for homes which are warm in winter and cool in summer.
We thank you for an expansive country with stunning beauty.
We thank you for work and leisure.
We thank you for family and friends.
We thank you for a nation built on law which guarantees us religious freedom.
In spite of our blessings we have many concerns. Parts of our country have been ravaged by hurricanes. We are caught in a war which goes on and on and each day brings casualties and tales of sadness and grief. We ask your blessing and care for all who suffer, who have known grief, whose lives are shattered. O divine healer, bring us a better world and bring to the violent restraint. Temper the world’s hatreds and bring us peace.
In moments when we would shirk back from the challenges of life to be your people and to reach out and care for others bring an appropriate soberness to our spirits. May we ask: ‘When did we see you in the guise of the homeless and fail to help you?’ May we ask: ‘When did we see you sick or in prison and fail to meet your needs?’ May we ask: ‘When did we see you as a victim of war or disaster and fail to come to your aid?’ May we ask: ‘What, O God, do you require of us who have been so blessed?” O God, help us to respond to the Jesus in our neighbour and to serve you. Amen