Sunday, August 30, 2009

August 30, 2009 - Prayers of the People

Eternal God, our help and strength in every time and place …

We pray for the well-being of our nation … that your Holy Spirit would raise up for us in these tempestuous time great women and great men, to stand tall above the noise and foolishness of partisan politics, and mean-spirited prejudice … leaders to build bridges and tear down the fences …

Who speak truth to us, rather than terror.

Who live in faith, not in fear.

Who shake hands before they shake their heads.

Who attack problems rather than people.

We pray for our nation, O LORD!

We pray for our community of faith, for Covenant on the Corner … that we may be faithful to you, O God.

Faithful in prayer and study,

Faithful in service and sacrifice,

Faithful to Christ and faithful to the gospel,

Faithful in worship and faithful in our work.

We pray for Covenant on the Corner!

This morning, O God, we’re mindful of a multitude of needs …

To find employment …

To handle personal issues …

To overcome addictions and habits, behaviors and attitudes …

To be more loving, more engaged, more involved.

More tolerant and more creative.

More thoughtful and more prayerful.

Especially, we’re mindful of folks losing their homes to the fires in Angeles National Forest …

Creatures, great and small, who flee the flames or lose their life … mighty trees and quiet streams … rugged canyons and soaring peaks …

And those who put their lives on the line to fight the fires … we thank you, O God, for the resources of federal and state agencies – all who work in human service.

This morning, we pray:

For the healing of bodies, and for the healing for souls …

Healing for:

Relationships broken – broken by misspoken words and mistaken deeds … misunderstandings and plain old stubbornness and self-centeredness … the junk of life, the debris of sin.

Healing of hope … and the healing of our dreams.

The healing of our nation, and the healing of our world.

We pray for our schools, and for those who administer them.

We pray for teachers, and for the students who fill their classrooms.

We pray for the parents, for the homes they make and for the dreams they launch in the minds of their children.

We pray for rabbis and imams and priests and pastors.

We pray for Bible study leaders and mission travelers.

We pray for youth leaders and choir directors.

We pray for religious charities and soup kitchens and clothing centers and food pantries and community gardens and YMCAs and youth clubs and parole officers and guidance counselors and therapists and police officers and fire fighters and soldiers and nurses and doctors and attorneys and judges and park rangers and postal carriers and restaurant cooks and wait staff and bar tenders and entertainers and film makers and life guards and farmers and butchers and bakers and candlestick makers …

Use us, we pray, for the sake of your kingdom.

That’s why we’re here, LORD.

To be used of Christ,

To be his ambassadors,

Fools for him, if need be.

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, August 23, 2009

August 23, 2009 - Prayers of the People

We are grateful, O God, but hardly enough.

Yet, grateful we are, for our salvation in Jesus Christ our LORD.

Our LORD and our Savior:

He stood in the face of sin’s onslaught, bore the hatred of the Evil One, tempted in the wilderness to abandon your plan and choose self-interest above our salvation.

But he did not lose sight of your glory, O God!

He did not abandon us in order to preserve himself.

He remained steadfast in his purpose, to go to Jerusalem, and there, in the Holy City, for all the world to see, to release a new energy, a new vision, a fresh wind, to keep the fires of faith burning bright in a world of sin and sorrow.

A new day for Jew and Gentile …

Barriers down.

Bridges built.

Spiritual healing.

Common cause.

That which divided no longer divides.

A new humanity in Christ!

LORD, we remain far away from what should be.

Our hearts are slow.

Are minds are dull.

Our wills perverse.

We are full of ourselves.

Our sin is ever before us when we see the glory of your love in Jesus Christ our LORD.

In his light, we see light.

We see the purity of his power.

The luster of his love.

The depths of his grace.

We are moved, O God, moved to repentance and sorrow for our sins.

And sin, it is, O God.

That we should think and act as we do.

That we should fall so

Far short of you glory, and not even know it half the time, and half the time, know it, and know it full well … and even be proud of our perversity - we call ti cleverness, creativity or conviction, or whatever else we might call it.

A clear and willful violation of your commandments to love:

To love you with all of our heart, soul, strength and mind,

And to love our neighbor as we love ourselves.

Far too often, LORD, we dilute our love with spiritual laziness.

We cut short our love with impatience.

We ration our love, LORD, as if there weren’t enough to go around.

In this holy place, O God, we’ll not pretend.

We confess our sins and own up to our guilt.

We can do no less, O God, in the grace of Christ our LORD.

Amazing grace, O God.

That we can begin anew, here and now.

That which has been is no more.

That which shall be unfolds for us in Christ.

In Christ, we are free.

In Christ, we have life … now, and forever more!

To you, O God, be the glory … every bit of it!

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 …

Monday, August 17, 2009

August 16, 2009 - Prayers of the People

Eternal God, You have chosen us from before the foundation of the world to be the salt of the earth and the light of the world.

We didn’t choose you, because we couldn’t. Our sins were too many; our burdens too great.

But in your mercy, you came to us, to redeem us and bring us unto yourself. You saved us from the pit of despair.

You saved us from our sin. You brought us into the light of Jesus Christ our LORD. You did for us what we couldn’t do for ourselves.

Even now, O God, you give us peace with yourself, and you give us hope for eternal life.

You give us the Holy Spirit, to work out our salvation – to conform us to the image of your Son.

You lead us through the worst of times … You deflect the fiery darts of the evil one … You guard the salvation of our souls and enlarge the work of Christ … You help us along the way every day of our life … and you are at work in all things for good …

Help us this day, O God, to see the wonder of your love and the joy of our salvation.

Lift our eyes, we pray, from the tarnished glory of this life to the true beauty of faith, hope and love.

That we might turn our attention to THIS world with the purpose of Christ.

That we might join hearts and minds with women and men of faith everywhere … to right the wrongs that condemn millions to war and poverty, sickness and death.

To right the wrongs that enhance the welfare of privilege and power and ignore the voiceless millions who toil in sweat shops and fields, barely able to hold body and soul together.

To right the wrongs that force millions of children to live hideous lives and cry themselves to sleep at night …

O LORD, our God, there’s a whole lot of life we’d just as soon ignore – it’s hard to look into the face of an Afghan child and ignore her sorrow … we’d like to turn away and go shopping.

It’s hard to look into the eyes of the man begging on the street corner … we’d rather blame HIM for his ills and let ourselves off the hook.

It’s hard to see the millions for whom life is mean and hard – we’d rather read our Bibles and sing pretty songs.

But don’t let us do this, LORD. Don’t let us cheapen our lives with such tawdry thoughts. Don’t let us escape into our own little world and lose our soul.

This day, O God, we pledge ourselves anew to Jesus Christ our LORD.

We join ourselves to him. And take up our cross.

That every creature, great and small, might know your love and live in peace … it’s a big task, LORD, but we wouldn’t want anything less. We ARE up to it, for you have made us well, and with you, we will do it! For in Christ, all things are possible!

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, August 9, 2009

August 9, 2009 - Prayers of the People

Almighty God, Father in heaven, from whom all the graces of life flow freely to your creation, we give thanks for your mercy, your love, your kindness … and most of all, for Jesus Christ our LORD, in whom the fullness of your glory was pleased to dwell … who came to preach peace to all who were far away and peace to those who were near …

This day, O God, is the first day of the rest of our life.
Today, O God, we begin anew.
We let go of the past and push on to the future.
We look to your promise of grace, in this life and in the life to come.
Grant us, we pray, today, our daily bread.
Needful things necessary to life – food and shelter, family and friends, employment and income … and the wellbeing of our nation, and those who lead us.
Help us, we pray, to eat with gratitude, to appreciate what we have, and to look upon our family with reverence and regard our friends with tenderness … to be ever-grateful for our work, and to manage our income with generosity … building bridges and healing wounds, and if we can’t take down the fence, O God, we’ll install a gate, a gate that swings both ways, so that we can, in Christ, be brothers and sisters unto one another.
Almighty God, we commend to you this day those for whom life is hard …
And we vow, O God, to do all within our power to make this world a world of peace and justice as you would have it … that those who much won’t have too much, and those who have little won’t have too little.
Teach us, O God, how to live profoundly.
How to live in Christ.
How to live for you.
How to live for one another.
We pray, O God, for the leaders of the world who strive for peace.
We pray especially for the nations of Iraq and Iran, Pakistan and Afghanistan … we pray for Israel and for the Palestinians … we pray for the United Nations and the World Court …
We pray, dear God, for Doctors Without Borders, for the Peace Corps and missionaries around the world …
We pray for our soldiers and their chaplains … especially we pray for Chaplain Ed Brandt and his family, and his church, Pacific Palisades … hasten the time, O God, when our soldiers can lay down their arms and come home to the arms of their loved ones …
Stir within us, O God, the best of instincts and the brightest of hopes. Help us, we pray, to be the light of the world and the salt of the earth, as Jesus said we could be.
And when we pass from this life, O God, we will leave a legacy worthy of our name, a legacy of faithfulness and kindness, a legacy of a better world, more just and peaceful, for our having passed this 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 …

Monday, August 3, 2009

The Old Phone

A friend was kind enough to send this story to me ...

The Old Phone

When I was quite young, my father had one of the first telephones in our neighborhood. I remember the polished, old case fastened to the wall. The shiny receiver hung on the side of the box. I was too little to reach the telephone, but used to listen with fascination when my mother talked to it.

Then I discovered that somewhere inside the wonderful device lived an amazing person. Her name was 'Information Please' and there was nothing she did not know. Information Please could supply anyone's number and the correct time.

My personal experience with the genie-in-a-bottle came one day while my Mother was visiting a neighbor. Amusing myself at the tool bench in the basement, I whacked my finger with a hammer, the pain was terrible, but there seemed no point in crying because there was no one home to give sympathy.

I walked around the house sucking my throbbing finger, finally arriving at the stairway. The telephone! Quickly, I ran for the footstool in the Parlor and dragged it to the landing climbing up; I unhooked the receiver in the parlor and held it to my ear.

'Information, please,' I said into the mouthpiece just above my head. A click or two and a small clear voice spoke into my ear.


'I hurt my finger,' I wailed into the phone, the tears came readily enough now that I had an audience.

'Isn't your mother home?' came the question.

'Nobody's home but me,' I blubbered.

'Are you bleeding?' the voice asked.

'No,' I replied. 'I hit my finger with the hammer and it hurts.' 'Can you open the icebox?' she asked.

I said I could.

'Then chip off a little bit of ice and hold it to your finger,' said the voice.

After that, I called 'Information Please' for everything. I asked her for help with my geography, and she told me where Philadelphia was. She helped me with my math. She told me my pet chipmunk that I had caught in the park just the day before, would eat fruit and nuts.

Then, there was the time Petey, our pet canary, died. I called, 'Information Please,' and told her the sad story. She listened, and then said things grown-ups say to soothe a child. But I was not consoled. I asked her, 'Why is it that birds should sing so beautifully and bring joy to all families, only to end up as a heap of feathers on the bottom of a cage?'
She must have sensed my deep concern, for she said quietly, 'Wayne, always remember that there are other worlds to sing in.'

Somehow I felt better.

Another day I was on the telephone, 'Information Please.' 'Information,' said in the now familiar voice. 'How do I spell fix?' I asked.

All this took place in a small town in the Pacific Northwest. When I was nine years old, we moved across the country to Boston. I missed my friend very much. 'Information Please' belonged in that old wooden box back home and I somehow never thought of trying the shiny new phone that sat on the table in the hall. As I grew into my teens, the memories of those childhood conversations never really left me.

Often, in moments of doubt and perplexity I would recall the serene sense of security I had then. I appreciated now how patient, understanding, and kind she was to have spent her time on a little boy.

A few years later, on my way west to college, my plane put down in Seattle I had about a half-hour or so between planes. I spent 15 minutes or so on the phone with my sister, who lived there now. Then without thinking what I was doing, I dialed my hometown Operator and said, 'Information Please.'

Miraculously, I heard the small, clear voice I knew so well. 'Information.'

I hadn't planned this, but I heard myself saying, 'Could you please tell me how to spell fix?'

There was a long pause. Then came the soft spoken answer, 'I guess your finger must have healed by now.'

I laughed, 'So it's really you,' I said. 'I wonder if you have any idea how much you meant to me during that time?'

'I wonder,' she said, 'if you know how much your call meant to me. I never had any children and I used to look forward to your calls.'

I told her how often I had thought of her over the years and I asked if I could call her again when I came back to visit my sister.

'Please do,' she said. 'Just ask for Sally.'

Three months later I was back in Seattle a different voice answered: 'Information.' I asked for Sally.

'Are you a friend?' she said.

'Yes, a very old friend,' I answered.

'I'm sorry to have to tell you this,' she said. 'Sally had been working part-time the last few years because she was sick. She died five weeks ago.'
Before I could hang up she said, 'Wait a minute, did you say your name was Wayne ?' 'Yes.' I answered.

'Well, Sally left a message for you. She wrote it down in case you called. Let me read it to you.' The note said, 'Tell him there are other worlds to sing in. He'll know what I mean.'

I thanked her and hung up. I knew what Sally meant.

Never underestimate the impression you may make on others.

Whose life have you touched today?

Lifting you on eagle's wings. May you find the joy and peace you long for.

Life is a journey ... NOT a guided tour. So don't miss the ride and have a great time going around. You don't get a second shot at it.

I loved this story and just had to pass it on. I hope you enjoy it and get a blessing from it just as I did.

August 2, 2009 Prayers of the People

We lift our hearts to you, O God …To find our bearings and regain our souls …
To learn again the lessons of life, real life … life lived in the grace and goodness of Jesus Christ our LORD …

We give thanks this morning for your love …
A world-encompassing love …
At work at in all things for good …

Before we leave here, O God, before this hour is up,
Touch our souls with your love …
Heal the wounds of fear and pride that make us angry and set us against one another …
Heal us, we pray, of every bigoted thought, every racist inclination, every prejudice and all paranoia … rid our souls of fear, we pray, and then fill our souls with Christ.
That we might live in the joy and responsibility of love … and, yes LORD, we’ll take our chances with the world …
Your son paid quite a price for daring to love.
You son was despised by powerful politicians who dreamed of wealth and empire …
Your son was rejected by powerful preachers who loved their buildings and wielded their influence for personal gain.
Your son stood with the poor and the lame …
The outcast and the rejected …
Your son welcomed the woman at the well and Zacchaeus up a tree …
His kindness shook the foundations of the world …
His love unnerved the powerful …

It is your son, O God, whom we love and serve today … and we promise with all our might, to be faithful to him when tomorrow’s sun rises on another day …

That in our discourse with one another,
In our business dealings and in our plans,
The way we stand in the checkout line at Von’s,
And the way we drive our car,
Something of Christ will shine in our patience and our trust,
In our words and in our values.

That others could see Christ within us.
May it be so, O God,
For this is what we believe,
And this is what we want.

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 …