Sunday, March 18, 2001
Offered by Carol J. Allen, Associate Pastor for Congregational Care
Holy God, out of your generosity you have given all good gifts. We thank you for all that nourishes our bodies and nurtures our spirits. We thank you for the turning of the seasons, the affection of friends, helpful new insights, satisfaction in work well done, opportunities to play, and the love of those with whom we live and with whom we worship. In these gifts, you give us clues to your presence in creation.
As full as we become, O God, there remains in us a quiet hunger. We thank you that you understand the deep longing with which we were born and that you have come among us as living bread, the only food that can satisfy this need. We yearn to be known in our innermost being and loved unconditionally. We see how in Jesus Christ you did not come to humiliate those who harbor some secret shame or who were never made to feel welcome or sure of their worth.* Redeemer God, you have come to hold out the sustenance of hope to those who flounder and fail when up against the limits of this life. You have come to save us from our sinfulness, from our broken ability to love ourselves and others as you love us.
Righteous God, you know well how harsh, unfeeling, and cruel this world can be. When tragedy strikes, when love leaves, when change threatens to overwhelm, our trust wavers and we are not sure that we will ever be full again. We busy ourselves with getting and keeping whatever promises to fill our emptiness. Continue to come to us in the living Christ, O God, to challenge our fuzzy thinking that we can truly live solely by our own efforts. Interrupt any of our actions that will not satisfy and may even do harm to ourselves or others. When we pursue “contentment without commitment” or present “a veneer of niceness in situations of injustice that require expression of outrage, help us to be whole persons, holy persons, well persons.”*
Loving God, surround with your presence all who need your care this day. Cradle them as though a newborn child. Turn those battling with seductive temptations away from them with a firm hand. In their resistance and attempts to squirm away, do not let them go. Take unto yourself the tears of those in anguish and sadness, support those facing tough decisions and upcoming hard times, and tickle the spirits of those who are feeling joy until it spills over and enlivens those all around. “Lay hold of us, God, with firmness like that of a lover’s embrace, with tenderness like that of a child when she cups a butterfly in her hands.”** Despite all the distractions that turn us away from you, continue to invite us just as we are into your fullness, through Christ, who taught his followers to say together when they pray: Our Father . . .
*inspired by Janet Morley
** Glen Rainsley
Prayer © Fourth Presbyterian Church