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In the weeks ahead, we will be highlighting one of the many resources on the Fourth Church website that is available to you for your personal reflection
and prayer life: the collection of the Prayers of the People
offered during Sunday morning worship.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Scripture Reading: Genesis 45:1–15
Then Joseph could no longer control himself before all those who stood by him, and he cried out, “Send everyone away from me.” So no one stayed with him when Joseph made himself known to his brothers. And he wept so loudly that the Egyptians heard it, and the household of Pharaoh heard it. Joseph said to his brothers, “I am Joseph. Is my father still alive?” But his brothers could not answer him, so dismayed were they at his presence.

Then Joseph said to his brothers, “Come closer to me.” And they came closer. He said, “I am your brother Joseph, whom you sold into Egypt. And now do not be distressed, or angry with yourselves, because you sold me here; for God sent me before you to preserve life. For the famine has been in the land these two years; and there are five more years in which there will be neither ploughing nor harvest. God sent me before you to preserve for you a remnant on earth, and to keep alive for you many survivors. So it was not you who sent me here, but God; he has made me a father to Pharaoh, and lord of all his house and ruler over all the land of Egypt.

“Hurry and go up to my father and say to him, ‘Thus says your son Joseph, God has made me lord of all Egypt; come down to me, do not delay. You shall settle in the land of Goshen, and you shall be near me, you and your children and your children’s children, as well as your flocks, your herds, and all that you have. I will provide for you there—since there are five more years of famine to come—so that you and your household, and all that you have, will not come to poverty.’ And now your eyes and the eyes of my brother Benjamin see that it is my own mouth that speaks to you. You must tell my father how greatly I am honored in Egypt, and all that you have seen. Hurry and bring my father down here.”

Then he fell upon his brother Benjamin’s neck and wept, while Benjamin wept upon his neck. And he kissed all his brothers and wept upon them; and after that his brothers talked with him. (NRSV)

Lord of all creation, in this season of summer
we come to this place with words of thanksgiving on our heart:
thanks for the opportunity to spend time with family and friends,
for your beautiful creation and the vibrancy of the city,
for this place where we can be fed by your Word and fed at your table.

And yet even in the midst of our thanks, O Lord,
we know that there is much that is not right in our world:
there are wars that rage and there is hurt, anger, and distrust
between those who have been marginalized in this country
and those in positions of power and authority.
Violence lingers in our own city’s streets,
cutting short the lives of teens and children well before their time.
Economic inequality continues to increase as well,
creating a tale of two cities between those with great opportunity
and those who are isolated and trapped in a destructive cycle of poverty.

There are no easy or quick fixes to any of these problems, Lord,
but we know and hope and trust that you are there
in the midst of each of these situations,
sometimes producing bold change and sometimes producing quiet hope.
May we be a part of enacting your plan,
welcoming our brothers and sisters in Christ with open arms
just as Joseph welcomed his brothers,
seeking reconciliation, forgiveness, and a new beginning.
Challenge us to be with all in our society who exist
on the margins of our consciousness.
Give us both the clarity of vision that helps us to see people’s needs
and the wisdom to meet those needs in ways that are meaningful and lasting.
Bring peace in those places that feel trapped in cycles,
places that have known war or rumors of war for far too long.
Dissipate the hatred that simmers beneath the surface
and expand any tunnel vision, that reconciliation may occur
while still holding to your justice.

As we hold all of these prayers in our heart,
we humbly ask that you don’t allow us to despair
but to instead believe in the gospel promise
that you are indeed making all things new.
Give us hope that is stronger than our discouragement
and inspire us to live our lives through your deep love—
giving generously of ourselves in a way that builds this world up
rather than tearing it down.

And we close this prayer with the words that your Son taught us to pray: Our Father . . .

Offered as the Prayers of the People by Matt Helms,
Minister for Children and Families
on Sunday, August 17, 2014

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