Prayers of the People

February 3, 2013

When you hear the words,"God of Our Journey", please answer with "Hear our prayers." And so we pray...

Loving spirit, we are grateful to gather together once again on this holy day, with our community of faith. These days, we see hints of spring — snow melting, rivulets of meltwater carving their way through the gravel on our streets, flocks of birds feasting on mountain ash berries, light and fluffy clouds flowing across the sky, revealing at times the glory of blue.

And yet we feel the tension of being on a cusp of change — at any moment a winter storm may come blowing in, bringing more snow, more cold, more gray. Or, the warmth could continue its advance, bringing us closer to spring. Even the groundhogs don't agree this year.

As people, we live with such tension — the push of hope, of clarity and of action, and the pull of despair, confusion and apathy. Which way shall we go? What shall we do? Indeed, what are we called to do, as your creations, as followers of Jesus?

One of our callings, one of our jobs, is to be delighted by the gifts of this world. The poet, Mary Oliver, speaks of this:

        What, in the earth world,
        is there not to be amazed by
        and to be steadied by
        and to cherish?

        Oh my dear heart,
        my own dear heart,
        full of hesitations,
        questions, choice of directions,

        look at the world.
        Behold the morning glory,
        the meanest flower, the ragweed, the thistle.
        Look at the grass.

And she says:
        Sometimes I need
                only to stand
                        wherever I am
                                to be blessed.

The gifts of our earth world surround us, for us to cherish and to be surprised by, for us to protect and to honour. The gifts are many. And we are filled with gratitude when we take time to stop and look and listen. God of Our Journey...    "Hear our prayers."

We know it is our job, our calling, to love the world and live in it, and to care for it, considering the needs of other creatures and the earth itself, and not just our own desires. Again, the words of Mary Oliver:
        And I have become the child of the clouds, and of hope.
        I have become the friend of the enemy, whoever that is.
        I have become older and, cherishing what I have learned,
        I have become younger.

        And what do I risk to tell you this, which is all I know?
        Love yourself. Then forget it. Then, love the world.

We pray for those who love and serve the world. We pray for Rev. Barbara Langton, retired, who is joint chair of the Support to Congregations Team of Kootenay Presbytery. In the World Council of Churches prayer cycle, we pray for Ireland and the United Kingdom. May they find their way forward, even as the threat of Scotland's separation looms. May the cusp on which they stand lead to a positive and peaceful future. Amid the conflicts around the world are Canadian peacemakers and peacekeepers. We pray for them, and for their families. As always we pray for our brothers and sisters at Nyanyadzi Methodist Church in Zimbabwe. May their journey lead to peace and joyfulness. And, we pray for people close to us. I invite you to hold the following people, whose names are in our Prayer List and in a moment of silence, we offer prayers for those whose concerns are close to our hearts...    ...God of Our Journey...    "Hear our prayers."

As we turn from the delights of the world to its pain and violence, we stand on the cusp of despair and hopelessness, of not knowing what to do, or why or how. We take comfort from the words of the Psalmist, who names God as our rock and our stronghold, and also from words from the Talmud:
        Do not be daunted by the enormity of the world's grief.
        Do justly now. Love mercy now. Walk humbly now.
        You are not obliged to complete the work, but neither are you free to abandon it.

God, we ask for your loving hand on our shoulder, showing us the delight of the snow crystal and the rain drop, and guiding us through the grief and pain of the world. We seek to be loving, joyful people, in service to the world and to your spirit.

In closing, Mary Oliver's poem, Prayer:
        May I never not be frisky,
        May I never not be risqué.

        May my ashes, when you have them, friend,
        and give them to the ocean,

        leap in the froth of the waves,
        still loving movement,

        still ready, beyond all else,
        to dance for the world.

And the people say...    "AMEN."