By Rev. Rachel Christine Hébert
August 28, 2017

Loving Creator, we find ourselves in awe of the world around us. We see evidence of creation praising you, in the swaying of branches in the Spirit’s breeze, waving arms of praise to you. We feel the sun’s rays warming our faces and see plants unfurling to lift their faces to you. We hear animal’s voices and the insect’s melody join in crying out Hosanna! Alleluia!

But God, our hearts cry out to you in other ways--we cry out to you with prayers of “Help us, help us, help us.” We continue to feel the ripple effects of Charlottesville across our states, in other cities and towns where rallies based on fear trigger violence, even in the face of those who seek non-violence and peace. Terror and fear run rampant across the globe, from Spain to the Middle East. O God, how we need you. We are reminded that we are finite and prone to fear, but you, O God, are one of love, and your love is infinite. This world needs signs of your love, is desperately seeking ways to reach together, to grasp hands, lock arms, and say NO to the darkness that is fear, terror, and violence. Help us to reach across divides and divisions, to seek common ground in the faces of those who look and believe differently from us, and grant us the grace to see them as precious children created in your image. Love will forever conquer fear, and light pierce any doom we might perceive, so help us to be light and image bearers, searching more for the light in others, than ways to extinguish your light within them.

God the earth cries out to you as well. We hear of earthquakes in Italy, mudslides in Congo, and can already see the effects of hurricane Harvey in the Texas area. Be with our brothers and sisters across the globe, as homes are destroyed, as the efforts of nesting and creating a space that is safe and welcoming are now collapsing and filling with water.  Help us to be more attentive to creation, to not be so consumed with dominating land, but seeing the many ways in which this earth provides a safe and welcoming space for us. For trees that help give us the air we need to breathe, for flowers and fauna that inspire beauty and artistry that our souls need, for sun and rain, both of which nourish the earth, just as you provide nourishment for us as well.

Grant us nourishment, inspiration, and moments to just breathe. You provide us with nourishment, with food to fill our bodies so that we might do your work. We are provided with nourishment in the form of medications, medication that helps us physically, mentally, and emotionally. We pray for all those where there is no nourishment of medication, for those who have seen the ways in which medication has failed, for those who abuse medication. 

We are grateful for inspiration, for the beauty of music--organ and trumpet--, for the rhythm of poetry, for the artistry of photographs, sculptures, and paintings. Creation inspires us, and reminds us that we are to be creators as well, creators of homes, of food, creators of friendships, and creative ways in which to reach out and serve others.

In all things, O God, help us to just take every moment one breath at a time. We can become so swept away in the busyness of life, in the craziness of transitions, in our own emotions ranging from excitement to anxiety, that we forget you are with us, that you are beside us, telling us to just breathe. We breathe your Spirit in now O God, and breathe out the prayer you taught us, saying…

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By J. Harold McKeithen, Jr.
June 01, 2017

 

Almighty and all-merciful God, on this Memorial Day weekend we lift up to you with admiration for their courage and with great sadness for their deaths in late youth and early adulthood the soldiers, sailors, marines and flyers who have died in our nation’s wars at home and abroad.  Precious is the life of each of them now and for eternity.

Compassionate God, we hold up to you with deep empathy the parents, spouses, sweethearts and siblings of these dead whose hearts were broken and who were left desolate by their terrible loss.

We commend to your care veterans of past and current wars who are facing life with the physical and emotional wounds resulting from those traumatic experiences.

Righteous and merciful Judge of humankind, we bow before you in deep contrition for the pride and prejudice and hostility which are the fruits of sin and which are themselves the soil out of which all warfare grows.  Wash us in the blood of your Son, Jesus, who died by our hands and who was raised up by you that our human race might be delivered from ways of death and destruction and established in ways of justice and peace.

God of truth and light, convert Christian dispensationalists who resist and even oppose the efforts of peacemakers, especially in the Middle East, because they believe fervently that these wars are your preparation for the Second Coming of Jesus and the culmination of human history.  Convert Islamic fundamentalists who believe that they are serving your purposes in a holy war against all who do not embrace their beliefs.  Convert any of us who believe, for whatever reason, that we are serving you by killing others.

We pray especially today for the survivors of all who lost their lives in the violent attacks against the people of Manchester, England and against the people and ministries of Dansalan College in the Philippines, and we pray for the exposure and defeat of all misguided souls who are perpetrators of such atrocities.

Loving God, we lift up to you daughters and sons of our nation who are in military service this day.  Make them brave and resolute in the doing of their duty.  Give them the courage and moral fiber needed for refusing to do anything which contradicts what they believe to be right.  Keep them safe and return them to us whole in body, mind and spirit.

Hear us also as we pray for friends and loved ones who have not and do not serve in the military but who have been and are courageous soldiers in the battles of life, struggling to stand firmly for what is good and true in spite of all kinds of dangers, toils and snares.  Be their strength and hope and comfort as they live out the days ahead of them.

We thank you, God, that you are the Beginning and the End and that, between begining and end, you are our strength and our refuge.

Spirit of strength, make us strong in you.  Give us strength of body that we may do our work well and cheerfully and bear the burdens of others.  Give us strength of mind that we may fearlessly accept your truth and faithfully hold to it.  Give us strength of heart that we may love you with all our powers and love our neighbors as ourselves.

Spirit of comfort, we commend to you all who are in any kind of trouble or affliction; those who are burdened with anxiety, depression, physical or spiritual poverty, sickness of body or mind or any other adversity. 

Spirit of eternal life, we remember before you all who have faithfully lived, all who have peacefully died, and especially those who have been most dear to us.  Lift us into the light and love which they share with you and give us, at the last, our place with them and you.

And unto your name, with the church on earth and the church in heaven, we ascribe all honor and glory, and pray with your Son our Lord:

Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name.  Thy kingdom come; thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.  Give us this day our daily bread and forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors.  And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.  For thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.

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By John Morgan
May 22, 2017

Creator God, you have made the whole world and everything in it, you are the Lord of heaven and earth.  Everywhere we look in creation we see your glory, in the warmth of the spring sun bringing forth dazzling flowers and lush green leaves of new life.  We see you in the grandeur of the heavens, the billions of stars that light up the night sky and the galaxies spinning far beyond our reach.  We thank you Lord for this place where we live and pray that you would continue to trust us to care for this garden where you have set you children.  Forgive us when we use it without counting the cost, enable us to nurture and protect its resources so that life may flourish forever.

From Adam you created all humanity, remind us that we are all kin, regardless of the color of our skin or the accent of our language.  You made the nations and set the boundaries of our existence, let us work together to bring peace to our world and health to all its people.  We are your offspring, all of us your children, help us to live as one human family, respecting one another and loving all with the love you showed to us in Jesus Christ.

You have created us to search for you, O Lord.  We are restless Lord until we find our rest in you.  We realize the emptiness within our hearts that can only be filled with your presence.  We long for your presence with us, we cry out when we feel lost and alone, we know that there is something missing in our lives when we are not in relationship with you.  We thank you for Jesus the messiah, who touched those who were sick, who fed those who were hungry, who gave living water to those who were thirsty.  We pray that he would guide us on this journey into the paths which will lead us to you.  Direct our ways so that we might find the still waters of your peace and the green pastures of your provision. 

In you o Lord we live and move and have our being.  Empower us to be effective servants of your will.  Help us to continue your work of reconciliation among friends and enemies.  Let our lives show your love so clearly that others will seek you too.  When we see the idols that grieve you, may we speak confidently to those who are lost.  Give us the words and the actions that will be able to speak of your true presence and inspire people to worship you.

We lift up our prayers of petition for those who feel they are groping in the dark for you.  Bring healing to those who are sick, battling cancer and disease, or undergoing surgery.  Stand by the side of their loved ones who wait and care for them.  Support with your love those who grieve, whether their loss in still fresh or continues to linger many years after.  Let those who are lost find you Lord.  Those who struggle with mental illness, depression or anxiety.  Those who are lonely and long for relationship that will bring love not more pain.  Strengthen the weak and bring clarity to the confused.  We offer ourselves to you O Lord this day.  Use these flawed vessels to bring your love and peace to this world.  May we discover anew every day the joy which comes from being your beloved children.

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By Rachel Hébert
May 14, 2017

Loving God, we praise you for this beautiful day. We praise you for the shining sun, for the plants in full bloom, for the light that has broken through the darkness of raincloud and storm. It is in these blessings that we ground ourselves, and are reminded of your presence with us, reminded of the many ways in which you care for us.

We pray for this world, which you have named us as co-caretakers, just as you named Adam and Eve in the garden. O Lord, forgive us for the ways in which we have not cared for your beloved Earth, for the ways in which we already see how our desire for power and resources continues to chip away at the Earth, from air pollution in Nepal, to coal mine explosions in Iran. We pray for the ways in which the power hungry take advantage of others, no matter what the cost. We pray boldly for conviction in their hearts, to see the destruction that happens and to be moved with compassion, that you would turn their swords into plowshares. We pray for all those who continue to live in unsafe places, for the many refugees around the world, and pray for our family who we support as they move into their new home and continue their journey of transition. O Lord, we understand transition, but we take for granted the safety we have living in this nation. Make our hearts more willing to learn from others who are different from us, to listen to the stories of others, and to be guided in word and deed in actions of kindness, grace, and love.

Beloved God, we are grateful for Mothers today. We are grateful for birth mothers, for adoptive mothers, for surrogate mothers, for step-mothers, for church mothers and second family mothers, for mothers who stay at home and mothers who work, for mothers of this earth, who garden and tend to it, and mothers of animals who give creatures a home. We pray for all those who are experiencing this Mother’s Day for the first time without their mother, and God, we especially remember those on this day who feel the pains of motherhood. For who did not get to hold a beloved child in their arms for an array of reasons, be it unable to conceive or miscarriages that leave groans too deep for words, or had children who passed too young. We acknowledge their pain, and we weep with them, and pray that you would be especially near to them on this day in which the grief is especially acute.

God, you are our beloved Mother, for you nursed and held Israel to your breast throughout the ages, you hold us near to you now. We are grateful this day for Mothers because you are Mother, who tends to us, who wraps loving arms around us when we grieve and mourn, who listens patiently to us when we are angry with you, who gives us gracious and loving words to speak, who has taught us what it means to be a jealous God who will do anything to protect her children.

It is as your faithful children, we lean against you, our beloved parent, Father and Mother, and entrust everything into your loving hands.

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By Harold McKeithen
May 01, 2017

Lord Jesus Christ, although you were indeed worthy to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing, you did not ask for any of those attributes as you lived among us in the flesh, nor do you ask for any of them as you now live among us in the Spirit.  Reflecting the very character of God, you lived as a servant among people bent on exercising mastery.  Reflecting the very life of God, you live among us now as a lamb in a world of lions.  Have your way with us in our family life, in our church life, in our national life and in the life of our planet.

In our homes may we begin to be persons who listen without interrupting, persons who are patient rather than impatient, persons who are good-natured rather than irritable.

In our church life may we be persons who are quick to praise and slow to criticize, persons who are as able to receive help as we are to give help, persons who are as willing to be held accountable as we are to hold others accountable.

In our national life may we be persons who talk in ways that foster civility rather than in ways that contribute to hostility.  May we be persons who are more prone to light candles that we are to curse the darkness.   May we be persons who are not so set in our ways that we are incapable of change.

Lowly Lord, in the world at large reveal yourself more clearly to all of us misguided Christians, Jews and Muslims who think that we are serving your purposes in our warfare with each other.  Deliver us from the self-deceiving notion that the only reason we engage in violence is that we have no other choice.

Compassionate Lord, surround with your comforting presence and healing spirit all to whom this day brings more suffering than it brings to us, all who are in trouble because of their own carelessness, all who are in harm’s way because of the carelessness of others and all who are suffering through no fault of their own.  Give stamina and hope and healing to our troubled loved ones, friends and neighbors whose names we lift up to you.

O God, who made of one blood all races and nations of the earth, and sent your Son Jesus Christ to preach peace to those who are far off and to those who are near, pour out your Spirit on the whole creation, bringing the nations of the world into your fellowship and hastening the coming of your peaceable kingdom, as together we pray earnestly:

Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread; and forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors; and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory, forever. Amen. 

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WILLIAMSBURG PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH

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