On hearing the words, "God of Justice and Hope," please respond with "Be with us." And so we pray...
Loving God, once again the cycle of the year is turning. We are delighted by foggy mornings that clear to reveal sunshine, bright blue skies and dazzling colour displays, as the plants and trees around us prepare for their winter rejuvenation—the time of gathering energy and resources, getting ready for new growth, new life, new movement.
And as we gather in the last of the squash and apples, parsnips and plums, as we rake leaves and tidy our gardens, we too are preparing for the winter season that can be a time of rejuvenation, contemplation and rest.
And yet, Spirit God, we know there is little time to rest. The injustices of our world—the suffering of so many people, especially the poor and powerless; the reckless rush to choose violence as a solution to violence; the devastating effects of climate change—these all call us to outrage and to action. They call us to be persistent in our work for justice in this world. As the Talmud says:
"Do not be daunted by the enormity of the world's grief.
And yet, hopeful God, we are at times daunted and we struggle with the darkness—fear, helplessness, exhaustion, physical and emotional pain. We wonder where we will find energy to be the radical people of God that we desire to be, the fighters for justice for all creatures and for our world itself.
And so we turn to you, for comfort, for strength, for encouragement. Keep your loving hand on our shoulders, so that we may follow the way of Jesus—being, thinking and acting with love, and with faith.
God of Justice and Hope... "Be with us."
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."
The story of the Good Samaritan calls us to genuinely care for our neighbours—not only those who "dwell nigh" to us—in the original meaning of the word, but all creatures who inhabit this earth.
The earth itself is our neighbourhood—the place we live, that nurtures and supports us. And just as we reach out our hands to our neighbours with care and love, we must do the same for our earth, our neighbourhood. Without it, we will perish.
Today, we remember that 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, and particularly for Eleanor Maposa and her family. May they find justice and hope in this season.
In the World Council of Churches prayer cycle, we pray for the countries of India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka, countries full of promise and full of pain. May they find a just way forward.
Closer to home, we pray for all those who are attending the fall meeting of Kootenay Presbytery.
And, we hold in our hearts the concerns of people close to us, people who are part of our congregation, families and community. We pray foron our Prayer List, and in a moment of silence, we offer prayers for those whose concerns are close to our hearts... ...God of Justice and Hope... "Be with us."
Oh God, we crave your steadfast love, as we struggle to understand and work within both the glorious beauty of our world and the terrible struggles of its creatures. The tension between those perceptions confuses us, and can lead us to simply turn our backs on our neighbours and on our neighbourhood.
But the love we feel for this world and its creatures demands that we pay attention and that we act. We cannot turn away, and call ourselves your people. We cannot succumb to hopelessness. We cannot stand by while pain and oppression stalk the world, while humans carelessly act in ways that destroy the ecological balance of the earth.
Loving God, help us to understand our world and ourselves better. Help us to see our place in birthing your commonwealth, your neighbourhood of love and justice. Help us to serve, with joy and conviction and persistence.
Be with us in this time. Keep us from despair. Help us to be people of justice and hope, always journeying to the light of your love.
And the people say... "AMEN!"