Breathing deeply, breathing prayerfully, we settle our bodies and quiet our minds. Gentle Strong Divine Love, it is you willing us into holiness, healing our brokenness, patiently reshaping our sharp edges to mould us into your kind of beauty. Mysterious Holy Force hovering, waiting for us to turn to you, we remember the promise from the Hebrew Scriptures that “everyone who calls on the name of Yahweh will be rescued. Anyone who invokes the name of Yahweh will be among that remnant.”
So it is, that like folks in scripture, we too find ourselves to be a remnant – a remnant among our neighbours, our colleagues, and even among our own beloved family members. Sometimes this creates tension and we struggle to find appropriate loving responses.
And then there are times when we come to know the remnant within ourselves – seemingly just a small scrap of faith alongside fear, doubt, sorrow – and sometimes disheartened dismay at the world and the decisions being made – or not made. Like the Pharisee in this morning’s gospel, we confess that on occasion we have chosen to explain to you and to ourselves how we are not really “that bad” and we are quite decent, church-going, law-abiding persons.
But then comes a whisper. It time to ask for your mercy because we realize we have strayed from the Way of Jesus, sometimes knowingly, sometimes unknowingly. Emptied of our arrogance we painfully see ourselves. And! And in that seeing, we know ourselves to be forgiven. Not only are we forgiven but we’ve been divinely transformed! How wonderful is this! Would we have it any other way?
We turn now to our Prayer List to say aloud first names. May these we name know, as did your ancient people, experience your mercy and Your deliverance… And those we now name silently or aloud …
From the Pacific Mountain Regional Council Prayer Cycle, we join with others to pray for Kamloops United Church. Grant them answered prayer and a way into a future you intend. From the World Council of Churches Prayer Cycle this week it is Canada and the United States. For this country, we Canadians call home, grant us patience with one another and a readiness to see new visions of what we yet can be. On behalf of our newly elected parliament, we ask, on their behalf, for wisdom, courage, a sense of humour, and a willingness to see their mistakes.
With love, we pray for our neighbour to the south – for some of us – our other home – and for Gregg Carlson – his home. With heartfelt gratitude, we offer praise and thanksgiving for Gregg’s ministry among us and for all those who serve in The Center for Progressive Renewal. To you O God we lift up all American faith communities and in particular our partners, the United Church of Christ and the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ). We pray that those in Congress find their way into justice and so doing know themselves to be your beloved people.
With aching hearts, we pray for the thousands suffering in California fires. We give thanks to firefighters. Wherever they may be we pray for their safety. It is with respect and admiration we pray for those on the front lines of our climate crises. This past week some of us have been especially grateful for computer technicians, for their patience and expertise. We are mindful of the younger clerk who smiled and accepted our slowness, fumbling fingers and dimming eyesight. Some of us smile to remember and to give thanks for a bus driver, a car mechanic, a plumber, a stranger who made us laugh, and the many, who in so many ways, make our lives better.
In the words of the psalmist: “[T]o you O God we owe praise, to you our vows must be fulfilled and [it is] you who hear our prayers.” How wonderful is this! Would we have it any other way?
In Jesus’ name, we pray – and the people say: “Amen!”