Pastoral Prayers for a Hurting Community…

Heavenly Father, as we come before you this day, we recognize that in so much of our lives we are lost and confused.  Just recently we heard the heartbreaking news of a local 8th grader shooting himself in a classroom, and in the moments that followed we found ourselves angry and heartbroken. As soon as we catch our breath, we find ourselves turning to the national news and coming face to face with another similar story.  Then we hear another.   It seems to never end.

 In the aftermath of moments like this, we ask ourselves how and why we so frequently miss those around us who are in trouble or hurting.   How can we help others come to see what we already see so clearly; that things do get better, and there are answers?    How come we find out only after damage has been done that our neighbors need help?   Is it that we are unable to see those who struggle, or do we just chose not to?

Within the darkness of all the battles that are waged in our lives as well as the lives of our neighbors, we ask that your love continue to shine.  We ask for the nudges, sometimes subtle and soft, and other times large and loud, that remind us, that we are not alone.   Let us listen to those nudges long enough to be reminded that we need to be you to those who need you most.  Let us meet the hurting with extended hand, open mind, and welcoming heart.  Let us fight for those who hurt and struggle.

As we take that risk of offering invitation and healing, remind us that we are a part of each other, and we belong together.   We are thankful that we are allowed to grow and care for each other, and to unravel the mysteries of our faith together.  Help us to turn to the person next to us when our knees begin to shake or our lives begin to rattle.  Help us embrace the call to stand alongside each other.

As we try to make a difference, we offer our thanksgiving for all those whose lives and whose stories merge with our own.  We celebrate the simple gift of their impact on the lives of those around them.   Help us to remember, that when we grow weary with one another that they too can be a source of strength, companionship, and hope.  Let us hear the lessons that their lives and struggles have for us.

Today we pray for the other children of this community who cannot see a way out.   We pray for adults who a running away from real solutions and turning to empty promises.   We pray for those who at this very moment, because of hurt, pain, or grief, find joy and celebration a million miles away.    For the people we remember and for those who need prayers yet determined we ask that they all discover the very real and life changing assurance that you are with them.   Provide them comfort, strength, and hope that comes only from that promise.

Lord, let us realize that we are more than bystanders.  We are more than strangers.   We are more than witnesses.   Help us to realize that each of us are your children, in whom has been given the  responsibility and privilege of providing love, comfort, and companionship for the entirety of your creation.   Let us look to your unwavering love as THE example and let us hear, and feel you just as clearly in our day to day as can be felt in the lessons, the words, and the prayers you taught each of us.  It is in that recognition that we seal all of our prayers, spoken or not, by using the words that Jesus gave directly to his followers;  Our Father…

In Remembrance of Whitney

There is always something heartbreaking when we hear of the loss of someone like Whitney, and that is made exponentially worse, when rumors indicate that addiction may have played a role.    Whitney was certainly a troubled soul, but she had a voice of angel before drugs took it toll.   I pray that in her passing that we can remember that our gifts and the call to use them, are sometimes no match for the many toils and snares we pass along the way.
Rest in Peace Whitney, and may in your passing we be reminded to stand for those who struggle, who battle, or who have lost their strength.  May we learn something through your heartbreaking passing.
“To All Parents”
A Poem by Edgar Guest
“I’ll lend you for a while a child of mine,” He said.
“For you to love the while she lives and mourn for whens he’s dead.
It may be six or seven years, or twenty-two or three,
But will you, till I call her back, take care of her for me?
She’ll bring her charms to gladden you, and should her stay be brief,
You’ll have her lovely memories as solace for your grief.”

“I cannot promise she will stay; since all from earth return,
But there are lessons taught down there I want this child to learn.

I’ve looked the wide world over in My search for teachers true
And from the throngs that crowd life’s lanes I have chosen you.

Now will you give her all your love, not think the labor vain,
Nor hate Me when I come to call to take her back again?”

“I fancied that I heard them say, “Dear Lord, Thy will be done!
For all the joy Thy child shall bring, the risk of grief we run.

We’ll shelter her with tenderness, we’ll love her while we may,
And for the happiness we’ve known, forever grateful stay;
But should the angels call for her much sooner than we’ve planned,
We’ll brave the bitter grief that comes and try to understand!”

(The above poem is entitled “To All Parents” by Edgar Guest.   The ‘she’s’ and the ‘hers’ were adjusted from the masculine, and although its intended audience was for a greiving parent, it seems appropriate.)

A New Year Pastoral Prayer

Heavenly father, together we start a new year, full of unwritten stories and new opportunities.   

Together we pray that we can embrace all that the next twelve months have to offer us.    We ask that you continue to be with us, and that your presence be felt in all things.   We ask that you extend onto each of us the wisdom, the strength, and the courage to meet each new day and each new challenge head on and full of eagerness.  Give us the courage to accept the clean slate you offer.

Let this year be filled with things that are truly good.   Let us look beyond the mundane or the struggles and see the blessings that wait for us at each corner.   Bless us with the warmth of strong relationships, the strength to help those in our community that need help, and the courage and humility to accept it ourselves, in the moments when we need it too.

As we consider those around us who begin this year fighting sickness, disease, or battles beyond compare, help us to meet them with hearts full of compassion.   Let us find the way to reach out to them, so that in each of us they find a strength that eases their pain, and reminds them that there are people who care, and will fight right alongside them.

Let all things be new this year.   Remind us that you are a God of fresh starts.   Let us become new creatures again, beginning today in this moment.   Let the ministry of all of your children, and of your church be not confined within these walls or the small circles of our lives, but rather be directed throughout our community and our world.

Remind us that it takes only one person,…one person willing to step out, speak up, and take a risk…  Remind us it takes only one person to change the world.   Help us to be the people who choose to do just that.   Help us to be the people who are willing to let our light shine, no matter the cost.

Together, we celebrate you in praise and prayer, and we do so as one voice, one people, and one church.   Amen.


(The Pic above is from the Courtney Collection, 2009 ccl.   I couldnt help but see Reggie in it, and had to use it.  🙂

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