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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.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Scripture Reading: Jeremiah 7:1–15
The word that came to Jeremiah from the Lord: Stand in the gate of the Lord’s house, and proclaim there this word, and say, Hear the word of the Lord, all you people of Judah, you that enter these gates to worship the Lord. Thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel: Amend your ways and your doings, and let me dwell with you in this place. Do not trust in these deceptive words: “This is the temple of the Lord, the temple of the Lord, the temple of the Lord.”

For if you truly amend your ways and your doings, if you truly act justly one with another, if you do not oppress the alien, the orphan, and the widow, or shed innocent blood in this place, and if you do not go after other gods to your own hurt, then I will dwell with you in this place, in the land that I gave of old to your ancestors for ever and ever.

Here you are, trusting in deceptive words to no avail. Will you steal, murder, commit adultery, swear falsely, make offerings to Baal, and go after other gods that you have not known, and then come and stand before me in this house, which is called by my name, and say, “We are safe!”—only to go on doing all these abominations? Has this house, which is called by my name, become a den of robbers in your sight?

You know, I too am watching, says the Lord. Go now to my place that was in Shiloh, where I made my name dwell at first, and see what I did to it for the wickedness of my people Israel. And now, because you have done all these things, says the Lord, and when I spoke to you persistently, you did not listen, and when I called you, you did not answer, therefore I will do to the house that is called by my name, in which you trust, and to the place that I gave to you and to your ancestors, just what I did to Shiloh. And I will cast you out of my sight, just as I cast out all your kinsfolk, all the offspring of Ephraim. (NRSV)

God of our ancestors,
God of the prophets:
How easily indeed are we deceived
into thinking that by simply coming to this place,
to this sanctuary set apart,
to hear beautiful music,
to listen to challenging sermons,
to offer you our prayers—
how easily we are deceived
into thinking that we have fulfilled your will.

Today you have reminded us
that what we do in this place
as we demonstrate our love for you
is only the beginning of our sacred work,
that you call us to leave this place
and be your presence in the world.

You call us, O God,
to seek justice in a world of profound inequality,
to remember the poor who are so easily forgotten,
to divest some of our own wealth to support the common good,
to champion those who are abandoned,
to provide shelter for the homeless,
to share food with the hungry,
to bind up the wounds of the afflicted,
to care for the sick and the dying,
to set prisoners free,
to stand up for the marginalized and the oppressed,
to make peace instead of war,
to cooperate instead of antagonize,
to ensure education and opportunity for all of your children;
simply put: to love our neighbors as ourselves.

When we do these things, O God,
we are reminded that you indeed dwell among us,
that you have always dwelled among us,
and that you always will.

Through the words of your prophets you challenge us, God,
yet we must admit that sometimes we don’t feel up to the task.
We, too, are hurting;
we, too, sometimes feel abandoned;
we, too, suffer illness and pain;
we, too, mourn and grieve.

So meet us here in this place, God,
in this modern-day temple,
this house of God,
to heal our wounds,
to make us whole,
to set us free,
to love us so that we may love ourselves as you have made us
and love each other as sisters and brothers.

Help us, loving God,
to not believe the lies the world tells us
or the lies we tell ourselves.
Open our ears instead to the truth you speak
here in this place
and in every place.

And hear us now, O God,
as we pray for the coming of your kingdom,
As Jesus taught us to pray:
Our Father . . .

Offered as the Prayers of the People by John W. Vest,
Associate Pastor for Youth Ministry,
on Sunday, October 13, 2013

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