Sunday July 26th we started a new sermon series - "Where do we find ourselves?" - talking about "mountaintops." It was also the first Sunday we worshiped outside at a park pavilion. We changed up our liturgy a bit and I wrote a prayer of intercession and a prayer of confession for the service. The scriptures were Isaiah 2:1-5 and Matthew 14:23-24a.
Prayer of Intercession
We give thanks O God for your faithful presence and your merciful love. You already know the pains, the worries, the grief, the fears we carry with us, yet there is power in sharing them in community with one another and with you. Receive these earnest prayers.
We pray for those who work in the medical field – doctors and nurses, aids and support staff, technicians and chaplains, environmental services and medical researchers. May they be blessed with your wisdom and your protection.
We pray for those who are alone and isolated during this time. Provide new avenues of connection. We pray for those who are in crowded homes. We pray for those who find themselves in unsafe situations and those who lack housing. Provide respite and security.
We pray for those working in schools – teachers and administrators, counselors and support staff, cafeteria workers and bus drivers, custodians and volunteers. We pray for the decisions they are having to make, the lack of sufficient resources, and the many unknowns they face for the coming year. Grant them creativity and perseverance, hope and patience.
We pray for parents, guardians, and students who also face difficult decisions and new ways of learning. We lift up our 2020 and 2021 seniors who are grieving the opportunity to finish their senior year the way they imagined. Provide guidance and compassion to those juggling work and school, and seeking to make the best decision they can.
We pray for those tasked with pursuing justice, responding to emergencies, and leading our communities. For law enforcement officers facing fear and anger, instill within them a spirit of peace and courage to truly work for justice. For EMTs and firefighters called to serve those who are ill, protect them as they work. Guide those who govern so they may lead with wisdom and compassion.
We pray for those affected by oppressive systems, generational racism, and economic inequality. May we remember that you call us to love, to protect, to advocate for the outcast, the orphan, the widow, the stranger.
We pray for those who face job insecurity, job loss, furloughs, insufficient pay, and hazardous working conditions. We pray for those working without health insurance or sick leave. Equip us to provide and advocate for those who have need.
We lift up in this gathering of your people the specific names and situations we carry with us, remembering especially those who are sick, injured, or struggling with mental health, those who are grieving, and those who are homebound or in care facilities. Hear now these prayers as we share them out loud or in our hearts.
Congregation names concerns out loud
O God, hear our prayers.
Prayer of Confession
We are faced with temptation every day to pursue the values of the world over what is holy. To hoard your abundance, to seek status, to neglect our spiritual health, to dehumanize your beloved children.
We confess we need you to teach us your ways. Restore within us a spirit of generosity, humility, faithfulness, and compassion.
Your path and your way is not always easy to follow. We seek out shortcuts, prettier views, and smoother travels that lead us away from your will for us.
We confess to choosing our own way, disregarding your wisdom and direction. Guide us so we may return to your holy path.
We struggle to see the violence we participate in – the small emotional cuts of judgment to decisions that have ripple effects on people around the world. We are drawn into the glorification of physical might and violence and the belief that it is the answer to many problems.
We confess our participation in continued violence and war, and the immense harm it causes to all your beloved creation. Give us a heart for peace so we may learn war no more.
When we find ourselves atop a mountain, we can forget those who helped us get there. In moments of pride and joy our perspective has narrowed, hiding from our view those who are still suffering and those who made our journey possible.
We confess there have been times we have been ungrateful and have failed to bring others with us to the mountaintop. Widen our perspective and stir our heart to gratitude and compassion.
We acknowledge, in our day to day life, we participate in a broken world, influenced by sin. We carry within us the pain of other ways we have fallen short of your will. Hear now the cries of our hearts as we confess them silently to you.
Time of silent confession
O God, hear our prayers.
O God, hear our prayers.
Assurance of Forgiveness
Hear now this good news.
God calls us back, offering mercy, freely given.
Even when we fall short,
even when we cannot escape sin,
God’s love surrounds us,
a blanket of forgiveness.
Receive this gift and find yourself renewed,
able to live more fully as God’s beloved creation.
Thanks be to God.