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 …