Prayers of the People | April 20, 2003

John Buchanan, Pastor

Good and gracious God, we have been waiting for the dawn. In recent weeks we thought it would never come. The night was long, the darkness deep. As we journeyed through Lent this year, we faltered, devastated by the reality of another war, death, and destruction. And we confess that we found ourselves wondering if love and hope and goodness and justice were real or merely our wishful thinking. And now, thanks be to you, good and gracious God, Easter has come. He has risen. Darkness has been driven back. Your Son has risen, and once again, we are speechless, startled by your truth and your power and your love.

We give you thanks, gracious God, for every evidence of your love in the world: for the irrepressible force of life you have created in nature, the brave beauty of new daffodils defying cold and wind, the extravagant exuberance of spring flowers, the promise of warm days and life-giving rain. For signs of your kingdom on earth, we praise you: for the miracle of human birth and growth, for the energies of childhood and adolescences, and for the human spirit, always creating and building and striving and reaching. We thank you, O God, for the love of our dearest ones: our parents and brothers and sisters, our children, our spouses and lovers and friends, because in their love we have experienced something of your love, which never ends.

On this day, O God, your Son defeated the power of sin and death, and so, sometimes in spite of what is going on in the world, we rejoice in the hope that you have overcome the world and are bringing all things together in your reign. So we pray for peace, peace for the people of Iraq and peace for the men and women of our armed forces. Because your Son threw off the bonds of death, we will never relinquish our hope and our striving and our working and praying for peace. We pray for President Bush and his advisors. We pray for the leaders of the nations and for the United Nations.

When Christ rose up from death itself, he showed us that nothing can ever separate us from your love. And so we pray for those this day who urgently need that good news: for those who are ill, for those who grieve the loss of a loved one. We pray for friends who want to be here singing the hymns with us and hearing the story but cannot. Bind us together with them in your love. We pray for all those separated from loved ones today and for those who live with fear and anxiety and depression. O God, break through all darkness with the bright, pure light of your love this morning.

We have come here today not to hear explanations of what happened at a garden tomb so many years ago but simply to rejoice quietly, strongly in the power of your love and to join our voices with all those other down across the centuries who have sung hymns of joy and gratitude this day.

O God, give us the gifts of faith and hope and courage that we may live in the glorious freedom of your love, afraid of nothing, willing to live our lives fully, without reservation, willing even to give our lives away for your sake. All this we pray in the name of our risen Lord, who taught his friends to pray saying, Our Father . . .