Gracious and Almighty God, we’re here because, “relying on God has to begin all over again every day as if nothing had yet been done” (C.S. Lewis) and we “receive (our) nourishment by serving the will of the One who sent (us)”(John 4:34). Speak to us. Say something that compels us to hear truth that forces us to stop looking down on others and start looking above ourselves. We’re all sinners. And that’s ok because Grace covers all. So call us out from death and shame and encourage us to step out in faith onto the solid ground of the Living Word of God.
It’s time to release our fears and to be the church; “a community of healing not hiding, embracing not excluding, of life and not death” (Rev. Mike Kinman). “And do this, understanding the present time: The hour has already come for (us) to wake up from (our) slumber, because our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed” (Romans 13:11). We do all of this, in the name of the Living God, Amen.
“Consider and answer (us), O LORD (our) God; Enlighten (our) eyes, or (we) will sleep the sleep of death” (Psalm 13: 3). You, O God, see the good in us. Forgive us when we just can’t see or hear You. We don’t want to have a heavy mind holding on to thoughts that pull us away from You. So provoke us, and call on us to continue on this search for truth. Give us a willingness to look beyond our own perspective and to look humanity in the eye so that we can unlearn intolerance and fear. Teach us to learn what being human is, and what your vision is so that we can help each other experience the possibilities of God.
“When there is a mighty movement of God, nobody can stop it” (Pastor James Phillips). We pray, Almighty One, that you would give us the strength and the tenacity to stand up, take a breath, and speak the truth that God is love and that Love is for all. For “nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:39).
Lord God, You are “our light and our salvation” (Psalm 27:1). Strengthen us by “reviving whatever peace and love has died within us” (Christian Today) so that we can see as you see. Open our eyes to see a world that needs so much more than us. Show us a world that needs You. Shift our minds to experience how love works and how love never fails. See, we don’t know You but we want to know you…because You know us, and “to be known is to be loved and to be loved is to be known” (Chris Kinsley & Drew Francis). Help us to know You, Lord. We need to know You.
“Christ has no hands or feet on earth but ours” (Teresa of Avila). So let us be His body and feed those who are hungry. Not with bread alone but with the Love of God. Break down the walls of fear and hatred with the realness of looking at one another, straight in the eye, and seeing a child of God; someone who is in need of as much grace and forgiveness as we are. In the end, “Love does no harm to its neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law” (Romans 13:10).
We come here today to receive not what we want, but what we need. We need the love of God. We give You, oh Lord, our time and our hearts because You so loved us, that You gave Your only Son so that we would never be separated from the love of God.
The most important work that we will do is to break down the walls of our hearts, and just love others as God loves us. It is the Word made flesh that heals us of the ugliness of this world, and brings us forward into our function as beloved children of God.
“Christ has no body but ours, no hands, no feet on earth but ours. Our eyes are those with which He looks compassion on this world, Our feet are those with which He walks to do good, Our hands, are those with which He blesses all the world” (Teresa of Avila) with love. And “love does no harm to its neighbor. Therefore, love is the fulfillment of the law” (Romans 13:10).
Search us, O God, and fan the flame of Your love in all of us. May our eyes be open to the beautiful things that are happening because of the love of God. Wrap our heads and hearts around the complexity of this love. May we remember and learn from what love is, and let go of what love is not. Love doesn’t boast. Love doesn’t destroy. Love doesn’t lie or gossip. Love builds up. Love protects. And love unites because God is LOVE. And anything that is not of Love is not of God.
“May we let Love lead us. May we stand for what Christ stood for or rather stand with those whom Christ stands with. May we be the blessing and not the curse” (Pastor Melissa Greene, Gracepointe Church, Tenessee).
God of comfort, envelop us in Your truth. Stop us from pointing fingers and remind us that we are unified by our humanity. Lead our hearts into Your presence. Forgive us when we forget You and each other. Instead, create a community of grace and action. Send us out there, outside of what is familiar, to the places that need grace the most, so that we can be part of building Your kingdom here in this place and in our hearts.
“When something bad happens, we have three choices: we let it define us, we let it destroy us, or we let it strengthen us,” (Frank Langela). Strengthen us, O Lord, to see and hear the needs of Your people. So many lives that we need to see, remember and honor. Don’t let us ever forget. Don’t let us forget.
Guide us now, oh Great Redeemer, to a place of community with You and with each other. Engage us with a needy world, so that when we see each other, we see God in every expression. Equip us with the understanding that, “it doesn’t matter if we’re right, it matters if we are in relationship” (Pastor Leila Ortiz) with each other and with our Creator. Give us the strength to let go and let God, so that we can invite those who are thirsty and hungry for more than what this world can offer.
Other’s might laugh and gossip, but God knows and walks with each and everyone us. So let’s walk with each other, not against each other, and let’s do what God does; care about those that the world does not.
Creator God, rebuild every good thing that has been destroyed. Teacher, call to us and draw us into Your story. Make us active players in Your narrative and in this community. Clear our eyes to see those who are not safe. Tear down the walls so that we can reach out to those living in the margins. Unbind us from fear so that we can be Your hands and feet. Meet us where our condemnation and our limitations collapse. Meet us.
You invited us to Your table by taking the lowest place in ours. You humbled Yourself and gave Your life so that we could live. Give us the courage to receive the Holy Gospel and make us alive. Begin the healing now so that we can be the Church that invites all and sees all. Let us not leave this place as we came, but with changed hearts and minds that have seen and experienced the risen Lord. Let us be the Church again. Let us be the Church.
Holy Spirit, bridge the gap between our hearts and the heart of our Creator because “no sinner ever comes to Christ until the Holy Spirit first comes to them! And no sinner will savingly believe on Christ until the Spirit has communicated faith to them” (Arthur Pink). Communicate to us, O Lord, and interrupt the superficial chatter that permeates this world. Drop our façade of perfection and bring comfort to a disarrayed mind. Move in us and through us. Don’t let us hinder the flow of the Word of God. But instead, let us be beacons of light that reflect Your message of love, compassion, justice and mercy for all people.
“God creates faith in the human heart the same way that He created the world. He found nothing and created something” (Martin Luther). Together, with one another and with our Creator, we can make a difference that will send ripples and waves throughout the oceans of time, so that every generation and nation will know the indestructible love of Almighty God.