Over the past two months, I have had the honor of being liturgist in my church for several Sundays. As part of that, I have offered the Prayers of the People--each of which I have written trying to encompass the issues of that day. I am offering these here as a way to share these prayers with a larger audience.
Holy God—it’s been a long year.
A year ago we entered into this time that feels like an exile without knowing where it would lead and when it would end.
The words of the Psalmist[i] speak to us today, as they spoke to the captive Israelites centuries ago.
By the rivers of Babylon—
there we sat down and there we wept
when we remembered Zion.
Surely there have been times during this year when we have felt like weeping.
We miss the fellowship of all our family and friends—we miss seeing loved ones. We miss coming to church. We miss singing. We miss hugs. We miss the thoughtless ways in which we lived our daily lives.
But even as we experience what seems to be such a difficult time, you call to us.
You call us to remember the world—the many places where life is so much harder that what we experience. We forget that you reign over all and care for all—people who are marginalized, people who are persecuted, people who are abandoned, people who experience deep want.
You call us to live is this world—to be the face of God to all.
Help us to widen our vision to be world-inclusive.
You call us to remember this country in which we live—this country so blessed, so filled with promise. Yet experiencing such conflicts that pull us apart. Those with whom we do not agree become enemies—contrary to your loving word and direction.
We sometimes would rather say nothing at all than have to engage in conversation with those with whom we disagree.
But, Christ’s example is that even in silence we still must convey the love of God to all.
We pray for the leaders of this country – that they will lead with compassion. That they will turn attention to those in deep need. That they will be guided by higher principles than greed, power, and force.
We pray for our church. You have made it possible for us to remain connect even though circumstance has kept us apart. We are grateful for technology. Even though it can seem a poor substitute for seeing each other face to face, we are grateful to be able to reach out. We continue as a church, as a congregation who cares about each other, as a congregation that seeks to be Christ-like to all those in need, to our friends and to neighbors whether next door or in the city and in the square.
We pray for the leaders of our church. We are grateful for all those persons who comprise the staff of Market Square Presbyterian Church—Who have ministered for weeks, day in and day out. Who inspire us by preaching God’s word; Who uplift us with glorious music; Who serve in the church daily attending to the many needs—taking care of everyday business, and keeping us connected by radio, by computer, by telephone. And for those who minister daily to the people who are on the street.
May this be our prayer—that as you call us to be the light in world, we shine. That we do NOT shrink from the call, that we do not fail to tend the light, and that we daily seek to share the light of Christ with all we meet.
[i] Psalm 137