Monday, July 13, 2015

Pastoral Prayer, July 12, 2015

Pastoral Prayer - First Congregational Church of Los Angeles

Eternal God, we are what we are.
A mess of this.
And a mass of that.
Bits and pieces swirling around like autumn leaves,
Driven by the wind.

We are dream-chasers, O God.
And when we catch them, we’re still not sure.

There is a great restlessness in us, O God.
Always the yearning.
The search.
The quest.

We look toward the hills on high.
Pathways abound, O God.
Some well-traveled.
Some less so.
Some highways, wide and easy.
Some narrow and hard.

And you are the God of the Way.
We find you upon every pathway, and upon every pathway,
You find us. 
Sometimes, dear God, to help us move a little bit faster.
To keep up the adventure, to stay the course, to maintain the journey, to never give up in our pursuit of good.
Sometimes to stop us dead in our tracks, lest we make a hideous mess of things … hurt and compound hurt in our sometimes willful ways … turning us back to find another way.

You are the companion of the way.
Even when we walk through the Valley of the Shadow of Death.

There you are.
The constant companion.
The guide, everlasting.
The Shepard of the Sheep.
You take us to fresh water.
Lay us down in green pastures.
Restore our soul.

O LORD, our God, we pray for many things this day.
Ourselves, of course, for we need your grace.
For our loved ones, O God, that your mercy would enfold them.
And for our world, dear God, that women and men of great vision, deep wisdom, compassion, would lead us aright, dampen the fires of war, increase the light of learning, strengthen the efforts of peace.

In the name of the Prince of Peace, even Jesus Christ our LORD. Amen!

Monday, July 6, 2015

Pastoral Prayer, July 5, 2015

First Congregational Church of Los Angeles

We pray, dear God, for lots of reasons.
Reasons we don’t even fully understand.
Sometimes we’re desperate, LORD.
Sometime we’re angry, so angry, we frighten ourselves.
Sometimes, LORD, we’re filled with joy.
A cup overflowing …
Our hearts dance with pleasure, and we say, Thank You!

On this weekend, O God, we’re mindful of our nation.
Our Founding Mothers and Fathers.
A vision of liberty and justice for all.

LORD, there is goodness in our DNA, a bright and beautiful thread woven into the tapestry of our story, and we thank you.

Help us, we pray, to strengthen that goodness all the more:
Creative energies to find new ways for better living.
Generosity to build universities and hospitals.
A social security network to leave no one behind.

Yet in your kindness, O God, keep our sins ever before us.
Do not, we pray, let us be blinded by our goodness, lest we become victims of sinful pride and the idolatry of nation.

We admit, O LORD, and we confess:
We haven’t always done the right thing.
With Native Americans whose land this was.
Chinese laborers who built our railroads.
Africans enslaved to harvest sugar and cotton.

O LORD our God, stir our conscience, press in upon us, that we might be more than we are … 

And we will sing, O God, with joy and hope:

“My country ’tis of thee, Sweet land of liberty, Of thee I sing. Land where my fathers died, Land of the pilgrim’s pride, from every mountain side, Let freedom ring.” Hallelujah and Amen!