Sunday, April 16, 2000
Offered by Carol J. Allen, Associate Pastor
For the arc of the sky over us this morning. For the mists far above the skyscraper peaks all around us. For the miracle of light and sound and green and mystery always changing. For the children and the choir, the preacher and those seated beside us, for all that you have ordained to replenish the earth and the people in their courses, all praise and glory be to you, Redeemer King. (inspired by Carl Sandberg).
Our God, before your suffering and death on the cross, we have come to sing hymns of praise. To you, who on this day is highly exalted, we come to adorn this sanctuary with what human minds and hands and bodies can invent. The writer, the singer, the actor, the painter, the dancer, the musician, the sculptor, the architect are given gifts by which to share in your creating work. To speak of our world and the human condition through art is also to speak of you, Creator God. Through these media, parts of your sacred story are told with deep reverence (inspired by Barbara Cawthorne Crafton). We thank you for this holy blessing.
As we hear again the ancient story of your triumphant entry into Jerusalem, we are confronted not with our impending suffering but with your’s, Lord God. The spotlight is on you, on your beloved one, Jesus, who goes to the city to live out the fullness of his faith, to complete the promise of his baptism. As we look at him, we are stopped in our tracks. Where is the good news for us when the “bottom falls out” for Jesus; when he has “crashed through all his safety nets?” For we put our hopes in human power, in human intellect, in human talents to make ourselves healthy and wealthy and wise. When weaknesses overcome us, when fear of losing rules us, when our knees tremble, and failure is our lot, we wonder who it is we’re loving, God. We remember how Jesus waited tables and washed feet. He turned the values of the world upside down. This is who we say we follow, but we wonder if we can pay the cost.
You did not desert Jesus; do not desert us, Holy God, in our times of trial. Your wisdom is not our wisdom. Help us to offer up in hope to your healing, all the times and places where we and your people around the world ail and ache, strive and fail. Take from us all cravings save a craving for your presence with us (inspired by Barbara Brown Taylor). Be our “integrity in the midst of lies and all the deceitful practices that abound. Help us speak your truth unflinchingly in public places. Give us courage to call to accountability all who claim to keep your word but violate trust.” Keep us from going after false gods who promise cheap grace or empty actions. In all our daily dealings, may we see your costly grace at work. Deliver us from all lust for the power that oppresses and kills others (Miriam Therese Winter), and keep us, despite our doubts and bad behaviors unto eternal life. We pray in the name of the one who taught his disciples to say together when they pray, Our Father . . . Amen.
Prayer © Fourth Presbyterian Church