Sunday, January 28, 2001
Offered by Thomas C. Rook, Parish Associate
Holy God, we pause this morning, within the busyness of life, to give you thanks and praise. O Lord of love, you created your world in love; you breathed life into us in love; you hold us eternally in your love. And yet you know, O God, for us to believe this, to really receive and rest in your love, is not easy. Love without conditions: maybe we’ve never known such love in our own lives—love that we could count on, no matter what. And maybe we’re not sure that we deserve such love, from you or anyone else, O God.
And so how do we come to a real trust in the absolute sureness of your love? Who can confidently point the way? We thank you, gracious God, that you have given us the Way, that you’ve appointed one to walk beside us, one who leads us in the way to life, one who brings to us your love, who assures us that no one is left out of the infinite circumference of your love extending from eternity to eternity. And so we do thank you today that the Spirit of Christ has the power to draw us into your love, to enliven and strengthen us to live in your love each day.
Throughout this congregation, throughout this world, are people visibly in desperate need—in India and El Salvador, in the Congo and in Chicago—lives crushed through natural disaster or accident, through violence or war, or loss of health and strength. There are others whose outward appearance veils an inner suffering. There are ones of us—honestly, all of us—who know that we have come up short morally, who have sometimes or oftentimes failed to act fairly in business or in personal life.
In all these conditions, we can feel desperately alone, and life throws into our face the mocking question: Where is your God? Where is the love of God for you? And then, through that despair, even through death itself, you, gracious Lord, as seed in barren land, you implant within us and then summon forth qualities of faith and courage and hope and care—embodied love, an arm thrown around a neighbor’s shoulder, the embrace of a friend, an outreached hand to help, ones stepping forward to become in that moment your heart of love, O God, to become Christ’s own hands and feet.
God of restarts and new beginnings, nurture within us the character of Christ himself.
When we are troubled and fearful, renew our hope and courage.
When disappointed or shamed by failure, reassure us of your love and forgiveness.
In the face of life’s setbacks, give us endurance.
Grant us boldness to uphold what is right.
Soften our hearts to forgive those who have wronged us.
And shape our lives to be always thankful to you, O God.
Now, trusting in your strong love, which securely holds us forever, we pray in the words taught us by our Lord Jesus Christ, saying in one voice, Our Father . . .
Prayer © Fourth Presbyterian Church