June 8, 2008

Prayers of the People

John H. Boyle, Parish Associate

God our Creator, giver and sustainer of life, from whom we come, in whom we live, and to whom we at last return, we thank you for your presence with us, your love for us, and for the hope within us that reassures us that life is ever Lord of death and love can never lose its own.

We are aware, O God, that life is often leaving one place and going to another, leaving one stage of development and moving to a new one, leaving one set of perceptions and ideas and embracing another, and, in response to your call, leaving the comfort of being blessed to take up the challenge of blessing others. Help us not to shrink back from that challenge by hoarding the blessing for ourselves. Give us to realize also that it is in blessing that we are blessed, yet grant that we may do so not in order to be blessed, but in gratitude for having received the blessing of your love and forgiving grace through Jesus Christ our Lord.

God of promise and covenant, we give thanks for your gifts of grace, power, and anger to be used to root out the destructive forces of racism, sexism, injustice, and bigotry that deprive people of respect and demean their dignity as persons made in your image and for whom Christ died. Help us all to use these gifts wisely, for we know that grace can be presumed upon, power can be corrupted, and that anger undisciplined can result in our being guilty of the very evils we seek to eradicate. Help us to be as wise as serpents even when we may not always be as harmless as doves, and mercifully grant that we may be harmless even when we are most stupid in what we say and how we act.

During these days of unprecedented changes and startling events, help us not to be deluded into assuming that changes, however historic and however welcomed they may be by many, are necessarily wholesale and everlasting. Keep us mindful of the vestiges of toxic thought, poisonous prejudice, and murderous actions that may continue to insinuate themselves into our common life, thereby contradicting the changes that occur. And help us to remember that there is more than one way to lynch someone we don’t like or approve of.

In your mercy, O God, bring healing and hope to those whose pain is intolerable, whose grief is unbearable, whose loneliness is overwhelming, and whose fears are paralyzing. We especially commend to your care the people of China and Myanmar, devastated by natural disasters, and the people of Darfur and Zimbabwe, demoralized by inhumanity and indifference. Grant to all who suffer the courage that will help them find the treasures of your grace that often lie hidden in the secret places of pain and sorrow.

And, dear God, make your presence known to us when hope and despair meet on the veranda of our lives, and reassure us of your care, that thus being comforted, we may comfort others; that thus being blessed, we may likewise bless.

We pray in the name of the one who promised never to leave us or forsake us and with the words he taught his disciples to pray, saying,

Our Father . . .