January 20, 2008

Prayers of the People

John H. Boyle, Parish Associate

God of those who believe and of those who don’t, God of those who don’t know what or whom to believe, and God of those who couldn’t care less, we are grateful that your love and care includes everyone, regardless of their condition in life or their connection with you. We acknowledge that you are beyond our complete comprehension, O God, and we find it easy sometimes to edit out of existence as irrelevant that which we don’t understand. At the same time we admit to being aware of the irony of having difficulty believing that by your word you created us, yet having little difficulty believing that by our word we can do away with you. Deliver us, dear Lord, from our ungodly desire to be God, and help us not to fall heir to the naïve assumption of some that if it were not for religion, there would be no suicide bombers or terrorist attacks.

God of the high and the mighty, God of the meek and lowly, God of the powerful and of the powerless, God of the self-serving and God of the self-sacrificing, we remember with gratitude those who have gone before us and upon whose shoulders we stand: the prophets whose visions and dreams have inspired us, the people of action who have transformed dreams into deeds and visions into victories, and those who have stuck their necks out in the cause of justice and peace, only to end up with nooses around their necks or bullets in their bodies.

We are thankful, dear God, that you have chosen to put the treasures of your love and grace in the earthen vessels of flawed human beings, as we all are, and so have honored us. In a world so overrun with violence, we are grateful for the legacy of hope left by Martin Luther King Jr., for his courage to speak truth to power, for his commitment to nonviolent means of doing that, and for championing the welfare of not only those of his own race but of all who are among the least, the last, the lost, the lonely, and the left-out in the world.

In the current climate of name-calling and finger-pointing, help us to relate to others so as to be governed more by the principles of their lives than by the pigment of their skins. Grant us the gift of discernment that will enable us to recognize prejudice within ourselves. When we are the recipients of the prejudice of others, help us to respond with both candor and care. When any one of us cries out in indignation for justice, help us to be honest enough to realize that we may need mercy just as much, if not more. And grant that when faced with alternatives that are in some way equally acceptable, we will be mindful that to have to choose one may not necessarily mean unacceptable prejudice toward the other.

Loving God, embrace with your healing and comforting mercy the sick, the dying, and the sorrowing. Give strength and patience to all who minister to them. Guide the homeless to shelters from the cold, hold close all who are ignored and forgotten, watch over those in the service of our nation who are in danger, and guide us through the thickets of economic uncertainty that threaten to strangle our sense of well-being.

In the ordinariness of time, when celebrations cease and life becomes a bit more routine, help us to hear your call of service, that we may find in answering it the security of loving-kindness that transcends the anxieties of the moment and deepens our experience of the Christ who is our companion and friend and whose disciples we can be in the mission of mercy to which you call us all.

We pray in his name and with the words he teaches his disciples to pray, saying,

Our Father . . .