By Rev. Harold McKeithen
October 30, 2017

Heavens and earth may—and will!—pass away, O Lord, along with all living things which inhabit them; but, through the person and work of Jesus, you are bringing into existence new heavens and a new earth and a reclaimed and renewed humanity. Though the heavens vanish like smoke and the earth wear out like a garment and those of us who live on it die like gnats, your salvation is forever and our deliverance will never end.

                           Our hope is built on nothing less

                           Than Jesus’ blood and righteousness;

                           We dare not trust the sweetest frame,

                           But wholly lean on Jesus’ name.

                           On Christ, the solid Rock, we stand;

                           All other ground is sinking sand,

         God, we thank you for our earliest Christian mothers and fathers who stood bravely on Christ, their Rock, in spite of dungeon, fire and sword.

         We thank you for Protestant Reformers who, 500 years ago,  helped the church move out of the quicksand of superstition and corruption back onto the firm foundation of Christ and the biblical word which bears witness to him.

         We thank you for those who established in colonial America and in Williamsburg a Presbyterian Church with Christ at its center, with the Bible as its guide  and with moral and ethical values consistent with Christ’s life and teaching.

         God, keep our feet planted solidly on this Rock lest we be swept to the left or to the right by winds of doctrine which deny Christ even as they claim to serve him.

         Keep us true to the radical inclusiveness of Christ as we foster the ecumenical and interfaith relations for which we have been noted.

         Keep us true to the righteousness of Christ by working to build bridges between people where others work at erecting barriers.

         Keep us true to the peace of Christ as we strive for wholeness in our personal lives and support public policies and programs which foster wholeness in the lives of others.

         Keep us true to the graciousness of Christ as we pray your blessing, not only upon ourselves and our friends and allies, but upon our enemies as well.

         Eternal and almighty God, we give you thanks for all your faithful people who have followed your will in a great procession of praise throughout the world and down through the centuries, into our own time and place.  As we remember them, inspire us by your Spirit to join their ranks and follow our Lord through life, to be bold as they were, and brave as well, witnessing to your righteous truth and generous love.  Give us grace, O God, that we will leave a legacy of faithfulness to encourage and challenge those who follow us along the way of discipleship; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who taught us to pray, saying, “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 Rev. Harold McKeithen
October 23, 2017

You are the One, O God, to whom each of us is ultimately responsible.  We came from you at birth.  We return to you at death.  We belong to you in life.  In Jesus Christ you have redeemed us from sin and called us to live day by day as he lived, loving you with heart, mind and will and our neighbors as ourselves.  We earnestly pray that you will enable us to do that with increasing consistency in order that we may have in life the joy which you intend and that life for others may be brighter and better because of their contact with us.

            We pray today for the church which we have entered by baptism here in this place or in churches to which we have previously belonged.  You called us together to be a model on earth of that perfect community which exists with you in heaven and to be an instrument of your justice and compassion in the world.  You know how inconsistently we fulfill that calling, but you know that we aspire to greater faithfulness, and we pray that you will help us to meet our aspirations.  Shape us, here in this congregation, into a community of mutual support and effective outreach which you want us to be.

            Make us attentive to those close by who have special needs this day.  We lift up to you for comfort and healing members of the Fiske, Silver and Patten families who have lost loved ones.

            Make us attentive, as well, to those distant from us upon whom catastrophe has fallen.  Surround with your grace and peace all who have been directly affected by earthquake in Mexico; by wind and water in Puerto Rico, Texas and Florida; by gunfire in Las Vegas; and by raging fire in Northern California.  By your Spirit lift those who have fallen and be an eternal refuge to those who will not rise again in this life.  Give stamina and success to all who are working day and night to rescue and rebuild.  Give generous hands to those of us who seek to support their efforts from afar.

            We pray for the world which you created, which you love and in which you are continuously at work independent of your church.  Worldly powers exist with your permission and will ultimately succeed to the degree that they serve your design for human life and society.  Grant that the governor and legislator of our commonwealth may discern and serve your purposes.  Grant that the president and congress and courts of this country may lead us in paths of justice and righteousness for your name’s sake and for our well being.  Grant that leaders of all nations may be thwarted to the extent that their purposes are narrow and self-serving and may thrive to the extent that they contribute to the building of a more just and stable global community.

            Lord of our lives, Lord of the church, Lord of the world, we commit ourselves and the earth to your loving care in the name of Jesus Christ your Son; and together we pray the prayer which he left us:

            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 Rev John E. Morgan
October 23, 2017

Dear Lord and creator of the universe, we thank you for all of your handiwork which we take for granted. We thank you for the morning sun which nudges us from are sleep. We thank you for the rain which blankets us in wetness. We marvel at the interdependence of all the creatures of and plants even the very air we slowly inhale and softly exhale as a gift from you. Help us Lord, to accept your gifts as easily as we do our breaths. Help us to breathe in your peace and exhale our busyness. Help us to breathe in your calmness and exhale our anxiety. Help us to breathe in your quietness and exhale our noise. Help us to breathe in your generosity and exhale our selfishness. Help us to breathe in your love and exhale our hate. Help us to breathe in your faithfulness and exhale our disobedience.

And now in the quietness and the calmness of our hearts we pray you would hear our petitions as we lift them to you. As children, we sang “you've got the whole world in your hands” and as we grow older we realize how great a weight that really must be. You feel the weight of our disobedience, of fighting and wars, of hunger and starving, of flood, fire, and hurricane. We pray that you would mold the broken edges of our globe in your hands and make us whole again.

We know that we cannot solve the world’s problems on our own, but help us Lord, to make our small part of this globe a better place to live. Help us to bring peace in our community, to bring food to those who are hungry and to bring comfort to those who are sick so that we may bring your message of love to those who we touch.

When we think of those people who are special to us standing in the need of prayer, our hearts are filled with names and faces and concerns. So hear us now as we empty our hearts for those whom we love…

 We pray especially for those who are in the hospital. We pray that you would give them rest and relief.

We pray for your church here in Williamsburg. For the people gathered here in your name. We want to be an example of your love and fellowship to all who see us. Yet we know as a human church we fall short of our goals. Help us to relate that we are not perfect people but selfish sinners who come here to be refreshed in your forgiveness and revitalized in your mission. We lift up also ourselves. We pray you would take us, full of insecurities and doubts and anxiety and faults and that you would mold us into the special creation we were intended to be. We pray that you would take our bodies as living sacrifices to you. We have chosen to be servants, show us how to serve. All this we ask in the name of the servant of servants our Lord Jesus Christ who taught us to pray saying: Our Father…

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By Rev. Harold McKeithen
September 25, 2017

Lord, you have called your church, as you called Israel of old, to be your vineyard in the world, producing good fruit worthy of your character and purposes.

You have called us to be branches of the vine which is Christ, standing for what is good and true and loving in a world beset with what is bad and false and hateful.

You have called us to emulate witnesses of the past who took up their own crosses and followed Jesus with exemplary and costly fidelity.

Give us the courage, as political people, to be steady advocates for negotiation and reconciliation in a world governed by people who believe that they can only be safe and secure through confrontation and domination.

Give us the capacity, as spiritual people, to practice a kind of godly religion which brings people closer together rather than a kind of ungodly religion which drives them farther apart.  May the covenant between Williamsburg Presbyterian Church and St. Bede’s Roman Catholic Church and the developing relationship between Williamsburg Presbyterian Church and the Presbyterian Church in Guatemala and the enthusiastic participation of our church with non-Presbyterians in rising against hunger and providing harbor for the homeless be a continuing testimony to the kind of religion to which we are committed.

Give us the ability, as thinking people, not to become addicted to writers and speakers who simply reinforce our most cherished opinions and make it hard for us to entertain seriously ideas which might necessitate any change of mind.

Give us, as people of self interest, a genuine concern for other people which expresses itself in earnest prayers, kind words, thoughtful deeds and generous gifts.  We lift up for your loving care the loved ones of our members who have recently died and those of our members who are dealing with illnesses and injuries from which recovery is possible and those for whom it is not.  We pray that you will also be a source of empathy and of reassurance to those who now are seeing death as a friend rather than an enemy.

Give us, as family people, appreciation for the winsome qualities of those we love, patience with the irksome qualities of those we love and increasing awareness of the ways in which we ourselves are an aggravation to those we love.

Dear God, before your face generations rise and pass away.  You are the strength of those who labor, the rest of the blessed dead.  We rejoice in the company of your saints.  We remember all who have lived and died in faith, and especially those dear to us who rest in you and whom we name silently before you. . . . . Give us at length our portion with those who have trusted in you and have tried earnestly to do your holy will in a world which does not gladly welcome that.  To your name, with the church on earth and the church in heaven, we ascribe all honor and glory and pray together as your Son taught us, 

Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed by 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 Pastor John Morgan
September 18, 2017

In life and in death, we belong to you O Lord.  We are so grateful that you have called us your very own and that everything in our life and even our death is lived out under your watchful care. 

You are with us in the everyday activities of our lives.  You wake us in the morning with a fresh beginning.  You walk with us through our daily tasks.  You give us daily food to sustain our bodies so that we can serve you.  At work you guide us in decisions, at school you open our minds to new ideas, at play you laugh with us.  You have given us friends and family with whom we share our lives.  Help us Lord, to be more aware of your presence in our daily life.

Thank you Lord, for being with us in the struggles of life.  When we are exhausted from the toil and stress of our days give us your peace and rest.  When we are in pain and suffering in times of illness, bring us your healing and the balm of your presence.  When we feel lost and are not sure which way to go, direct our steps and lead us into paths of your will.

We confidently lift up those who we know need your care this day: those in the hospital, those undergoing treatment, those who are depressed, those who just need a helping hand, those who are dealing with grief.  Hold them in your loving arms and let them know they belong to you and you will never let them go.

We also pray for our country and our world. We continue to lift us those whose lives have been devastated by hurricanes, fires and earthquakes.  Be with those aid responders as they give assistance as they help people put their lives back together.  We pray for the places where violence and aggression have shattered the peace of everyday living.  For London after the bombing and the ethnic cleansing in Myanmar where people are fleeing for their lives.  We pray for some diplomatic solution to the aggression being shown by North Korea and fervently pray that the impasse can be bridged before it deteriorates into war.

In life and in death we belong to you.  Be with those who are facing death to know that you will never leave them.  Be with us that we might live with the courage and assurance that we belong to you no matter what.  And remind us always of the joy which will come when your reign covers the earth as the waters cover the sea.
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