A Little Worthlessness and a Lot of Love: A Pastoral Prayer

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Holy and steadfast God, you have loved your wandering and distracted people for more generations than we can remember. You have forgiven us when we turned to other gods and regathered us when we scattered ourselves. Jeremiah speaks of a time when your people “went after worthless things,” and became “worthless themselves.” These words, written in ancient times, hold truth for us now. We have pursued so many things that leave us feeling worthless and empty. Remind us that you are the One who is living water and that our lesser gods hold no life for us. Forgive us for repeating this sins of our ancestors, and reclaim us once more.

Ever-patient God, you wait for us to sing aloud of your strength, to shout in joy to you. So few remember your saving acts and many stumble in the pursuit of human ways. You long for us to come to you, to seek your counsel, and listen to your wisdom. You have saved your people from themselves over and over again. Yet, here we are. We have wandered far enough from you that we have forgotten the sweetness of life in you. Pry open our narrow views and let us taste the goodness you have planned for us. Inspire us, once more, to set aside our selfish ways. May we build communities of forgiveness, grace, and love where condemnation, fear, and hatred now abide.

Loving and forgiving God, you provide constant reminders of your love for us. You call us to “mutual love” and remind us to show hospitality to strangers for they might be your messengers. You have so clearly laid out for us the way to live as your people. We are to look down on no one, not even prisoners. We are to be careful not to be consumed by the desire for money and wealth because they so easily become the focus of our worship. You want us to remember those who have gone before us in faith, trusted you, and stood unafraid in the face of conflict, ridicule, and rejection. We tend to live in fear, protecting what we have. You would have us live boldly, doing what is good, and sharing all that we have with those around us. Infuse us with your love once more so that we cannot forget that you are with us and we have no cause to be afraid.

Persistent and passionate God, you call us into our best selves. You remind us that we are no more or less valuable than our neighbors. There is no shortage of your love for us. We do not need to neglect or condemn or neighbors in order to feel better about ourselves. Your table is open to all, without exception. We may arbitrarily decide that whole is better than broken, or healthy is better than sick, or straight is better than queer, or white is better than black, or I am better than the person next to me, but you would say otherwise. You claim us all as your own and expect that we will embody your love to one another with the same generosity and abundance. Moreover, you want us to do this with joy and humility. Heal the deep insecurity of our hearts and shower us with your forgiveness. May we one day be your church without division.

Ever-present God, the truth we so often fail to remember is that you are always with us. You wait patiently when we fill our days with worthless pursuits. You watch as we separate from each other in anger, fear, ignorance, and hatred. You hold out hope for us even when we embrace empty gods of our own making. You have written your love for us in the pages of sacred story, in the beauty of creation, and the deep silences of our hearts. Continue to be merciful, Holy One, until we learn gratitude, hospitality, humility, and peace, until we trade human ways for holy ways. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

If you are looking for sermon help, you might want to read here.

RCL – Year C – Fifteenth Sunday after Pentecost – August 28, 2016
Jeremiah 2:4-13 with Psalm 81:1, 10-16 or
Sirach 10:12-18 with Psalm 112
Hebrews 13:1-8, 15-16
Luke 14:1, 7-14

Photo: CC0 image by Jonny Linder

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