Beloved God, we praise you for this beautiful morning, from sunshine, to crisp winds, to lush fauna all around us, reminding us that all creation joins in praising you. We feel this new season of life upon us, with the bustle of the William and Mary campus as our sleepy town wakes once more, to watching school buses down streets, reminding us that school has started once more. We pray for all of those who have started a new academic year, for the transitions that life constantly seems to bring. We pray that homesickness would be alleviated, that anxieties would be soothed, and that friendships would blossom in unexpected places. Grant each of us a willingness to learn something new, to see You and learn about how you have been and are at work in the world around us. Because God, we so badly need you at work in this world.
We pray for brothers and sisters across this world who have been impacted by natural disasters over these past few weeks. For people in Texas who recover from the devastating effects of Harvey. For those in the Caribbeans, who will be without electricity and power for months as a result of Irma. For those in Florida, who have already started to see and feel the effects of this powerful hurricane. For those in Mexico and Guatemala, and other Central American countries just south of us, who were hit both with an earthquake and a hurricane. For those out west, where wildfires ravage all in its wake. O God, we are never so painfully aware of how small and insignificant we are, than when we see the devastation and hear of lives lost. Our souls long for homes, for places to find rest, and when our physical homes are destroyed, we feel it at a deeper level. God be with rescue workers, and with doctors and nurses, who provide time and energies at risk to their own health to care for others. We pray that you would become home to all those who are without, that you would wrap loving arms around them, that you would give all those providing aid with clarity, alertness, and grace. May our prayers be words that our siblings across the globe be sources of comfort, bringing words when they are unable to speak, and our ability to lament and grieve with them.
We are reminded, O God, that we were never meant to do life alone, that we have a need for others in our lives. We see this perhaps most especially throughout our church this day, as we see the various ministries of the church alive and active. We are grateful for the many ways in which your people give of their time and energy to be witnesses to you, from our church staff, to elders and deacons, to those who volunteer in countless ways to educate others, to discern and utilize our resources, to serve others, and to enjoy the wonders of worship and fellowship with each other. It takes more than one person to make up a community, and even then, it takes listening to each other, being patient with each other, speaking up when the Spirit moves us. O God, we pray for this sense of community to not just be present here in Williamsburg, but across the world, that warring factions, both politically, spiritually, and physically, would find themselves more willing to listen and show compassionate peace, rather than advance their own agendas for the sake of power and supremacy. For we have seen how truly full and rich lives comes not from wealth or personal gain, but by being in relationship with others, by listening to their stories, and sharing our own, and being so beautifully aware of your face—your beacon of love—shining through all.