November 16, 2008

Prayers of the People

John H. Boyle, Parish Associate

God of the least, the last, the lost, the lonely, and the left-out, and God of all people everywhere, we give thanks for the beauty and wonder of this world, for the wonder of our bodies and minds, and for the wonder of your love. We are grateful for your grace and mercy in our lives, especially as we seek to come to terms with the tragic sense of life with which we are confronted day after day. We give thanks that in the face of the mysteries of both life and death you are with us, suffering our sorrow, tasting our joy, and assuring us of the infinite love in whose care we live as do those whom we love who now are beyond the limits of our sight.

What’s it all about, Lord, this interlude between birth and death? Is it little more, as has been said, than a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing? Is someone’s life in the end little more than a box or two of personal effects? Is that what it all comes down to, God? We hope not, Lord. In Jesus Christ you have shown us that life lived to the fullest is life lived with compassion toward those who suffer and toward those whom some would consign to the dark back alleys of our cities and to the back wards of the world. In Jesus Christ you have shown that life lived to the fullest is life lived in service to those in need. In Jesus Christ you have shown that such compassion and service are ultimately the only personal effects worth salvaging, though they can’t be put in a box or two. We are grateful for that, O God.

Merciful God, forgiver of sin and healer of disease, come with healing and comforting mercy to all who are oppressed by sickness and sorrow. Encourage and uphold us, we pray, that we will be able to deal with the painful losses we have sustained as individuals and as a community of faith in ways that are edifying to ourselves and to others and as a witness to your plenteous grace. In all our perplexity, grant us enough of your wisdom to calm our fears, allay our anxieties, and allow us to trust in you and in your promise to be with us always, no matter what.

We are all immigrants to life and to this world, O God. So was our Lord Jesus Christ, whom you sent, and we know what happened to him. Help us not to allow our fear to override our willingness to welcome strangers into our midst and into our lives.

God of the governed and of those who govern, in this turbulent and transformative time in our nation’s history, grant that the transition to power now taking place in the leadership of our nation will be also a transition to service, lest without the latter the former lead to corruption and without the former the latter be anemic. Grant to leaders at all levels of government and to us as citizens the courage and conviction necessary to resist the enticements of the idolatries of self, power, and perfection and of the other gods of greed, bigotry, war, violence, and exclusivism. So may we be led and so may we follow, that among the people of this nation the least will never be left out.

We pray in the name of him who said, “Just as you did it to one of the least of these, you did it to me,” and with the words he used in teaching his disciples to pray, saying,

Our Father . . .