Sunday, September 7, 2008
Offered by Alice M. Trowbridge, Associate Pastor
O God of all our years, from youth to age, we praise you that our days are in your hand. We thank you for life, for hope, for love, and for the wonder of being alive this day. We give thanks for beauty in all forms—sky and flowers, fresh rain and golden hues of sunlight; for friendship; for the loyalty in those dear to us; the thrill and elevation from our worship together, the music sung, played, heard speaking to us in overtones of joy and unity; the beginning of a new school year; the excitement of sport well played; the start of a new church season. But most of all we give you thanks for the beauty seen in Jesus, strong, gentle, compassionate, loving. We give you thanks that from the glories of eternity you sent your only Son to become like us and to offer redemption and hope.
Grant us courage to face you without pretense. Where hearts are heavy, where spirits are distressed, where minds are confounded by the events in the world around us—visit us now with your love. We pray for those who live in the ravage of hurricanes, for those who are in the fields and trenches, in Iraq and Afghanistan, and in lands across the world where there is famine, poverty, and disease; where your children are suffering, we pray for peace. For families who are separated from loved ones, may all be sustained by your strength and live into your hope. In this election season, grant that those who seek offices of authority do so with humility; we pray that your wisdom be their guide.
We pray for those who are ill of health, those who await test results, those who are lonely or afraid. May each know your silent presence and find comfort there. May we all remember that you are the God who calls us out of darkness into marvelous light and possibilities.
God, you offer us the gift of your love, and you call us to holy life by your purpose and grace. Yet we can push you to the periphery; we can serve you at our convenience; we can follow you when it benefits us. And yet you call us still, with mercy and forgiveness as wide as the seas. In you every moment is a chance to reclaim our identity as your own, a chance to begin again, to make things right and to live by your call to love and service and justice for all. Each person in your sight is precious. Fill us with a renewal of what this means in our daily interactions, that those may be filled by your grace.
And we pray for ourselves, that in our relationships we may know when to speak and when to keep silent. We pray for the power to be gentle, the strength to be forgiving, the patience to be understanding. As recipients of your grace, fill our hearts with joy—joy that is not the absence of difficulty but the courage to face all of life knowing that we belong to you and that you have promised to be with us always.
Bring us back to those affirmations that prove the foundation for our living: That you are a God of dependability who has given us a covenant of grace. That in your hands, history is not moving on into darkness but is directed toward the ideals of your kingdom. And that Jesus our Lord, who rejoiced with friends, who wept with sympathy, who laughed with children, and who traveled the way of joy and of sorrow, found his strength and comfort in quiet time with you, just as we do now. May we, with you, discover newness of life this day, through Jesus Christ our Lord, who taught us to pray together, saying, Our Father . . .
Prayer © Fourth Presbyterian Church