Monday, November 30, 2009

November 29, 2009 - Prayers of the People - Advent 1

Help us, O God, to be a people of praise!

Full of love and grace.
With open arms and kindly ways.

To be a people who can see the world for what it will be.
A people who live for Christ.

We thank you, O God, for a season called Advent … for the power of hope …
For your promises to Abraham and Sarah …
Your promises to David and to Solomon …
And your promise in the prophet Jeremiah – that the days are surely coming when justice will prevail and righteousness govern the affairs of humankind.
Teach us with your Holy Spirit, O God, that your Word is no pipedream – it is the world that lives in illusion; Christ is reality.

O LORD our God, give us a great strength today, a Christ-like strength:
To live our lives as best we can.
To be responsible for our corner of the world.
To savor life’s goodness.
To enjoy friends and family.
To appreciate the smallest blessings of life.
To look upon one another with favor.
To forgive quickly and never hold a grudge.
To flow around obstacles, to bend and to adjust.
To love deeply as we want others to love us.
To forgive our debtors as you have forgiven our debts.
To share with others our daily bread.

Remind us, O God, that you are at work in our lives.
That you are at work in all things for good.
Teach us that we are yours, that nothing can separate us from your great love, given to us in Jesus Christ our LORD.

Fill us anew with your Holy Spirit:
That we might have confidence.
That we could leave here today filled with hope and peace of mind.
Knowing that we’re headed in the right direction.
That our lives count.
That our love and worship make a true and lasting difference in this world …
To make a child smile today.
To heal a breached relationship, or at least, to try.
To email a friend with whom we’ve lost touch.
To know that we can always back up and start all over again … that spilled milk can be wiped up … and harsh words can be forgotten.

Sometimes, LORD, we’re like an old piece of clay that’s been sitting out in the sun for many a day – our attitudes have hardened, and our love has grown brittle.

Sometimes, LORD, we just walk away from you … maybe we show up here, but our hearts are somewhere else.

Sometimes we’re weighed down with worries … we get lost in our fears of what the future might hold …

Sometimes, LORD, we’re just stuck in ourselves … me, myself and mine … and we don’t know how to get out.

We need your tender care.
We need your everlasting arms wrapped around us today.
We need your love more than ever.
We cannot do this on our own, O LORD.

Come to us, we pray, in mercy.
Reveal to us your love.
Heal our wounds.
Restore our courage.
Put joy into our hearts.
And brings us close to Christ.

In his name we pray,
Saying together, with one heart and mind, Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name, thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven …

Sunday, November 22, 2009

November 22, 2009 - Prayers of the People

Thank you, O God, for the gift of life.

To see and to hear, to taste, touch and smell.

We count our blessings, O God.
We try to name them, one-by-one.
But numbers fail us …
And so does time …
To count those who have loved us all along the journey,
And those whom we have loved,
With whom we have laughed and cried,
And found our way.

Today, we give thanks:
We thank you for your love, O God!
For the grace of Christ.
For the church of the ages – for all who have lived for the sake of love, who’ve made this a better world, who’ve stood against bigotry and prejudice, who’ve challenged kings and queens and prime ministers and presidents – who have put their lives on the line for others.
And for millions more who serve quietly without fame or fortune.
Teachers and attorneys, doctors and nurses.
Police officers and fire fighters.
Ambulance drivers and tug boat captains.
Train engineers and truck drivers.
Tool and die makers, and computer programmers.
The guy who cuts the French fries at In n Out.
The gal who checks us out at Trader Joe’s.
A whole world of people, O God, who make the world go around.

For all that is gentle, O God.
For all that is beautiful, and all that is good.
For simple things and profound things.
For the stars above, and the splash of a wave.
For Gramma’s pumpkin pie recipe and Grampa’s silly jokes.
For a box of old photographs and a bundle of love-letters tied in a blue ribbon.
For computers and email and social networks, too.
For Facebook and Twitter and Myspace and a thousand ways to stay in touch.
For cell phones that tell us where we are.
And most of all, for Christ, who tells us who we are.
For we are yours, O God.
In body, and in soul,
In life, and in death.
Now, and forever more.
And we wouldn’t have it any other way.

In the name of our LORD Jesus Christ, who taught us to pray, saying, Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name, thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven …

Sunday, November 15, 2009

November 15, 2009 - Prayers of the People

Beloved God, whom we know in Christ Jesus our LORD.

We are grateful that you have made us a part of Christ, and Christ a part of us.

You have rescued us from the dark side.

You have forgiven us unconditionally through the blood of Christ.

Even as you refashion us into the likeness of Christ.

Be with us today, we pray.

Bless our worship with grace.

And our service with purpose.

Don’t let us drift, O God.

The tides of time sweep in so many directions.

Here and there, we find ourselves being tugged.

Anchor us, we pray, in Christ.

Keep us close to your love.

And close to one another.

We pray, O God, for the families of those who lost their lives at Fort Hood. May your Holy Spirit comfort them with your divine mercy.

We pray for the man who pulled the trigger.

We pray for Muslims in the military, and Muslims in our nation.

We pray that love will prevail over hatred.

That understanding will overcome suspicion.

That love will make a way through the tangled web of human emotion and failure.

We pray, O God, for our Designated Pastor Nominating Committee … and for Sandra Mader from our Presbytery.

We trust that your Holy Spirit will be with them, guiding them in their study and in their work. Keep them looking heavenward, and keep them on their knees.

We thank you, O God, for what has been.

We thank you for here and now.

And in Jesus’ name, we thank for what shall be.

For there is yet more work to be done.

Lives to be won.

Justice to be lived.

And love to be given.

We’re not up to the task all by ourselves, O God!

We need your Holy Spirit.

We need heaven’s help.

We need grace.

We need you, O God!

Help Covenant, dear God, to a beacon of light to the world.

That our light would so shine, that Westchester and Los Angeles and the whole world might see our good works and give glory to you, our Father in heaven.

In the name of our LORD Jesus Christ, who taught us to pray, saying, Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name, thy kingdom come, thy will be done …

Sunday, November 8, 2009

November 8, 2009, Prayers of the People

Draw near to us, O God.

Let us see your face in Christ, and in Christ, hear your Word.

By your Holy Spirit, O God,
Bring rest to the weary and hope to the forlorn.
Healing to the broken and courage to the fearful.
Restore the fallen, O God, and reclaim the lost.
Meet us this morning with your superior love and your infinite glory, that we might flee the lies of this world and love the truth of Christ all the more.
That in Christ, we might be the light of the world,
And the salt of the earth.

This is our prayer, O God,
This is our desire.
That we would see Christ this morning.
And be made anew in him.
This is our prayer, O God,
This is our desire.
That we would be made new in Christ!
And Christ made new in us.

LORD Jesus Christ, Son of the Living God,
Take away from us all that would distort communion with your Father … take away the fear that magnifies our need, so that we might be fearless in our defense of others and untiring in our work to bring peace to our world.
Take away bitter memories that entrap us in self-pity …
Take away the grinding pressure of remorse … that we might cry no more over spilled milk, but cry all the more for the plight of the poor and the thousands of children who this day will die, cut short in life by political cruelty.
Take away all that embitters us, we pray …
That we might have a sweeter disposition …
Take away from us all false loves,
That we might love you with all of our heart and soul and strength and mind and lovr our neighbor as we love ourselves.
Take away all self-centeredness, that we might set free to serve as best we can.
Take away from us, we pray, all foolish dreams,
That we might apply ourselves to the years of our life.
To work and to work hard.
To laugh and to laugh deeply.
To expend our lives for worthy causes and high purpose.
To give back to life more than we take.
To add rather than subtract.
Build up rather than tear down.
That we might bring cheer to our homes and workplaces.
Peace to a troubled neighbor.
Hope to a co-worker.
That we might be a little Christ for those who know us.
And find our place in Christ, and find Christ in our place.

Today, O God, in this place called Covenant.
Covenant on the Corner.
Covenant on the move.
We thank you …

We thank you for all who serve you with glad hearts and joyful spirits.
Our musicians and our singers.
Our liturgists and our Sunday School teachers.
Our Deacons and our Elders.
Our greeters and our ushers.
Presbyterian Women and Groups Alive.
Youth ministries and Canines@Covenant.
Michelle and Edgar.
All who are here Sunday-by-Sunday to praise your name and to learn your Word.
Thanks be to you, O God: Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

In the name of the Son, our LORD Jesus Christ, who taught us to pray, saying, Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name, thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth …

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Remembering the Gospel - a note from Spurgeon

Dear Friends in Christ,
There are times when I forget the gospel.
Have you ever been forgetful like me?
Maybe not, or maybe so.
When I forget the gospel, I like to read Spurgeon, and if you’re not sure who he is, just google “Spurgeon sermons,” and you’ll find an amazing world unfolding at your fingertips.
Anyway, here’s a piece for today from Spurgeon, on prayer:
"Behold, he prayeth."—Acts 9:11.
PRAYERS are instantly noticed in heaven. The moment Saul began to pray the Lord heard him. Here is comfort for the distressed but praying soul. Oftentimes a poor broken-hearted one bends his knee, but can only utter his wailing in the language of sighs and tears; yet that groan has made all the harps of heaven thrill with music; that tear has been caught by God and treasured in the lachrymatory of heaven. "Thou puttest my tears into thy bottle," implies that they are caught as they flow. 

The suppliant, whose fears prevent his words, will be well understood by the Most High. He may only look up with misty eye; but "prayer is the falling of a tear." Tears are the diamonds of heaven; sighs are a part of the music of Jehovah's court, and are numbered with "the sublimest strains that reach the majesty on high." 

Think not that your prayer, however weak or trembling, will be unregarded. Jacob's ladder is lofty, but our prayers shall lean upon the Angel of the covenant and so climb its starry rounds. Our God not only hears prayer but also loves to hear it. "He forgetteth not the cry of the humble." True, He regards not high looks and lofty words; He cares not for the pomp and pageantry of kings; He listens not to the swell of martial music; He regards not the triumph and pride of man; but wherever there is a heart big with sorrow, or a lip quivering with agony, or a deep groan, or a penitential sigh, the heart of Jehovah is open; He marks it down in the registry of His memory; He puts our prayers, like rose leaves, between the pages of His book of remembrance, and when the volume is opened at last, there shall be a precious fragrance springing up therefrom.
"Faith asks no signal from the skies,
To show that prayers accepted rise,
Our Priest is in His holy place,
And answers from the throne of grace."


Sunday, November 1, 2009

November 1, 2009 - Prayers of the People

LORD, help us to see beyond the moment …

Beyond the years …
Beyond the temporary joys and sorrows of life.

Help us, we pray, to see you.
High and lifted up … above and beyond …
Yet within and at hand.

Help us, we pray, to live bravely and faithfully,
To love kindness,
To do justice and walk humbly with you, our God.

Help us, we pray, to cut through the fog of materialism, the pride and the passions of the daily grind.

Help us, we pray, to be positive in all things, for you are at work in all things, for good …
Help us, we pray, to be patient in a hurried world.
To be loving in a culture turned in upon itself.
Help us, we pray, to detest war and love peace.
Help us, we pray, to do more than pray for our soldiers and their safety; help us to work and pray for the end of war – the end of armaments, the end of violence, that the children of the world might grow up in a world of peace.

Help us, we pray, to ignore the cynics who laugh at our vision of a world made new … those who scoff at peace and would, all over again, put your son on trial and sentence him to death.
Help us, we pray, to be bold in our affirmations of faith in Christ and brave in our commitments to work out his peace in our time!

Help us, we pray, to remember the Saints – those who’ve gone before us and have fought the good fight … 
Help us, we pray, to continue their work …
To further their vision of a world without tears …
Help us, we pray, to be so faithful to Christ that generations to come will call us saints and number us among those who led the way.

In the simplest of ways, O God, help us to live appreciatively in your world … to savor the food and drink you provide … to see how blue the sky can be, how large the ocean is, how grand the mountains and the rolling prairies.
Help us, we pray:
To love all creatures, great and small, for you have made them all.
To take nothing for granted.
To value every day.
To honor those who love us.
To forgive quickly and let bygones be bygones.
To smile easily and laugh deeply.
To bring cheer to our world.
To stand by the sorrowing.
To be quick to take someone’s hand.
To say, “I love you” and say it often.
To work hard.
To be faithful to those who employ us.
And faithful to those who work for us.

Dear Holy Spirit, open our hearts this morning to the grace of Christ, that we might love him all the more.
That Covenant on the Corner would be filled with a radiant love, a joyful love … the love of Jesus the Christ … your Son and our Savior.

Who taught us to pray, saying, Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name, thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth …

Sunday, October 25, 2009

October 25, 2009 Prayers of the People

We thank you, O God, for the joys of life:

Ten thousand things and counting …

A million things and more …

A bird singing like crazy outside our bedroom window, on a mission to awaken the world …

The first sip of coffee in the wee morning hours …

Breakfast at Dinah’s with a friend …

Drivers who back off and let us shift lanes …

Fire engines roaring on by, sirens wailing, warning us to get out of their way, because they have important work to do …

O LORD, we thank you, for:

Children who love us …

Parents who guide us …

Teachers to teach us …

Shoes that fit …

A pathway to walk …

Tasks to be done …

A Bible to read …

A church called Covenant …

And Jesus Christ our LORD …

We thank you, O God, for our elders and for our deacons …

For former pastors who taught us your Word …

And today, O God, we begin a season of prayer for our Designated Pastor Nominating Committee …

We will soon place upon their hearts, O God, a great task …

A burden … to find our next pastor.

Help them carry that burden lightly, with a full measure of your Holy Spirit to guide them …

That in the heat of thought and discussion, they will quickly turn to you in prayer … seeking your counsel at every turn of the way.

Remind them, O God, and remind us all, that we live, not by our own devices, but by your divine providence.

Not by our cleverness, but by the power of your Spirit.

Not in the wisdom of the world, but in the ways of faith, hope and love.

Not for our own comfort or personal interests, but for the glory of Jesus Christ and the wellbeing of the world.

We thank you, O God, for the Reformers: Luther, Calvin, Zwingli and Knox … for their determination to reform the church, to awaken the church from a long, dark, slumber … to re-center the church in Jesus Christ and Scripture, and to help every believer discover their place in the kingdom of God on earth – the priesthood of all believers unto one another, standing between heaven and earth, holding up the world to God, and sharing God with the world.

Help us, we pray, to be a part of the Reformation today … to be creative and energetic in our faith, seeking the furthermore, going deeper, stretching higher, reaching wider … daring to think in new ways … never afraid … always courageous, ever bold, unflinching in our love for you and our love of neighbor … guided by Christ in our pursuit of peace and our quest for justice.

We thank you, dear God, for the gospel … your gift to us … a gift of infinite meaning and eternal endurance … a gift forged in Bethlehem’s cradle and on Calvary’s cross … a gift refined in the darkness of the tomb and on a journey to hell … a gift revealed in the resurrection on the Third Day … a gift assured in the Ascension and the testimony of angels … that Christ reigns with the Father, pleads our cause and intercedes for us, and when times are right, Christ shall return, with the blast of a trumpet, to finish the work and turn the kingdom over to you, O God, and to preside with you, in the new heaven and the new earth, where ever tear is wiped away by your very hand, and death will be no more!

We pray this in the name of our LORD Jesus Christ who taught us to pray, saying, Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name, thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven …

Sunday, October 18, 2009

October 18, 2009 Prayers of the People

Eternal God, whom we know in Jesus the Christ, our LORD and our Savior. By the power of the Holy Spirit …

Honor and glory,

Praise and blessing,

Forever and forever.

Thank you, O God, for bringing us to faith in Jesus.

Sealing his love upon our hearts

With baptism and the LORD's Supper.

Thank you, O God, for the cloud of witnesses surrounding us …

Millions who’ve gone before us …

Parents and grandparents, uncles and aunts … doing their best to

Love Jesus and hold on to the vision of a better world.

Even now, O God, as we gather here at Covenant on the Corner, countless millions who lift up the name of your Son Jesus … and live and love in his name, laboring to bring about your will on earth … A world of justice and peace.

Bless us, we pray, that we might grow deeper into your love, that your love might grow deeper into us.

That we might be a church that really looks and sounds like Jesus.

That we might practice the power of his welcome.

We pray for the young couple in Louisiana denied a marriage license; we’re grateful they found someone to marry them.

We pray for the justice of the peace who turned them down, and for all who harbor ill-will and cannot see it.

We pray for people of good conscience and authentic faith who continue to raise up a good vision - a better world for all.

We pray for people looking for work …

We pray for those suffering ill-health …

We pray for the lonely and the forlorn …

We pray for churches across the land and around the world … soaring cathedrals and tin-roofed sheds … help us all to be more like Jesus …

And thank you, O God, for this day …

A day of joyful baptism,

For Maya and her family.

A day for all of us to remember who we really are …

Followers of Jesus the Christ:

Devoted to you,

Loving toward one another.

Faithful to the vision of a better world.

In the name of our LORD Jesus Christ who taught us to pray, saying, Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name, thy kingdom come, thy will be done, one earth …

Monday, October 12, 2009

October 11, 2009 Prayers of the People

O God, our Father

O Christ, our Brother …
O Spirit, our Mother …

All honor and glory to you, Triune God:
For the wonder of creation …
For Jesus Christ our LORD … 
For the indwelling Holy Spirit …

We are grateful, O God, and this sacred moment, we raise our hearts to you in praise and adoration … for great is your name and greatly to be praised!

Give us this day our daily bread …
Forgive our sins as we forgive those who sin against us …
Lead us through the tough times and save us from evil …

We pray today for Officer Kevin Ree  … and all who serve with him … help them, O LORD, to persevere in their duty and may your gracious hand keep them safe in their work.

We pray today, O God, for all who work to keep us safe and sound:
Fire fighters and ambulance drivers, medics and life guards … city and state employees who fill the pot holes and keep clean water running … who check out our books at the public library … who manage a billion details every day to keep 300 million Americans working together for the common good.

O LORD our God, we pray for our President and those who advise him. We pray for his family and those who love him.

We pray for the members of Congress and those who sit upon the judgment bench.
We pray for attorneys and legislators, mayors and city councils …

There is much to challenge them, and much that needs to be done.

We pray for corporate executives and their boards of directors …
We pray for their employees …
We pray for the unions …

There is much to challenge them, and much that needs to be done.

We pray today for those who’ve lost their jobs and are looking for work …
We pray for those who work at minimum wage …
We pray for those who work without a safety net … without benefits and job security …

O LORD, there is much that challenges us, and much that needs to be done.

O LORD our God, be gracious to us this day …
Challenge us with some great cause …
A true and noble purpose …
Something larger than life … something that will take a life time and then some …

Yet remind us, O God, that where we live and where we work is where you have put us … that a job well done is always pleasing in your sight – that an honest day’s labor is part and parcel of your will for each of us …
That a word rightly spoken,
A kindly deed given,
A prayer offered …
Are the things that change the world.

In the name of our LORD Jesus Christ, who taught us to pray, saying, Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name; thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven …

Sunday, October 4, 2009

October 4, 2009 - Prayers of the People

Communion Sunday

LORD Jesus Christ, Son of the Living God,

You are the LORD of this Table.

You break the bread and give it to us;

You bless the cup and share it with us.

You give us the Father’s love:

A vast and wondrous love you carried to Calvary’ cross … into the tomb and back again … all the way to hell, and then to heaven … to claim an immeasurable territory for your Father’s far-reaching love … a love that cannot be deterred … a love greater than anything in life or in death … a love that will not let us go!

Upon this Table, O Christ, names … names written on yellow cards … people we know and people we don’t – life in all of its wonder and with all of its hardship - thanksgiving and sorrow, birth and death, turmoil and pain, healing and hope, tears and laughter, memories and hurt, dreams and confusion, firm convictions and troubling questions … the stories of our lives and those we love … upon this Table, O God … and for them we have prayed, Jesus my LORD.

We pray, O Christ, for those who suffered loss in the earthquakes and tsunamis of the last week … we pray for the good forces of government and charitable organizations around the world - to join together, to materially rebuild what has been shattered, and materially restore what has been lost.

Every life lost, O Christ, we commend to you.

To you, O Christ, every broken heart.

Unto your care, every dream.

Into your hands, every tear.

We give thanks, dear Christ, that we know you.

That our lives are in your good hands.

That our faith counts for something.

That our efforts to live well are important.

It’s a miracle to know you.

You cam to us at some point in time to lift the veil.

You came to some of us when we are but children and we felt your love.

To some of us, a bit later – to some of us, much later.

You come to us in the sweet times, and you come to us in times of horror and failure, when all we want to do is hide from you.

You come to all of us, in some form or fashion …

To awaken our hearts.

To give us assurance and a fresh start.

To challenge our minds with lofty thoughts.

To give us your love that we might love the world.

To call us to lives of justice and peacemaking, as your Father in heaven would want it, that we might do your Father’s will on earth as it is in heaven.

We bless you, O Christ.

We honor you today with heart and mind and soul and strength.

We lift high your cross.

And we take up our cross, with fresh resolve and high gratitude.

Fill us, we pray, with your divine breath.

Help us leave behind what is flawed and foolish.

Receive our lives, such as they are, and return them to us, made anew!

That we might press on to your high calling,

With love as our signature, writ large in our lives!

In the name of our LORD Jesus Christ, who taught us to pray, saying, Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name, thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven …