During the prayers, when you hear: “God of our lives,” please respond with chold us in the great hands of light.” [the words of Mary Oliver from the poem we heard earlier] Let us pray.
God of our lives, surround us with your loving grace as we gather today, in this community of faith and love. We have been blessed with days of sunshine, and our spirits rise as we see sparkles dancing on snow, icicles glowing and dripping, and the brightness surrounding us. Even those of us who are homebound feel the arms of sunshine reach through our windows, holding and warming us, and bringing hope. And on the days of darkness and gloom, when the clouds press down on us and our mood tends toward despondency, we are blessed to have the knowledge of light, of the sun that will “keep us from ever-darkness” as Mary Oliver says. We only have to remember and have faith.
In these seemingly unkind and fearful days of our human journey, it is healing for us to seek kindness. In places like Yemen, Syria and Venezuela, where so many people are suffering and afraid, we can also see astounding acts of kindness and hope. These are the places where the light of humanity and of the Great Spirit shine through, and we must remember these, and hold them close. Kindness must also be sought in our own hearts. Kindness toward others, especially those we are in conflict or disagreement with, and kindness toward ourselves. Jesus can help us along that rocky road, through sun and darkness, as we move closer to forgiveness and compassion. God of our lives… “hold us in the great hands of light.”
In our journeys, we need time to stop, to rest and to pray, to share our challenges with others who can help us. We are thankful for each and every member of this community, their love and wisdom. We are grateful for David, his passion and compassion, his loving support for each of us. In the World Council of Churches Prayer Cycle, we pray for Belgium, Luxembourg and the Netherlands. May they be leaders in building a world of peace and in addressing the challenges of our changing climate. May they also continue to reconcile with the haunting legacies of their colonial past and welcome new immigrants who will contribute to their future. We remember and pray for peacemakers and peacekeepers, and all those who serve throughout the world through various organizations. We pray for their loved ones who await their safe return.
We pray for our friends, our brothers and sisters, at Nyanyadzi Methodist Church in Zimbabwe. May they move forward to light and a new era of peace and well-being. We pray for our Bienestar partners involved with Nelson United’s outreach project in Guatemala. And as is our custom, we pray for those on our prayer list, and for the people who care for them. We pray for those in our hearts, their names spoken aloud or silently… …God of our lives… “hold us in the great hands of light.”
As Jesus teaches, we seek to find mercy in our hearts, live out forgiveness in our actions, and deeply feel compassion for ourselves and others. We are tested in these strange times, challenged to live with patience and understanding. To resist the temptation to judge and label and create yet more divisions. And we also seek to find ways to bravely and boldly speak out, with respect and kindness. In this time, as we face cataclysmic change, we need to be one with our brothers and sisters…even when they appear to be our adversaries. Loving spirit, with your help and with the wisdom we learn from Jesus, we can imagine and build a world where people are connected and kind and deeply connected with the natural world. We strive for this in our personal lives, in our community lives and in our global lives. We stand in opposition to the darkness that comes in rough the cracks in our humanity, in our interconnectedness, our anger and fear.
Instead, we pray for the strength of the light that can, as Mary Oliver says, “ease us with warm touching.” Then we can stand with love and forgiveness, with solidarity, with humility – and we will shine in the light of love and the spirit of the universe.God of our lives… “hold us in the great hands of light.”
And together we say… “AMEN!”