During the prayers, when you hear: “Comforting Spirit” please respond with “wrap us in love and hope.” Let us pray.
God of our lives, we gather in this community of faith and hope, with knowledge of your loving grace that wraps around us. Today, in our church life, as we mark the end of one year and the beginning of another, we are reminded of the ongoing cycle of life and faith. We also are moving through our earthly cycle, and into the short and often gloomy days of winter. At this time, we yearn for comfort – whether comfort food like hearty soups or cups of hot chocolate; or the comforting warmth of shawls, loving hugs from other people, and the pleasure of a good book by the fireplace. Loving God, just as we need those earthly comforts, our spirits also yearn to feel your loving shawl envelop us—whether the sun shines or the clouds descend, whether we face challenging times or smooth sailing. A shawl is made of strands of dark and light; this we know. Comforting Spirit… “wrap us in love and hope.”
The world seems to be in such turmoil. Heavy rains and extensive flooding in east Africa. Terrible fires ravaging the east coast of Australia, while the leaders of this coal-producing nation deny that carbon emissions have changed our climate. And then we are encouraged by the progressive leadership of New Zealand’s government, who has introduced the Zero Carbon Act, a plan to reduce carbon emissions to zero by 2050. In recent years, we have watched as many countries have moved from democracy to tyranny. And now we see people rising up in the streets of Hong Kong and Santiago, and in cities in Iran, Iraq, Ireland and Ukraine. We pray that the calls of people for democracy and peace and good leadership will be heard and heeded. In the World Council of Churches Prayer Cycle, we pray for Brunei, Malaysia, and Singapore. We remember and pray for peacemakers and peacekeepers and all those who serve throughout the world with many organizations. And we pray for their loved ones who await their safe return. We pray for LGBTQ+ people who are persecuted in many countries. We pray for our friends, our brothers and sisters, at Nyanyadzi Methodist Church in Zimbabwe. And we pray for our Bienestar partners involved in the Nelson United Church outreach project in Guatemala. May a shawl of justice and peace wrap around all of them. Comforting Spirit… “wrap us in love and hope.”
In the Pacific Mountain Regional Council Prayer Cycle, we pray for Marpole UC in Vancouver, Mount Paul UC in Kamloops, Mount Seymour UC in North Vancouver and Mt. Lehman UC in Abbotsford. May God’s shawl hold them all warmly. And we pray for those named in our prayer list, and for the people who care for them … And we pray for those in our hearts, their names spoken aloud or silently… …Comforting Spirit… “wrap us in love and hope.”
In these days of uncertainty and sorrows, when the short days can move us into dark places in our hearts, we hear the encouraging words of poet Mary Oliver:
Every morning I want to kneel down on the golden
cloth of the sand and say
some kind of musical thanks for
the world that is happening again—another day—
from the shawl of wind coming out of the
west to the firm green
flesh of the melon lately sliced open and
eaten, its chill and ample body
flavoured with mercy. I want
to be worthy of—what? Glory? Yes, unimaginable glory.
O Lord of melons, of mercy, though I am
not ready, nor worthy, I am climbing toward you.
As we continue on our journey… Comforting Spirit… “wrap us in love and hope.”
And together we say… “AMEN!”