First Sunday in Advent Jeremiah 33:14-16 Psalm 25:1-10
December 3, 2006 I Thess. 3:9-13 Luke 21:25-36
O Eternal God, breaking into our world at unexpected times and in unexpected places, look with favour upon us as we seek once again to prepare the way of the Lord. Visit the desert places of our lives and cause them to rejoice and blossom. O Light of the world, in those times when we have weak spirits and fearful hearts, help us again to hear the echoes from Isaiah’s long-ago century to be strong and not to fear. And help us again to find hope in the promise seen by Jeremiah. Impress us once again this year with your presence in our history.
Impress us with the majesty of your greatness but also with the lowliness of Jesus.
Impress us with the grand announcement to Mary but also with the simple stirrings of your presence within our lives.
Impress us with the fear and awesomeness of your presence to the Shepherds but also with the gentle peace which passes all understanding and the words of the angel to “fear not.”
Impress us with the costly gifts of the wise men but also with those human kindnesses which are extended from one to another out of love and thoughtfulness.
We ask again for peace in our world. Temper the hatreds of the earth. Help us to build a world where the reasons for conflict are diminished. Change the hearts of those whose only mission is to maim others. Be with our enemies that we might one day be friends. Be with those in peril and those who suffer. Be with those who must soldier and are far from home. Give to all the world the hope and vision to create a new beloved community. Cradle your world once again and bring us hope. Amen
Second Sunday of Advent Malachi 3:1-4 or Baruch 5:1-9
Dec. 10, 2006 Luke 1:68-79 Philippians 1:3-11 Luke 3:1-6
Eternal God, we come to you during this season of hope. May the power of Jesus be born in us again. Give us the hope expressed in Zechariah’s song: “By the tender mercy of our God the dawn from high will break upon us, to give light to those who sit in darkness….”
Rekindle that hope in those who have grown weary and for whom life is dark.
Restore hope to those whose present or past lives have become a burden.
Restore to all of us the vision and excitement of lives which are motivated and lived with a sense of mission and purpose.
If any is imprisoned in a past which is crippling or tenaciously diminishing the possibilities of making life meaningful today provide a way of reframing that past.
Help them reframe that past so that it no longer imprisons and limits today.
Help them reframe that past so that it can be transcended.
Help them reframe that past so that it can be integrated and seen as an asset rich with the ability to understand the human experience and relate to the sufferings of others.
You came, gentle Jesus, to a world of broken people. Come again to us and transform us as you did those who first experienced your touch and grace. Fulfill the hope seen in John the Baptist that your mercy might break forth upon us.
We pray for our world: confused, in constant strife, filled with passion and rage and uncertainty. Hold this world in your compassionate embrace. Enable us as a global people to care for one another and to love and care for one another. Amen
Third Sunday of Advent Zephaniah 3:14-20 Isaiah 12:2-6
Dec. 17, 2006 Philippians 4:4-7 Luke 3:7-18
Our gracious, eternal God, we come before you today with gratitude. Grant that we may also find within us the spirit of rejoicing. Help us with Paul to “…rejoice in the Lord always.”
Give to us an attitude which looks on life and says that it is good.
Give to us an attitude which is hopeful.
Give to us an attitude which is able to look upon the difficulties and worries of life and to be undaunted by them.
Give to us an attitude and will to live life in the present moment and not worry about those moments which are coming and which may or may not hold foreboding.
Give to us an attitude which is insistent on finding the good in life and rejoicing over it.
Give to us an attitude which Paul suggests so that we may pray with thanksgiving as we make our requests to you.
Give to us an attitude which is able to possess your peace which passes all understanding.
Walk with us through this advent season, transforming the thinking of our minds so that we might reflect the joy in the good news of the gospel. You have made us new people. In our behaviours may we demonstrate hope and triumph. Release us from all negativity and defeatism and give us victory over all the principalities and power of earth.
We ask your care for our fragile world, O Prince of Peace. Grant to all peoples the vision of a world made new. Grant us the will to work for peace and to find alternative ways of resolving national and international conflict. Grant to all people the will to refuse to take up arms and go to war. Lead us in the ways of peace, O Prince of Peace. Amen
Fourth Sunday of Advent Micah 5:2-5a Luke 1:46b-55 or Psalm 80:1-7
Dec. 24, 2006 Hebrews 10:5-10 Luke 1:39-45, (46-55)
O holy One, we thank you that as we hear the ancient story of your mysterious workings in Jesus from different places in Scripture we hear the same echoes of your mercy and grace. We are reminded that it is you who look with favour upon us as you did with Mary. It is you who have come to us and embraced us with your everlasting love. We do not need to find you for we have already been found by your love.
Be with those for whom this particular Christmas will be difficult.
Be with those who have known the bitterness of grief.
Be with those who know hardship or want.
Be with those whose lives have become unstable or uncertain.
Be with those whose health is compromised.
Be with those whose business or jobs are in jeopardy.
Remind us as we go through dark valleys that we go not alone.
Remind us that the light of the world cannot be extinguished by the darkness.
Remind us that even in darkness there is the possibility of hope within the human breast.
Remind us that you cradle us with your love as once you cradled the world in Jesus.
Remind us that you wish us to be victorious people who overcome the world.
Be with those whose hope is diminished today. Be with the homeless, the weary, the over-worked, the hungry, the refugees, the suffering children of the world, and hold them close to you. May a better world be born: a world with love, justice, and peace. Amen
First Sunday after Christmas 1 Samuel 2:18-20, 26 Psalm 148
Dec. 31, 2006 Colossians 3:12-17 Luke 2:41-52
Eternal God, as we come to a new year and ponder the meaning of time, we pray that you would be with us as we are about the sober task of numbering our days. As we do so may we gain a heart of wisdom. As we reflect upon all of the endless possibilities of creation we are overwhelmed that you gently called each one of us into being. That we were a thought to you before our birth, that you gave us a name, that you made us all in our own uniqueness when you could have fashioned someone else, to us this is a mystery. We thank you for your creative love which made us and for your redeeming love which makes us whole. We thank you for those moments in our developmental lives when our parents brought us faithfully to be in the worshipping community even as Jesus was brought to and was found in the Temple. Hear our requests today.
Help us to receive each new day as a gift and not as a burden.
Help us to see every day as an opportunity to be seized.
Give us courage when we would find it easier to cower.
Give us mountains to climb when we would rather dwell in the valleys.
Forbid that the difficulty of living well and doing your will should ever foster in us despair.
Instead give us power even in our weakness to overcome.
We bring before you all of the special needs in our community: those recovering from illness or affliction; those recovering from surgery; those whose lives know the shadow of death; those who mentally are gradually leaving their loved ones due to Alzheimer’s disease; those who know the darkness of depression. Touch each with your grace. Touch our war-weary world and be especially with those who have been devastated by the consequences of war. Bring peace and recovery to the nations and a will to live in harmony. Amen
Epiphany of the Lord Isaiah 60:1-6 Psalm 72:1-7, 10-14
January 6, 2007 Ephesians 3:1-12 Matthew 2:1-12
Eternal God, we thank you on this first Sunday of the year that you have never given up on us. Such as we are you are still perfecting us. We thank you that even in spite of our tardiness in growing in grace, in Jesus you have embraced us in all of our sinfulness. And you gently lead us onward. We come before you today with some very specific requests.
Grow our hearts more generous in order that we might forgive those to whom we are so little inclined to want to extend mercy.
Help us to release those resentments which we so consistently nurture and tightly embrace.
Temper the watchful-eye attitude within us which sees so glaringly the offences and mistakes of our sisters and brothers.
Without diminishing our passion for righteousness give us gentle and gracious spirits which make room for, rather than alienation from, those who wrong and sin against us.
Be also with the world of nations. We are reminded by the behaviour of Herod how tenuous is the thread by which power is held and how the threat of power lost causes people to do what normally would be unthinkable. Be in all of those places where people seek like the Maji to journey to find Jesus, child of hope. Be with all who follow the bright stars of their lives and wish freedom and peace. Be with all who live with the threats of reprisal, persecution, or danger because of their beliefs. Be with all leaders and temper their power with justice and love for people. O God, may the tragedies of the past not be repeated. May there be peace and good will among all people and may their journeys through life not be interrupted by tyrants. Amen
Second Sunday after the Epiphany Isaiah 62:1-5 Psalm 36:5-10
January 13, 2006 1 Cor. 12:1-11 John 2:1-11
Eternal God of the ages, we would bow as empty vessels waiting to be filled but our minds and souls are busy with many things which impede our being filled by you. We become preoccupied with our worries.
We worry about our children.
We worry about our personal finances.
We worry about how well we will perform our duties.
We worry about our health.
We worry about terror in our world.
We worry about war.
Help us to divest ourselves of the cares and troubles which so daily beset us. Empty us of them now that we may be filled.
May we be filled with a sense of your presence.
May we be filled with the touch of your spirit.
May we be filled with new energy.
May we be filled with your power.
May we be filled with trust and faith.
Empower us as we worship here and then enable us to impact your world for Jesus. Change the stagnant water of our lives to wine and touch us as you touched those people in Cana.
Do be with our men and women in harms way and all those touched by the tragedy of war. Give them strength for each day as daily they must live with terror. Give to the leaders of our world the resolve to wage war not on people but on poverty, injustice, hunger, disease, and all manner of human suffering. Give them the vision to shape a new world where self-interest is tempered and corrected by love and compassion and a hunger for justice. Give to all the world the gift of being filled with new wine and new vision. Amen
Third Sunday after the Epiphany Nehemiah 8:1-3, 5-6, 8-10 Psalm 19
January 21, 2007 1 Cor. 12:12-31a Luke 4:14-21
Our gracious eternal God, the same yesterday, today and forever, we thank you that we are privileged to be alive. We so often get our religion wrong and think it expects of us sadness and loathing such as we heard about in Nehemiah’s time. Help us to correct this negativity and embrace life. Teach us better how to live one day at a time and not to wish the moments away. May we not be so dissatisfied with any present moment that we violate life by wishing life away. May we not be imprisoned by the past, whether it be some bitterness we harbour, some failure or disappointment we experienced, some resentment which lingers, or some unkindness received. Help us to bury those negative things of the past and to be done with them and to go forward welcoming each new day and laying claim to the new life in Christ Jesus.
Bring to us a sense of inner peace which comes from your power.
Bring to us a sense of wonder and joy in the practice of our faith.
Bring to us courage for the challenges which come our way.
And bring to us a commitment to one another which is so strong that differences will not shake or fracture our sense of community.
Visit those whose lives are in jeopardy: those who are ill; those suffering the lingering pains of grief; those who must face life with deficits and limitations which diminish life’s joys and freedoms; those whose retirement finds one spouse in the role of being a caregiver. Use us in providing ministry and comfort for them.
Bless also our world, our world leaders, and all peoples of the earth so that good will, justice, and peace may be realized. Amen
Fourth Sunday after the Epiphany Jeremiah 1:4-10 Psalm 71:1-6
January 28, 2006 1 Cor. 13:1-13 Luke 4:21-30
Eternal God, we bow today and ask that you would replenish our spirits.
If we have come this day in dullness or fatigue make music in our souls.
If we have come disconsolate lift our spirits.
If we have come with few expectations shake us and surprise us until there are hallelujahs and praise coming from the depths of our being.
If we have come as Jeremiah with lack of confidence and resistance bolster our spirits.
We thank you for Jeremiah’s words and for the richness of the biblical heritage with its reminders of the potential we hold within us. May we not try to opt out or excuse ourselves from service because we feel inadequate did Jeremiah. May we not try to opt out of the responsibilities of our call because of difficulty. Instead, lead us onward and cause us to grow and to reach for gains not yet realized. We thank you for the reminders that our lives are intended for rich community, fellowship, and for challenges which sometimes look too great to commence. We ask for your continued strength as we reach for a greater mastery of life.
When we are timid give us courage.
When we are anxious give us peace.
When we falter gently nudge us to continue.
When are offended enable us to forgive.
When we are discouraged uplift our spirits and enable us to claim the victorious spirit of the faithful.
Be with those undergoing difficulty coping with life just now, especially those who might be experiencing a dark night of the soul and those who have undergone disappointment. Give them strength. Amen
Fifth Sunday after the Epiphany Isaiah 6:1-8, (9-13) Psalm 138
Feb. 4, 2006 1 Cor. 15:1-11 Luke 5:1-11
Eternal God, we come to you in need of confession. For all of our sophistication in technology and progress in culture we are still woefully primitive in our spirits. Like Isaiah we cannot stifle that inner wail of “Woe is me! I am lost, for I am one of unclean lips; and I live among a people of unclean lips.” We so easily fall into aimlessness and sin.
We are so uncomfortable with our own interior darkness and shadow that we project onto others and point to their sins, failings, and shortcomings. We are frightened and cannot bear to look within, so the flaws of others jump out at us.
Teach us to be less judgmental.
We find it easier to look for someone else to blame when something goes wrong and work to avoid any personal responsibility.
Teach us how to repent and to turn about.
We demonize those whose views are different than our own and in idolatrous fashion we identify you with our causes.
Teach us how to be tolerant and develop respect for others.
We so often hear messages from others out of our own personal history and limited perception and we just plain get it wrong because we put the worst spin on it.
Teach us how to interact with others, to clarify before jumping to judgment, and to find the truth.
Deliver us from the sin which would so easily beset us, gracious God. And give us the courage in confession to know that we are redeemed. Give us the power to live boldly as your redeemed people. Give to us the sense that on this day we have seen you who are high and lifted up and because of that are empowered to be your faithful people. May we go forth knowing that our guilt has been removed and our sin forgiven. Amen
Sixth Sunday after the Epiphany Jeremiah 17:5-10 Psalm 1
Feb. 11, 2007 1 Cor. 15:12-20 Luke 6:17-26
O God, almighty and eternal, who crafted our universe, the suns, the earth, the moon and the stars, and all of the beautiful topography of our magnificent planet, we are in awe of your power and majesty. We find it astounding that in your greatness and majesty you have made yourself known in the gentle image of a gracious parent. We bow before you in gratitude and humble adoration and we offer you our praise and thanksgiving.
We confess that we often find ourselves living in darkness and in the shadows of life. Fearful of our own shadow we nonetheless find it comfortable to live in life’s shadows. We too often forget that we are the cause of Jesus’ journey. We nitpick like the Scribes who criticized Jesus for healing on the Sabbath. We too often are glad we are not as other people. We take pride in our righteousness and accomplishments forgetting that it is you alone who make righteous. We take pride in the good things we do. We take pride in what we regard as our good motives and impugn the worst of motives to others. We hear the beatitudes but often have little enthusiasm for practicing them.
O LAMB OF GOD, WHO TAKES AWAY THE SIN OF THE WORLD, HAVE MERCY UPON US.
Save us from the foolishness of our hearts which would move toward the shadows. 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 us and to save and transform.
Likewise, give us grace-filled spirits and cause us to be less condemning of others, less judgmental and rejecting, less exclusive, and less inclined to build walls between ourselves and others.
We ask your care and comfort for the suffering: those whose lives are interrupted by illness, those whose family fabric has been torn by grief, those whose diminishing health is causing change or transition. Amen
Transfiguration Sunday Exodus 34:29-35 Psalm 99
Feb. 18, 2007 2 Cor. 3:12-4:2 Luke 9:28-36(37-43)
O holy One, we bow before the mystery of your workings in Jesus. Like the disciples of old we too have great difficulty in moving from the old to the new. We want to frame things in ways we can understand even though the mystery is beyond words and beyond description. We are bound by our limited past and our limited conceptions. Lead us this day to the place where all things are made new. Lead us to the mountain top as Jesus led his disciples.
Lead us to the mountain top where we can be changed.
Lead us to the mountain top where we can have a vision of a world made new.
Lead us to the mountain top where we can have our limited vision corrected.
Lead us to the mountain top where we might hear the radical voice and leading of Jesus.
Lead us to the mountain top where we can see more clearly the tasks to which you call us.
Lead us to the mountain top where we can be commissioned to go and serve this world even as did Jesus after his descent.
LEAD US, O GOD, TO THE MOUNTAIN TOP!
Give to us the vision and the will to embrace this world of need. Where any of your people suffer we pray for a way to assist them. Where any of your people are sick we pray for the opportunity to visit them. Where any of your people hunger we pray for a way to feed them. Where any of your people are oppressed we pray for a way to provide them with justice. Where any of your people are in poverty we pray for a way to build an economic order that provides them opportunity. Be with your church throughout the world. Help us to go together to the mountain top and to join hand in hand to serve this world and to present it with the good news. Amen
First Sunday in Lent Deuteronomy 26:1-11 Psalm 91:1-2, 9-16
Feb. 25, 2007 Romans 10:8b-13 Luke 4:1-13
Eternal God, as we begin our Lenten journey we come as beggars needing to be filled. We come from that metaphoric dry and thirsty land. We come from a culture which favours conflict over compassion. We come from a culture which favours toughness over tenderness. We come with all of the same temptations humankind have ever faced.
We struggle for bread but so often fail to acknowledge that it is not by bread alone we live. We live with an anxious inner world because we are so unable to trust.
We strive for power and influence but so often we allow a part of our inner selves to be corrupted when we gain it.
We search for faith but so often we demand a certainty which can never be found. And we expect you to meet some test in order to give us certainty.
We live so often and so long in the wilderness of these common temptations. Forgive our foolishness. Help us to identify these temptations when they come so subtly to us. Help us to overcome them. May we not be seduced by our pursuit of security. May we not be seduced by our lust for power or influence. May we not be seduced by a false or simplistic faith which lays claims to easy answers for all of life’s most difficult questions. Lead us instead to integrity. Lead us to honesty. Lead us to commitment. Help us to re-focus our lives and refashion our commitments as we journey toward the cross. Teach us to be compassionate to all of your children. Teach us to withhold our rush to judgment of others. Teach us to re-order our interior lives when they become too jumbled and noisy. Walk with us when we are fearful and frightened and when life is dark. And in such moments help us to trust that you are indeed beside us. Amen
Second Sunday in Lent Genesis 15:1-12, 17-18 Psalm 27
March 4, 2007 Philippians 3:17-4:1 Luke 13:31-35 or
Eternal God, we are so aware today that we are a part of the biblical story. We share the same dynamics as the ancients in our text today.
We are as prone as they were to fight and destroy that which we oppose.
We are as prone as they were to resist the truth which would enlighten us and set us free.
We are as prone as they were to struggle against the new.
We are as prone as they were to resist changes which would cause us to re-orient our lives and turn around and repent.
FORGIVE US OUR FOOLISH AND STUBBORN WAYS. Give us gentle rather than violent hearts. Make us teachable and open to change and growth. Deepen our understanding of life, of ourselves, and of others. Deepen our understanding of our need for a faith which goes beyond the superficial. Make us hungry for a faith which motivates us to stand with every human being and claim that person as a brother or sister. Save us from the tendency to separate people into good or evil, friend or adversary. Instead, give us a faith which causes us to have unity with all people. Make us teachable, O God, who in Jesus would have gathered all people to be taught. Prevent us from turning away as did Jerusalem.
Help us to perceive your grace throughout all of life. May we see your grace in the kindnesses of humankind. May we see your grace in the welcoming smiles of children and the elderly. May we see your grace in those who struggle with difficult diseases and who face them with courage and hope. May we see your grace wherever your people gather to sing and to share and to pray. Amen
Third Sunday in Lent Isaiah 55:1-9 Psalm 63:1-8
March 11, 2007 2 Cor. 10:1-13 Luke 13:1-9
Our gracious God, we sometimes come before you bored and apathetic. We sometimes have no greater expectation than getting through the day. We sometimes get lost in the business and demands and pressures of life. We become weary with the sameness of the days. Be patient with us as with the fig tree whose growth was stunted.
We ask that you surprise us today. Surprise us with the good news that our lives can be renewed. Open to us your amazing love that keeps knocking at the door of our hearts so that our praise and adoration may leap excitedly from the depths of our souls today. Open our minds to the wonder which exists in our world and our universe that we may stand in awe of your majestic creation. Open our spirits which often linger in the far country of resentment that we may behold what manner of graciousness you have manifest to us and to our human family. As we behold your graciousness cause us truly to be grateful. With eyes wide open to the darkness of life may we nonetheless aspire to life’s grandeur.
Our world is heavy this week. All of Europe is fearful in the wake of the deadly bombings in Spain. We ask your healing presence among the wounded, we ask comfort for the grieving, and we ask resolve and fortitude for our nation. Be with the world of nations as it copes with those who have abandoned all human decency and intentionally slaughter the innocent. May they be brought to justice, but may we in turn be saved from a seething hatred which would consume us. Save us from the sin which would so easily beset us and make us a revengeful, hateful people. Increase our resolve to create a world in which there is greater justice for all, where no child goes to bed hungry at night, where the strong do not prey upon the weak, and where love and respect and tolerance become normative behaviours of all people. Amen
Fourth Sunday in Lent Joshua 5:9-12 Psalm 32
March 18, 2007 2 Cor. 5:16-21 Luke 15:1-3, 11b-32
Eternal God, divine parent, whom Jesus so frequently called Father, we thank you for the qualities of that metaphor which have brought such meaning to our lives.
We thank you that we have known you as one who knows our needs before we ask.
We thank you that you have been for us the waiting Father who has waited like a divine parent and longed for our return from the far countries of our souls.
We thank you that you have rejoiced at our return and welcomed us back to the family of God as you did the Prodigal Son.
We thank you that you are still our redeeming Father and the Mother who broods over her young, and rejoice more over one repentant sinner than those already in the fold.
We ask that you would enrich all those who have the role of Father in their families. Make us all loving, understanding, accepting, and gracious among our families.
For those who have known brokenness and whose father parental model was dysfunctional bring healing and wholeness. May we never use the fact that our families were not perfect as an excuse from making a fresh start and doing better for our own families. May we seize today and resolve to make a fresh start and develop new and healthier behaviours. Give us the strength to transcend the sins of our parents that they not be repeated to the fourth and fifth generations. Bless all the families of the earth with harmony, peace, and well being and keep them from want and suffering. Help them all to love the wayward, to rejoice when one who has stumbled changes, to transcend envy and jealousy, and to promote openness and love. Amen
Fifth Sunday in Lent Isaiah 43:16-21 Psalm 126
March 25, 2007 Philippians 3:4b-14 John 12:1-8
Our gracious, eternal God, we bow before you in awe, wonder, and with some confusion. We have heard once again the story of a woman deeply devoted to Jesus. It makes us wonder.
We wonder how we might possibly have her kind of love and devotion.
We wonder how we might possibly have her kind of generosity.
We wonder how we might possibly have her kind of humility.
We wonder how we might possibly have her kind of graciousness and hospitality to you and also to the least of your children.
And yes, we wonder how our practical, prudential side of us could possibly give such a lavish gift just for the love of giving.
O GOD, TEACH US THE LESSONS OF MARY’S LOVING ACT.
Teach us to see through the trappings of our religious faith to its deeper meanings.
Teach us somehow to grow more generous and giving spirits.
Teach us how to give hospitality and welcome to the strangers and the struggling and the broken who come into our lives.
Teach us the gift of humility.
Teach us to bow, to love, to worship, to adore, and then to know that this is our true purpose as your children.
Teach us how to sacrifice and how to provide blessing for those we meet even as Mary provided blessing for Jesus.
O GOD, TEACH US THE LESSONS OF MARY’S LOVING ACT. Amen
Liturgy of the Palms Psalm 118:1-2, 19-29 Luke 19:28-40 or
April 1, 2007 John 12:12-16
O eternal One, shrouded in mystery, yet revealed in Jesus; awesome in power, yet preferring to relate to us in gentleness; capable of commanding us, yet preferring to win us with love; we can but bow in awe, in wonder, in adoration, and in praise to you who are from age to age and into all of the ages.
We thank you for that humble ride Jesus took into Jerusalem. Like those folk who greeted him that day we wish to make him fit into our preconceptions. They were wishing a conqueror. Instead he came as a gentle peacemaker.
We would wish him to be the one who blesses our wars; instead he loves all people equally.
We would wish him to make himself and you crystal clear and remove the ambiguity from life; instead he offers us a way and a path and the opportunity to walk by faith and the necessity to exercise simple trust.
We would wish him to remove all sin and darkness from life; instead he offers us forgiveness.
We would wish him to remove life’s obstacles and sufferings; instead he offers us his presence in trial and rejoicing.
Be with us on this day, O God. May we be open to this life-changing Jesus. Cause us to be receptive of heart as we lean into this holy week. Teach us to temper our internal tantrums and demands and lead us to understand that most difficult virtue of humility.
Be with those who are confronting life-changing situations. Be with those with chronic and debilitating illness whose grief and loss and frustration are compounded as their physical power wane. Be with those who have drunk the bitter cup of grief. Be to them a powerful presence. Bind up their wounds and grant them comfort. And bring our world peace, O Prince of Peace. Amen
Easter Day Acts 10:34-43 or Isaiah 65:17-25 Psalm 118:1-2, 14-24
April 8, 2007 1 Cor. 15:19-26 or Acts 10:34-43
John 20 or Luke 24:1-12
Our gracious, eternal God, like those women who first arrived at the empty tomb we bow on this Easter day in awe and amazement. Yet we confess that sometimes in our journey we are like the disciples to whom these women went. Upon hearing the story they thought it an idle tale and did not believe it. Like them we have difficulty, O God, in embracing new truth and new realities. When the new comes we sometimes persist in living in the old. Be with us as we vacillate between thinking the gospel an idle tale and bowing in utter amazement. Lead us to embrace this living Lord who goes before us into the streets and places of our lives even as he went before the disciples to Galilee.
Be our companion on our journey just now. The world has presented us so much bad news of late. We hear daily of our soldiers, of nationals from other countries, and of innocent bystanders dying from the world’s hostilities. They are mostly numbers of people to us because we do not personally know them. Yet they are beloved by their families. Be with those left behind who reluctantly have had to learn the language and emotion of grief and loss. Grant them comfort. Bring peace where now there is hostility and chaos. Bolster us, living daily in a world of conflict, when we are tempted to succumb to moments of despair. May we lay claim to the victory of the living Jesus. May we make the conscious choice to live with hope in our hearts. May we not tire of confidently claiming that this is still your world. And may we always remember Jesus’ assertion that he has overcome the world. Lead us in living confidently. Assist us in being a part of a great Christian force which brings healing to the human spirit, joy to places of sadness, and laughter to our broken world. Guide us, O Prince of Peace. Amen
Second Sunday of Easter Acts 5:27-32 Psalm 118:14-29 or Psalm 150
April 15, 2007 Revelation 1:4-8 John 20:19-31
Eternal God, we thank you for this Eastertide. We thank you for your victory over defeat and death, for rekindling our hope, and for rescuing us from despair and cynicism. We thank you for the indomitable spirit of those who have gone before us.
We thank you for those who have both kept the faith alive and been kept by it.
We thank you for those who have gone through the darkness and refused to succumb to it.
We thank you for those who have helped resurrect our spirits by their examples and who have blessed us by believing in us when we had only hints of, but no confidence in, our own gifts.
We thank you for Jesus who lives and reigns with you both now and forevermore.
Accompany us on our faith journey.
Be our strength in all times of testing and trial.
Be our guide when the road ahead seems veiled.
Be our rock when the ground beneath us beings to shake and then whisper to us your “Peace be with you.”
Be our support when we doubt and waver.
Be our confidence when we hear Jesus’ words, “As the Father has sent me, so I send you.”
O God, give us your Holy Spirit to direct us, to sustain us, and to fulfill our mission. Continue to resurrect our souls. Temper our spirits and fill us with compassion, love and understanding toward the least of your children. Give us a new vision of a world remade and refashioned on justice and equity. Give us the will to make it happen and always to remember that we are under a mandate. May we hear again Jesus’ words: “…so I send you.” Amen
Third Sunday of Easter Acts 9:1-6, (7-20) Psalm 30
April 22, 2007 Revelation 5:11-14 John 21:1-19
O God, we hear the ancient challenge of Jesus to Peter reverberating through our history and challenging us once again as he asked Peter if he loved him. We too struggle and squirm for an honest answer.
Do we love you enough to reorder our lives and set new priorities for ourselves?
GIVE US THE COURAGE TO ANSWER HONESTLY.
Do we love you enough to feed your lambs, to tend your sheep, to feed your sheep?
GIVE US THE COURAGE TO ANSWER HONESTLY.
Do we love you enough to love people and not possessions?
GIVE US THE COURAGE TO ANSWER HONESTLY.
Do we love you enough to commit a portion of our time and talents to serving others?
GIVE US THE COURAGE TO ANSWER HONESTLY.
Do we love you enough to sacrifice and to share the goods we possess in order that those who are deprived may have a place at life’s table, an opportunity to gain an education, and a chance to know justice?
GIVE US THE COURAGE TO ANSWER HONESTLY.
Do we love you enough to proclaim to the world the hope and vision of our faith?
GIVE US THE COURAGE TO ANSWER HONESTLY.
Gentle Jesus, may we hear your challenge to love wherever you call us to encounter our sisters and brothers. Break through our obtuseness and our resistance and persist in challenging us as you persisted with Peter. Lead us in our commitment to follow you. Lead us to say with our actions: “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.” May we invite others to share in your eternal banquet. Amen
Fourth Sunday of Easter Acts 9:36-43 Psalm 23
April 29, 2007 Revelation 7:9-17 John 10:22-30
Our gracious, eternal God, as we bow our hearts in your presence we bow in need of your graciousness. We live in a world where there is often little tolerance and compassion among human kind. We do not do well with diversity. Our history is replete with rejecting behaviours which have shut out people due to their religious beliefs, due sometimes to the color of their skin, due sometimes to their national origin, due sometimes to their sexual orientation, and due sometimes just to stubborn dislike. We bow in need of your forgiveness and grace. Forgive us our rejecting behaviours. Forgive us the rigid attitudes of our hearts which would shut out even one of your children.
We pray that you would change our hearts. Drive out the fears which so easily beset us. For fear is always what causes us to retreat from and reject others and it is fear that holds us back from embracing them.
Give us a heart like Jesus, a receiving and gracious heart.
Give us hearts which reach out to embrace others.
Give us wide open arms to embrace the pain of the exile in our midst.
Give us the will to be a church which is a gathering of the wounded, the vulnerable; yes, and also of the hopeful, those who are hopeful of a new and exciting life and a new community in Jesus the Christ.
We also bring before you the great pain and travail of our broken and war-torn world. Be with the wounded and the suffering. Be among the grieving. Be with soldiers who have served too long and yet must stay on duty because they cannot be relieved. Be with the sadistic who find delight in others’ suffering. In all of that sinfulness may a new world be born. Amen
Fifth Sunday of Easter Acts 11:1-18 Psalm 148
May 6, 2007 Revelation 21:1-6 John 31:31-35
Eternal God, gracious and loving divine parent of us all, brooding over your creation with an everlasting love, we give you thanks this day for so many things:
for the families of our origins;
for nurturing mothers and fathers and for our children;
for those who have nurtured us in the faith;
for those who have faithfully offered their gifts in the various ministries of the church;
for all who contribute to the enriching of our lives, our minds, our faith;
for a culture which provides so many opportunities for mental and spiritual stimulation and growth.
We are of all people so richly blessed. And we give you thanks for planting us here.
We ask your blessing on our fragile world. Be with those who command others and cause them to be faithful in much. Be with those who are under orders or subordinate and may they be faithful in lesser tasks. Be with those who have lost their way and betrayed their better selves. Restore faith and renew visions and lead us to a better world.
Give us a world where there is greater justice.
Give us a world where the strong aid the weak.
Give us a world where no-one and no child is hungry at night.
Give us a world where there is safety and all of your children can lie down in peace.
Give us a world where we share the vision and dream of Peter and dare not to presume to call unclean any of your created children.
Give us a world where we make no distinction between people based on race or nationality and we accept everyone as your child. Amen
Sixth Sunday of Easter Acts 16:9-15 Psalm 67
May 13, 2007 Rev. 21:10,22-22:5 John 14:23-29 or 5:1-9
Eternal One, you provide hope for your people in the most difficult of times and in Jesus gave us the promise of peace.
Be with us when our hope has worn thin.
Be with us when we wonder about tomorrow.
Be with us when the events of life cause us to question and wonder about your ways.
Be with us when there is injustice among any of your people.
In such times cause us to experience your power that we might be renewed. Remind us of those comforting words of peace which you brought so gently to your friends when they were afraid of the future. May those words register with our souls and overcome our resistance.
We resist and oftentimes shrink back from the new.
We resist and prefer to linger in the old because even when the old is worn out and ceases to work at least it is familiar and comfortable.
We resist the new because it might involve us in changes which we are not sure we can master and achieve.
We resist the new because it might involve us with people with whom we are uncomfortable.
O God of the new, O God of change, O God of adventure, O God of all peoples, make all things new, you who made your home with mortals and dwelt and dwell among us.
Deepen our ability to trust. Deepen our ability to take one day at a time. Deepen our ability to love. Deepen our ability to entrust all of our dear ones to you. Deepen our sense that this is your world and that you love it and brood over it even still. Deepen our compassion for all who suffer. Amen
Ascension of the Lord Acts 1:1-11 Psalm 47 or Psalm 93
May 20, 2007 Ephesians 1:15-23 Luke 24:44-53
Most gracious God, enshrouded in awesome majesty, we have need of confession whenever we bow to recognize your presence and to listen to your beckoning.
We are so much like the disciples of old.
We disclaim our own power and underestimate the gifts which you have so graciously bestowed upon us.
We want to turn things over to you rather than own the challenges which you place squarely before us.
We want some divine intervention from you to set the world right rather than working for justice, peace, and good will among all your peoples.
Forgive our foolishness. Help us to lay claim to the promise Jesus made to his friends that they too would receive power to be his witnesses. May we too receive the power to be your witnesses to our time and our world. Give us a vision worthy of our time, our talents, and our best efforts, so that we might lean toward the day when your reign is recognized by all people and all people regard others as your children, as sisters and brothers.
We thank you for those young people among us who will be having a commencement and graduation. Open to them new and exciting possibilities for the future. May their challenges be enough to force them to grow but not so great as to overwhelm them. Make their lives full. Give them courage to engage the world and to fashion it better than previous generations. Give them a vision of a world of love and of peace and the commitment to make it happen.
We also ask that you would be in all of the suffering points of your people everywhere. Be with the sick and the dying. Be with the people who must make war. Be with those who nurture hatred. Be with those suffering innocently in war zones. Grant to all your comfort and healing and peace. Amen
Day of Pentecost Acts 2:1-21 or Genesis 11:1-9 Psalm 104:24-34, 35b
May 27, 2007 Romans 8:14-17 or Acts 2:1-21 John 14:8-17, (25-27)
Our gracious, mysterious God, God of the wind, God of the Spirit, God of mystery, continue to invade our spirits with your powerful spirit. For in that one long ago powerful Pentecost moment, that unscrambling of the confusion of languages, all who were present were able to comprehend and understand.
However you come, whether in the wind, or whether in the silence, we need your help, O God. Bring to us and our world Pentecost moments when the myriad peoples of the earth, representing differing cultures and languages, hear one another with clarity and understanding and unity. For even using one common language we so frequently fail to understand. We confuse one another not so much with nuances of language but with nuances of deception and intention. We use words in our culture to spin stories to our ends, to hide and conceal the truth, to impose our truth on others. We refuse to listen to the truth of others and we forget your promise that the truth will set us free. Save us. Bring us Pentecost moments.
We bring before you those whose lives are punctuated with stress, dread, and terror.
Be with those who are held hostage in the struggle in the Middle East.
Be with their families who think the worst.
Be with those in prison there.
Be with those in our armed forces whose lives are constantly in danger.
Be with our enemies who are so consumed with hatred and save us from succumbing to hatred.
To them and to us bring Pentecost moments so that one day we might all comprehend and understand completely and know the unity of the spirit. Amen
Trinity Sunday Proverbs 8:1-4, 22-31 Psalm 8
June 3, 2007 Romans 5:1-5 John 16:12-15
O holy one, ever mysterious to us, yet ever in and among us, we thank you for your placing within us a quest for truth. We thank you for your hidden prodding toward new discoveries. We thank you that however much we gain of the truth we still remain unfinished because life is always an up and down journey and we cannot contain it all. Be with us on our journey and lead us as the disciples were led to embrace new and exciting truths as we are able to receive them.
Lead us in those times of stagnation when we feel nothing is happening and when we seem to be stuck in place.
Lead us in those times when discouragement seems to overwhelm us and we think the quest for truth is futile.
Lead us in those times when a new idea threatens some of our long-held beliefs and we become fearful.
Lead us in those times when the light dawns on some new idea or truth and we become excited and renewed.
Lead in those times when a truth we hold dear comes in conflict with a truth someone else holds dear and there is conflict. In such times help us to be gracious and open rather than judgmental and rejecting.
Lead us ever onward with the confidence that you have “more light and truth to reveal to us from your word.” (John Robinson)
May your spirit lead us onward, be patient with us, and lead us into all truth. Be with the church and all faiths throughout the earth and help us to engage in respectful dialogue and come to greater understanding and unity of spirit. Amen
Proper 5 (10) 1 Kings 17:8-16, (17-24) or I Kings 17:17-24
June 10, 2007 Psalm 46 or Psalm 30 Galatians 1:11-24
Our gracious, eternal God, we bow today having heard an event which creates for us a great mystery. Our minds cannot get around what happened that day in Nain when Jesus returned an only son to his mother. We can only bow and wonder about this Jesus.
We wonder about what kind of power he had.
We wonder about why he chose this particular woman among all others who needed his attention.
We wonder about the depth of his compassion for our sorrows and how you must love us with a healing love.
We wonder about those carrying the boy who were stopped in their tracks when Jesus came forward.
Our questioning minds can only wonder. They cannot get around such a powerful happening. We can, however, thank you for the compassion you have for all who bear grief. We can identify with this sorrowing woman. We can also identify with the boy for we are in need figuratively of arising from all that is dead in our lives.
We are in need of arising from the slumber of lethargy about our faith.
We are in need of arising from the slumber of insensitivity to human need throughout the earth.
We are in need of arising from the slumber of prejudice, discrimination and racism which has so long infected our land.
We are in need of arising from the slumber of failing to work for peace.
We are in need of arising from the slumber of sloth and neglect of the great commission.
O God, help us to arise. Touch us that we may arise to life. Amen
Proper 6 (11) 1 Kings 21:1-10, (11-14), 15-21a or 2 Sam. 11:26-12:10, 13-15
June 17, 2007 Psalm 5:1-8 or Psalm 32 Galatians 2:15-21
O holy one, we bow today so aware of our tendencies and efforts to diminish the gospel of Jesus. We get occasional glimpses of your grace but we so often fail to grasp its wideness and we fall back into a religion of law.
Jesus proclaimed the possibility of a radical faith and trust while we try to make faith more certain and controllable.
Jesus proclaimed freedom of the spirit while we find it easier to live by surface rules which serve as a flight from anxiety and ambiguity.
Jesus summed up all law in the word love but we put limits on whom we will love and we cast a long shadow of judgment over many people we meet.
O God, from the time of the Galatians your church has often been losing its way. Your grace is so abundant; yet we retreat into the world of law. We build systems and rules which are intended to rule out people who do not live as we think they ought. Grant us your healing touch. Remind us, O God, that we are justified and made yours only through your grace and graciousness.
Help us to remember that we cannot buy or bargain or bully our way to righteousness by our own efforts.
Help us to remember that it is only through faith that we are made whole.
Help us to remember that your grace is granted to all people and that we are called to have generous and receiving spirits as we encounter others of your children on our journeys.
Help us to put aside the old calculating self and walk with freedom and faith and renewed joy. Amen
THIS PRAYER IS BASED ON THE GOSPEL FOR JUNE 17
Eternal God, we are reminded today of so many of our internal issues which continue to plague us and just won’t go away. We are reminded of some of the worst sides of humanity, yet still they persist among all of us.
We are so like Simon, liking propriety and looking down on the outcast.
We are so judgmental that when confronted with a flagrant sinner we recoil into a satisfied kind of self-righteousness.
We are inclined to hold onto the superficial trappings of our faith and to miss the reality and depth of your forgiving grace.
We are so fearful of the potential evil that lurks in our own souls that we find it easy to behold it in others where it is so much more glaring.
We are inclined both to miss the reality of grace and to deny it to others.
O GOD, FORGIVE US OUR BEGRUDGING AND REJECTING SPIRITS. We do not wish to remain this way. We wish to grow larger, more accepting spirits.
Help us come to a deeper understanding of your profound and loving graciousness and grace which you offer the worst of sinners.
Help us to take the edge off our so prevalent rejecting reactions.
Help us to develop behaviours which are welcoming and accepting to each person you place in our path.
Help us to love all of your children and not do violence to the undeserving because we are all undeserving. Amen
Proper 7 (12) 1 Kings 19:1-4, (5-7), 8-15a or Isaiah 65:1-9
June 24, 2004 Psalm 42 and 43 or Psalm 22:19-28 Galatians 3:23-29
Our gracious, eternal God, we thank you for the blessings which are abundantly ours. We thank you for the gentle arrival of summer days, for azure skies and the new and varied colors in new green leaves, for gentle warm days, for all of nature which reminds us of your gracious provision for our needs, and for such a beautiful world which points us to a majestic creator God.
We thank you for the Scriptures which provide us a window into our souls and provide for spiritual growth and understanding. We are reminded today of some of the tensions with which we permanently live.
We would live free in your grace, yet we easily succumb to wanting clear rules of law.
We would live free in your grace, yet we often want to be justified by what we do and by our achievements and good works.
We would live free in your grace, yet we are inclined to long for some clear statement or code which, when upheld by us, would give us the confidence and certainty that we have done all that you require of us.
We would live free in your grace, yet we so easily divide people up into the righteous and the unrighteous, the favoured and the rejected, that we miss the gospel’s truth that there are no superior Christians, but we are all united in you who love all with an everlasting love.
O God, permeate our hearts with your grace and help us to find greater room in them for others.
Breathe your gentle, healing spirit upon all this day who need your special graces and keep this world in your loving embrace. Amen
Proper 8 (13) 2 Kings 2:1-2, 6-14 or 1 Kings 19:15-16, 19-21
July 1, 2007 Psalm 77:1-2, 11-20 or Psalm 16 Galatians 5:1, 13-25
Our gracious God, we thank you today for the land in which we live. We thank you for the freedoms which are ours, for the multitude of opportunities presented to each of us, for a land of abundance. Forgive us for our lack of creativity in sharing the nation’s bounties inequitably, for tarnishing our political process with greed, for failing the needy. Save us from that litany of destructive behaviours which St. Paul outlined: enmities, strife, jealousy, anger, quarrels, dissension, factions, envy, and all that would undo us. Lead us instead to strive for the fruits of the spirit.
Help us to develop loving behaviours which demonstrate care and compassion for others.
Help us in an over-serious and gloomy world to know real joy because you help us overcome the world.
Help us to work for peace in a world which seems to prefer violence.
Help us, in our hurry up world, to develop patience and to learn that all does not have to be completed in our hurry up time.
Help us to demonstrate kindness to all and especially to those with whom we find it especially difficult to be kind.
Help us to learn generosity with our resources but help us especially to learn how to be generous in our attitudes and behaviours toward people.
And help us to be faithful, gentle, and self-controlled.
O God, raise our national vision. Give us tolerance and understanding for all peoples. May we hold dear for all people the freedoms we cherish. Amen
Proper 9 (14) 2 Kings 5:1-14 or Isaiah 66:10-14
July 8, 2007 Psalm 30 or Psalm 66:1-9 Galatians 6:(1-6), 7-16
Luke 10:1-11, 16-20
Eternal God, we thank you for sunny and gentle summer days, for a world so beautiful, for long days with early sunrises and lingering evenings and spectacular sunsets. We thank you for the mountains which have varied and different looks and which are a constant reminder of whence comes our help. On such a day as this, lazy as it may seem, we ask that you would challenge us to a greater vision for which we have previously lacked courage. Remind us that in looking back we also look forward to today’s challenges.
Remind us that Jesus, supremely gifted, nonetheless called seventy others to go before him and prepare his way because he could not carry on his tasks without help.
Remind us that we too are your hands and voice today and we are needed as were they.
Remind us that our task as a church is not to be happily cloistered looking inward but to be your labourers in your harvest today.
Remind us, whenever we feel inadequate for the task before us, that we are told to trust you and to step forward with boldness and trust.
Remind us that we are called to be peacemakers and to bring the message of peace to others.
Remind us that we have a ministry to the sick and the needy and we are called to bear your message of a victorious life to all peoples.
O God, give us power in our time. Startle us as those seventy were startled by the results of their witness. Give us power to live the good news, to proclaim the good news, and to lead and love others to the good news. Make us bold in your service. Amen
Proper 10 (15) Amos 7:7-17 or Deuteronomy 30:9-14
July 15, 2007 Psalm 82 or Psalm 25:1-10 Colossians 1:1-14
Eternal God, we come this day to hear again your Word of grace.
We come to have you illumine the darker corners of our lives.
We come to find comfort where we have aching, hurt, and pain.
We come to receive once again support and love from our sisters and brothers.
We come to receive forgiveness for our sins and failures.
We come to be renewed for our journey.
We pray that we may know a profound sense of your love and acceptance and have confidence that we are among those who by faith know your grace.
Like the rich ruler we know the two simple commandments which sum up the law. But like him we are stung in our spirits by Jesus’ story of the Good Samaritan.
We are as prone to be repelled by people who are different as were those two who walked by and would not get involved because he was a Samaritan.
We are as prone to be too busy to stop.
We are as prone not to want to be bothered.
We are as prone to want someone else to help and to wish his problem away.
We are as prone to be insensitive to the sufferings of others.
Make us reflective in those moments when we would reject another person. Help us to choose on the side of inclusiveness and learn to curb the common human bent toward rejection and exclusiveness. Temper our hatreds. Temper our penchant for believing the worst of people. Temper our prejudices. Lead us one day to unity and peace and to love all your people. Amen
Proper 11 (16) Amos 8:1-12 or Genesis 18:1-10a Psalm 52 or Psalm 15
July 22, 2007 Colossians 1:15-28 Luke 10:38-42
O holy one, ever trying to influence and touch the hearts of your people, we thank you today for the opportunity to pause, to worship, and to reflect upon the direction our lives are taking. We confess that we so easily lose our focus. There is so much of Martha residing within us.
Like Martha we too often live in that land of resentment where we feel put upon and used, never quite acknowledging that it is we who choose that position.
Like Martha we become anxious and distracted when we feel overwhelmed and we unexpectedly lash out at those around us.
Like Martha we become distracted from where our true focus ought to be and we get lost in a whirlwind of details.
Like Martha we often fail to know how to stop the downward spirals in which we find ourselves.
Like Martha we become people of worry rather than people of trust and confidence.
Correct us and make us more like Mary.
Make us people who are able to sort out life and set meaningful priorities.
Make us people who are teachable and who learn from the ancient wisdom of the Word.
Make us people who are attentive to our inner lives and who are constantly growing.
Make us people who invest our time in others and in things which make a difference in the lives of others.
Make us people who are more like Mary. Amen
Proper 12 (17) Hosea 1:2-10 or Genesis 18:20-32 Psalm 85 or Psalm 138
July 29, 2007 Colossians 2:6-15 (16-19) Luke 11:1-13
O eternal one, we thank you for the rains which been so steady this week, reminding us that you replenish our earth. We thank you for your faithfulness to us.
We confess that we frequently do not know how to address you. Our words fail us because we fail to bring to you our complete selves. We want to present the Sunday side of ourselves and hide the chaos, frustration, and inner turmoil which are also parts of us. When we feel as bereft as did Job we fail to rage and so we fail to make contact with you. O God of the storm as well as of the peaceful quiet, teach us how to progress on our spiritual journeys.
Teach us to pray as Jesus taught his friends.
Teach us what is important and enable us to bring what is important to you in prayerful conversation.
Teach us the kind of trust that confidently relies upon you to provide us our daily bread.
Teach us about the link between asking for forgiveness and being willing to forgive others.
Teach us how to be strong in the face of temptation.
Teach us how to commit all to your rule, to trust your power, to behold your glory.
We pray for our nation which is engaged in political dialogue. We pray that respect and decency will prevail over what is often a rancorous process. We pray that the ancient vision of justice may be more completely realized in this land and in the world.
We also pray for our world. Where hatred prevails we pray that human hearts might change. May all peoples give up ways of relating which are destructive. We have all nurtured enmity over and over again which only pushes peace farther and farther away. Help us to give up such foolishness and work for peace. Amen
Proper 13 (18) Hosea 11:1-11 or Ecclesiastes 1:2, 12-14; 2:18-23
August 5, 2007 Psalm 107:1-9, 43 or Psalm 49:1-12
Colossians 3:1-11 Luke 12:13-21
Our gracious, eternal God, we bow to you who are from everlasting to everlasting. We thank you for that seed of uneasiness which you have placed within us which causes us to hunger and thirst for an inner peace which endures. Yet we often wander on life’s journey and fail to find peace. And we know that our lack of peace is due to the many ways in which we misdirect our inner discontent.
We set our sights on money and would figuratively build bigger and better barns.
We keep our eye upon those who are more successful and we become consumed by envy.
We carry resentment that someone else has more than we and we rail against life’s unfairness.
We long for a security which money might bring but fail to see that there is no way money can cure our inner discontent.
Bend your ear to us this day. Provide your healing touch and help us to redirect our search for security and peace.
Help us always to remember that it is you who lend us life and that life is a gift.
Help us to remember that the purpose of life is always greater than knowing that we have enough for tomorrow.
Help us to remember that our resources also are only a gift and that we are only caretakers with a responsibility for the well being of our sisters and brothers.
Help us to remember that true riches do not lie in abundance but in being rich toward you who alone offer a peace which passes all understanding.
O God, we ask that you would transform us and provide us victory over all greed and avarice. Amen
Proper 14 (19) Isaiah 1:1, 10-20 – or Genesis 15:1-6
August 12, 2007 Psalm 50:1-8, 22-23 or Psalm 33:12-22
Hebrews 11:1-3, 8-16 Luke 12:32-40
O holy One, we thank you that we stand in a long line of believers who have been faithful through the ages. You have been leading your people through trial and difficulty and have always set before them hope for today and hope for a better tomorrow. We pray that you would bless us in our time as we seek to be as faithful as our forebears. May we too know the faith which is filled with hope in things not seen.
Give to us a faith like the grain of mustard seed which had small beginnings but which yielded large results.
Give to us the faith to move the mountains of difficulty which come to each of us.
Give to us the faith that sees a distant goal and is willing to work to achieve it.
Give to us a faith which has a vision of a new world where peace and love characterize the transactions of people and of nations and where war is no more.
Give to us a faith such as Abraham’s to move forward not knowing our destination but trusting in your guiding providence.
Give to us a faith which is able to endure those moments of personal disquiet and to trust that you are with us.
Give to us a faith which sees the welfare of humankind as our business because it is the focus of your enduring love for your people.
Give to us a faith which sees beyond the years to an eternal city.
O God, give us faith to walk with you through the ebb and flow and the victories and the defeats of life and to achieve victory and mastery of life. Amen
Proper 15 (20) Isaiah 5:1-7 or Jeremiah 23:23-29
August 19, 2007 Psalm 80:1,2,8-19 or Psalm 82
Hebrews 11:19-12:2 Luke 12:49-56
Our gracious, eternal God, we pause with gratitude on this late August Sunday. We thank you for the land in which we live and which is now yielding bountiful harvests. We thank you for the abundance of foods and the many choices available to us. We have been abundantly blessed in this nation of ours and we thank you.
As we reflect on life we know that most of us will be little remembered in future generations. We will not be mentioned in an enduring book as were Rahab, Gideon, Barak, Samson, David, and that host of others who were given as examples of people of outstanding faith. Yet we pray that you would nonetheless make us people of outstanding faith.
Give us the vision to work for a world where all people share the abundance we have known and where none of your children is without.
Give us the vision to fashion a world where discrimination is no longer rampant.
Give us the vision of a world where there is acceptance and love and affirmation expressed to the least of your children.
Give us the vision to create a world where there is respect granted by people of all faiths for all others.
Give us the vision to work for a world of justice and peace.
O God, surrounded as we are by that great cloud of witnesses which has gone before us, grant us courage to forge forward in faith and hope in our time. Help us to set aside all pride, all concern to be remembered or recognized, and help us to be faithful to the heavenly calling. Help us to run the race set before us. Amen
Proper 16 (21) Jeremiah 12:4-10 or Isaiah 58:9b-14 Psalm 71:1-6 or 103:1-8
August 26, 2007 Hebrews 12:18-29 Luke 13:10-17
O God of graciousness, we bow ever astonished by your lavish bestowal of love, grace, and tenderness to us. Indelibly etched in the good news of Jesus is your loving acceptance of the wayward, the rebellious, the broken, and the contrite. Cause us likewise to extend that loving acceptance to those whom we meet on our daily journey. Save us from the self-righteous, condemning attitude exhibited by the leader of the synagogue that day when Jesus healed on the Sabbath day. We confess that it is an attitude which we oftentimes exhibit. Save us from the false security that somehow our truth is the only truth, that our understandings are the only right ones, and that we hold control over your mysterious workings in humankind. Save us from building barriers when we should be building bridges and partnerships. Be with us on our life journeys.
When our way has suddenly become hard and seemingly difficult give us grace to move forward.
When our way has become lonely and uncertain give us grace to step forward.
When our way holds more darkness than light give us grace to move forward.
When we quiver inwardly give us greater courage.
When we hurry but seemingly get nowhere give us greater patience.
When we are overwhelmed by commitments give us trust that you will provide strength.
When we are weary and wonder about our results give us faithfulness.
Bless our Christian community and may we all be held up by your strong and everlasting arms. Amen
Proper 17 (22) Jeremiah 2:4-13 or Sirach 10:12-18
Sept. 2, 2007 Psalm 81:1, 10-16 or Psalm 112
Hebrews 13:1-8, 15-16 Luke 14:1, 7-14
Eternal God, we thank you for the opportunity of quiet reflection upon our lives and the patterns which have gained dominance in them. We thank you for the opportunity to reflect upon the focus of our lives and to hear the corrective wisdom from our faith. Give us courage to have ears to hear because our confessions are a litany of the struggles we live with daily.
We are so much like the people of long ago, wanting to have prestige and power.
We are so much like the people of long ago, elbowing our way to the top and the highest places of honour.
We are so much like the people of long ago, wanting to be recognized as a cut above others.
We are so much like the people of long ago, wanting to engage in the game of competition and beat out others.
We are so much like the people of long ago, wanting to toot our own horns and call attention to our importance.
FORGIVE US OUR PRIDEFUL AND SINFUL WAYS. Give us a new perspective on what is important in life. Help us to see our neighbours as people to be loved and affirmed and not as people with whom we are in competition and who must be beaten. Teach us ways of humility and give us self-perspective. Help us to build self worth which is based on positive achievements rather than on power. Help us not to divide up people into those who are worthy to associate with and those who are not. May we not discriminate against any of your children. Help us, O God, to be among those who know how to humble themselves rather than to be among those who constantly seek to call attention to themselves. Be with us in this inner struggle and help us at least to take baby steps toward humility. Amen
Proper 18 (23) Jeremiah 18:1-11 or Deuteronomy 30:15-20
Sept. 9, 2007 Psalm 139:1-6, 13-18 or Psalm 1
Philemon 1-21 Luke 14:25-33
Eternal God, we bow with ambivalence during this another week of a September eleventh. The remembrance of that destructive catastrophe is indelibly seared into our souls. We confess our tendency to harbour hatred which we know is wrong. We often have felt outrage and intense anger. Aircraft have taken on a new and alien and unwanted meaning. And we have formed a very suspicious world which seems always to be on the edge of terror. Deliver us, O God, from this body of death.
Provide healing to our hatred bent world.
Give healing to the age-old tendency to place blame for problems on someone else.
Give healing to the age-old tendency to seek revenge, to save face, to get even.
Give healing to the age-old and foolish notion that force and war and arms are the solution to any problem.
Give healing to the age-old tendency of nations to desire to dominate others.
Give us greater trust in one another. Give us the will to choose love rather than hate. Give us the ability to risk on behalf of peace.
We pray for our national leaders and all of the political leaders of the world. Teach them and us new ways of relating. Heal the inevitable conflicts of the world. Teach us all where to focus the values of our hearts. Help us to be about the business of building that shining realm of God of which Jesus spoke, of counting the cost, of divesting our lives of the greed of possessions. Help us to put aside the values of the past. Help us learn to deny ourselves in the pursuit of the gospel. Help us to count the cost of our spiritual journey, to find victory, and to trust you when the way is not clear. Amen
Proper 19 (24) Jeremiah 4:11-12, 22-28 or Exodus 32:7-14
Sept. 16, 2007 Psalm 14 or Psalm 51:1-10 I Timothy 1:12-17
Our gracious, eternal God, we thank you for this Sunday which begins a new program year for our church. Fill us today with excitement.
Fill us with excitement for our children and young people as they begin their study and fellowship.
Fill us with excitement for the inquiring minds of adults as we too return to more disciplined study.
Fill us with excitement for the opportunity of stretching our minds.
We would ask your blessing on all these ventures. Deepen our faith, increase our understanding, enlarge our dreams, and further our commitment to be your faithful people in this place.
We bring before you our cares and our needs. The world continues to know episodes of violence. The level of anxiety and apprehension for many people is great. Right now the world needs your quieting and steadying peace. Bring calm to our souls when the waves of life roll high. Give us the assurance that you will meet us in every storm of life. Give us the assurance that we are always in your care. And help us to cast all of our cares upon you who love us with an everlasting love.
Continue to teach us of the depths of your love for humankind. When we are weary of evil and people we regard as evil remind us that Jesus reached out to sinners. When we feel self-content remind us that you reach out to the one who is lost and rejoice when one of your children again is found or finds the way home. Overwhelm us once again with your searching love that would not only find the lost one but would bring healing and love and forgiveness. Give to your church the love which searches for the lost. Amen
Proper 20 (25) Jeremiah 8:18-9:1 or Amos 8:4-7
Sept. 23, 2007 Psalm 79:1-9 or Psalm 113
1 Timothy 2:1-7 Luke 16:1-13
O holy One, we bow this day, each coming from a different place. Some bow triumphantly and feel strongly about the mastery of life. Some bow with unsettling circumstances in their lives and are uncertain, cautious. Some bow with disappointments from life. We all bow with ambivalence about the world of wealth and money and means and what it means to be a steward.
On the one hand we want to trust you; on the other hand we struggle and strive and feel better when we are financially secure.
On the one hand we want to use money and cherish people; on the other hand we are tempted to use others for gain.
On the one hand we want to be able to risk for you; on the other hand we are held back by our fears about tomorrow.
Deliver us, gracious God, from this ongoing battle of trying to serve two masters. Enable us to put order and perspective into our lives, to be faithful with what you have put into our hands as a trust, and most of all to discover what true riches are. Give us joy in our gifts, wisdom in our money management, fulfillment with goals reached, and the satisfaction of joining the faithful in building your shining city.
For our war-torn and war-weary world we again ask almost the impossible. Change the hearts of warriors and of nations that we may know peace. Be with innocent civilians and children who suffer. Give us the will to put an end to war and the suffering which continues in so many places. Amen
Proper 21 (26) Jeremiah 32:1-3a, 6-15 or Amos 6:1a, 4-7
Sept. 30, 2007 Psalm 91:1-6, 14-16 or Psalm 146
1 Timothy 6:6-19 Luke 16:19-31
Our gracious, eternal God, we bow today with humility and a little bit of fear. We thank you that you do not wish us to cower before you in fear, however, but to remind us that our actions and decisions carry with them a sense of accountability and they bear lasting effects. The world has many rich men but it has many more people like Lazarus. The age old saga of neglect and poverty go on and on from century to century. Help us to learn the lesson Jesus taught so long ago.
Help us to realize that we cannot live life indifferently from those who suffer.
Help us to realize that each of us is bound to all others.
Help us to realize that to whom much is given much is also required.
Help us to realize that the resources we have been given are not for our exclusive use and enjoyment but are meant to be utilized in your service and for the needy.
Help us to realize that we are called to step forth and place our resources and our influence upon the side of justice for all people.
Help us to realize, O God, that we are accountable to you for our life’s performance.
Transform our attitudes toward money with which we all struggle. Transform us from a stingy and calculating posture to one of generosity. Transform us from insensitivity and a sense of powerlessness about poverty to people who care. Impress upon us that we who have so much can bring relief to those who hunger and suffer. Impress upon us that we are our sisters’ and our brothers’ keeper. Amen
Proper 22 (27) Lamentations 1:1-6 or Habakkuk 1:1-4, 2:1-4
Oct. 7, 2007 Lamentations 3:19-26 or Psalm 37:1-9
2 Timothy 1:1-14 Luke 17:5-10
Eternal God, we are blessed to be invited to the table of our Lord with all of our Christian sisters and brothers on this world-wide communion day. May we feel the strength of your church universal. May we deepen our commitments. May we have our vision elevated. And may our mission in this time and this place be made clear.
Save your church from all sinfulness and foolishness. Help us to refrain from baptizing our opinions and prejudices and assume they are supported by the gospel. Remind us of the biblical truth that judgment begins with the house of God. Cleanse us, challenge us, lead us, so that we may be faithful to the heavenly vision.
We pray for our fragile world. Where choices are being made in hatred, where violence is being planned or perpetrated, where any human being turns away from a neighbor in anger, swing low and transform those hearts with love. Help us as your children to foreswear our penchant for war and work for peace.
We pray that you would give your church a faith which is as powerful and influential as a grain of mustard seed and whose influence is felt throughout the world.
Give us the faith that we hold the key to a power we have left untapped.
Give us the faith that though we individually feel we have little to offer you can multiply the effects of our efforts.
Give us the faith that boldly puts forth our gifts and refuses to minimize them.
Give us the faith to believe that we can overcome the world.
O God, give us faith. Amen
Proper 23 (28) Jeremiah 29:1, 4-7 or 2 Kings 5:1-3, 7-15c
Oct. 14, 2007 Psalm 66:1-12 or Psalm 111
2 Timothy 2:8-15 Luke 17:11-19
Our gracious, eternal God, we come this day with many needs. Some are in need of healing as were these ten who called out to Jesus and who got his attention because they called out for mercy. Some have gone through that dark valley with Job and have within them a deep protest about how life has gone for them. Laments of your unfaithfulness and abandonment sometimes lie just beneath the surface. If we are in that number we pray that you would lead us to a new depth of trust and assurance which has thus far eluded us.
Some are in need of reconciliation and a fresh start and are looking to find again the magic of love and to find a way to elevate their lives above what seems like the din of incessant conflict. If we are in that number lead us we pray to new relational behaviours. But lead us also to have changed and renewed spirits. Teach us the joy of listening to the other for understanding rather than retort. Teach us the honesty of self-disclosure rather than deception and avoidance. Teach us to find unity and oneness once again.
Some are in need of learning how to be grateful and less self-centered and are in need of learning how to say “thank you” for your great gifts. If we are in that number, like the nine men who were healed and failed to say “thank you,” we struggle with taking life and its gifts and your graces for granted and assume that what we receive is our due. Yes, and sometimes life is too daily and we expect too much from life. Cause us to count our blessings and lend to all of us a heart filled with thankfulness and gratitude. Give to us a profound sense of gratitude for all of your blessings that we might say: “hallelujah.” Give us the ability to look on life and to say that it is good even as you pronounced it so in creation. Give us the attitude of gratitude. Amen
Proper 24 (29) Jeremiah 31:27-34 or Genesis 32:22-31
Oct. 21, 2007 Psalm 119:97-104 or Psalm 121
2 Timothy 3:14-4:5 Luke 18:1-8
Our gracious, eternal God, we bow this day and again ask you to teach us to pray.
In such times as we fail to feel your presence teach us the discipline of prayer. Rid us of any superficial demand for a feel-good faith so that our prayers are not dependent upon emotion.
In such times as something in our lives seems hopeless teach us to pray and not to give up.
In such times as it seems as if our words go forth but lack energy and life teach us to persist and pray even though we feel little passion.
In such times when we despair of ever finding an answer to a vexing problem teach us to pray and give us courage to continue onward.
In such times when we despair of prayer itself and wonder if it does any good teach us to be persistent as was that widow in Jesus’ long ago story.
O God, teach us the simplicity of prayer which Jesus taught. Give us the persistence to knock on your door and to bang at your gates and not to lose heart. And when we cannot find the words to articulate our needs or those of our neighbour may your spirit intercede with utterances from the depths of our being.
We ask your gentle care for the least of your children throughout the world: for those who suffer innocently because of cruelty; for people caught in the crossfire of war and conflict; for the hungry and the homeless everywhere. Be with them and give them courage in their unwanted crisis. Give us the resolve to build a just world. Amen
Proper 25 (30) Joel 2:23-32 or Sirach 35:12-17 or Jer. 14:7-10, 19-22
Oct. 28, 2007 Psalm 65 or Psalm 84:1-7 2 Timothy 4:6-8, 16-18
Eternal God, the holy one, we are often presumptuous when we come before you. We are so often like the Pharisee who went up to pray. We feel him inside us.
We feel him inside us when we feel that somehow we are of all your people most deserving.
We feel him inside us when we feel that we are not needy like other people because we are so self-reliant.
We feel him inside us when we feel that we are a cut above those with whom we live daily.
We feel him inside us when we are uncomfortable with the evil within us and we do such a marvellous job of self deception by denying it.
We feel him inside us when we feel that it is better to project evil onto others where we are able to see it so blatantly.
In all these ways we are the one in that story Jesus told, and in all these ways we are overcome by a pride which is unbecoming of your people. Forgive us and save us from this useless and destructive pattern. Give us the courage to pray that you would also be merciful to us because we are sinners. Grant us to find true humility of heart and spirit and the courage to look inwardly even when we fear what we may find. Help us again to discover and to believe in your grace which awaits a humble and contrite spirit. And help us to gain a faith which includes those who struggle, those who sin, those who have a ways to go. Make us into gracious people who know we live by grace and who make allowances for, rather than criticize, others. Give us generous hearts. Help us to own the humanity which we share with others and to embrace all your children. Amen
Proper 26 (31) Habakkuk 1:1-4; 2:1-4 or Isaiah 1:10-18
Nov. 4, 2007 Psalm 119:137-144 or Psalm 32:1-7
2 Thess. 1:1-4, 11-12 Luke 19:1-10
Our gracious, eternal God, we thank you for the scriptures which bring us stark reminders that illumine our human situation. Today we are reminded of one Zaccheus and his powerful need to be received, to be loved, to be accepted, to be blessed, and to be forgiven. He reflects one of the deepest needs of humankind and our longings are the same as his were that day when he longed to see Jesus.
We are also reminded that we are like the crowd that day and the host of judgmental, rejecting, self-righteous people who could not bear to behold such grace and acceptance. All they could do was complain and grumble about the company Jesus was keeping that day. We confess that we are not unlike them.
How often we feel that the wayward ought to get what they deserve.
How often we feel people need to watch the company they keep.
How often we feel the religious folk ought always to act religious.
How often we feel the sinner has no right to be a part of us.
How often with our condemning, self-righteous attitudes we place limits upon your love and grace.
In such times help us to climb above the prejudices we hold. In such times remind us that we are all children of Abraham. In such times help us to see the transforming Jesus who receives, loves, accepts, blesses, and forgives the worst of sinners and makes room for all of us in his company. Help us to see that he would come to dwell with each of us. Help us to make room for him and also for all of your children. Amen
Proper 27 (32) Haggai 1:15b-2:9 or Job 19:23-27a
Nov. 11, 2007 Psalm 145:1-5, 17-21 or Psalm 98 or Psalm 17:1-9
2 Thess. 2:1-5, 13-17 Luke 20:27-38
Our gracious, eternal God, we come to you on this consecration Sunday needing your blessing. You ask the gift of ourselves, yet we so often think only of money. We are often ambivalent about our resources. We think of obligation rather than of opportunity. We think of duty rather than the privilege of giving of ourselves and our money. We think others, more richly blessed than we, ought to bear the greatest burden of our church’s commitments. We take the joy out of sharing and we destroy the joy of feeling that we are a significant part of your work here in this church and throughout the world. Forgive us our lack of vision. Touch our hearts and teach us to give of our talents, our time, and our treasure so that we can know true joy, true peace, and true fulfillment.
We also ask your help for those times in our lives when difficulty comes. Give us the courage to meet misfortune with resolute hearts. Give us patience when answers or resolution do not come quickly. Through the anvil of life make us strong and help us to be victorious.
We offer our prayers for those who are presently going through suffering and who need your healing touch, for those whose lives know too much darkness, for those who grieve.
Be also with our troubled, violence prone world. Somehow may all of your children come to know that war is not the answer to the issues of nations or peoples. Bless our veterans who have had to endure war and bloodshed. Bless also those who currently serve in harms way in our present conflicts and bring us peace to this earth. And bless all who suffer from the consequences of war. Give them all comfort and strength. Amen
Proper 28 (33) Isaiah 65:17-25 or Malachi 4:1-2a
Nov. 18, 2007 Isaiah 12 or Psalm 98 2 Thess. 3:6-13
Our gracious eternal God, ever with us through the seasons of the year as well as the seasons of life, we pause with thanksgiving in our hearts this day.
We thank you for this land, filled with resources and beauty, wealthy and manifestly blessed when compared to the nations of the earth.
We thank you that for most of us the occasion of our birth placed us in this country with such great opportunity and not in another land where doors would be shut.
We thank you for the way in which you have so richly peopled our lives and placed us in rich communities such as this church where we are received and accepted so graciously.
We thank you for a free society with great resources and the opportunity to read great books, hear great music, exercise civic responsibility, and find fulfillment without government interference.
We pray for our nation as we approach our day of national thanksgiving. Make us mindful of our past and inspire within us the vision to perfect a still more perfect union. May our leaders be people of vision who by their offices are led to become statesman rather than opportunistic politicians. Give us all the vision of a world where justice and peace and love reign and where all of your people have their needs met. Give us thankful hearts. Amen
Reign of Christ Jeremiah 23:1-6 Luke 1:68-79 or Psalm 46
Nov. 25, 2007 Colossians 1:11-20 Luke 23:33-43
O eternal God, the alpha and the omega, the beginning and the end, we pause with sombre hearts on this last Sunday of the church year. We are especially mindful of those among us who have died and have been gathered unto you but whose departure has left gaping holes in the fabric of their families’ lives. And we are mindful of those who died in war. O Christ the ruler be present to all who have suffered losses. Provide your healing comfort for the grieving and compassion through us for all who suffer.
Provide forgiveness for the foolish ways of humankind as you provided forgiveness to those around the cross.
Provide correction from cynicism and sarcasm and the hope for an easy remedy to things wrong such was exhibited by one of the thieves on the cross.
Provide hope such as you provided to the other thief on the cross when you promised he would be with you in paradise.
Provide assurance that the Jesus of the Cross will lead all of us to victory and eternal life.
O GOD, LEAD US IN THE COMING CHURCH YEAR.
Deepen our love and commitment to you and the cause of serving humankind.
Deepen our ability to trust and to believe in the fundamental goodness of life.
Deepen our ability to greet each new day and see it as a gift from you and an opportunity for triumph.
Deepen our ability to affirm our sisters and brothers in the faith and to help them to believe in themselves.
Deepen our ability to discover and to serve the Christ in our neighbour.
O GOD, LEAD US AND BE OUR GUIDE. Amen