Centennial Sunday, May 18, 2014
Offered by Hardy H. Kim, Associate Pastor
Almighty and gracious God, down through the ages, you have been our refuge and our strength—and to this day you remain a very present help in times of trouble. So we give you thanks and honor and praise this day, as we remember the ways in which you have established the congregation of the Fourth Presbyterian Church of Chicago.
You gave unto the company of saints who came before us a vision of a church that could stand as a light in a city that was often overwhelmed by the smoke and fire of industry, swayed by the temptations of wealth and power, or cast adrift amid the confusion of changing times and cultures.
This day we celebrate the leaders and, especially, the servants who have kept the faith and who continued a ministry of reaching out to all people in the name of Jesus Christ during these past 100 years of our ministry on North Michigan Avenue. In all that we have done or been, it has surely been your hand at work among us.
As witnesses to your steadfast love and faithfulness, as recipients of this inheritance of grace, keep us certain in the knowledge of your presence among us, and make us courageous as we consider what we might become over the next hundred years and more. For we confess that we are often overwhelmed by the world that we face. It is a world of rapid change, where it is difficult to find any certain foundation upon which to build our lives.
Though we live in an age where we feel called to celebrate our common humanity, we find that we are still divided, nation against nation, neighbor against neighbor—shut off from each other on account of differences in race and creed, gender and sexual orientation, class and culture.
In spite of all the ways that we have labored to find ways to master your creation and to secure ourselves by our power, we find that we have twisted the good world that you have given to our care.
We surround ourselves with the latest technologies and lose ourselves in online networks, all the while desperate for a kind word from a stranger or the loving touch of a close friend.
We obediently pursue our quotidian lives, not stopping to see how our economies exploit the world and make slaves of our sisters and brothers.
We seek blind comfort in our daily pleasures, even as our ways of living slowly make this green earth a desolation.
And we madly scramble to improve ourselves and to find practices of being inwardly attentive, all the while doing our best to ignore the urgent and painful need of the poor and neglected sitting on street corners just down the road, the wounded who suffer from violence in our cities, and the disappeared innocents who suffer the predations of paramilitaries or human traffickers in this country and abroad.
In the midst of all of this, O God of creation, make us open to change and unafraid of the future—though the waters around us should roar and foam, though the mountains should tremble in tumult. Give us the assurance that you are with us.
Even as you have established us as a bulwark against the world in the past, make of us now a great river whose streams might make glad this city of God. Help us in these days ahead to become ever more a faithful people, willing to set aside what we have been, willing to step forth from this place, so that we can be the people you call us to be: a community that gives life to this city; whose work proclaims to this city that, truly, God is in its midst and that God, and God’s people, shall not be moved.
Help us to show that, in us, God will continue to reach out to welcome and to serve this city and the world beyond.
Make us bold to proclaim a message of your justice and love to all who come near this place, and in the days ahead, make of us a mighty instrument of the peace that only your son Jesus, the Christ, can grant—a peace that will make all wars to cease, that will shatter all the weapons we use to hurt and kill, a great peace that demands us to be still and know that you are God.
We pray all these things in the name of Jesus Christ, who assured us all that we have a dwelling place in you, who welcomed us home by your grace. And now we join our voices to say the prayer he taught: Our Father . . .
Prayer © Fourth Presbyterian Church