First Sunday of Advent, November 29, 2015
Offered by Hardy H. Kim, Associate Pastor
Almighty God, we turn to you today in a world that seems overwhelmed by fear and human frailty. We struggle to recognize sense in world leaders who engage in shows of force that spiral us closer and closer to uncontrollable conflict. We lift up to you dangerous situations in Mali and Turkey, in China and France, in Venezuela and Mexico, in Israel and Palestine. We lift up to you our own elected officials.
We feel helpless to stem tides of violence that sweep over innocent masses, perpetrated by governments, paramilitaries, and individuals who act upon holy certainty; who fail to see your holy image in those they cause to suffer. And so today we ask that your peace might fill the hearts of all who seek to sow terror by bomb or stabbing. Soften the hearts of military and police who are anxious to suppress threat before recognizing humanity. Turn the hearts of any who think killing can validate their claims about what constitutes life. Comfort the hearts of families, especially black families in our city and beyond, who cry out to have the humanity of their loved ones recognized.
We, the people of your church, feel increasingly voiceless in this world today. Our internal conflicts, and our worrying over budget and status, have left us timid and eager to please other masters. We are easily distracted by the slick and seductive promises of other ways, other paths to fulfillment and enlightenment. As we enter into a season of preparation for the coming again of your light into the world, remind us, O God of Advent good news, that your truth was never the simple sort, that your promise was never of an easy path and earthly power, that in humility you came to offer your life for the sake of the world, and that our part is to join you in that journey.
So we lift our fear and concerns to you, O God of quiet miracles. We ask you to be in our Advent observances, that by them you might make us truly ready to welcome you in.
Let us recognize that the story you began, all those years ago, was never aimed at establishing the kind of power that this world loves. Help us to change our expectations of our leaders and ourselves, so that our nation might work toward different ways of prominence in the world. Help us to lead by examples that do not shame, by inviting others into partnership instead of competing and excluding.
By the promise of your coming light—a light that is for all people—make us bold to stand up for the dignity and worth of each community, each individual. Let our care for others, especially those without home or country, show that love and not hate are what will shape the world to come. Let us join our voices with those who protest against militarization of security in our world, so that your way of justice—and not the world’s way of force—might be established in our land. And let us open our eyes to see the truth of our history, our economic and political systems, so that we can recognize the ways in which they our broken, so that we can step away from our busy acquisition of things and of power and instead step forward to work for the healing of families and communities that are suffering.
Keep us this day, O God, anchored to the hope of the old story that you started. And by that hope help us to find new answers, new endings to our current stories of difficulty and tragedy. Make us your Advent people, empowered by your coming light to shine your life and love into the darkness of our need-filled world.
Because of our faith in your story, we lift up our prayers to you, trusting in your love to hold us—the same love that was made real in our Lord Jesus, who taught us to pray together, saying, Our Father . . .
Prayer © Fourth Presbyterian Church