Prayers of the People | June 9, 2002

John H. Boyle, Parish Associate

God of all creation, we give you thanks for this season of the year that is teasingly sneaking up on us with new bursts of beauty all around and intimations of new life, new vitality, and new hope. We are grateful for loved ones in our families, for loyal friends and trusted colleagues, to whom it matters what happens to each of us. And for the stranger in our midst in whose countenance we see the face of the one who long ago said, “Inasmuch as you have done it unto one of the least of these, you have done it unto me.”

Good and gracious God, you call us to the high calling of showing the world, in word and deed, the wonder of your love, the compassion of your justice, and the power of your truth to transform and renew human lives and the structures of society. With your call you honor us, and for that we give you thanks.
We are mindful, O God, that such a calling is both a burden and a blessing. The burden we do not always bear well or without some grumbling, and we are aware that we do not always recognize the blessing or give voice to our gratitude for it. Show us how to bear the burden of your call in such a way as to experience the blessing of your call, lest in our ignorance we bind burdens on others rather than bestow blessings on them. So may we fertilize the soil of our spirits with our gratitude so as to be more prepared to receive your word, have it take root in our lives, and bear fruit for your kingdom’s sake.

Merciful God, let your healing and consoling presence be felt by all who are brokenhearted, doubled over in pain, or chained to the threat of death. Grant to those weighed down by a sense of personal failure an awareness that its antidote is to be found not in their success but in your forgiving grace. To the poor in the midst of affluence, who are treated as outsiders or, at best, as interlopers in the house of mirth, bring the good news that there is room in your heart and at the table of your mercy and grace for all whom we may be tempted to overlook or despise. And grant that the glare of greed may not blind us to the quiet desperation of those who are dispossessed. Deliver, we pray, the impoverished of the world from the squalor of insignificance, and alert the high and the mighty to the danger of the blindness that can come from the limelight.

We pray for your world, O God, and for peace in it. We are aware of the allure that violence and war holds for some, that replaces the insidious dread of and boredom with the ordinariness of life. Show them the more excellent way of your love that binds up the wounds of others rather than inflicts wounds upon others.

Guide the leaders of this nation, of India and Pakistan, and of Israel and Palestine, to have the nerve to replace weapons of destruction with words of reconciliation, so that lands that are holy to some may be sacred not because of their place but because of their peace.

Lord of the church, as we recoil in horror and outrage at the disillusionment and disarray that has come in the wake of revelations of abuse and pain inflicted upon those unable at the time to defend themselves, and as we pray for both the victims and the accused, help us to be mindful of the fragility of our own goodness and our need for your forgiving grace and for the cleansing of your judgment. Grant that in time and by your Spirit, healing may come to those who have been hurt and with whom, as brothers and sisters in Christ, we identify in their hurt. Bless the bishops of the church as they convene to deal with the needs and issues before them, and help all of us to keep the twin towers of illusion and denial from obscuring our view of the reality of both our humanness at its worst and of your redeeming love at its best.

And when life gangs up on us and we think we don’t matter and we are discouraged, thinking all is lost, help us to remember that we are loved with an everlasting love, from which we can never be separated, and which will never let us go.

In the name of and with gratitude for our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, we pray, and with words he invites us to use, say, Our Father . . .