Before time existed, Holy God, you were there. Before the world came into being, you just were. Long after this creation fades away, you will continue to be. Humanity is such a small part of all that is, yet we fool ourselves into believing we are invincible. You know better. You know our weaknesses and our propensity for destruction. We wage wars against our enemies, against our neighbors, and against ourselves because we are lost and afraid of our own frailty. We long for you to come to us as you went to the Israelites. We want you to lead us out of all that holds us captive, all that prevents us from being your people. Grant us the courage to follow the pillars of fire you set before us, leading us to freedom. You are the God who saves and we are a people in need of saving.
Gracious God, your steadfast love endures forever. You remember the days of Moses when even the mountains trembled before you. Be patient with us as we try to remember who you are and whose we are. Much has cluttered our lives, making it hard for us to recall or even to experience anew the wonder and awe of your power and presence. We worry over news of hate crimes, threats of more death and destruction in the Middle East, acts of war in Syria and Ukraine, the ebola virus spreading through parts of Africa, the anger and ignorance coming from our own politians, the sickness of loved ones, and our own personal struggles to find health and wholeness. We get so caught up in our worries and busyness that we forget that you are a God and we are not. Moreover, you are a God who is slow to anger and who abounds and steadfast love. You are present in all the broken places in our lives and throughout the world. You wait for us to turn to you for healing, for justice, for peace. Stir us to action, action that will set us on a path of service to you.
Long before we drew lines on our maps that separate one people from another, you claimed us all as your beloved. Your capacity for grace and forgiveness is beyond our understanding. We live in such narrow places and hold on to such petty anger. We are a forgiven people, a people called to live in love, loving our neighbors as ourselves. Remind us of how much we have been forgiven so that we may remember to withhold harsh judgment against our brothers and sisters whose lives may be so different from our own. May we seek to live in holy love, responding to hatred and violence with compassion and forgiveness that will lead to justice and peace for all your peoples. Let us not try your patience any longer with our selfish ways. Ignite your fire within our hearts that we may become beacons of hope for all who come seeking you.
Merciful God, you know us better than we know ourselves. We long to have the faith and courage of Moses as he led your people, but you know how reluctant we are to take our shoes off to stand on holy ground. Likewise, we yearn to be as forgiving as Jesus told his first disciples to be. Yet we fail to forgive ourselves as you have forgiven us, which often prevents us from extending forgiveness to others. Remind us of your enduring presence throughout human history—your astounding acts of grace, healing, and love—and all the people who have come before us in faith, showing us that you are an amazing God, worthy of our praise. You are the God who will not leave us alone no matter how often we are flooded with doubts or how long we hold onto anger and pain. Open our hearts that we may sing praises worthy of your name.
God of the quiet and the chaos, come to us once again in this time of prayer. Silence our anxieties and fears, humble our desires for greatness, and fill us with compassion. You have claimed us as your people to serve in your name wherever we find ourselves. Even though we are often distracted from what is truly important, we are grateful. We are grateful that we are your people here and now and that your love for us will never end. Trusting in your eternal promises, we pray in Christ’s name. Amen.
(Mountain photo used by permission Unsplash.com)
RCL – Year A – Fourteenth Sunday after Pentecost
Exodus 14:19-31 with Psalm 114
or Exodus 15:1b-11, 20-21
Genesis 50:15-21 with Psalm 103:(1-7), 8-13