Fifth Sunday in Lent, March 22, 2015
Offered by Layton Williams, Pastoral Resident
Gracious God, we give you thanks for this day, for our lives, and for one another. We give you thanks for the newly unfolding promise of spring. For sunshine, flowers, and warmth, for long days outside enjoying your creation and the company of one another. For the revitalizing feeling within our hearts that something new is beginning. Help us to know by these perennial gifts that you are always with us and always at work in and around us, and let us trust too that you are here in this space with us now, listening to and holding close the prayers on our hearts.
Even as we rejoice at the return of spring, we worry for our world. We know that we have become too used to seeing your creation as something to suit our needs rather than a gift for which we are called to care. In our reckless treatment of this earth, we face a future where its health is threatened. Remind us, O God, of our first calling—to be gardeners. Help us seek to love this world as you love us.
Holy God, with this new season comes a sense of endless possibility, and yet there are problems that plague our world for which a solution seems unimaginable. Help us to expand our imagination. In the face of persistent violence and tensions around the world, in the face of political upheaval and corruption, in the face of racism, sexism, and heterosexism that continue to divide us and marginalize so many of your children—help us to resist resignation and acquiescence. Remind us that in you all things are possible, and embolden us, thus inspired, to be your hands and feet in this world, sowing seeds of love and grace and justice so that your kingdom might grow.
We pray also, O God, for our church. For this community and for the church throughout the world. We give thanks that the movement of your church is directed by your holy imagination rather than our limited understanding. We take comfort that your church is far bigger than we expect. Help us to be a part of its broad and holy embrace of all of your people. Even as we celebrate our own denomination’s increasing inclusion of its lesbian, bisexual, gay, and transgender members, help us to see those whom we are still excluding. Help us too, not to settle for simple inclusion but to work always for our church to reflect your justice and your emphatic celebration of every person as a gift.
Finally, loving God, we pray for ourselves and for one another. We pray for those in our midst who are struggling with heavy burdens. Help us to walk alongside them, and help them to know that you walk alongside them as well. We pray for those who are sick and dying, those who are lonely, and those who are weary with conflict and misfortune. May they find the promise of new spring in their own lives and take comfort in your renewing love.
Even as spring blossoms beyond our walls, we know that we are still in this season of lent. Help to remember that every hope we have comes from the love of your Son, who lived for us, died for us, and rose again for us, and who taught us to pray, saying, Our Father . . .
Prayer © Fourth Presbyterian Church