Sunday, January 31, 2016

Pastoral Prayer, January 31, 2016

On the occasion of Merton's 101st birthday ...

For Thomas Merton, O God.
We give thanks …
A keen mind, a fervent heart.
Probing the mysteries of life and faith.
Daring to go the limit … pushing the envelope … 

How you led him, O LORD, with your kindly hand:
From an uncertain childhood to Columbia University to a sojourn at the Monastery of Gethsemane … and then your call to the monastic life - behind the walls of a monastery, a place of Trappist silence, worship and study … a life of engagement with you, O God, and with your world … 

We give thanks for Merton’s wit and wisdom, his foibles and his faith … and how your love, dear God, held him and compelled him … and by that same love, Holy God, we’re all held and compelled, to reach higher and deeper and wider, think beyond the boundaries, cross strange bridges … to seek your glory and to give ourselves unto great things, and small things, too - in the whiteness of washed pocket handkerchief or the kindness of a smile, O LORD our God … in the small and in the great, in the mundane and the sublime, we find you, O God, finding us!

And for the rain today, dear God,
And for the snow in the Sierras,

Our Thanksgiving. Amen.

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Invocation, January 24, 2016

First Congregational Church of Los Angeles


And so the clock continues to tick, O God …
And the days come upon us, quickly.
And move on, they go … in a mysterious procession …
Of time and eternity.

We are what we are, dear God.
Dust and wind.
And grateful servants of Christ.

In whom our dust and our wind find their fulfillment …
Their glory,
Their hope and comfort.

Even as our days move swiftly on.
It’s in your company, we travel.

You are the companion of our souls.
The Good Shepherd of our days. 
The Alpha and the Omega.
The beginning and the End. 

And to you, we belong. Amen!

Pastoral Prayer, January 24, 2016

First Congregational Church of Los Angeles

Pastoral Prayer

O LORD, our God:
The news of the day comes against us like a harsh wind out of the North … courage fails us … and we know not what to think or how to act.

Yet, here we are, O God, because we believe in the victory of better things … we believe love prevails, kindness wins; we believe justice and peace are part and parcel of the fabric of creation … we believe worship adds to the world’s wellbeing … and we believe in prayer.

So we pray for the leaders of the world - may they resist the temptations of saber-rattling and war … may they be devoted to the high arts of diplomacy and the disciplines of compromise … may they reach for the greater glory of life … bridges of understanding … people to accept one another … honor divergent cultures, celebrate religious diversity.

And may religious leaders be thoroughly disciplined by the demands of love … to proclaim welcome and justice, humility and virtue … to resist the dark side of religion, and to embrace the light … to do your will, and to become people of good will … devoted all the more to non-violence and the ways of love.

Of our nation, O God - America the Beautiful, from sea to shining sea, we are a great power; but temper our thoughts with humility and kindness … lest we be deluded and betrayed by our very own strength … and for our Founders we give thanks; for their vision of a new land and a new world order, wherein all are created equal, and all possess the inalienable rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

O LORD our God, toward these high and lofty ends:
We pray for our President and Vice President and their families.
We pray for Congress, and the judiciary.
We pray for governors, mayors and county clerks.

And for us here, O God, in this place, the First Congregational Church of Los Angeles … with gratitude for our story, and a promise for tomorrow, we seek the love of Christ in all that we are, and for all that we hope to be … in the name of our LORD Jesus Christ we pray. Amen!