Sunday, September 21, 2008
Offered by John H. Boyle, Parish Associate
Out of the abundance of your grace, O God, you give us the gift of penitence that helps us to be honest, of faith that enables us to act with courage, of hope that keeps despair at bay, and of love that lets us care for those in greater need. For these and for all your mercies, we are grateful, and we pray that by your Spirit’s empowerment we will use your gifts in ways that will help make the whole of our lives an offering sealed with our love for you, even as our lives are sealed with your love for us and for all people everywhere.
We are grateful for those who through the years and today have been and are our teachers and mentors and who by the witness of their lives intimate something of your love and faithfulness. Help us all to be mentors and teachers to those whose lives lack such care and guidance.
We’re in trouble, Lord. But then you know that. It’s just that it takes us longer to catch on sometimes. And we’re scared, some of us more than others. For it seems as though everything we thought was nailed down is coming loose, and we don’t know what to do. So we find ourselves scrambling to board up and shore up and stock up and bail out in the face of the hurricane that has blown its fury upon us and upon the marketplace of our and the world’s economy. We come here today seeking your guidance, your nurture and care and comfort, and your reassurance that we are not in this mess all by ourselves, but that you are in the midst of the mess with us. For it is so easy for us to get lost in the world just now, as forces beyond the control of most of us bear down upon us and threaten to undo us.
Above the noise of selfish strife that characterizes so much of our culture, help us to experience your presence and faithfulness, and not only to hear but also to respond to your call to truth and justice on behalf of those exploited by the greed and self-absorption of others. Grant us the courage to look within ourselves and to own up to whatever vestiges of greed and self-absorption may continue to hold sway in our own lives.
In a political and cultural climate rampant with signs, both subtle and blatant, of racism, sexism, and ageism and of the great divide between the vastly rich and the vastly poor, help us to be mindful that we do not necessarily know ourselves well enough to assume that we are immune to the evils of prejudice and bigotry. Remind us, dear God, that we are saved by your grace and not by our presumed perfection, for we are not always delivered from evil, despite our prayer that we will be. Bless with the guidance of your Spirit of truth our nation’s leaders, and grant that the people of this nation will choose new leaders wisely, that our nation may be a light in darkness and not a laughingstock in daylight.
Merciful God, drop the mantle of your healing and comforting grace upon those who sit in the quiet desperation of helplessness and hopelessness. Guard with your protective care the lives of those endangered by war, natural disaster, and the abuse and violence of those who are held hostage by their anger and rage. Bring to the sick relief of pain, to the lonely the company of your presence and the companionship of others, to the sorrowful courage to mourn and openness to joy once more, and to the frightened the way to keep fear from paralyzing their lives.
And when, dear God, we find ourselves called to go through deep waters, grant us the awareness that you are closest to us when you seem most far away, that by your touch troubles can be blessed, and that our deepest distress can at last be sanctified by your grace.
Hear our prayer, O Lord.
Incline thine ear to us,
And grant us thy peace.
In the name of him who is our peace, we pray as he taught, saying, Our Father . . .
Prayer © Fourth Presbyterian Church