Responsive Pastoral Prayer - 4.17.05

Leader: Let us Pray.

People: The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not want.

Leader: Gracious God, you call us out of the wilderness, out of wildness and grant us life; in you we find wholeness and sustenance. As the shepherd who lovingly tends their flock, you know each one of us and can call us by name.

People: He makes me lie down in green pastures; he leads me beside still waters; he restores my soul. He leads me in right paths for his name's sake.

Leader: God of Creation, you have given us a world that can sustain all life. From the air we breathe to the deep blue skies, the water we drink to the trees we climb, you have given us a place where we can rest and play and work. All of creation screams of your love for us from the smallest to the greatest of things, all things that surround us are yours, and we have nothing apart from you. Help us to be good stewards of the only earth we have. Help us to understand the importance of honoring your creation and cherishing the earth.

People: Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I fear no evil; for you are with me; your rod and your staff-- they comfort me.

Leader: There are those among us today who live in these darkest of valleys. They suffer from physical and mental illnesses, pain and grief, loneliness or exhaustion. They are the poor, the widowed, and the orphaned. These are the people who tread sorrowfully through life’s difficulties, their steps labored, darkness extending as far as the eye can see. The valleys they inhabit are rough and inhospitable.

Their basic needs go unmet and often they are forced to beg for mercy from strangers who are all too often indifferent. War and rape and famine are common in many of their worlds; for others, the decay of their bodies and minds produce pain and anguish for themselves and their families. In these troubled valleys, O God, lend your staff and your rod so that they might find comfort from their afflictions and strength through your support. And in the same manner use your staff, O Lord, to afflict those of us who are comfortable so that we might rise from the green pastures of our lives and bring others into a place of rest.

People: You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.

Leader: Bountiful God, you have given us gifts beyond measure, far beyond our comprehension. We give thanks that you have blessed us beyond what we have earned. Help us to share out of the bounty we have received; where our cup overflows, let it flow into another’s; where our table is set for a meal, let it be shared with one who does not have food. O Lord, you seat us in front of those we would call enemy so that we might share a meal at the table of the Lord and once again be made whole and right with one another.

When you bless us, O God, it is not for our benefit, but for the benefit of the world. When you anoint our heads with oil, it is not because we have earned it, but because we are simply loved. What we have been given is not meant to be kept among friends, but meant to be shared with enemies. In a world of fear, give us the strength to step beyond ourselves and love our enemies.

People: Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the LORD my whole life long.

Leader: Grant us, O God, the peace that comes with your promise of mercy and goodness. We will fail; we will succeed; we will hope; we will grieve; we will love, laugh, cry, and scream. Through all these things we know that you are for us, even when we are against you. Give us the desire to see your kingdom furthered on earth. Help us to stand firmly in this world, seeking a better way of life for our children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren. Let our minds not rest on what is to come, but instead give us the courage to live in the moment; knowing that our presence with one another may be enough to change this world.

grace and peace



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