Prayers of the People | February 24, 2002

John H. Boyle, Parish Associate

Living and loving God, your love is a spendthrift, and you lavish it upon us and all people with reckless abandon and in ways that are both as obvious as a brilliant sunset and as subtle as the gentle rustle of grass. You call us to love one another, and without your Spirit there is no way we can do that. Even with your Spirit, given who we are as finite and flawed human beings, we can only hope to approximate such wild and reckless love, especially for those we find most difficult to notice long enough to try to love and whom we are prone to treat with the most extreme form of hostility—our indifference.

Yet we would be open to your call as best we know how, O God, and we pray for guidance and strength to love as you love, to risk as you risk, and to trust you to fill in the gaps where we fail.

In a world in which hoarded power is so often used to lord it over others, whether in the corridors of the corporate world or in the precincts of political action or in the hallways of ecclesiastical bodies, help us to resist the temptation to hold our hands in tightly clenched fists of power, lest they become hands of horror rather than hands of healing. Grant us vision, O God, but save us from grandiosity that traps us in the tyranny of our own ideas rather than allows us to be open to those of others. And in the midst of life’s ambiguities and perplexing paradoxes, when it seems that whatever we do is less than perfect, help us to learn to live possessed of the courage of imperfection that relies upon your grace more than merely upon our own merit.

God of compassion, be merciful to the sick who are stripped of vigor and imprisoned within their helplessness, that they may have courage to accept and bear the burden of their pain, patience to overcome disabilities, and serenity in the face of uncertainty. And to those who are exhausted by sorrow, grant the consolation of your presence and the awareness that a love forgotten is a love dead and that while it lives, there will be suffering in it as well as joy.

We give you thanks for your world, dear God, which in spite of its brokenness and bloodshed still reflects the beauty of your creation. We are grateful for your good gift of life and for your love that enables us to love others in special ways. We give thanks for friendships that nurture and sustain us and for your church, which with all its shortcomings continues to embody your love in the world. We pray for your world and for the church of Jesus Christ wherever it is gathered, that through her witness to your love the day will come when the world will be covered with the canopy of your peace.

Bless the leadership of our nation as it seeks to deter terrorism and to bring relief to those decimated by the carnage of war. May we all so order our lives that even when we may not be able to make everyone our friend, we can try to make no one our enemy.

And when, O Lord, we find ourselves discouraged to the point of despair or embittered to the point of cynicism, remind us of the one who long ago knelt in a garden and prayed, "nevertheless not my will but yours be done."

We pray in his dear name and with his words, saying, Our Father . . .