O great comforter, we are a nation in mourning. On Valentine’s Day when we celebrate the gift of love we were devastated by yet another senseless violent act at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. Words are simply inadequate to express the pain and grief we feel and we can only imagine how much all of those directly impacted are suffering.
It was also Ash Wednesday, the beginning of the Lenten season of repentance. With the funerals for two police officers in our own community and the tragedy in Florida our Lenten theme of being in the wilderness seems all too real just now. This is one of those times when we are so grateful for the Scripture’s assurance that you “help us in our weakness so when we don’t know how to pray the Holy Spirit intercedes for us with sighs too deep for words.”
We humbly ask O God that you will grant healing mercies to those physically and emotionally wounded by these tragedies. And we pray also that our time in the wilderness will help us draw closer to you that we might be agents of healing and comfort to any we meet who are hurting. And please O Holy One show our leaders and all of us how to live according to your will that our broken nation might come together in peace and cooperation that benefits all.
We pray for those named in our own prayer concerns this day with the assurance that you know our needs even before we ask. Our needs are many but today we especially pray that those who mourn will be comforted as we name those who died on Wednesday in Parkland:
Carmen Schentrup, Meadow Pollack, Peter Wang, Nicholas Dworet, Christopher Hixon, Aaron Feis, Luke Hoyer, Alaina Petty, Jaime Guttenberg, Martin Duque, Alyssa Alhadeff, Helena Ramsey, Scott Beigel, Joaquin Oliver, Cara Loughran, Gina Montalto, and Alexander Schachter.
Lord, in your mercy hear our prayers in the name of Christ who taught us to pray…..
[As we sang “God of Grace and God of Glory” at an alum gathering at the Methodist Theological School in Ohio last week I was impressed with how prayerful those lyrics by Harry Emerson Fosdick are; and those lyrics inspired my pastoral prayer for today.]
God of Grace and Glory, please listen to your people praying. Pour your power upon us as we pray for the healing of brokenness and suffering everywhere – in our own hearts and minds and in relationships interpersonal and international in scale. You have planted the seeds of love in every human heart, but those seeds are threatened by draught, wild fire, earthquake and the ravages of unbelievable storms.
Please let our time of worship nourish the one true seed of your loving presence in us and in those we hold up in prayer. We feel surrounded by the forces of evil and long to be free from fears that shake the foundations of our faith. Send your Holy Spirit here to the church on the hill to free our hearts to praise you and serve you. Giving you the glory, let us not hide the Good News of your Salvation under a bushel, but let this congregation on the banks of the Scioto be a beacon of hope to a broken and discouraged world.
Lord listen to your people praying. Empower us to set an example as peacemakers to a world too long enslaved to war and violence as our only response to conflict and threat. Let us be leaders in finding ways to beat our guns into plowshares and our nuclear weapons into technologies to feed the starving masses and to power our planet with clean renewable energy. Instead of rattling our sabers let us put on the whole armor of God – righteousness, truth, peace, faith, and salvation to win the struggles within us and around us with selfishness, greed, injustice, and all that divides the very oneness of creation.
Strengthen us please, O God within each of us, to not lose hope when illness or despair sap our human energy. Remind us again that we can flip a switch with a simple word of prayer to connect to the one true source of hope that never fails us.
Lord, listen to your people praying and grant us wisdom and courage for the living of these days. We humbly ask these things in the name of the one who is the way and truth and life as we unite in one voice to pray the prayer he gave us……
I wrote a few days ago about my wife Diana’s outdoor adventure in Mexico. Since several people have asked “Did she really do that?” I want to share some pictures that show some of the fun she had. She had a blast, and yes, she is that full of fun and adventure. She’s a great inspiration to me and many and proof that age is just a number.
Live life to the fullest and embrace the adventure! You’ll be glad you did.
My wife and I are currently on vacation in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. The first day we were here I was very tired and my chronic back pain was pushing 10 on the pain scale after a full day of travel with luggage for a week’s stay and making a long walk to the beach from our hotel. The cares and worries of the world had also made the trip with me and I was having one of those “is it really worth it?” moments. I sat on the beach while my wife and her son and two of our grandchildren played in the ocean. I was jealous that my aging body was simply too tired and achy to join the fun.
And then my pity party was interrupted by God’s handiwork in the gorgeous sunset above. I took several pictures because every time I thought it was at the peak of its glory it got even more beautiful. I was inspired in spite of myself. In the brilliant oranges and reds, smack dab in the midst of my pain and tiredness, I was reminded again to look for the helpers and the signs of goodness and truth in a world that has taken leave of its senses. It was like God was saying “I’m still in charge, contrary to all the evidence from Barcelona to Sierra Leone.” Your mission, should you choose to accept it has not changed. Treat others with love and kindness – especially those who are less privileged and different – like all the workers taking care of us in our lovely resort, strangers on planes, family members feeling the stress of back to school and world fears too. It’s still true that only perfect love can cast out fear. (I John 4:18)”
There in the gorgeous sky over the Pacific a couple thousand miles from home God reminded me that eternal truths do not change with any personal or national circumstances. As a disciple of Jesus imitation of Christ in all I do is my job here or wherever I’m privileged to be. I can’t do that if I’m turned in upon myself. I know the truth, Lord; help me live it day by day.