Sunday, July 22, 2007
Offered by John H. Boyle, Parish Associate
Holy God, we praise your name. Lord of all, we bow before you in awe and wonder of your grace and acceptance of us just as we are, poor and sinful though we be. For the psalmist (Psalm 15) has set the bar so high regarding who may come into your presence that none of us, flawed and finite as we are, can possibly make the cut. Yet by your grace, revealed so clearly in Jesus Christ, you, who are often a stranger to us, welcome us who are often estranged from you into your presence and envelop us with your unconditional love. Thank you, dear God, for being a welcoming God and for showing hospitality toward us when sometimes we don’t even give you the time of day.
In these days of uncertainty, with the specter of terrorism hovering over us, help us to bear the burden of anxiety and fear in ways that do not deter us from offering hospitality to those who are strange to us, to those different from us, to those who sleep in alleys and under bridges, and to those who cower in dark corners on the back wards of the world.
Teach us, O God, to appreciate the reciprocity of hospitality, lest we think too highly of our willingness to welcome others as something we give and provide them, while ignoring what those whom we welcome give and provide us.
God of compassion, in mercy befriend all who struggle beneath the crushing load of life, sickness, and sorrow. Grant to them the consolation of your presence and the healing power of your love in their efforts to keep from being drawn into the abyss of despair. May they know that come what may they can never drift beyond your love and care and that of those to whom what happens to them matters much. Mark with your mercy all who suffer the ravages of random violence, the oppression of poverty, hunger, and homelessness, and the trauma of abuse.
Guided by your truth and under the tutelage of your Spirit, teach us how to live faithfully with brokenness too broken to mend. And show us how, in our hurry-up, can’t-wait-a-minute lives, to tone down the feverish ardor with which we seek material gains and pursue private pleasures.
We pray for the women and men serving in the armed forces and for all who have been caught up in the grinding carnage of war. Bring them home, O God. Let no amount of arrogance, greed, or addiction to power keep us from finding a way in time to end the war and to bring them home, not horizontal in a box, or in a wheelchair or on crutches, but standing upright on their own two feet. O God, bring them home.
Guide the leaders of our nation and of all nations. Deliver them and us from the demagoguery that assumes that one’s nation is always in the know and in the right, and help us to have a proper pride in our country that enables us to be grateful for our blessings and for whatever virtues we hold to and cherish, without always having to wrap ourselves in a flag of patriotism or piety.
And now, Lord of us all, “drop thy still dews of quietness ’til all our strivings cease. Take from our souls the strain and stress, and let our ordered lives confess the beauty of thy peace.”
We pray in the name of him who is our peace, Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord, and with the words he taught his disciples to pray, Our Father . . .
Prayer © Fourth Presbyterian Church