O divine Creator, in our topsy-turvy world it is so important to spend time with you as the one true North Star that is our unwavering guide through all the joys and sorrows of this mortal life. Your eternal and constant presence is so vitally important to us In a world where Prime Ministers rise and fall faster than the stock market; where prices keep rising, where election ads bombard our airwaves and inboxes, and political violence reigns from San Francisco to Ukraine. The change of seasons is bittersweet as we relinquish the warmth of summer for the beauty of fall, but we draw comfort from the assurance than the seasons come and go on your dependable schedule no matter what craziness we humans inflict on your creation.
We count on the steadfastness of your grace even as we are ashamed of how far we humans drift from your plan for us and your creation. In this season of ghosts and goblins we are often so embarrassed that we want to hide from you in costumes that disguise us from our own sin and selfishness. It is so easy to get swallowed up by our own privilege and comfort where the false idols of materialism and the prosperity gospel wait to ambush us on every billboard and in every commercial. We know better, Lord. We know we can’t serve you and money at the same time. But like St. Paul we often do the very things we know we should not do and vice versa.
We admire the heroines and heroes of the faith who bravely stand up for your truth at great risk to themselves. They trust that you have power over death itself, but so often our faith is weak in the face of the sacrifices it will take for us to truly follow you. And so we come to worship putting on a smile even when we are dying inside. We pretend we are fine when we feel lost and broken-hearted. Or we are afraid to share our joys and successes because we know others are grieving and lonely.
Open our ears this Sabbath day, O Holy One, to hear again the wonderful news of your amazing grace. Pull away our masks and costumes and liberate us from the fear and doubt that keeps us hiding out light under a bushel. Remind us again that Jesus didn’t just invite a select few to his table. With open arms Jesus says, “Come to me ALL who are weary and heavy laden and I will give you rest.” He broke bread with sinners and tax collectors because he knew they are your beloved children also.
And so are we, not because we are better than anyone else, but simply because we are a part of your heavenly family. We all matter just as all the parts of our anatomy matter to our bodies. We are not made to be self-sufficient or alone, but to be members of the church, the body of Christ. We give thanks for this community of believers called to put our faith into action and to transform our broken world into your beloved community. Thank you, O God, for sending Jesus into the world to show us that we need not hide from you no matter what but can humbly come to you anytime and anywhere just as we are. In that assurance we boldly offer our prayers and our lives to you in the name of Jesus our liberator, saying as one the prayer he taught us to say…
Pastoral Prayer, Sunday, October 30, Northwest UMC, Columbus, OH