Sunday, June 21, 2015
Offered by Judith L. Watt, Associate Pastor
God of tender mercies, no prayer seems appropriate until we join in prayer for the people of Emmanuel AME church, who worship in Charleston this morning as we worship, whose tears of grief are almost palpable, whose expressions of forgiveness have been both stunning and humbling. We name before you now the people who have died, knowing that they are not the first to have died because of hate or terror or racism and sadly knowing that they probably will not be the last, but, O God, we yearn for it to be so.
The Reverend Clementa Pinckney, Cynthia Hurd, the Reverend Sharonda Coleman-Singleton, Tywanza Sanders, Ethel Lance, Susie Jackson, Depayne Middleton Doctor, the Reverend Daniel Simmons, Myra Thompson
Lord, have mercy on their souls and hold ever so tightly to the people who love them.
God of tender mercies, we confess that the name of the shooter sticks in our throat, but we pray for Dylann Roof, that he would come to know you as the Lord of his life. We pray that you hold him, too.
Lead us, O God, this congregation to truly be a light in this city. Lead us as individuals to search our hearts for our own hardened places of racism and hate, judgment and dismissal, and lead us as a community of faith to engage in honest and courageous and patient discussion, but also to brave action. We need your help, O Lord. We confess it. We need you to hold us tight.
O God of tender mercies, we know that conflict and hate are not confined to this nation, and we give you thanks for the work of Nancy and Shelvis Smith-Mather in South Sudan. Continue to use them as healing agents, as signs of your immense grace. Keep them safe, O Lord, and hold them tight.
O God of tender mercies, as we pray we know that refugees are in constant motion—leaving war-torn or poverty-ridden places, and we know that there are not enough places for them to go, nor are there enough open arms to welcome them. Sustain them. Hold them.
For those in our midst who struggle with their own challenges, worries about illness, difficult relationships, dwindling resources, give them signs this very week that you are with them. For those whose grief just won’t let up, allow them to see a glimpse of light and joy in the future. We thank you for fathers who have loved us, and we pray for fathers everywhere, that you would give them wisdom in their parenting. We pray for healing and your tender mercies for those whose fathers have hurt them.
O God of tender mercies, we thank you for the many blessings in our lives—the beauty of creation, the love we have received from others. We thank you for the people or events that have led us to you. Help us to love as Jesus loved, staying faithful to you while reaching outside the bounds of what makes sense and always remembering those who have been outcasts. We pray all of this as Jesus taught us to pray, saying, Our Father . . .
Prayer © Fourth Presbyterian Church