Sunday, February 11, 2007
Offered by John H. Boyle, Parish Associate
Sometimes, dear God, we find ourselves wondering if what we do in worship—singing, praying, preaching, listening, reciting—is some sort of effort at magic to help us feel less dead inside, less scared about the present, and less fearful of the future. Because there are times, O God, when it seems as though everything that is nailed down is coming loose.
We come to worship out of habit and out of hope, at times, O God. We don’t always know, if we’re honest with ourselves, whether we believe what we hear and what we say, yet we don’t dare not believe it either, for fear a worse fate might befall us.
Or is it that deep down we come to worship with some hint of hope that there will come a moment when we shall experience something leaping within us, like the first stirrings of a baby in a mother’s womb, and we’ll sense the intimation of new life within us and of the possibility that we are not ultimately alone in the world with our fears?
And so, dear God, we come to you now, whom we have not seen and do not know except as faith knows and your love in Jesus Christ reveals, to thank you for listening to and understanding our struggle of the soul as we seek to know what to do with our wonderings.
We are grateful for both the beauty and the rich diversity of your creation and the people in it. We are grateful for the gifts of curiosity and compassion that enable us to want to know others more fully, particularly those different from ourselves, and to come to their aid when needed.
We are grateful for the guidance of your Holy Spirit and for the gifts of discernment and conscience that enable us to know what is right and what is wrong, if not always with absolute certainty, at least with confidence, and to be prompted to do the one and not the other.
Healer of the nations, in a world soaked in violence and saturated with fear, help us to keep ourselves from being held hostage by deception, delusion, and the grandiosity of those whose preoccupation with power renders them dangerous to people.
Let the power of your truth and justice overcome the stereotypes we use to seal ourselves off from others, and replace the passion for revenge with the compassion of forgiveness and reconciliation. Help us to quit fighting one another, so as to be free to fight for the welfare of your creation and the people in it.
Healer of the church, grant that the discord that so often fragments the body of Christ in the world and dilutes her witness to your love and grace may at last be laid to rest and new life in Christ be resurrected.
Healer of our every ill, drop the healing oil of your presence upon all who struggle with the ravages of disease, the agony of pain, and the burden of sorrow. May those who have taken up their cause and are ministering to them through education, treatment, and care be for them a source of encouragement and hope.
Mender of broken things too broke to mend, heal the brokenness within ourselves, and knit together the bits and pieces of shattered dreams and ruptured relationships into a new tapestry of hope, wholeness, and service to a world in need.
We pray in the name of the Healer whom we know as Jesus our Lord and with his words, saying, Our Father . . .
Prayer © Fourth Presbyterian Church