Center your thoughts on God and focus on a scripture passage and a prayer each day
God is with us always and everywhere
Center your thoughts on God and focus on a scripture passage and a prayer each day
God is with us always and everywhere
Hebrews 12:14 “Make every effort to live in peace with everyone and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord.”
The Good News: When something is “holy” it means that it is set apart or consecrated. It is special, not ordinary. So set yourself apart from the ways of the world. As God’s people, make every effort to be about special and “set apart” tasks, living not for personal gain alone, but for the upbuilding of the very Kingdom of God.
Prayer: Giving and gracious God – we set apart these moments to focus not on “what shall we wear” or “where is our coffee” but to just say “thank You.” Thank you for the gift of Jesus. For sending your Son to be our strength and stay. For the gift of the Holy Spirit as we need comfort and encouragement. So for this holy minute – we just rest in your presence. What an awesome thing that is (and we’re not just overusing that word – it is awe-some) that you call us by name, that you love us unconditionally, and that you prepare a place for us to one-day abide with you in heaven. So, taking time to be holy, we ask that you would bring blessings to our world. There is so much stress and dis-stress in our world. Bickering and backstabbing. Violence and entitlement and side-taking and rights-claiming. Enough! So as far as it depends on me this day, help me O God to give more than I take, to pray as much as I play, to help rather than hinder. In terms of specific prayers – today let us lift up our college students. Some have headed back to campus, some won’t be. Questions abound about virtual learning, dorm-living, cafeteria-dining. So keep our students safe and physically healthy and emotionally secure no matter where they are. Protect their professors too! These are challenging circumstances. Give wisdom and a special measure of your blessing, O Lord. Amen.
John 12:34 “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.”
The Good News: As part of Jesus’ final earthly words, he instructs his disciples then, and us today, to love one another. If we were to know that we could only have a few more words to share, what would they be? Last words matter. They are important. So it’s of urgency and of utmost importance that we listen to Jesus and love one another.
Prayer: Dearest Lord, it sounds so simple: “love one another.” Yet it takes a life-time to learn. To be self-less, kind, patient, non-envious is our calling and commission, yet in this world of sin it seems that, for too many people, the motivation is the exact opposite. Help us to be people who live and love like your Son, our Lord. So come to us by your Holy Spirit that a new way of being, a fresh start, a revolution of blessedness would occur. Use this time of pandemic to soften hard hearts, to renew a focus on what is ultimately important, and to refocus the world on you. Save us from discouragement and give us renewed energy to love one another. Thus we pray for those in our orbit, those you call us to love. We pray for our townships and their leaders. We pray for the businesses we patronize and their staff. We pray for those who mow our lawns and grow our food and cut our hair. We pray for our dentists and physicians and eye doctors. We pray for those who worked to restore electrical power to our communities. We pray for our church family – love, love, love! We pray for our friends. For parents and children, grandparents and grandchildren, aunts and uncles and cousins, siblings and all those who treat us as family. Help us to extend love to more and more people throughout this week. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
2 Corinthians 5:7 “For we live by faith, not by sight.”
The Good News: It is so great that God gives us our senses so we can better navigate, and appreciate, the world around us. And it is even better that God gives that which is beyond what we can see, touch, smell, taste and hear. Faith isn’t tangible, but it is real. Ask God for the gift of faith and trust. God’s ways aren’t our ways – but they are right and good and lead to salvation.
Prayer: Providing God – for the sight of a seashore, for the touch of the sun’s warm rays, for the smell of the post-rain air, for the sound of laughter, for the taste of fruits and vegetables freshly picked, we thank you. You offer an abundance of delights for which we pause in praise. What a wonderful world! But for that which is beyond sense, deeper than what we can grasp on our own, we seek your provision. Help us to live by faith; following where you lead. For we need that supernatural support now. These are trying times. We need the help that only you can provide, O Lord. So come alongside us. There are many struggling for economic security – people are worried over bills that accumulate and can’t be paid; we pray for them. There are many under the weight of mental illness; we pray for them. There are many enslaved by addiction; we pray for them. Set us free! Come, Holy Spirit to rescue us and our society. Bless us so we might be a blessing to others. In the name of Jesus. Amen.
Ecclesiastes 7:10 “Do not say, ‘Why were the old days better than these?’ For it is not wise to ask such questions.”
The Good News: It is tempting to live in the past, recollecting the “good old days.” Yet the past is what has happened and cannot be changed. It is better to seek to make the days now and in the future the best we can, with God’s help.
Prayer: O God it is often good to think of times gone by and give thanks – for childhood innocence, memories of pleasant places, relationships of good connections. Thank you for sacred moments and loving people from our past. We do not arrive at this present moment without a history. Yet you ask us not to live wistfully, only looking backward. For you have plans for us! Thank you! So, we give thanks for a good history, we ask for healing for those emotional traumas from yesteryear, but now look to this day. May this be the day that we find multiple reasons for joy. Grant us strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow! So as we yet recover from the storms this week, we tap into your power. May you, heavenly Father, help us externally and also internally. Slow the spread of this virus and so move into people’s psyche that all may do their part to promote public safety. May these upcoming months be marked by care, concern and mutual blessings so that these will one day be the “good old days” for our children. That’s hard to fathom how that will be, yet we bring that big prayer to you in the name of Jesus, who is all-powerful and all-loving. Amen.
Matthew 11:28 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.”
The Good News: We are invited to approach Jesus. He’s our friend and offers support, a listening ear, a comforting touch, help for the journey, rest when we’re weary and blessings when we are weak. Yes, Jesus love us – the Bible tells us so!
Prayer: Blessed Savior, the whole world is wearied by COVID-19. How much longer? May you use these days of challenge to bring about a renewed interest in faith, a revived focus on care and cooperation and compassion, and a restored sense of inter-personal harmony. So we bring our burdens to you. Take them from us - and give us rest. For we are wearied not just because of the pandemic, but also because of so many things. Even though this is a beautiful world (and it is) it is filled with challenges – debt, depression, divorce, danger, difficulty, disease, deceit, division, disadvantages, discouragement and disagreements – and death. We need to be rescued from all these. Thus we come to you. Embrace us as a loving mother would hold her child – to comfort and console. Make it all right, O God! Please! Give us a day of encouragement and a night of rest. Help us, heal our world, grant us hope. Amen.
John 6:35 “Then Jesus declared, ‘I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to Me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in Me will never be thirsty.’”
The Good News: God provides! Even when the circumstances of life leave us empty and parched, God’s Spirit will give us blessings that sustain and empower. Relying on ourselves is hard work – and is an ongoing process that requires daily attention. To endure we need God’s supernatural fuel!
Prayer: O Holy Spirit – even as this world is rightly concerned about air flow and containing our breathing from dispersing potentially harmful particles, you are the opposite! Thank you for coming among us as the Breath of life, not a breath of death. You fill us when the world depletes us. You can yet surprise us with joy. The news is often bleak but your news is Good News! You reveal yourself to us in your Word and we come to know of hope, mercy, love, peace, blessing, reconciliation, healing, and resurrection! Wow! Thank you! And so, as Bruce Springsteen has sung: “May your strength give us strength; May your faith give us faith; May your hope give us hope; May your love give us love.” Help us to be conduits of your grace and vessels of help. So many are in need; use us Lord to be agents of encouragement to this weary world. Fill us so that we may fill others with tangible help. In the name of God: Father, Son and Holy Spirit, Amen.
Philippians 1:6 "And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ."
The Good News: God finishes what God starts! The God of creation is the same God of salvation. As it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be. World without end! Amen and amen. All will be made right… in God’s time.
Prayer: All-present, all-loving God – I am a work in progress! I know it and, at times, that’s revealed in what I do, and in what I don’t do! For the times I “get it right” I give you praise. (Help me not to take all the credit!) For the times when I miss the mark, forgive me and guide me to doing better next time. (Help me not to blame you for my mistakes!) So, not meaning it in a boastful way, but thank you for all that in me is good. Thanks for the talents you’ve given, the spiritual gifts and attributes I have – may I cultivate them and use them to your glory! You have dispersed aptitudes for meeting the variety of needs through a variety of people. Sometimes I can get a bit jealous over those who are smarter or more artistic or more athletic or more hospitable or more faithful than I. Spare me from comparison and seek to be the “best me I can be.” You have begun this work in me – and have called it a “good work” – so I rejoice in the opportunity to serve You and love others in the way I am uniquely called to do. Of course I pray for others this day, but I also (humbly) pray for myself. Be near me Lord Jesus… Amen.
Psalm 46:1-3 God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging.
The Good News: Storms come. We don’t know when or how, but it’s a fact of life that storms come, pandemics come, tough times come. It’s also a fact that we don’t face the storms alone. God is always with us. When all seems to rage around us, God bids us to come for refuge and strength. God is ever-present. And that means today!
Prayer: O God of power and might, O God of presence and peace – we come to you this day asking for your protection and blessing. Sometimes it seems like such a “first world problem” to ask that you would protect our possessions, yet we do seek just that help – to make our homes places of safety and to keep our cars and boats from damage. We are reminded once again that, though we like to have control, we aren’t in control. Wind, rain, virus – these come unbidden and unwelcomed. So, in the midst of these, we call on your name. You are in control. You are all-powerful. You are our only refuge and our true strength. Abide with us and grant us your peace. As we pray for ourselves, we also lift up prayers for public spaces and places – and ask your presence guide and guard our schools and hospitals and libraries and stores and parks and beaches. May our roads and bridges be paths of connection and avenues that provide for blessing. So O Lord, in the midst of what rages, we pray for peace of mind, peace of body, peace of spirit – peace for our souls and peace for our world. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
Micah 6:8 God has showed you what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.
The Good News: We have been saved by God’s grace alone. How are we called to live? Here are directions for a good and grateful life. May we seek, more and more, for our actions to be just, our relationships be merciful, and our journey be that of humility.
Prayer: O dearest Jesus, would that more people approach life with humility! Wouldn’t that go a long way in the hope department? Instead so often the powerful and proud grab headlines. But for today, may we not give them any mind – instead we say “thank you” for those who are merciful, and lift up prayers of gratitude for those who act justly. There are many who quietly go about the good and right task of faithful living. So… thank you, Lord for (among others): those who caringly watch young children while parents are at work; those who launder and dry clean our clothes; missionaries who forgo personal comfort in order to share the Gospel; those who deliver our packages and our mail; those who clean and sanitize our hospitals, our stores, our offices, our homes; the many volunteers in non-profit organizations. Thank you for those who cook our meals. And thank you Jesus, for hosting the meal that nourishes us unto salvation. Through that feast of remembrance, communion and hope, may we be sustained in order to quietly and courageously serve all your people. Bless us Holy Spirit that we may be a blessing. Amen.
John 14:27 Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.
The Good News: We have good reasons to be afraid. There are reasons why our hearts are troubled. But there is a bigger and better reason to set those aside. Jesus comes to give peace. That’s a gift tailor-made for you – God’s peace for your mind, soul, and body. Alleluia!
Prayer: O God of victory and eternal life, how we need the peace that passes understanding. So often the world focuses on Bad News. Counter it – and even surpass it with your Good News, we humbly pray. Politics and speculation and conspiracy theories and on-line rants seem to fuel an anger and dis-ease that promulgates anything but peace. So rather than bash those that ratchet up the dissension, we come now to pray for them. Come O God, to soften the hearts of those who seem bent on destruction, those who are embittered, angry, and disaffected. We pray for those who are filled with hate that you, in a miraculous work, would replace that with love. We need your peace, we seek your peace, we pray for your peace. Come Lord Jesus. Thus, we pray for the leaders of our government and the governments of the world. May the hunger for power be replaced by the hunger for your righteousness. Bring help, hope and healing as we seek to live and love like your Son, our Lord. Amen.
Hebrews 12:1 Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.
The Good News: We are not alone! We are surrounded – think of that – not just a few who are cheering us on – but we are immersed in the presence of those who have preceded us and are supporting us still. In this marathon of life, keep going. Persevere!
Prayer: Great and gracious God – it seems like the race has turned into a marathon. Here we are still going – at the close of another week and the end of another month, yet with no end to this pandemic in sight. Somehow if we knew when this would end, we might be able to endure better. But not knowing, we need to just trust in you. So help us to do just that. Up our trust quotient. Come alongside us in a real and tangible way so that we can continue the challenge of physical distancing and mask wearing and hand washing without giving up or giving in. As we pray, we are indeed grateful for that “cloud of witnesses” – for the saints in glory and those who have loved us and gone before us. We pause, calling to mind, in gratitude, those who have helped forge our faith – and who continue to do so from heaven: Parents and grandparents, church school teachers and ministers, choir directors and coaches, scout leaders and youth fellowship advisors. Bless us this day O God that we might provide some of that encouragement to others here on earth. Forgive our sin and grant us peace. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
Colossians 3:12 Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.
The Good News: You are chosen -- Selected to be on God’s team. You are holy -- Set apart for a purpose. You are dearly loved – Cherished unconditionally. In response put on the traits of living and loving like Jesus: Cultivate compassion. Practice kindness. Seek a path of humility. Pray for patience.
Prayer: You O God – you are all-perfect love. Thank you! How we need love. To express love and to be loved. And so, for this day which you have given to us, we thank you for those who work to bring balance, health and beauty to our earthly living. We thank you for poets and musicians, for yoga leaders and health coaches, for flower arrangers and farmers. In addition to our prayers of gratitude, we ask prayers for the children of our community. This pandemic has made it so hard for them to play unfettered, to socialize freely, to explore unrestricted. This is a hard summer for many families. We don’t know how it can be, but O Lord, somehow make this to be a season of joy. May there be a decrease in cases of coronavirus and the opportunity (soon!) to gather safely. As we wait for that time, may we choose avenues of compassion to those who are in need, paths of kindness despite a world that seems to be more and more selfish, and ways of patience though so many seem to be in a rush. Calm us and help to focus on love. Grant us the grace of your presence this day in a specific and profound way. In the name of Jesus, Amen.
John 11:25 Jesus said, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though he dies…”
The Good News: To everything there is a season – so there comes a time when this earthly journey is completed. Death is part of our reality. But it is not the end of our existence. Because of Jesus Christ we have life even beyond this life. Abide in the knowledge of resurrection and rest in the fact that there will be a glad heavenly reunion with all those whom you love.
Prayer: Lord of life, thank you for giving us your Son so that all who believe in him will not perish, but have eternal life. So give us faith to acknowledge you and to live in such a way as to glorify you, and then when our voyage here is done, to live with you forever. Grant us peace both now and always. We remember those who have preceded us – generations past who passed down traditions and rituals to us. We commend to you those who we have loved and who have died, from whatever the cause. Hold them close until we meet again. We pray for those who serve at both of the margin ends of life. For labor and delivery nurses, for adoption agencies, for those who work in the hospital NICU. We also pray for hospice nurses, for nursing homes, for those who work in funeral homes. We also ask that you would bless those who are called upon in emergency situations: EMTs, first aid squad members, firefighters, police officers. Give them strength for their tasks and wisdom to meet every challenge. So, O Lord, we grieve our losses, but we abide in gratitude that death is not the end. Comfort us, O Holy Spirit. Amen.
Acts 1:8 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”
The Good News: Jesus’ resurrection and the giving of the Holy Spirit to the disciples happened in Jerusalem. But it goes forth! Where? To the ends of the earth. There is no place where God is not in charge. There is no place where God is not King. There is no place where God’s power is not prevailing! Be a witness and share the Good News wherever you go.
Prayer: Prevailing God – Father, Son and Holy Spirit, it is the marvel of technology that these prayers are read/shared/offered all over the country, perhaps even all over the world. A friend shares it with a friend, who shares it, who shares it. We cannot even comprehend the impact that our prayers might make. So we pause to pray for your church O God – in all the different places, different denominations, different styles of praise. Use the various communities of faith, especially during this COVID-19 crisis, to be beacons of hope and anchors of faith. Even increase our effectiveness! Humbly, we pray that you would bless the Colts Neck Reformed Church. Help us to be your people, extending blessings, sharing Good News, encouraging one another. May we not be held back from growing in grace because of these current circumstances. Keep our faith alive. Though we cannot sing your praise together, may our hearts yet rejoice that you are our mighty fortress. So protect us. Defend us. Help us. Heal us. Save your people here, there, and everywhere – unto all the earth. In the name of our Savior, Jesus. Amen.
John 16:33 “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”
The Good News: Some translations say “take courage” or “be of good cheer” instead of “take heart.” But no matter the translation, the consistent reassurance is that Jesus overcomes! The world gives us trouble, but Jesus gives us peace. Let that promise settle into your soul and rejoice!
Prayer: O Prince of Peace, our Lord and Savior – how we pray for the time when there will be that overarching sense that all is as it was intended from the beginning. We await the time when there will be harmony with creation, harmony with one another, harmony within ourselves, and harmony with you. No more tears, terrorism, or tumors. No more covid, cancer or cystic fibrosis. No more abuse, alcoholism, or anger. No more depression, debt or death. And we give deep and abiding thanks that that’s what will happen. In your power and might, you have defeated the power of evil and will set all things right. O happy day! Thank you for overcoming all that seeks to destroy us and instead, providing a future that will be filled with blessings, restored relationships, and full forgiveness. As we wait for that time, grant us patience, hope, fortitude, and faith. Praise be to you, Savior of the World! Amen.
Matthew 11:29 Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.
The Good News: When you're weary, feeling small, when tears are in your eyes, God will dry them all. God is on our side! And when times get rough, God will help bear your burden. God is your rest-provider.
Prayer: Precious Lord, there are many in need. We know the names of some of them – and we pause to ask for the grace of your presence to abide with them. For family members. For co-workers. For friends. For those in our church family. And there are so many that are in need, and whose names are not known by us. But you know their names and you know their needs. So – for those with addictions – and also their family members, we pray. For small business owners and their employees, we pray. For school superintendents and principals and school board who are facing decisions as to how to offer classes this fall, we pray. For store clerks and line cooks and gas station attendants and lifeguards and all those who serve us, wearing masks for hours at a stretch, we pray. Help us. Heal our world. How long, O Lord? Grant us rest for our souls. In the name of Jesus, Amen.
Isaiah 41:10 So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.
The Good News: It’s easy to be dismayed – to be distressed. Stress is our constant companion. Yet God says, “That’s not what I want for you! I will strengthen you and help you.” Thanks be to God who comes to prevent us from falling forever, failing too frequently, or fading away into being forgotten.
Prayer: O dear Lord – we’ve experienced many of the stages of grief with this pandemic. At first we were in denial, thinking that this was something that might last a couple of weeks. But then it continued. Anger! And sometimes, O God, I’m still in this stage. It’s just not right that we can’t hug our loved ones or travel or worship together in ways we want. So we bargain a bit. Hoping we can make it better somehow. But this is a worldwide problem. And it has become politicized. Yet the fact is that people are dying and the virus is active. So, depression. That’s real too. So help us not to give up or give in to this. But also help us not to move to acceptance if that means we stop trying to help others and heal others and encourage others. Despite the reality of our current situation help us Lord to remember that this is yet a beautiful world. Let us abide in the fact that we are loved and that you give us people to love in turn. So help us to turn from fear and so to be strengthened for service. May we be a blessing in our going out and in our staying in, as you lead. Amen.
Romans 10:9 If you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.
The Good News: The Easter miracle of Jesus’ resurrection is hard, if not impossible, to prove. But we aren’t asked to prove anything. Or even understand everything. Eternal life is a gift that God offers – what we are to do is simply receive it. Accept the gift (no strings attached!) of salvation. Believe and live!
Prayer: O King of kings and Lord of lords – I give thanks that your Son, our Redeemer lives. Thank you for the unmerited gift of salvation. Help us to dance to the rhythm of resurrection. Help us to feel the sure and steady beat of eternal life that cannot be stopped. The grave was empty so our lives can be full. Glory, glory, hallelujah! Yet despite the certainty of your sovereign love, O God, and though the future is guaranteed to turn out perfect and good, we are living our lives in a time of deep concern. People seem to disagree about everything. And so many feel the need to angrily assert their opinions and claim their rights. Sigh. Help humility to take hold. Send your Spirit so that we would regain a sense of civility and respect, even when there are differences. Yet rather than just focus on abstract issues this day, we pause to pray for those we know and who seek our support. We pray for those in the hospital, rehab centers, nursing homes. We pray for the lonely and those who feel the brunt of pandemic isolation most severely. We pray for those in our church family, recalling those who sat near us in worship. As we aren’t together physically, unite us spiritually in a profound way, O God. Please! Amen.
1 Peter 5:7 Cast all your anxiety on God because God cares for you.
The Good News: We live in anxious times. We can make resolutions not to worry and we can read books that tell us not to sweat the small stuff. But we can’t help it. There is anxiety. That’s real. That’s okay. But scripture tells us what do with it – we can give it to God. Hand over your troubles to One who loves you, for God is stronger, wiser, and is on your side!
Prayer: Abiding Father – if we were to list all the things that cause concern, we’d be writing for a long time. There are shared worries – about our government and the governments of other nations, about the virus, about war, about hunger and poverty, about issues of race. And each of us has our own private heartaches and particular worries – the nagging bodily pain, the fractured relationship, the aftermath of a poor decision, the secretive habit, the lack of self-esteem. Yet as big as our list is, your care is bigger, your love is stronger, your blessing is greater. So we bring our needs to you and cast them all to you. Thank you that we don’t have to deal with them alone, but that you are there – with us and for us. We need you, O God. Help our breaking hearts, our weary bodies and our waiting world. Hear us, O faithful heavenly Father. Amen.
Romans 5:8 God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
The Good News: God doesn’t just tell us that we are cherished. God demonstrates his love. God doesn’t leave us in our brokenness, God sent us his Son. Jesus, by his death and resurrection, bridges the chasm that we created through our sin and selfishness. Alleluia!
Prayer: Merciful and Abiding Lord, first off – thank you for sending you Son for us. And I don’t mean that as a “get it out of the way” but as a primary prayer. First and foremost – thank you for Jesus. There are times as I bring my list of needs and wants, of people and problems, that I forget to lift up my gratitude for Jesus. But not today! I’m grateful that you do not leave us alone to deal with the concerns of this day, but that you give us a Savior to befriend us, to come along side us, to go to the cross to rectify the mess of this world. Your parental love is so real – and not just for Jesus, but also for us, your adopted children. Thanks for unswervingly, unconditionally, unabashedly coming to our aid. So, mend our hearts, heal our bodies, rescue our world, and save us – body and soul by your grace. Through Christ our Lord and Savior, Amen
1 Peter 3:15 In your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect…
The Good News: Christians are hope-filled people. We have a destiny of blessing. Can you articulate why? Put into a sentence or two what gives you hope. Make sure it’s respectful of those who may differ or do not know Jesus. Memorize your answer. Be ready to share it as you never know who God will put in your life who needs hope, needs a blessing, needs Jesus!
Prayer: O great and gracious God – we aren’t people who grasp for a better future through wishful thinking. Because of Jesus, your Son, our Lord – we are people who are assured of a better future though hope. What a relief to be grounded in hope. So, in hope, we pray for our church, our communities, our country, our world. So much is unknown. We just want to have an end to how this COVID-19 has disrupted every aspect of life. We’re tired of the social distancing even as we know that it’s necessary. Help us. And help us to share with those who are despairing that the current situation is not the end of life and love. Yes, things are different and it’s hard. But we have hope! So thank you God for not leaving us alone. Thank you for the assurance that nothing will separate us from your presence and love. Help us to be a blessing to others. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
Philippians 4:8 Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.
The Good News: What are we to think about? Not the wrong – which admittedly is real and strong, but that which is praiseworthy. No, we aren’t to stick our heads in the ground and pretend that evil doesn’t exist nor are we to ignore our responsibility to be agents of change. But we first ought to be grounded in what is good and lovely and right and admirable. Cultivate an attitude of gratitude.
Prayer: O God, it is important to keep up with the news – yet so often it seems like the news is focused only on what’s wrong. Death. Destruction. Division. Disease. Debt. On this summer Saturday, we acknowledge the reality of all that – and we turn it over to you. Deal with it, please, O God. And as you do, we pause to think about Good News. So we think about how your ministry was about healing, teaching, and caring. We think about those who serve so diligently – public servants, health care workers, first responders, missionaries, social workers, therapists. Watch over and protect them. And thank you, O God, for bringing joy through pets, through, friends, through those we love and those who love us. Thank you for the sustenance of your Holy Spirit. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
Hebrews 12:2 Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.
The Good News: The allure of money, sex and power is strong. So often the glitz and glitter of this world can distract us. Instead, let us fix our gaze on Jesus. Jesus stayed true to his mission. We must likewise persevere in our obedience to love God and love our neighbor.
Prayer: We’re trying to stay the course, O God, but we confess that it’s not easy. We were just starting to think that we’d pull through this in the next month or two. But with places that started to reopen getting more and more coronavirus cases, we’re again unsettled. What about our plans? What about our economy? What about travel? What about our schools? What about our church? Oh, help us God! So in that short prayer “help us God” we’re trying to remember that the important word is not “us” but “God.” We’ll fix our eyes on Jesus. We’re grateful that you are in charge, and that though we don’t know what the future holds, you do. Thank you that you’ve promised that, despite trials and tribulations, you will guide us and lead us. So we honor and praise your holy name. And we seek to be agents of compassion to those we encounter. Help us to love our neighbor and to bless them in your name. Seeking to follow faithfully, we pray this day. Amen.
Mark 10:27 Jesus looked at them and said, ‘With man this is impossible, but not with God; all things are possible with God.
The Good News: Though this world is filled with endless challenges and complications, we will not be defeated or deflated. Why? Because though we can’t solve all the problems of the world – or even a majority of them – God is able. And God is willing. We can’t perceive the victory just yet, but we will! God is all-powerful!
Prayer: O God, how different this summer is than what we expected – or wanted. We expected to have just enjoyed baseball’s all-star game while gearing up for the summer Olympics. We’ve postponed plans and cancelled vacations. Ugh! O Lord, We know that there is the need to remind us that you are in charge and not us – but this one is major-league. So you’ve got the attention of the whole world. No one has escaped this pandemic. So even as we pray for healing and a vaccine, we pray that all of this will be used by you to re-route us towards peace and cooperation. May the governments of our world collaborate towards stability and sharing and saving our earth. We’ve had too much of war and terrorism. So, standing on the promise that all things are possible with You – we pray a big prayer. Humble us and bring us to the place of global harmony. Mend all divisions. End all violence. Restore our environment. Bring hope. Bless all people through Jesus Christ, your Son, our Savior! Amen.
Proverbs 3:5-6 With all your heart you must trust the Lord and not your own judgment. Always let him lead you, and he will clear the road for you to follow.
The Good News: We hear how we are to trust the Lord. That is the way to peace. And --- thanks be to God – we don’t have to figure all that out by ourselves. God leads! God’s in charge. God’s got this – and God’s got you!
Prayer: O holy Pathfinder, Way provider, Trail blazer – lead us! Day by day and year by year – go before us to make the future filled with blessings and beauty. Too often when we are young, we can’t wait until we are “old enough to…” and too often when we are old we say, “youth is wasted on the young.” Help us in the stage of life in which we find ourselves. Yes, there are the yearnings of youth and the aches of old age – but in them all, help us to pause and be grateful for this day and this stage of living. Free us from worrying about all the “what’s next?” and to focus instead on how we can abide in this moment and to serve our neighbor this day. Give us the grace of contentment and to change the things we can and to accept the things we can’t. Lead on O King Eternal! Amen.
Isaiah 40:31 But they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.
The Good News: We get weary. That’s what happens when we come face-to-face with the trials and trauma of life. Yet we also have the blessing of coming face-to-face with God, and God is our hope and our source of renewal. We keep on keeping on… with God’s help!
Prayer: Precious Lord, take our hands and renew us. We’re tired of wondering “how long” and not being able to gather as we used to. We’re weary of wondering if every ache and cough is a sign of ill health. We just about done in with changing plans and reworking expectations. And on top of all the coronavirus stuff (four months of this!?!) – we yet are a world of unrest. Too many are marginalized. The issue of racism is real and without a human-oriented solution. Those who are gay still face a lack of acceptance. People with disabling conditions or special needs endure daily obstacles. People face discrimination for a number of reasons. So help us to be solution-creators and compassion-providers and conduits of your grace, O God. We want to be relieved from fatigue, so as we wait and weep and wonder – renew our strength. Help us Jesus. Amen.
Isaiah 12:2 Behold, God is my salvation; I will trust, and will not be afraid; for the Lord God is my strength and my song, and he has become my salvation.
The Good News: What a joy! – to have the gift of salvation. We’re not needing to accomplish this (as if we could anyway.) Our job? – to rest in God’s strength and to sing a song of gratitude. This is my story, this is my song, praising my Savior all the day long!
Prayer: O God, what a blessed assurance we have of salvation through your son, our Lord, Jesus! Thank you for echoes of mercy and whispers of love. Let our lives be that kind of “joyful noise” that adds to the music of the spheres. Thus, thank you for this day – may we rejoice and be glad in it. We pause in prayer to lift up a private song of thanksgiving for food to enjoy, homes of security, relationships of blessing. Thank you for hobbies – for quilting and golf and painting and horseback riding and making music and reading and surfing and gardening and many more ways in which we enjoy your diverse world. We thank you for health care workers, emergency first responders, farmers, and those in the military. And most of all, we thank you for the grace of our Lord Jesus, our Lord and Savior. Amen.
2 Timothy 1:7 For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.
The Good News: Paul writes to his protégé Timothy with a reminder that’s needed whether young or old – that perfect love casts out fear, and that God is love! Fear not!
Prayer: O Creator, Redeemer and Sustainer – we are grateful for this mid-July Saturday! Late light! Stars and a last-quarter moon. A bright dawn. Green grass. Flowers and trees. Sand, sun, surf! The beauty of your world is stunning. Thank you for giving it to us to behold and enjoy. Help us to be good – and better – stewards of your good earth. There is much fear about the future, with climate and hurricanes and tornados and such. Help us to love our world and love our future generations in ways that are pleasing and acceptable to you, O Lord God. Give us mindfulness and grant unto us a spirit of self-control. Bless us to be a blessing! In Jesus’ holy name. Amen.
Isaiah 43:2 When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you.
The Good News: Tough times occur in every age and each generation has events that threaten to overwhelm. Though the difficulties churn, the Good News is “I will be with you!” God is never far away. We will not be consumed. God provides victory despite the very real circumstances we face.
Prayer: Thank you Sovereign God for the reminder that though there remains the reality of flood and flame, they do not determine ultimate issues. What lasts is your presence, the promise of support, and the blessing of love. And when the voyage of this earthly life is done, there awaits a glad heavenly reunion with all those who have gone before. There are time when our souls ache waiting for good news, for a sign of hope, for relief from the sadness. So we boldly ask for it. You promise to be with us – so help us, O God. Help us in our need. Bring about a covid-vaccine. Provide opportunities for economic stability and relief from unemployment. Sustain those who work for health and healing, relief and recovery. Hear us and come to our aid. Trusting that you do and that you will, thank you! In Christ’s name. Amen.
Psalm 23:1 The Lord is my shepherd; I have all that I need.
The Good News: God abides. God leads. God provides green pastures. God comforts with a rod and staff. God is with us, even in the valley of the shadow of death. Goodness and mercy follow us. Thanks be to God!
Prayer: Thank you, O Good Shepherd! For your Word that brings comfort in times of sorrow and grief and for your still waters and green pastures that provide opportunities for refreshment and renewal. Our world seems like a see-saw – so we bring our prayers, prayers of gratitude when we are “up” and prayers of petition when we are “down.” Thank you for summer’s reminders that there is yet growth, goodness and grace. Thank you for friends who support us and sustain us. Thank you for relationships that nurture and nourish us. Yet in times of desperation – for they happen too – come to us and provide what we need. We need hope. We need healing. We need more smiles and fewer scolds. More tail-wagging and less barking. More peace and a reduction in chaos. We need You. Come, Lord Jesus. Amen.
Romans 15:13 May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.
The Good News: God is never far from us. God comes to us when we are feeling half-empty to fill us. We receive not just a bit of hope – but we may abound in hope. The future belongs to God and we belong to God. Yes!
Prayer: Holy God, as we begin another month, we cry out, “how long!?” We want to plan trips. We want to play sports. We want to figure out when and how we can have weddings and worship services and Rally Day and the Election Day Events. We are filled with so many questions. We hope that You don’t think that we’re frivolous for being consumed with such things – because though they aren't the biggest issues in the world, they are big issues in our small corner of the world. So as we are filled with questions, we pray that you would also empty us of things that would clutter and distract us from You. Help us to rest easy and acknowledge that you do not willingly grieve nor afflict us, but that nothing can separate us from the hope, peace and love you give through our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Amen!
Philippians 4:13 I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength.
The Good News: We are sometimes weak and weary and often times wondering and asking “why?” Yet we have an advocate in the Holy Spirit who strengthens us and helps us day by day.
Prayer: We can be weary, O Father-God. We can be weary physically, but also emotionally and spiritually. The trauma of our world can make us heavy-hearted and parched. We need strength to watch the news and not be overwhelmed. Social media seems to be filled with people spewing rage and resentment; people feel free to disparage so many others by saying things that they'd never say to a person if they were talking face-to-face. It is hard to find civil discourse anymore. So rescue us as a society. Turn us towards earned respect and abiding kindness and a deep faith in you, O God. May there be a tornado of your Holy Spirit that destroys pride and self-righteousness. You are our only hope. You are our only strength. Amen.
Matthew 6:31-32 Don’t worry about these things, saying, ‘What will we eat? What will we drink? What will we wear?’ These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers, but your heavenly Father already knows all your needs.
The Good News: Being human, we are prone to worry. But worrying is like being in a rocking chair – it expends energy, but gets us nowhere. So help us to rest in your provision and providence.
Prayer: O Lord – our blood pressure goes up and our stress-levels increase as we think about all the deep needs of our world. We worry about our health if we “open society” too quickly. We worry about the economy if we don’t open quickly enough. We worry about climate change. We worry about our finances. We pray for our children. Give us a peace of mind, O God. And even as we do so, we thank you that you send people to support and sustain us. We thank you for the vocations of social workers, therapists, coaches. We thank you for wise friends and supportive neighbors and caring colleagues. Send us a reminder – somehow, someway -- of your presence O God, so that we can rest easier this day and sleep well this night. In the name of Jesus. Amen.
Psalm 33:12 Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord.
The Good News: On this American Independence Day, we are called to pray for our nation. We have many blessings – and with the hard-won gift of freedom, we are able to extend blessings to others. Let us remember who is ultimately in charge!
Prayer: O Lord, our prayer today contains the sentiments penned by Julia Ward Howe in 1861:
Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord; He is trampling out the vintage where the grapes of wrath are stored; He hath loosed the fateful lightning of His terrible swift sword; His truth is marching on.
I have seen Him in the watchfires of a hundred circling camps they have builded Him an altar In the evening dews and damps; I can read His righteous sentence by the dim and flaring lamps; His day is marching on.
He has sounded forth the trumpet that shall never call retreat; He is sifting out the hearts of men before His judgement seat; O, be swift, my soul, to answer Him; be jubilant, my feet; Our God is marching on.
In the beauty of the lilies Christ was born across the sea, with a glory in His bosom that transfigures you and me; as He died to make men holy, let us die to make men free; while God is marching on.
Glory! Glory! Hallelujah! Glory! Glory! Hallelujah! Glory! Glory! Hallelujah! His truth is marching on. Amen!
Galatians 5:22-23 The fruit of the spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.
The Good News: In this season of gardening, we enjoy the produce of the earth. We also cultivate the fruit of God’s Spirit. Let us focus on growing in these ways – ever and always to the glory of God!
Prayer: God of the past, present and future – thank you for blessings that come with the summer season. We pray for health and happiness. We pray for more of the fruit of the Spirit. May sin-filled selfishness diminish and a generosity of the soul increase. As crowds gather for a holiday weekend, may your wisdom prevail and may there not be another wave of infections nor more incidents of social unrest and rioting. Please, no, O God! Rather may opportunities for picnics and boating and swimming and fire-working bring occasions of joy. Heal our society and heal our bodies. Our world finds final rest and full freedom in you alone, O Lord. We pray in the name of our Savior, Amen.
Psalm 139:17-18 How precious are your thoughts about me, O God. And when I wake up, you are still with me!
The Good News: While we have been asleep, God is awake and at work. We are invited into God’s ongoing presence, love and care. We participate; we pray; we contribute; we care – but it’s not up to us to be Savior. That job is taken! Thanks be to God that we are never alone.
Prayer: Hear us O God, as we pray for those who serve in positions of leadership and trust. We pray for parents and grandparents. We pray for parish ministers, chaplains, and missionaries. We pray for those who are bosses and employers. We pray for governmental authorities. Grant wisdom. Grant compassion. Grant that these leaders would use their power and influence for the common good and not for personal gain. We are yet again reminded that you are the King of kings and the Lord of lords – and that as we go through this day, you are with us, the ultimate servant-leader. Thank you for humbling yourself to identify with us mortals and for going to the cross for our salvation. To you, and you alone, be our worship: Father, Son and Holy Spirit! Amen.
Psalm 46:5 Create in me a clean heart, O God. Renew a loyal spirit within me.
The Good News: We do things we ought not do. We leave undone things which we ought to do. We sin. But God, in Jesus Christ, provides forgiveness, restoration and renewal. We are not defined by our past mistakes, but rather by God’s grace. Repent and live!
Prayer: Dear God, we admit that asking for forgiveness isn’t always easy. (Forgive us for not asking for forgiveness!?!?) I know that you’ve already forgiven me through Jesus, but it’s just that, as I receive forgiveness, it requires me to likewise forgive others. That’s what’s hard! It’s hard to let go of grudges. Some people have hurt me, and I’d prefer them to get their comeuppance. Yet, I know that’s not what You want. So do a renewal project in me. Grant me fortitude to forgive without tons of conditions. I’d like to live without resentment or anger. So free me from all that. In its place, enable me to enact love, and to make compassion visible. That’s a big ask, but I do so wanting your Kingdom to come on earth as it is in heaven. Help me Jesus. Amen.
Genesis 8:22 As long as the earth remains, there will be planting and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night.
The Good News: To everything there is a season. In this season of summer we bask in the knowledge that God’s promise is that we shall endure. There are storms and pandemics and turmoil, but God will not fail nor forsake us. Thanks be to God!
Prayer: O God – you whose love for us never changes, we live in a world of change. A time to be born and a time to die. A time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing. In this time of “refraining from embracing” we humbly ask for you to come closer and enfold us with your comfort. We seek peace, not chaos. We need healing, not and more cases of COVID. We desire harmony, not discord. So help use be promoters of harmony, blending our voices with others in creating beauty and blessing. We are grateful for those who work at creating channels of conversation in a world where dissonance is often prevalent. May we be in a season of listening and not yelling. May we be in a season of respect that says “just because others think differently doesn’t automatically make them wrong.” Come, Holy Spirit to illuminate and guide. May this be a season of faith and faithfulness! Amen.
1 Corinthians 13:13 And now these three remain: faith, hope, and love. But the greatest of these is love.
The Good News: How wonderful to have a God whose identity is revealed not in power or wrath but in love. And love endures! Love lasts! Love casts out fear! God’s love wins!
Prayer: Blessed Savior, thank you for loving us, saving us, helping us, healing us. Your love is perfect. Yet there are times when earthly love is challenging to maintain. So we come in prayer – grateful for those you have given to us to love, but also asking you to assist us in being patient, kind, not envious, not irritable, not resentful. Help us to forgive as we ourselves have been forgiven. Give us, we humbly pray, opportunities for sharing laughter, creating positive memories, assisting others who need our love. Enrich with your grace all husbands and wives, parents and children, that loving and supporting one another, we may serve those in need and be a sign of your Kingdom. In the name of Jesus. Amen.
Psalm 5:3 In the morning, Lord, you hear my voice; in the morning I lay my requests before you and wait expectantly.
The Good News: Waiting is hard! Yet God, who asks us to be in relationship and who awaits our prayers, hears us and will answer. Sometimes the answer is “yes” and we are grateful. Sometimes the answer is “no” and we don’t understand. Sometimes the answer is “not yet” and we continue to wait. God is at work.
Prayer: God of grace and God of glory, we bring our prayers of “Wow!” – the beauty of a sunset, the constancy of the ocean waves, the deliciousness of fresh fruit, the laughter of a baby. We also bring our prayers of “Thanks!” – the friends we enjoy, the church that blesses, the opportunities for renewal and refreshment of a summer Saturday. We also bring our prayers of “Help!” – help those who are sick and suffering, help those who are grieving, help those who are both physically distanced and emotionally distanced from family, help those who are marginalized because of their sexuality, help those with addictions, help those who are financially distressed. We lay our requests before you O God, and wait expectantly… Amen.
Psalm 118:24 This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.
The Good News: Despite all the tragedies and trauma of life, we have the gift of this day. We do not know what today will bring, but we do know who creates, sustains and redeems! God is with us. That is cause for celebration.
Prayer: God of beginnings, of creation, of new opportunities, of fresh starts, we give deep and on-going thanks that you have given us this day. May you grant unto us many reasons for rejoicing! Thank you for anniversaries and birthdays and reunions. Thank you for ice cream and for fellowship opportunities! Thank you for our health care workers, our emergency service providers, our military personnel. Thank you that people have joined together to be mindful of safety protocols to “flatten the curve” (and may many more follow that example.) Thank you for the “old rugged cross” upon which your Son, our Lord died so that we would have forgiveness. Thank you God for not judging us by past failures but rather for embracing us with your grace and favor. Thank you for this day – and may we continue to be filled with gratitude as we live and love like Jesus. Amen.
1 John 3:1-3 “See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are. The reason why the world does not know us is that it did not know him. Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is.”
The Good News: We belong to God. We are cherished! Simple and true!
Prayer: Thank you God for adopting us as your children. For choosing us. For always-loving us. For providing for us. For saving us. For accepting us. Yet we recognize that, in this world, not everyone is accepted by others. You, O God, yes you accept us. (Thanks, again!) But too many others are labeled because of race or sexuality or relationship-status or economic-indicators. Those labels are used like weapons to hurt or tear-down. May that not continue! Rouse our consciences and restore the status of belonging to all your children. So guide us to be people of compassion and care, and dispatch those who love division and bully others. Heal our world from COVID-19 and heal our world from hatred. In the name of Jesus. Amen.
James 1:2-4 “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.”
The Good News: The time of completion will come – and then, despite current trials, we will lack nothing. Nothing! Our call then, for now, is to be steadfast. Hold on. God is with us.
Prayer: O God, we lift up those who encourage us, those who bring your light into the dark corners of our world. Thank you for those who come along side us, to steady us, to comfort us, to help us when we find ourselves in the valley of the shadow of death. We pray for those who labor diligently in the healing arts, may they too be sustained. We pray for those friends who offer a quiet word, send a card, make a meal -- just show up when times get tough. Thank you for faithful companions through the journey of life. And in turn, help us to be such a support to others. May we be conduits of grace, exporters of beauty, channels of calm, and wholesalers of kindness. As we rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep, we are grateful for your presence and power. In the name of Jesus, Amen.
Hebrews 12:1-2 “Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.”
The Good News: The sin clings and the tough times are real. Life is a race – and no one runs a race without getting tired. We can hit that wall and feel defeated. How can we pace ourselves? It helps to remember that we are surrounded – not just in front or behind – but surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses who are cheering for us, cheering for you!
Prayer: (from the hymn “Teach Me Thy Way, O Lord” by B. Mansell Ramsey in 1919)
Teach me Thy way, O Lord, teach me Thy way; Thy gracious aid afford, teach me Thy way. Help me to walk aright; more by faith, less by sight; lead me with heav’nly light, teach me Thy way.
When doubts and fears arise, teach me Thy way; when storms o’erspread the skies, Teach me Thy way. Shine through the cloud and rain, through sorrow, toil, and pain; make Thou my pathway plain, teach me Thy way.
Long as my life shall last, teach me Thy way; where’er my lot be cast, teach me Thy way. Until the race is run, until the journey’s done, until the crown is won, teach me Thy way. Amen.
Ephesians 3:17-19-21 “So that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever.”
The Good News: More expansive that the further reaches of north and south, east and west, higher than the highest mountain, deeper than the deepest ocean trench, the love of Christ is abundant and eternal. It will prevail, so hang on!
Prayer: O Lord, our Lord – how excellent is your name in all the earth. More signs of recovery. More reopening. Thank you, Lord! This pandemic has hit us hard – but with our diligence and your provision, we are coming through it. It’s been a patience-trying time. So help us to learn from this not to take any of life for granted. Help us to cherish those we love. Help us to support our emergency service providers and health care workers. Help us to lift up those who are frail elderly and those who care for them. Help us to encourage our small-business owners and on this day of reopening, especially our barbers, beauticians, cosmetologists and nail technicians. Open our hearts so that we might be conduits of praise and blessing, ever and always, to your glory! Amen.
John 16:33: “I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”
The Good News: How true, the ways of the world – selfishness, pride, righteousness, anger, slander, sin – bring tribulation. It’s a tough world and a tough time. It looks like the evil-doers are winning – but take courage! Jesus overcomes all evil!
Prayer: O God, you have created us with bodies, minds and souls. Grant us humility and obedience so that our spiritual life would echo your commands. Grant us health and healing so that our bodies would allow us to faithfully share your Good News and to be of service to others. Grant us your supernatural peace so that our minds would not be overwhelmed by the challenges that bombard us. In these days of pandemic, of partisanship, of un-Christlike behavior from far too many, our mental health is challenged. It’s hard to hold onto hope. It’s hard to find purpose. It’s hard to believe that love is possible. It’s hard to think about the myriad of unknowns yet ahead. We’re off kilter. And we’re scared. Depression is hard to diagnose, hard to admit, hard to understand, hard to treat. So God come deep into our lives and hear our cries. Some of us are crying desperately, day-by-day, moment-by-moment. Are you able to help? We believe you are, yet are discouraged when the help comes slowly. So hear us and help us and heal us. Overcome all the hurt of this world and grant us peace! In the name of the one who is our Rock and our Redeemer – Amen.
Psalm 119:114-115 “You are my hiding place and my shield; I hope in your word. Depart from me, you evildoers, that I may keep the commandments of my God.”
The Good News: When the going gets tough and we just need to escape the evil and hide from the horror – God provide a safety net. We focus on honoring God and loving our neighbor – and the evildoers will not prevail!
Prayer: What a different end to the school year, O God! We come therefore with our prayers. For administrators and school boards as they yet need to consider how to re-open classrooms and when – give wisdom! For teachers and school staff as they miss having the opportunity to cheerlead “their” children in completing a year of learning and growing in knowledge, we offer our thanks for their following their vocational call and for their creative care. For parents, as they’ve stepped in to assist in online learning along with the myriad of the other responsibilities of life – we pray your blessing. And we pause to pray for our children. The next generations will have much with which to contend. So help them to grapple with big issues of society, technological innovation, and, O God, provide them with opportunities to grow in grace, foster friendships and pursue peace for themselves and for our world. With so much seeming to fray, be with our children and teens in powerful and profound ways. And be with us adults, prodding us in faith and faithfulness, so that the legacy we leave to those younger will be a cleaner environment, a more united country, an end to racism, a respect for all people and an abiding allegiance to you, O God. Amen.
Isaiah 40:31 “But they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.”
The Good News: It’s a wearying time. But that’s not how our story will end. We will yet soar. It may not be tomorrow or perhaps even this year – but by God’s power and presence, strength will be renewed and hope secured.
Prayer: Our world has been through turmoil. Often times we know of a place that has experience trauma – wildfires or a hurricane, a mass shooting or terrorism – but this pandemic is global. Everyone has experienced loss, all people are potential victims – all nations, all colors, all economic classes. O God, since we all are joined in being affected, would you use this time and this pandemic to unify people and help us to be about the work of cooperation and the common good. Help us to look beyond labels to remember that we are all your children and to lift up each individual as a source of blessing. May we be unified in prayer, may we be one in your Spirit, may we be solitary in purpose – loving you with our hearts, minds, soul and strength, and to love our neighbors as ourselves. So help us God! In particular we bring to mind those who are lonely or left out, help us to be mindful of their need – and to respond! Thank you Jesus for lifting up the least and for loving us unconditionally. So forgive our sins, and help us to live and love like Jesus. Amen.
Psalm 16:8 “I keep my eyes always on the Lord. With him at my right hand, I shall not be shaken.”
The Good News: So many things compete for our attention, but God instructs us to not be so distracted that we lose sight of the Provider, Protector, and Promise-Keeper: Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
Prayer: Dearest Friend and Savior, so much of this strange new world is difficult and challenging: the inability to visit in hospitals and nursing homes; twelve-step sobriety programs unable to provide in-person accountability; missing the kind of learning that happens through the give-and-take of the classroom; sharing communion in real time with real people with a common elements of bread and wine. It just seems to lose something when we can’t be seeing the smiling faces of others. Still – we know that it’s not all about us. Though we’d prefer worshiping without restrictions, we acknowledge that wherever we are, and however we join together, you are there – and that’s what matters ultimately. So help us and help us come alongside those in need: the sick and the dying, the lost and the lonely, the anxious and the angry. Give unto us a good night’s rest and a morning’s opportunity to be a blessing to others. Thank you for the timeless, frameless, abiding grace of your presence, O God. In the name of the One who was, who is, and ever more will be, Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Zephaniah 3:17 “The Lord your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing."
The Good News: God is with us. God rejoices with/for us in a wide-array of ways. Quiet love and loud singing. Morning, noon and night. Yesterday, today, forever. Laughter and tears. Labor and leisure. COVID-19 will not prevail – it is the very present God who saves!
Prayer: O Lord, our Lord – we’ve had to adapt. And, surprise of surprises, we’ve managed to do some pretty creative things – online worship, zoom happy hours, choir collaborations, drive-by parties, virtual vacations, learning new skills. But now we’re moving from adaptation to innovation. How are we going to live ongoingly like this? That’s a challenge – so we come to you, O Lord. We’re leaning hard into your wisdom to show us how we can sing your song in this foreign land. May this become an opportunity for your Word to take root in ways that weren’t imaginable even last year. So thank you for families worshiping together, reading the Bible together, praying together. Thank you for the slower pace that provides times for big discussions about good and evil, about ethics, about purposefulness, about privilege, about responsibility. Thank you for neighbors getting to know each other. And most especially, thank you for the grace of your presence. Jesus – you are our rock, and upon you we anchor ourselves, our families, our church, our society, our world. So in our ever-changing world, thank you for your saving love which never changes. Strengthen us, we pray. In Christ, our living Lord and Savior’s name, Amen.
Romans 15:13 “Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”
The Good News: We can be filled! Not a half-cup, nor even a full cup – but we have hope that overflows. Our cup runneth over! So don’t just abide in hope – but abound in it! How we need it – and how we receive it – joy and peace and hope… and joy and peace and hope… and joy and peace and hope!
Prayer: What’s going on, O God? How long? It’s been three months! I know that for you, and considering eternity, its but a blink of an eye – but for us, life is so different. At the beginning of 2020, we would be taken back at how life has changed. We lift up our students, teachers and parents, school boards and administrators. On March 15 everyone left school thinking that they would be off until the beginning of April. Or maybe Easter. But the end of the school year? This would have, should have been a time of field days and celebrations, a wrapping up of a year filled with learning. Yet teachers are told to hand in grades – but grading what? Parents are frazzled; children miss their friends; seniors have drive-by proms and a strange kind of graduation. So yes, I guess sometimes prayer sounds whiny. We admit it. A summer without sports? Ugh. So we just lay our deep and honest emotions before you, O God. We want positivity and roses without thorns, but there are times when we don’t feel very overflowing. So – thanks for not abandoning us, even when we feel a bit ungrateful. Thanks for listening. Thanks for understanding. So in our limited perspective, help us, hold us, and give us hope. Create a future that is better than what we imagine. Restore our souls, reconstruct our society, re- invigorate our economy, rebind frayed relationships, and resurrect our bodies! Remember us, O Lord. We offer our prayers humbly and ever and always in the name of Jesus, who suffered on the cross for our sake and for our salvation. Amen.
Isaiah 9:7 “Of the increase of His government and peace there will be no end, upon the throne of David and over His kingdom, to order it and establish it with judgment and justice from that time forward, even forever more. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this.”
The Good News: God’s promised presence and peace is not a sometimes thing. No end! Forever more! Although we now know how we are blessed by the Wonderful Counselor, the Mighty God, the Everlasting Father and the Prince of Peace, we wait upon how the judgement and justice will fully take place. But it will! Evil will end and Love wins!
Prayer: O holy child of Bethlehem, descend to us we pray! Cast out our sin and enter in, be born in us today. We hear the Christmas angels, the great glad tidings tell, O come to us -- abide with us -- our Lord Emmanuel. Our prayer for your presence in our world is not just something for December 25, but for each and every day. What a difference, an eternal and life-providing difference, it made that you O God so loves us that you gave to us the gift of your Son. Despite earthly death, we have promised life! Despite cancer and coronavirus, we have ultimate healing! Despite dangers, toils and snares, you have promised, by your amazing grace, to lead us home! Thank you, O King of kings and Lord of lords! Your light banishes the darkness! So we return thanks for Jesus, our friend and Savior. And we return thanks for those who have told us the story of faith and encourage us through their models of caring and compassion. So – for parents and grandparents, for church school teachers and choir directors, for youth group leaders and camp counselors, for mission trip partners, for ministers and missionaries, we say, “thank you!” And now the legacy is ours – so may we too reflect the light of Christ through our vocations, by way of our service, in our families and friendships. This world needs more light and love. So counter violence with peace, apathy with interest, homelessness and hunger and unemployment with opportunity, bullying with the solidarity of compassion, loneliness with companionship, narrow- mindedness with educated acceptance. Lead us Lord in your paths of blessing, hope and salvation. Come Lord Jesus! Amen.
Colossians 4:2 “Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful.”
The Good News: A short, but power-packed verse. Be alert to all that is occurring – look for ways God is working, then pause regularly to lift up a “thank you” to God. As we seek to observe the Lord at work, God’s handiwork is regularly revealed! Yes! Wow! Thank you!
Prayer: Dear God – we come to you in prayer. It’s not always easy to remember to pray – but we’re trying! We want to be more devoted to prayer – not only because you’ve instructed us to do so – but because we want to be devoted to you. Thanks for being with us through all of these tumultuous days. There has been – and still is – uncertainty, pain and problems, yet the “curve is being flattened” (thank you, God!), and we’re seeing signs of hope in the midst of a new normal. Our country is coming to a deeper conversation about racism and prejudice, so while sad for the initiating circumstances, we are seeking to grow in the grace and knowledge of the love you, O God, have for all people. Use us to model how to love our neighbors in ways that glorify and honor you. And while we are aware of national issues and global concerns, we also bring to you the challenges we face. How to reopen the church buildings and regather in ways that bring joy to our hearts and safety to our bodies? When can we reconnect for funerals and weddings, for reunions and parties? What about summer vacations? What about school in the fall? What about Rally Day? What about the Election Day Events? So many questions linger without clarity. So help us. In the meantime, we return thanks for the glimpses of normalcy – golf games and growing gardens. Walks on the beach. Music on the radio. Burgers on the grill. Reveal to us O gracious Holy Spirit, how your blessings will come wrapped in new ways. Help us to be attentive not just to our losses, but to new opportunities. Please God! In Jesus’ precious name, Amen.
Psalm 29:11 “The Lord will give strength to His people; The Lord will bless His people with peace.”
The Good News: Strength is coming. Not yet fully achieved, the Lord is blessing us sometimes slowly – but certainly steadily. Peace is promised! Hang on. Hold on, the Lord God is with us.
Prayer: Alpha and Omega – you O God, who began it all and will bring it to a culmination of peace, harmony and blessing, we lift up our praise to you. Holy, holy, holy!!! We stop for a moment to just adore you – and to be in awe of your majesty. Who are we that you would choose to be mindful of us? And yet you do. In humility and gratitude, we say, “thank you.” And with that – we know we have no reason to receive it – yet we do receive. You bless us. You strengthen us. You are with us. So fill our world with your powerful presence. Use this day to be a day of opportunity to tilt the world more towards you and your ways. Change the hearts of those who claim power and privilege for themselves. Heal the bodies and minds of those who are ailing and weakened by disease. Bring opportunity for work to those who are needing both purpose and a paycheck. Break the bonds of addiction for those who are held captive. Guide governmental leaders that the primary purposes of honoring you and loving neighbors would hold sway. Protect our military and their families. Bless our health care workers and all those who continue to serve selflessly in responding to the myriad needs. Sustain our churches. In these days of adaption and innovation, lift up new ways of communicating your Good News that we might be effective in leading more and more people to knowing you, loving you, following you. In particular, we pray for our church and for its consistory as it meets (by zoom) tonight and, together with our staff, seeks to serve faithfully, guide responsibly, encourage joyfully, lead effectively. Thank you for our congregation – for the saints past, and for us today. We look forward to the time when we can be together in person again. To you, O God, be honor and glory and praise! In the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Amen.
Philippians 4:6-7 "Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus."
The Good News: Peace seems elusive – and it is… to us. It transcends our understanding. Although we can’t understand, we receive it. The peace of God is guiding and guarding you right now!
Prayer: God – you who are more transcendent than the furthest far-flung galaxies, and yet are more imminent and close than our very breath, how wonderfully amazing it is that you care so deeply for us. Thank you for your ever-abiding love. Thank you for the beauty of this Wednesday. Thank you for sunshine’s warmth and for nourishing rain. Thank you for evening’s rest and morning’s opportunity. Thank you for friendships that sustain us year after year, for family that supports through thick and thin, for faith that connects us to your Son, our Lord, Jesus. That means so much because our minds race with worry and our hearts are filled with concern. You instruct us not to be anxious, but given the state of our world, that seems next-to-impossible. We’ve been social distanced – and that’s disheartening. We’ve been dealing with climate change – and yet that is debated and is discouraging. We’ve seen people maligned because of the color of their skin – and that’s demoralizing. We’re still dealing with this coronavirus and that’s been debilitating. So much is depressing. So hear us, Lord. And help us to turn our anxiousness over to you. And then return us to how we started this prayer – with a return to gratitude. Remind us that you are in charge and that we can present our prayers to you, with thanksgiving!!! So… thank you for the gift of prayer. Thank you for your amazing grace. Thank you for new mercies revealed morning by morning. Thank you for whispers of love. Thank you that you give us Jesus, who carries us in the tough times and walks beside us in all that you call us to do. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
Ephesians 4:4–6 "There is one body and one Spirit — just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call — one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all."
The Good News: Our hope is founded on the rock of our faith in the one God, who undergirds all we see and hear and touch – and even what we cannot comprehend. God’s got us! God’s got all the needs of the world – and brings healing and hope, cradling us in the arms of salvation.
Prayer: One God – revealed in the works of creation, redemption and salvation – we come to you, needing you, wanting you, for we confess that, at times, we are disillusioned. You promise unity and love and peace – but those are so elusive, even absent. The speed bumps on the road to blessings are many. We’re still waiting for so many things – for the elimination of this coronavirus, for a return to normalcy, to worshiping together in the sanctuary, to racial reconciliation, for an end to partisan pandering and prideful boasting. So much is so tiring. So come and give us a fresh wind of your Holy Spirit. Even to say “breathe on us breath of God” makes us go “no! no breathing! It’s dangerous.” So redirect us from fear and inspire us with your Good News. So much is bad news. We need a change! So, O Lord, use these weary months of waiting to turn the world towards You. Grip us by your grace. Heal our unhappy divisions. Return a portion of happiness to us all. So we pray for those who grieve – we weep with them. We pray for those who have reasons for celebration – we rejoice with them. May we be the gift of your love O God, unto others this day. Use us to bring comfort to the weary, friendship to the forgotten, support to the needy, beauty to the broken, kindness to those we encounter, sweetness to the soured, and peace to this world which is so loved by you that you gave your only begotten Son to be our Savior and Friend. Amen.
Hebrews 4:16 Let us have confidence, then, and approach God’s throne, where there is grace. There we will receive mercy and find grace to help us just when we need it.
The Good News: Just when we need it! And how we do! Our providing God is sending us mercy and grace right this moment. What a blessed assurance! So be confident! Approach God in humility and prayer – God’s waiting to hear from us!
Prayer: Great and gracious God – how we live in complex times. Our society, our economy, our lives seem so fragile. We live in times of excessive individualism and rampant materialism. So many are out for themselves alone, claiming rights and staking personal claims. What happened to the “common good?” Yet even as we pray that, we are reminded of the kindness of strangers, the benevolence work of so many, and how the goodness of people is not (sadly) what garners news headlines. So help us not to despair, but to remember, realize and recognize the blessings, which are many. And which will prevail! Goodness, not evil. Light, not dark. Life, not death! These are the gifts of our Savior, Jesus! So we pause in gratitude for grace. For mercy. For peace. For hope. For joy. These are what will last. For we see in a mirror dimly, but there will come a time when all will be revealed. And you have promised that love wins! So renovate our souls and remake our society that more and more people will turn to you, O God. Use us that your light and love would shine through us and what we do and say. Make us conduits of blessing, and save this world! We pray for our families, our church, our communities, our country, our world. In the precious name of Jesus, Amen.
2 Timothy 4:18 The Lord will rescue me from every evil deed, and will bring me safely to His heavenly kingdom; to Him be the glory forever and ever. Amen.
The Good News: God is our safe place to land. Our rescuer! And did you notice – it’s not a rescue from some evil deeds – but every evil deed. Let us claim that promise and hold fast to knowledge of the coming Kingdom of God.
Prayer: O God, it’s been 76 years since D-Day. We acknowledge and pause silently to remember those who sacrificed their lives for the advancement of freedom and the defeat of evil. As that was a significant turning point leading to the eventual victory in World War II, may this day be a turning point in the eventual victory over COVID-19. Thank you for all those who have been on the front lines – the medical personnel, the funeral directors, the researchers, all those who listened to the calls for sacrificial living. Thank you, God, for those who pitched in to help – sharing what they had, shopping and serving, giving and praying, sanitizing and staying physically distant. Continue to guide the officials that make policies and promote health. As we, together, start to live a “new normal” may you yet work powerfully to bring healing to us – spiritually, mentally, economically, emotionally, physically. We pray that thy Kingdom would come on earth, as it is in heaven. Mend division. Yes, O God – mend division. Banish evil. Rescue us -- and help us to remember your blessings, to rediscover your command to love our neighbors, and to redistribute the joy of friendship, faith and peace. In the victorious name of Christ Jesus, Amen.
Isaiah 46:4 Even to your old age I will be the same, and even to your graying years I will bear you! I have done it, and I will carry you; and I will bear you and I will deliver you.
The Good News: Each stage of life brings its joys and challenges. Yet there is never a decade, a year, a month, a day, an hour, a minute, a second that God is not carrying us. God will deliver us even though we can’t fully feel nor comprehend it.
Prayer: Ever-present, always-loving, full-knowing God – thank you for the glimpses of joy and beauty that are yet available. It’s a broken world – yet we seek, in small ways, in personal ways, to live and love like Jesus. We want to repair and plant and build and bless. So come alongside us Lord. Guide our words and direct our steps. We are saddened that plans have been re-routed, but are trying to be glad that different ways of celebration can happen – drive-by birthday greetings, virtual wedding showers, zoom prom-dress fashion shows, on-line communion. What a strange world we are experiencing! Yet, as we then emerge from social isolation, may we even more cherish, and not take for granted, the opportunities of sweet in-person celebrations. Help kindness to flourish, respect to increase, tolerance to grow. We pray for peace. So support and surround us in our laughter and in our tears. We pray for newborns and toddlers that, as they enter into a masked world, they inherit opportunity and not opposition. We pray for children who miss their friends. We pray for students and teachers. We pray for those seeking work. We pray for those who are retiring without good-bye “thank you” gatherings. We pray for those of greying years (as the scripture puts it) that you O God would not fail nor forsake us. The needs are great – but you, O God, are greater. Help us. And thank you. Amen.
Psalm 17:8-10 Keep me as the apple of your eye; hide me in the shadow of your wings from the wicked who are out to destroy me, from my mortal enemies who surround me. They close up their callous hearts, and their mouths speak with arrogance.
The Good News: There are so many who claim to be right and assert power. The scriptures speak often against arrogance and callousness. We are assured that those who are sinful, self-centered and self-righteous will not win. Though the powers of the wicked seem oft so strong, God is the ruler yet.
Prayer: God of now-and-forever, you have created a world of tender beauty but it has become a fragile world. The sin that besets us is being evident in ever-increasing ways. So please Lord, lead us from destruction to reformation, from violence to peace, from retaliation to forgiveness, from sickness to health. Our June days are getting warm and sunny, yet the times feel heavy-laden with concern. Disagreements over how to re-open society weigh heavily. Racial issues seem irreconcilable. Save your children from warring madness and use us to be agents of reconciliation. We sometimes are at a loss of what to do – but if there aren’t concrete actions that are possible, we can pray. And our prayers, while sometimes it may seem like they are words cast into a void, are actually power-packed! We are reminded that you are present and that you hear us. So we come to lift our hearts to you – with our joys. With our concerns. With our hopes and dreams. With our need! We are banging on the doors of heaven. Answer us! Help us! Heal us! We cannot let malice nor disease take hold any more. So calm troubled souls, hear our anguished cries for peace. Bring opportunity to those who are worried about their bills and come to provide new opportunities to work, serve, and help. We pray on behalf of those who are sick, tired, hungry, homeless. We pray for our church and churches everywhere that together we can transform this world that you love, but which is broken. Come Lord and save us. As we know you will, we also say, “thank you, God.” Amen.
Matthew 11:28 Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.
The Good News: Jesus has promised to come alongside us to help shoulder our problems. Just as we are about to collapse from the weight of all the burdens us, God promises rest. We need not carry any of this alone. Picture your problems as a heavy stone – and give it to God. God is so much more able to deal with it than we.
Prayer: It’s true God. We’re weary. Worn out. Weak. Worried. Help us not to give out or give in. We all have problems – for some it’s about money, others it’s dealing with an addiction, others it’s about broken relationships, other’s mental health, others it’s feeling lonely or without purpose. But whatever it might be named – we need help. And this pandemic has only made what was already a challenge, even worse. Jobs have been lost. AA meetings canceled. Health compromised. Isolation has taken its toll. So speak a word of blessing to us. Bring some Good News today. Lift our spirits and give us reasons to smile. Perhaps that sounds demanding, God. And we don’t mean it to be, but it’s just that we’ve never experienced anything like this – and it’s hard. So forgive us. And bless us so that we may be a blessing to others. We pray for life guards and park rangers. We pray for farmers and food-service providers. We pray for delivery personnel and mail carriers. We pray for our military. We pray for firefighters, police officers and first aid personnel. We pray for health care professionals. We pray for those with cancer and dementia and for their caregivers. We pray for those waiting to die and those waiting to be born. We pray for teachers and students. We pray for parents and children. We pray for our church. We pray for our world. That’s a whole lotta praying, God! But the needs are great. We are just so grateful that you are even greater. So, thank you. Amen.
John 7:37-38 On the last day of the festival, the great day, while Jesus was standing there, he cried out, “Let anyone who is thirsty come to me, and let the one who believes in me drink. As the scripture has said, ‘Out of the believer’s heart shall flow rivers of living water.’”
The Good News: We live in troubled times. People are thirsty for hope, parched for solutions for the racial strife, unsettled and angry. Solutions are so hard to come by – and in our world broken by sin, that is elusive. We need to be refueled by the Perfect Healer, the only one who can restore peace and harmony. God has promised that, though not in our timing, we have access to Living Water. Come, Lord Jesus. The world finds rest in you alone.
Prayer: O great God – how we need you. We are feeling dehydrated. With COVID-19 American deaths of over 100,000; with unemployment at high numbers; with uncertainty abounding; with personal losses; with the killing of George Floyd and the rioting that embroils our cities, we are broken. So we come in prayer – sometimes with sighs that are too deep for words. But our hearts cry against injustice. All people are your children – so we pray for inclusion. But that is not the present reality. So we pray for those who are treated differently because of the color of their skin. For those who are seen as “less than.” We also pray for police officers – of whom the vast majority are good and upright. We ask for forgiveness for our own complicity in prejudice. Provide opportunities for help, for hope, for healing. For how many times must this scene be repeated? We ache. We need direction. We need You. Do not delay, O God. Help us now. In the name of Jesus, Amen.
Romans 8:24-25 For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.
The Good News: We don’t know what the future holds, be we do know who holds the future. God is for us – so who can be against us? Nothing will separate us from the love of God revealed in Christ Jesus.
Prayer: Blessed Savior – as we begin what would have been a month of end-of-the-school year activities – concerts, dances, trips, field days, athletic awards, valedictory speeches, and summer jobs and mission trips and camp, we are just sad and tired. We want to wake up from this bad dream and have it be a time of full beaches and family barbecues. We’re tired of the restrictions even as we acknowledge how they have helped so many more from getting ill. So yes O God – please know that underneath all our weariness, we are grateful that our hospitals are not over capacity and that our health-care providers are able to get back to a relatively normal schedule. But we are traumatized. The whole world is doing a “re-set.” So as that happens, may our new normal be defined by cooperation, caring, faith and peace. That is a major-miracle ask – but we hope for it. We pray for it. Use this horrific pandemic to heal the disunity of our world. Make something positive come from all we’ve endured. Please, O God!!! Amen.
Romans 12:12 Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.
The Good News: God is present – not just to help us limp along, but to be victorious! Yes, there are significant problems, both personally and globally, but God sends the Holy Spirit to ensure that we will persevere and prevail!
Prayer: God of hope – you have asked us to be constant in prayer. So we come now to touch base and share with you our reasons for giving thanks, our requests for help, and just to “check in.” Of course we seek not to make our relationship with you seem lightly-considered, but there are times when we just get so caught up in our needs and plans and responsibilities that we forget that you care about all of these aspects of our lives… and even more. So we pause to remember that you are our Heavenly Father and that we can share with you about how angry we get when plans are altered, We can tell you how we ache when we can’t join with friends and family in their moments of need or joy. Yet this re-opening of society is challenging. Who to believe? Who to trust? How to balance what is good for health and good for the economy and good for our souls? Provide clarity, O God! And Lord, already too many summer plans have been rerouted – so haste the day when children can play freely with one another and all can congregate without concern of contagion! We are ready to once again rejoice together! In the name of Jesus, we pray. Amen.
Isaiah 41:10 ‘Do not fear, for I am with you; do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, surely I will help you, surely I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.’
The Good News: Over and over the Bible instructs us not to fear. We need to hear that often because our default tends to be worry. God is present to calm us, to strengthen us, to relieve our unsettled minds and upset spirits. Three times God tells us not what he might do (strengthen/help/uphold us) but that he will do so!
Prayer: Unchangeable God – though we live in these months of tremendous change, you are strong and steady. Thank you for being with us when our lives swirl out of control. We pray that you would help and heal us – but also that you would use us to combat the cruel challenges that cross our paths. Comfort those who grieve. Guide those who govern. Support those who serve. And, O God -- whether it be to sing lullabies or bake bread or plant flowers or turn a lathe, use us to infuse this world with a bit of beauty. How we want to be back together – sharing, singing, laughing, loving! So it is we pray for those who are working in fields of health-recovery and research. Give us patience, we pray, and help us, each and all, to do what is necessary to “flatten the curve” and eliminate new infections. We also pray for employers and employees that there is the opportunity to work well, and have both purpose and productivity. Uphold us, O great and gracious God. Amen.
Nehemiah 9:6 “You alone are the Lord. You have made the heavens, the heaven of heavens with all their host, the earth and all that is on it, the seas and all that is in them. You give life to all of them and the heavenly host bows down before You.”
The Good News: God has created stars beyond what we can observe with telescopes and cells that are unfathomable without a microscope. Just because we can’t see them, doesn’t negate their existence. God’s ways are so much larger than what we can even consider. The scope of God’s care is broader than what we can comprehend.
Prayer: Heavenly Father, sometimes we get stuck believing that what you have in store for us is only what we feel, or know, or believe. Yet, through Jesus, you’ve given us a life beyond this life and speak in the language of infinity and eternity. Our losses are real – but they are not forever. So thank you Lord for what is forever – love lasts. Relationships endure. So comfort us in times of grief, steady us in times of change, inspire us in times of anguish, come close in times of isolation. Rebuild our communities, our economy, our lives. Extend to us your mercy which is higher than the heavens and heal us in mind, body and spirit. Abide with us, precious Savior. Amen.
Isaiah 41:10 Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.
The Good News: God is with us! What an amazing thing. Other faith-traditions have a distant god or an impersonal deity – but as followers of Jesus Christ, we have the opportunity of a relationship. We are connected to God – and God is connected to us, helping and upholding us. Fear not!
Prayer: Dear God – it’s been 72 days since we last could gather in your sanctuary for worship. Even then it was with “air-high-fives” and not touching hymnals and ushers with latex gloves. What does the future hold!? We pray for a vaccine. We pray for the ability to keep our psychological fortitude. We pray for wisdom about how and when to reopen church. So many prayers! But we bring them to you for you have promised to uphold us. We’re taking you up on that offer. Strengthen us! Help us! Uphold us! We miss being together – singing together, ringing together, coffee-houring together, Bible-studying in person, laughing and praying and weeping together. How quickly the things that we often took for-granted just stopped. For a few weeks we were resolute – but this is getting very, very tiring. O Lord, we miss haircuts and handshakes, we miss school and sports, we miss Broadway and Great Adventure, we miss picnics and proms and parties. We even miss hard pews and long sermons! Yet in the midst of it all, we are grateful that we have the essentials – we have You. We have prayer. We have not all we want, but all that we need. So, in humility, we simply say, “Thank you.” In gratitude for your over-arching, never-failing, salvation-granting, everlasting love – “thank you, Jesus.” Amen.
Proverbs 3:3-6 Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.
The Good News: These are days of detours and hard-to-navigate pathways – yet God is at work to straighten and strengthen. Let us trust in the Lord!
Prayer: O Healing God – so many have been burdened with health concerns. We need a way through this valley of the shadow of death. And the COVID-19 is not just debilitating our health, but also our economy. We need stabilization and a way forward that provides the opportunity for purposeful employment, food on tables, housing that is affordable and blessings that abound. Our young people and college graduates already have it tough – but with fewer summer jobs and limited job prospects, the concerns are real and deeply felt. So, for all who are seeking employment, provide opportunity. And for those who work – especially for those who labor for an hourly wage -- lift dignity and provide a hand up. You have asked us to trust – so we seek to do so. And you, in turn, have promised to straighten our paths. So come, help, guide, encourage, straighten and bless! Thank you for not abandoning us in our time of need. Thank you Jesus! Amen.
John 15:13-18 Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you. No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you. You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you. These things I command you, so that you will love one another.
The Good News: Jesus died sacrificially. Jesus lives victoriously! As those then who have been saved by grace alone, those who have been called the friends of Christ, those who are appointed to bear fruit – let us love one another!
Prayer: The Battle Hymn of the Republic has a stanza that proclaims, “In the beauty of the lilies, Christ was born across the sea with a glory in His bosom that transfigures you and me. As He died to make men holy, let us live to make men free while God is marching on!” So, O God, march on to bring peace to our world. We remember those who have made ultimate sacrifices on the battlefield and in service to our country. We lift up their families asking for your comfort. For the women and men of our military, be their guide, strength and stay; protect them as they protect us. May there be a lessening of conflict and war, and, O God, use this time of world-wide pandemic to unify all peoples in the way of peace. It is a big ask – but you are an even bigger God – so, please: Grant us wisdom, grant us courage for the facing of this hour. Heal our world. In the saving name of Jesus, Amen.
1 Corinthians 15:58 Therefore, my beloved brothers and sisters, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.
The Good News: This verse hangs in the kitchen on Election Day, reminding us that – on that day – and every day -- in fellowship, in worship, in ministry, in service – when we do the work of the Lord, what we do matters – even in, or especially in, a time of crisis like these present days.
Prayer: As we enter what is sometimes referred to as the unofficial first weekend of summer, we pray that this may be a season of fun, good-health, well-being, and joy, O God. It is certainly a different season than we’ve ever experienced before, yet may that not be a bad thing. Grant unto us new ways of celebrating, of new traditions, of new blessings. It’s so easy to merely wish things were the way we’ve known them to be before. But since they aren’t – give to us a fresh perspective of opportunity, of blessing, of “glass-half-full.” You are a providing God – so thank you! We pray that you will also show us how you are a protecting God, by helping us to do your good work safely, strongly, and sacredly. We pray especially this day for missionaries, chaplains, and ministers of the Gospel that their work would be effective and to your glory, O Lord and Savior, Jesus. Amen.
Isaiah 40:31 But they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.
The Good News: We are weary. But with God we will be strengthened. We are tired, but with God we shall be renewed. The promise is sure. In this marathon of a pandemic, we can continue to run, with the help of God.
Prayer: Guide us O Thou Great Jehovah – we feel adrift. We normally would have been planning picnics and parades. The beaches and boardwalks would have been crowded with merriment and few cares beyond needing sunscreen. We are grateful for the slow opening of public spaces even as we are grateful for the caution that keeps us healthy. So many in the medical field have worked so selflessly and diligently to battle this coronavirus. Thank you for their dedication and sacrifice. May people not disregard or disrespect all that they are doing by irresponsibility. May the day hasten, O God, when we can gather without restriction. Until then, give us the gift of patience. We are waiting – so renew our strength as you have promised to do. And give an extra measure of strength to all those who work to keep us well: doctors, nurses, optometrists, dentists, hygienists, veterinarians, therapists, PAs, technicians, dieticians, pharmacists, psychologists, psychiatrists, social workers, chiropractors, radiologists, counselors, researchers, among so many others… In the name of the great Physician, Jesus Christ. Amen.
Luke 24:50-51 When he had led them out to the vicinity of Bethany, he lifted up his hands and blessed them. While he was blessing them, he left them and was taken up into heaven.
The Good News: On this Ascension Day, forty days after Easter, we mark the time when the resurrected Jesus ascended to his heavenly Father. Yet we are not left alone or disconsolate – Jesus yet abides! He prepares a place for us! He sends the Holy Spirit! We are blessed!
Prayer: O God of earth and sky – on this day that doesn’t get the attention of Christmas and Easter, this is a day of significance for Jesus, and thus for us. Having been raised from death, Jesus’ presence in heaven gives us a pathway for our own eternal life. Alleluia! In this day of mystery and miracle, support and sustain us. Give us a good hope in Jesus. For how we need that – grant us hope that we can get through all this trauma by caring and supporting one another. So help us to do just that. We pray for the suffering and sorrowing people of the world – give comfort. We pray for those who are anxious and alone – give companionship. We pray for those who are afflicted with Alzheimer’s and affected by automobile accidents – give help. We pray for those dealing with addictions and seeking to maintain sobriety – give strength. We pray for business owners and those who are unemployed – give opportunity. We pray for governmental officials – give wisdom. We pray for ourselves, our friends, our family, our church – give perseverance and your blessing. Amen.
Psalm 31:24 Be strong, and let your heart take courage, all you who wait for the Lord!
The Good News: This is an imperative. Rather than merely a good suggestion, this is a directive from Scripture. That doesn’t mean it’s easy to accomplish – but with God’s help, we can take courage.
Prayer: God of might and valor – help us! We seek to be strong; we want to be courageous despite the current circumstances. Yet it is so challenging. It’s another Wednesday – with how many more days and weeks of “life on hold?” Our children are struggling with the lack of socialization and structure. We all feel the effects of isolation – because of masks not seeing smiles; because of necessity, not hugging; because of inability, not traveling. So help us, God. Help us establish a new normal that focuses on both caution and opportunity. We are waiting. And waiting. And waiting for relief. Help us to wait for you, Lord and Savior, with a knowledge that you have good things ahead for us and for our world. So surprise us with joy, hope, faith, peace and love that surpasses all we have known or expected. Do great and marvelous things in our world, for we pray in the name of the Mighty Deliverer! Amen.
Romans 15:13 May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.
The Good News: Even when it seems like our cups are half-full, the truth, in a larger, God-sized sense is that our cups overflow. There is abundance of hope, if and as we lean on Jesus. So let us let our hope in God spill over onto those who need it and seek it.
Prayer: O fairest Lord Jesus, ruler of all nature, beautiful Savior and Lord of the nations – we thank you as all glory, honor, praise, and adoration is now and forevermore given unto you! Help us trust more, to lay aside the anxieties of this day and to know that you are in charge. So set us free to live and love more like Jesus every day. Help me to rejoice as one of your beloved children. May we dance by your Spirit’s rhythms and give and share and forgive and worship and laugh and cry and praise -- together! For also we are still yet separated, we are together in your name and by your decree. We pray for those who feel left out of your beloved community – those who feel that by their actions, or because of who they are, that they are undeserving of your grace. Help us to be agents of your radical inclusion, abundant blessing, overflowing hope, and unswerving love. So we lift up agencies and organizations that come alongside those who look after our frail elderly, those who are hungry and homeless, those seeking sobriety, those who are marginalized. Be present by your Spirit to fill those with empty stomachs, empty hands, empty lives… Help us boldly to proclaim your empty tomb and the Good News that life, love and resurrection have the last word! Thank you, Jesus! Amen.
Psalm 27:12 The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?
The Good News: Though times are tough, though the virus is persistent, though life has changed dramatically, God is our fear-dispeller. We can lean on God! Be not afraid!
Prayer: Precious Lord, though others can’t physically connect with us, we ask you to take our hand, to support us and sustain us. This whole mask-wearing, hand-sanitizing, physical distancing thing is wearying. And so many are out of work! The questions about the future abound. We pray for the unemployed and furloughed. We pray for businesses that may not make it through this pandemic. We pray for people who work paycheck-to-paycheck and wonder how they’ll pay the bills. This is real stuff, O God. Help us! We turn to you because we can’t seem to figure out how to. So thank you for being the one to whom we can cast our burdens. So bear for us all that weighs us down. Take heavy loads off our shoulders and ease the anxieties of our minds. We also pray for others – for cashiers and gas station attendants, for landscapers and builders, for barbers and hairdressers and cosmetologists. We pray for those who repair our cars, those who repair our psyches, those who repair our faith. Come, and repair our world, O God. Amen.
Deuteronomy 31:6 Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.
The Good News: We can lean on the everlasting arms of God. Though plans have been disrupted, God’s ultimate plan is strong and sure and for our good. God is always with us!
Prayer: O God, we’ve been doing this social distancing and “abundance of caution” thing for over two months. And it’s tiring. We’re tired. So lift our weary spirits. Provide glimpses of hope. Deliver moments of delight. We want to laugh and sing and play together. Bring comfort to those who are lonely and worried. Bring healing to those who are afflicted and affected by this COVID-19. Bring positives out of the negatives – for the negatives seem so great: Canceled proms and graduations and ball games and weddings and reunions and barbecues. Yet we are grateful for worship that continues, just in new ways. So, thank you for technology that keeps us connected. Thank you for our teenagers who will lead us in praise tomorrow with Youth Sunday. Remind us of the bigger picture and that your plans are bigger and better than our plans. You have promised good for us – we want it, need it, and claim it! Thank you for sending us your Son Jesus who is the Healer, Helper and Hope-giver. Amen.
2 Corinthians 4:16-18 So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen.
The Good News: We deal with a limited perspective. God’s perspective is “big picture.” We live for now; God’s plan for us is eternal. We cry now; a heavenly reunion is forever. Joy with God is our destiny!
Prayer: Lord God, as the weather grows warmer we are eager to be out and about. We miss our sports. We want to make plans of boardwalks and beaches. These are challenging times. We’re weary of waiting. We’re tired of so much caution. Yes, we understand the need to take health precautions, but that doesn’t stop our emotions. Home schooling is taking its toll – and we have another month to go. Help! So as we pray for ourselves, we pray for others. We pray for those who carry secret burdens, known only to themselves and to you, O God. We pray for those trying to figure out summer plans – give guidance and direction. We pray for those in nursing homes and their staff. Provide new ways of service, of praise, of connection, of blessing. We’re trying, O God – but sometimes it just seems beyond our capacity. So help us. Come along side us in tangible, profound, and real ways. Thank you, O God! Amen.
Lamentations 3:22-23: The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.
The Good News: We have strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow. Blessings are ours, with ten thousand beside. All we have needed God’s hand has provided. Great is God’s faithfulness!
Prayer: O Holy Friend and Savior, we are so grateful for your mercy. We aren’t perfect, yet you are. We wonder and we wander and we wait upon your timing. So help us. In our imperfect knowing, help us to trust you. We are used to being in charge and yet this pandemic has reminded us all too powerfully that there is much that is beyond our control. With that, many have been reminded that you are the one who is all-knowing, all-loving, all-powerful. Work in the hearts of people to bring out deeper faith, greater service, grander hopes, and better care for one another and for our planet. We pray for those sick in body…, the bereaved…, the lonely…, the unemployed… Sustain those working in health care. Protect our military. Guide our government. Bless our police officers, firefighters, EMTs and emergency responders. We pray for our church – and for its consistory as they meet tonight. Lead us, Lord! In the name of our faithful Savior, Jesus, Amen.
Romans 8:38-39: For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
The Good News: We are within God’s embrace always. Wherever we go God is with us. Whatever happened or happens or will happen – it won’t stop God’s amazing grace or everlasting love. Just receive it. God’s love is a gift, unconditionally given to you.
Prayer: Loving God, how we need you. We look to you to even more in the complexities of our current situation. As there is talk of “next stages” -- on one hand we are eager to reconnect with friends/colleagues and to re-establish routines of commerce and yet we want to promote health and well-being. So we balance mental and emotional health with physical health with economic health. It’s so hard to know. But you know. And you are with us. So be our guide and our salvation. We bring our praise to you, O heavenly Father, for your provision and providence. We offer our “Wednesday worship” to you with deep gratitude. Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! In Jesus’ name. Amen.
Psalm 91:4 “He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart.”
The Good News: We are living in challenging times – but we have a refuge! We are protected by the all-encompassing blessing of God. We may not always recognize where we are or what’s going on – but remember and know: God’s provision and perspective are greater.
Prayer: We pray for those who are vulnerable and sick, whether that be in mind, body or spirit. Sustain them; help them. Contain the spread of infection. We pray for a vaccine – so guide our scientists and epidemiologists and researchers. We lift up in prayer those who create, provide and administer COVID-19 tests. May more and more people benefit and be kept safe. Give compassion and wisdom to our local, state and federal governments as they allocate resources. For God, we trust that you are good and do good. Help us to be faithful. Help us to live and love like Jesus. We glorify his name in what we say and what we do. Equip us to magnify your grace, your love, your commandments, your salvation. Give us peace on earth! In the name above all names, Jesus Christ, Amen.
#CNRCathome See Less
2 Timothy 1:6-7 "For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands, for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control."
The Good News: God’s Spirit is full of love, joy, peace, kindness, and goodness. And more! So though we experience earth-bound fear, the presence of God will vanquish fear. Let us live with the burning blessings of God!
Prayer: Good and gracious God – we ask for your blessings to abide generation to generation. So we pray for those of wisdom-earned years – keep them from frailty and fear, and give them strength and hope and purpose. We pray for those who are of a generation of vocation-focused women and men. Give opportunities to labor with creativity, fulfillment and blessing. In these uncertain times so many are wondering about the future of their business or the longevity of their employment. Help, O God! We pray for our college and high school-aged generation – thank you that they have enabled so many others to deal effectively with new technologies. Yet we pray for them as they are missing land-mark experiences – internships and recitals and sports seasons and proms and first dates and going for drivers tests and graduations. We pray for our younger generation as they may not know of a world without “an abundance of caution.” Support them – and the teachers and parents that are educating in new ways. Guide us into a future that will be different, and yet, we pray, good. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
2 Timothy 1:5 I am reminded of your sincere faith, which first lived in your grandmother Lois and in your mother Eunice and, I am persuaded, now lives in you also.
The Good News: The apostle Paul writes to his protégé Timothy and tells of a lineage of faith. On this Mother’s Day weekend we can give thanks for those who nurtured us – and for whomever modeled for us a faithful relationship with God.
Prayer: O God, we give you thanks for those who have nurtured us. Though we may call you “Our Father,” let us not forget how often mothers embody your steadfast and relentless love. We praise you, O God, for your gift of motherly love, both gentle and fierce, both strong and humble, both kind and true. Loving God, often our mothers have been mirrors of your love. They tie our shoes, drive us where we need to be, put a Band-Aid on our knee, braid our hair, bake us cookies, help us pick up our room, write us a letter, say a prayer for us, wait up for us, laugh at our jokes, and explain big words like “pandemic.” For the ordinary ways and countless days of care our mothers gave us, we give thanks. For the worry we caused them, we ask forgiveness. For our place in this family of faith, we rejoice. Thank you! Amen.
Psalm 69:3, 16 “I am weary with my crying; my throat is parched. My eyes grow dim with waiting for my God… Answer me, O Lord, for your steadfast love is good; according to your abundant mercy, turn to me.”
The Good News: Though we are weary, God is abundant with mercy. As hard as it may be to accept, God’s timing is not ours – and God knows best.
Prayer: These are critical times, O God. So many are sick, so many are out of work, so many are running thin on patience, so many are anxious about, not only next week, but this summer and this fall. So guide those who are making critical decisions about how and when to reopen business and society in general. For business leaders making difficult decisions that affect the lives of their employees: God, give wisdom. We need you O God! Provide a future that is marked by opportunities to serve and praise and work and play and laugh and cry and sing and share – together! Though the challenges are many, we bring our petitions to you, who is mightier than a virus. So as the virus shut down the world, we humbly ask you to open us possibilities of something great. Reveal that to us. May more and more people recognize that you – Wonderful Counselor -- are needed and necessary – and the way to life that is both abundant and eternal. Thank you for your Amazing Grace that has brought us safe thus far, and that grace that will lead us home. We pray in the name of our Precious Savior, Jesus. Amen.
Psalm 37:39 "The salvation of the righteous is from the Lord; He is their stronghold in the time of trouble."
The Good News: “Stronghold” means a place of security or survival. And how we need both! Let us spend time sheltering in the place of God.
Prayer: O God, send your steadying, supporting, strong hand to us this day. It’s easy to get discouraged because we’re dealing with quarantine fatigue. We were resolved to deal with this for days and weeks – but months? How long, O Lord? So help us persevere. Help us to do the hard work of promoting health and healing when all we want to do is give a hug and have a meal with friends. So in the midst of our longing, we pause to pray. This is proclaimed a “national day of prayer” – and so we join our prayers with many – for strength for the journey ahead, for our family, for our friends, for our church, our nation, our world. We pray for those who are ill, whether from COVID-19 or some other disease, and for their families as they are unable to be physically present to one another. We pray for those who work in our hospitals, nursing homes, rehab centers, food pantries, as they, in addition to their attention to physical healing, offer emotional comfort. Bring your help in profound ways to us and our world, O Holy Spirit! Amen.
Romans 8:31 "What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?"
The Good News: If God is on our side, no one can harm us. We just have to believe in Him and his son, Jesus Christ.
Prayer: Almighty God, Awesome Jesus, Abiding Spirit – many of the rhythms of life have been challenged and changed. Yet spring follows winter, Wednesday still follows Tuesday. The waves still crash on shore, the stars still shine. Help us to cling to the unalterable love that you give. Help us to know and remember that you are “for us.” Send reminders of your goodness and grace, O God. And as we are reminded, may we then, in turn, be reminders to others of the blessings that yet are abundant. So we pray for those who ache for a sign of hope – those who are hungry and homeless, those who are chronically ill, those who are tired and overworked, those who are on the front-lines of dealing with trauma. Help us be beacons of your light into a dark time. In Jesus’ holy name, Amen.
1 Peter 5:6-7 "Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you."
The Good News: We have anxieties. Yet we don’t have to cling to them. Instead of tossing and turning or losing sleep – take all anxiousness and give them over to God. God invites you to do! Remember that God cares for you – completely and unconditionally.
Prayer: O God – you have got our attention! So much of what we had thought of as “normal” and expected to continue on without thought or pause is now up for grabs. So may we take this, humbly, as an opportunity to renovate our souls and restructure our ways so that our ways may, more and more, align with your ways. Help us to be full of grace and agents of love. Help us to practice kindness, and thus to be more human-kind. We pray for the citizens of all the world; may all come to acknowledge your Presence. Thus we pray for our missionaries: Amy, Linn, John, Jennifer. And we pray for missionaries closer to home, namely all those who are making masks, delivering meals, shopping for others, supporting small businesses, giving financially to care-agencies, writing letters and making phone calls, praying for the vulnerable. And we lift up those who are working in places to care for the frail elderly, the sick and dying that they may be protected from infection even as we are grateful that they can come alongside loved ones when we are not permitted to do so. The needs are great, O God. And you are greater! Thank you. Amen.
Mark 10:27 "Jesus looked at them and said, 'With humans it is impossible, but not with God. For all things are possible with God.'"
The Good News: We are to walk by faith, with humility, and trust. God is at work. The force of God is strong! So we seek not what we can see and know from our limited viewpoint, but we seek to see God more clearly, love God more dearly, and follow God more nearly.
Prayer: In this time of dislocation, distancing, discombobulation we come to you knowing that fear leads to anger, anger leads to hate, hate leads to suffering, Thus, Lord of all hopefulness, we just pause now to pray. We just breathe in and out, slowly, deeply, longingly focusing on remembering that you are our God from whom all blessings flow. You are our God in whom all our needs are met. So, thank you. And even as we stand on your promises, we pray for others:
▪️For funeral directors whose work has lately been so taxing.
▪️For truckers and those who deliver our mail and packages.
▪️For those working so that we have food.
▪️For our church’s consistory and staff.
▪️For governmental leaders.
▪️For our neighbors.
▪️For the children of our world.
▪️For those who are ill and suffering – from whatever their suffering is called.
Come, Lord Jesus and bring help. Amen.
Isaiah 40:31 "But they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint."
The Good News: It’s so hard to wait. Yet that is our call and commission especially in these days of pandemic. The long view provides a perspective and promise – we will renew our strength!
Prayer: God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference. So, thank you God. Thank you for your company and your presence. In these times of isolation we need your amazing grace, your abiding mercy and leading love more than ever. So come to this world to shine your light into the darkness with healing and hope. Bless us. Bless us so that we may be a blessing to others. We pray for our firefighters, first aid and EMTs, police officers – keep them safe. We pray for our doctors, nurses, pharmacists, social workers, researchers and all health professionals. In the name of the Great Physician, Jesus Christ.
Psalm 62:6 "He only is my rock and my salvation, my fortress; I shall not be shaken."
The Good News: These are trying times. Unprecedented. And the way forward is unknown. Yet God knows all and God is the one who saves!
Prayer: Heavenly Father and Abiding Friend – here we are at the beginning of another month. Another month of physical distancing, of working remotely, of children learning not alongside their friends. Another month of not knowing. So we pray, from the deepest parts of our souls: help! Especially we lift up small business owners and hourly wage earners – provide sustainability. Provide wisdom for people making decisions about how to best “open up society.” We pray for those making plans for an uncertain summer – people for whom it is an important season – shore businesses, summer camps, farmers, tourist destinations. Even as we pray for these real and heartfelt needs, we also say “thank you” for giving us a world that is robed in the blooming garb of spring. Renew our world. In the name of our Rock and Savior, Jesus, Amen.
Proverbs 3:5-6 "Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths."
The Good News: Though life is challenging, we are not solely in charge. God has given us minds to think carefully and creatively and compassionately, but God is the ultimate guide. Lean on him when you need a hand; we all need somebody to lean on!
Prayer: Be thou my vision, O Lord of my heart; naught be all else to me, save that thou art -- thou my best thought by day or by night, waking or sleeping, thy presence my light.
Be thou my wisdom, and thou my true word; I ever with thee and thou with me, Lord; thou and thou only, first in my heart, High King of heaven, my treasure thou art.
High King of heaven, my victory won, may I reach heaven's joys, O bright heaven's Sun! Heart of my own heart, whatever befall, still be my vision, O Ruler of all. Amen.
Joshua 1:9 "Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go."
The Good News: In our homes, at the grocery store, in our hospitals and care centers, God is always with us – day and night. As tough as it gets -- we are not alone.
Prayer: You are Lord, Sovereign, King – in other words: in charge. And so we both worship you and look to you to solve all this -- all of it – the emotional worries, the physical disease, the mental exhaustion, the financial uncertainty, the relational distancing, the spiritual questions. Heal us as our cries of “How much longer?” are consuming us. We pray for so many others – but we also pray for ourselves that we can endure. Help us O God as we need to stay home, stay safe, and stay strong. Give us a Spirit-fueled resolve! In the name above all names, Jesus Christ, we pray. Amen.
Revelation 21:4 “God will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away."
The Good News: The time will come when God will take away all pain and suffering. Eternal life is our promise; resurrection is assured; salvation is God’s great gift.
Prayer: O God of all comfort and blessing, we pause in the midst to just acknowledge your presence. All of this pandemic has refocused us on things like masks and washing hands and finances and zoom meetings. We wonder about much – but may we never wonder about you. So come, and let your Spirit’s reassurance wash over us that we are not alone, that you will not let the challenges of these present days persist. So by your power, bring healing! Eradicate COVID-19! We give thanks, first and foremost for the gift of your son Jesus, our friend and Savior. We worship you and adore you for your goodness and mercy, which follows us all the days of our lives. But so many are grieving and anxious. Come in real, persistent and tangible ways that we might be reassured that you are present in personal ways. Bless our families, our church family. The hopes and fears both are laid before your throne of amazing grace. Help us! Please, Lord Jesus. Amen.
1 John 3:1 "See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are. The reason why the world does not know us is that it did not know him."
The Good News: We are children of God! We are cherished always and unconditionally. God is a safe place to land.
Prayer: O holy Father, we know that we aren’t perfect. Far from it. And these days have challenged us. Yet you love us with an everlasting love. And you want good for us. So use your power to turn the hearts of all people – all over the world – to your will and your ways. Work in and through the leaders of government to collaborate on solutions not only to this pandemic, but for the ceasing of violence and war, for the healing of the planet , for the eradication of disease, for the elimination of hunger, for the lessening of the gap between the “haves” and “have nots.”. We pray for our military and their families as they work for peace; save us from war! We pray for our children and their future – may this year be the beginning of a new kind of hope and help for all the people of the globe. Come, Holy Spirit! Amen.
Psalm 37:39 "The salvation of the righteous is from the Lord; He is their stronghold in the time of trouble."
The Good News: God is our Savior in times of trouble -- for the Bible tells me so! Little ones to Him belong; we are weak but He is strong. Yes, Jesus loves me!
Prayer: O living Lord – be our rock, our fortress, our strength. All seems to be crumbling down. All that used to be “normal” – worshiping together, family time, shopping for fun, walks in the park, baseball games, handbell concerts, weddings and proms and baby showers and birthday parties – all that we miss makes us feel adrift and wistful. How we long for being together again. Yet when will that be? And how will we feel when we are allowed to gather? Are we ever going to be able to hug and handshake without hesitancy? The questions are many and the feelings are deeply-felt, O God. So come alongside and give us that peace that passes understanding. Amen.
James 1:2-4 "Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing."
The Good News: These are tough times – but God gives us faith and strength to endure and perhaps even grow. How can our resolve grow stronger and our love for others increase?
Prayer: O Rock and Redeemer – we want to be faithful. We know we are not the first generation to face hardship, but this world-wide pandemic has us on edge. We cough and wonder, “Is it the virus?” We go to the store and worry, “Was I exposed?” So we pray for ourselves and our loved ones. And we pray for all who work in places where exposure is possible. Keep them protected, O Lord! Especially we lift up those in nursing homes and rehab centers and prisons and hospitals -- where so many are vulnerable and living quarters are close. In the name of the great Physician, Jesus Christ. Amen.
1 Corinthians 15:58 "Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain."
The Good News: When we spread God's love and share His word, it is not for nothing. It may be difficult, but we reflect the very goodness and grace of God as we do so. Keep it up!
Prayer: Loving Father, we pray for perseverance. Help us to keep a positive attitude and to not get discouraged. This time of isolating is hard. We know it is necessary but we wonder about the ability to keep functioning like this. So we pray for those who are alone and anxious. We pray for those who are staffing essential business and are overworked and tired. We pray for children who can’t understand why they can’t have playdates and birthday parties. We pray for those who have autism and their families who can’t have the routines that help bring needed structure to their lives. So many needs -- help us Jesus! Amen.
Psalm 104: 24-28 “O Lord, how manifold are your works! In wisdom you have made them all; the earth is full of your creatures. …These all look to you to give them their food in due season; when you give to them, they gather it up; when you open your hand, they are filled with good things.”
The Good News: Though the world is rightly focused on COVID-19, we remember on this Earth Day (and every day) that God has given us a beautiful world. We are to care for creation and care for one another as a form of worshiping our Creator.
Prayer: O Eternal God, you provide so much for us to enjoy, to use, to thrive. Yet in these days we are reminded how vulnerable we are. Much of what we expected to always go on and on and on is now questioned. Still the grass is re-greening and the flowers blooming. Beauty is yet possible. So attune us to caring for your creation. Help us to be mindful of ways to be better at being good stewards of your earth. Help us to become instruments of a new creation, founded on the covenant of your love. We pray for farmers and gardeners, for a fruitful season. We pray for veterinarians and the creatures of earth, air and sea. We pray for the future generations… In Jesus’ name. Amen.
Psalms 46:3-4 “God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Thus we do not fear, though earth be shaken and mountains quake to the depths of the sea, though its waters rage and foam and mountains totter at its surging.”
The Good News: Though the school buildings are closed and the hospitals crowded, though the virus has raged, we do not fear because God is present and God is strong!
Prayer: Our questions are many, O God of our salvation. Our weariness and wariness is significant. So lead our leaders that their work would be sufficient to our needs and glorifying to your name. So many plans have had to be put on hold. Will we ever be able to gather without hesitation or offer a handshake without reluctance? So much is unknown to us – yet you are a God of knowing and blessing. So bring clarity out of confusion and peace from the turmoil. Specifically we pray for those who deal with addictions that the stranglehold would be broken; we pray for those in 12-step programs that sobriety would be maintained despite the inability to meet face-to-face. Support us each and all, in however our needs might be named, for we need help, hope and healing. In the name of Jesus, Amen.
Jeremiah 29:11 "For I know the plans I have for you. Plans to prosper and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."
The Good News: We live day-by-day, for that is our privilege and responsibility. God takes an expansive, long-term view – and God’s plans are amazing!
Prayer: O God of victory, thank you for Jesus. Come to us by the power and presence of your Holy Spirit. We are grateful that you receive our prayers, even when we have meager words and a faltering faith. As another week of uncertainty is upon us we pray for our teachers and our students that they may not be hindered by the challenges of teaching/learning in new ways. We pray for those who are lonely and depressed that this time of isolation might not defeat them. We pray for those serving in our military and their families that they may be protected even as they protect us. Bring healing to those who are ill, for we pray in the name of the living Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.
Romans 12:9 “Let love be sincere; hate what is evil, hold on to what is good.”
The Good News: Paul gives instructions of how to live as people who have been saved by grace alone. Let us hold on – and practice kindness as diligently as we practice physical distancing,
Prayer: God of help and hope – so many have been affected economically by this pandemic. Unemployment is up. Small businesses and restaurants wonder if they will be able to hang on. Farmers are thinking about this year’s crops. Many have been living paycheck-to-paycheck. And there are still ongoing concerns of hunger and homelessness. Work a miraculous work to bring help and dignity and solutions! Use us to be conduits of your compassion and care, O Lord. Amen.
Jude 20-21 “But you, beloved, build yourselves up in your most holy faith; pray in the Holy Spirit. Keep yourselves in the love of God and wait for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ that leads to eternal life.”
The Good News: We often need to wait what we want and need – but as we do so, we are given an opportunity to build ourselves up in faith. The prize is eternal life! Alleluia!
Prayer: These are challenging times, O God. We’re trying to keep ourselves focused on your love. So come to us in new ways of blessing. Help us to be attuned to how you are working. May this pandemic, despite its devastation, bring people into new levels of kindness, cooperation and faith. Yet we do pray that this time of isolation is able to end soon. But when things slowly return, keep the virus away. Banish it, Lord! Thus we pray for our health care workers, immunologists and first responders. We pray for those in hospitals, nursing homes, continuing care communities, and rehab centers – both staff, patients and residents. Come, Lord Jesus! Amen.
Psalm 56:8-9 “You (O God) have kept track of all my sorrows; you collect my tears in your bottle. Are they not in your record? Then my enemies will retreat in the day when I call. This I know, that God is for me.”
The Good News: God knows our heartache and collects our tears. We are not left alone. God is for us!
Prayer: God of resurrection, we abide in hope. We are ever-grateful for eternal life and the knowledge that when our time comes to conclude our earthly journey that there will be a glad heavenly reunion! Yet we do pray for those who grieve. For people who have died of COVID-19; for those who have lost loved ones no matter the cause; for those who are scared of dying alone. Bring your comfort. Help us, Jesus! Amen.
Zechariah 14:9 “And the Lord will become king over all the earth; on that day the Lord will be one and his name one.”
The Good News: Who is the “King of kings?” the “Lord of lords?” Though all our earthly nations have different leadership, there will come a day when we will be all united, not by pandemic, but by the leadership of God.
Prayer: Almighty God. Our prayers of “save us,” “deliver us,” “help us,” continue. Yet so do our prayers of gratitude. Thank you that you are not distant, but abide with us. Thank you for the empty tomb and the joy of resurrection despite the powers of disease and death. Thank you that hospital admissions are decreasing and that there are signs of “flattening the curve.” Thank you for technology that enables us to stay in touch and to worship online. Thank you for all those who are working so diligently that we might be safe and fed and nurtured. In the name of Jesus, living Lord. Amen.
1 Corinthians 15:51-57 (The Message) Let me tell you something wonderful, a mystery I’ll probably never fully understand. We’re not all going to die—but we are all going to be changed. You hear a blast to end all blasts from a trumpet, and in the time that you look up and blink your eyes—it’s over. On signal from that trumpet from heaven, the dead will be up and out of their graves, beyond the reach of death, never to die again. At the same moment and in the same way, we’ll all be changed. In the resurrection scheme of things, this has to happen: everything perishable taken off the shelves and replaced by the imperishable, this mortal replaced by the immortal. Then the saying will come true:
Death swallowed by triumphant Life!
Who got the last word, oh, Death?
Oh, Death, who’s afraid of you now?
It was sin that made death so frightening and law-code guilt that gave sin its leverage, its destructive power. But now in a single victorious stroke of Life, all three—sin, guilt, death—are gone, the gift of our Master, Jesus Christ. Thank God!
The Good News: All the dangers, toils and snares of this world are real. But they do not have the last word! We do not know when or how, but God will make all things right!
Prayer: O Father of Easter-power, we sing/pray/believe that “you sent your Son, they called him Jesus; he came to love, heal and forgive. He lived and died to buy my pardon; an empty grave is there to prove my Savior lives. Because he lives I can face tomorrow; because he lives all fear is gone; because I know he hold the future and life is worth the living just because he lives! To you, O God, be all glory! Alleluia. Amen.
John 20:19-22 When it was evening on that day, the first day of the week (Easter Sunday), and the doors of the house where the disciples had met were locked for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.” After he said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord. Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.” When he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit.”
The Good News: We have the Holy Spirit as a continuing guide, blessing and comfort. Peace is assured! Resurrection is ours!
Prayer: God of victory and life – Alleluia! Even in these troubled times, we lift up our praise. For though we live with so much uncertainty, what we claim as certain is your power and presence. Thank you for not abandoning us. But, my Lord, what a morning… my Lord, what a morning… for the death toll rises, the stock market wavers, our weariness increases. Bolster us so that we can yet be a blessing. Strengthen our resolve and steady our faith. We lift high the cross, the love of Christ proclaim till all the world adore his sacred name. May this not be just another Monday – but rather the Monday of a new era, when more and more people accept the gift of life and love that you offer – and in return, commit to your holy purposes. Thank you Jesus for your love. Blanket our world with your healing. In Christ’s prevailing presence, Amen!
Jonah 2:6-7 The waters swirled about me, threatening my life; the abyss enveloped me; seaweed clung about my head. Down I went to the roots of the mountains; the bars of the nether world were closing behind me forever, but you brought my life up from the pit, O Lord, my God.
The Good News: As Jonah was in the belly of the great fish for three days, and Jesus in the tomb for three days, God does not leave us forsaken, but will raise us up!
Prayer: O Lamb of God, that takest away the sin of the world, have mercy upon us. O Lamb of God, that takest away the sin of the world, have mercy upon us. O Lamb of God, that takest away the sin of the world, receive our prayer, and grant us thy peace. We yearn for peace – for peace for the world, for peace for our bodies. Peace for our souls. As we remember Jesus in the tomb, we pause acknowledging the pain and problems, the sin and suffering, the disease and death that were vanquished by God through Jesus by the power of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
John 3:16 For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.
The Good News: The powers of death are defeated through the cross. God’s power, presence, and perfect love are everlasting and unfailing.
Prayer: We pray for all nations and peoples of the world that you so love -- and for those in authority among them. We pray for our country -- our president, members of Congress and the Supreme Court; we pray for those who are members of our armed services. We pray for their safety and protection, but we pray that all may be given your wisdom and counsel, O Mighty God, that by your help all people may seek justice and truth and so to live in peace and good will.
And Compassionate Physician, we pause to pray for all who suffer and are afflicted in body or in mind. We lift before you those who are hungry, the homeless, the destitute and the oppressed. We pray for the sick, the wounded, the disabled; we pray for those who are lonely, fearful or distressed. We pray for those who face temptation, doubt and despair. We pray for the sorrowful and the bereaved that you, O God, in your mercy will hear our cry and by your holy spirit, bring consolation, comfort and relief.
And Seeking Shepherd, we pray for all who have not received or accepted the good news of salvation. We pray for those who have lost their faith; for those hardened by sin or indifference; for the contemptuous and the scornful; for those who are enemies of the cross of Christ and persecutors of his disciples and for those, who in the name of Christ, have persecuted others. O God, open all hearts to your truth and lead all people to faith and obedience.
We pray for the grace of a holy life, that, with all who have departed this world and have died in the peace of your son Jesus Christ, and with all those whose faith is known to you alone, one day may we be accounted worthy to enter into the fullness of the joy of heaven and receive the crown of life in the day of resurrection. We humbly pray this in the name of your blessed son, our Lord and Savior. Amen.
John 13:34-35: I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”
The Good News: On this Maundy Thursday (the word “Maundy” coming from the Latin word for “commandment”) we are commissioned by Jesus at his Last Supper to the highest of callings: to love one another. Let us be persistent and creative in extending that wide embrace to all people.
Prayer: As we pause in prayer O Lord, and as we prepare to share in your holy Supper, remembering that we are connected in a real way to you, and then through you, to one another -- even to those past and yet to come. It is truly the “communion of the saints.” So we pray for one another. We think of those who brought us to faith, our church school teachers, our parents and grandparents, youth group leaders. We think of those with whom we’ve worshiped, those who have served with us on church committees and choirs, joined us on mission trips, united with us at the Election Day Events! Ease our anxiety and heal our communities, O God. Help! Amen.
Isaiah 53:3-5 He was despised and rejected by others; a man of suffering and acquainted with infirmity; and as one from whom others hid their faces, he was despised, and we held him of no account. Surely he has borne our infirmities and carried our diseases; yet we accounted him stricken, struck down by God, and afflicted. But he was wounded for our transgressions, crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the punishment that made us whole, and by his bruises we are healed.
The Good News: Jesus carries all our problems, all our pain, all our difficulties, all our diseases. Not only does he carry them, but he heals them. While it is true that healing doesn’t happen in ways of our choosing or our timetable, but God’s provision is guaranteed!
Prayer: O Lord – all we like sheep have gone astray. We have all turned to our own way. So turn us around. Turn us to you. All of us! You are the only source of salvation and the path of peace. We await the time when we can again sing full-throated doxologies of praise together – but until then, we pray for our friends, our families, our church family, ourselves. We pause to ask you to, in particular, support those who are in 12-step programs or dealing with addiction. Without meetings to provide a safe place to keep sobriety, we pray with them: God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference. Living one day at a time, enjoying one moment at a time; accepting hardship as a pathway to peace; taking, as Jesus did, this sinful world as it is, not as I would have it; trusting that You will make all things right if I surrender to Your will; so that I may be reasonably happy in this life and supremely happy with You forever in the next. Amen.
2 Corinthians 4:8-10 “We are afflicted in every way, but not constrained; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying about in the body the dying of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our body.”
The Good News: Yes, the Palm Sunday parade is over; it is true that Jesus is in the last week of his earthly life. And yet -- then, as well as now, though we live afflicted and perplexed – we have not been, nor will we be abandoned or destroyed. God has the final word – and that is “victory!”
Prayer: O promise-fulfilling God, we come with questions – like, “will we ever see ‘normal’ again?” Each day brings more diagnoses and death than the day before. Now it becomes not, “I wonder if someone I know will test positive?” but rather, “who do I know who will test positive?” Mind-numbing and worrisome. How many questions must your Son have also had as the day of his crucifixion drew nearer. Thus, we are grateful that we do not go through this alone, but that you accompany us and know all our emotions. We pray for those who staff our hospitals and pharmacies, researchers and first responders. Protect them, Lord! Amen.
John 12:27-28 Jesus said, “Now my soul is troubled. And what should I say—‘Father save me from this hour’? No, it is for this reason that I have come to this hour. Father, glorify your name.” Then a voice came from heaven, “I have glorified it, and I will glorify it again.”
The Good News: In this passage following the Palm Sunday parade, Jesus commits himself to his mission, to save us and save the world. Salvation is assured!
Prayer: Come, Lord Jesus. In this Holy Week, as we remember the journey to the cross, remember us in our journey through this valley of the shadow of death. Yet we give thanks that you do not, and will not leave us in that valley, but that you walk with us through it. So, come alongside us in a very real way. Bring healing, help, hope. We pray for those in hospitals and care centers. We pray for those in continuing care communities. We pray for ourselves. All glory, laud and honor be to thee, our Redeemer, King. Amen.
1 Peter 1:22-25 “Now that you have purified your souls by your obedience to the truth so that you have genuine mutual love, love one another deeply from the heart. You have been born anew, not of perishable but of imperishable seed, through the living and enduring word of God. For 'All flesh is like grass and all its glory like the flower of grass. The grass withers, and the flower falls, but the word of the Lord endures forever.'"
The Good News: God’s promises never fail, falter, fall or fade. Our response? To love one another deeply from the heart. God loves you, let us respond in kind to our families, our friends, our neighbors, our world.
Prayer: Just last year, Palm Sunday was a time of gathering, singing, rejoicing, laughing. Though our worship tomorrow will feel different, may it be no less fervent nor faith-filled. We offer our “hosannas” in different ways, but still and all, we lift it up to you. So help us to overcome geographic distance and come together with our church family and with all those who call upon your holy name. May we this day be compassionate of heart, gracious in our relationships, courageous in our living, and generous in love. Amen.
1 Peter 1:8-9 “Although you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and rejoice with an indescribable and glorious joy, for you are receiving the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls.”
The Good News: We can’t see one another as we’re used to. But we know that we’re still around. Though we can’t see Jesus, he’s still around! In times like this, lean into your faith and know you are never alone.
Prayer: We used to say, “thank God it’s Friday” – grateful for the conclusion of another work week. But now, O Lord, we’d welcome of the routine of what we used to have. We’re full of questions. As the virus spreads and everyone knows someone who has been infected, we are trying not to get overwhelmed. But it’s hard. So, even as we bring our questions and heavy hearts, remind us that there is yet the possibility, nay – even the reality, of glorious joy. Surprise us with joy this day, O God we pray… Amen.
1 Peter 1:5-7 “… you are being protected by the power of God through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. In this you rejoice, even if now for a little while you have had to suffer various trials, so that the genuineness of your faith—being more precious than gold that, though perishable, is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.”
The Good News: Salvation’s glory is not revealed… yet. But it will be. So we rejoice despite the various trials which we face. Our faith is genuine and God’s promises to us are assured – we are protected, cherished and saved!
Prayer: Heavenly Father, we come with very earthbound concerns. So may thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven. We seek to rest in your assurance, that blessed assurance, that brings from above echoes of mercy and whispers of love. As we do so, we pause in prayer for others. For the governmental leaders of the world; for those serving in the military – in particular those serving far from home; for doctors and nurses and all those working to combat this virus; for police, first aid members and firefighters. Bless us Lord Jesus. Amen.
1 Peter 1:3-5 “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! By his great mercy he has given us a new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who are being protected by the power of God…”
The Good News: We stand at a cross-road, the road to the cross. May this journey be marked with the signs of a living hope guiding us in all the complexities and difficulties and changes of life unto the knowledge that we are one with Christ and with each other in a faith that may not lead us around our troubles but will carry us through them. We are one with Christ and with each other in a faith that may not give us easy answers but will give us the ability to hold on.
Prayer: Great and Gracious God – what powerful words: imperishable, undefiled, unfading! Your love knows no bounds, your mercy is expansive. So help us. We need you. We weep with those who weep and rejoice with those who rejoice. So for those are combatting illness, whether that be this virus or another disease, and for those who grieve the death of a loved one, hear our cries and receive our tears. And for those who are celebrating – a birthday, an anniversary, a new birth, hear our songs and receive our smiles. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
1 Peter 1:1-2 “Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, to the exiles of the Dispersion in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, who have been chosen and destined by God the Father and sanctified by the Spirit to be obedient to Jesus Christ and to be sprinkled with his blood: May grace and peace be yours in abundance.”
The Good News: Peter couldn’t see his friends and fellow believers face-to-face. Yet God’s grace and peace are with them all… in abundance! The same is true for us. Grace! Peace!
Prayer: O dearest Jesus, these are wearying times. The adrenaline has worn off and now we begin to wonder deeply about the upcoming weeks. Things we took for granted like food choices or paychecks or travel plans are now feeling uncertain. Come along side those who have had to postpone wedding celebrations or baby showers and all those events that are made sweeter by being together. Help us! Send your Spirit’s comforting presence to abide with us. We’d love an extra measure of grace and a heaping helping of peace. Please, O Lord… Amen.
John 1:14, 17 "And the Word became flesh and lived among us, and we have seen his glory, the glory as of a father’s only son, full of grace and truth…. The law indeed was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ."
The Good News: The unforgettable words of John remind us of the pivotal role our Lord and Savior has played since the beginning of time, and of his saving grace available to all who turn to Him.
Prayer: Draw us to You, O Lord Jesus. In these turbulent times, bring healing to those who have been affected by this virus – which is all of us. Some have been physically exposed or sickened; some have been emotionally contaminated; some have been mentally exhausted; some have been spiritually scarred and are scared. Hear us and help us! Especially be with those health care workers who are on the front lines of healing. So many are in such need. Keep us safe. Keep us sane. Keep us strong. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
2 Timothy 1:3-4 "I thank God, whom I serve with a clear conscience as did my forefathers, as I constantly remember you night and day in my prayers. Recalling your tears, I long to see you so that I may be filled with joy."
The Good News: Paul and Timothy were physically separated, but they (and we) are united in ways that are still strong and profound. We are never alone!
Prayer: Come, Lord Jesus, be with me in my longing, and abide with those I cherish despite social distancing. The calendar says that it’s Saturday, but without the structure of daily appointments and responsibilities, one day flows into the next. Help me remember that your grace also flows – from you, through us, out into this world. The world so desperately needs your power and presence, so use us, despite our isolation to be a blessing – somehow, in some way. In so doing, we lift up prayers for those in “essential businesses” – our grocery clerks, our sanitation workers, our bank tellers, our mail carriers, our gas station attendants, our first responders, our health care workers. We pray for perseverance!!! In the name of the provider of daily blessings, our Lord and Savior Jesus. Amen.
Psalm 23:6 "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."
The Good News: Know this and feel it in the depth of your being: The faithful are always in the loving care of God.
Prayer: Attending God – Father, Son and Holy Spirit – we come to you in prayer. We bring our prayers of thanksgiving. Though there are pain and problems, you also provide love and beauty and wonder. We always pause in gratitude for friends, family, and our church family. We also bring our prayers of petition – especially for those who are delighting in the birth of a baby, but who have to celebrate in isolation. And we pray for those who are mourning the death of a loved one, but who have to grieve without the gathering of others. Restore our souls. In the name of Jesus, the Good Shepherd. Amen.
Psalm 46:1 "God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble."
The Good News: God is here, now! At this very moment, He awaits your prayer, ready to comfort and help.
Prayer: O God, our help in ages past, our hope for years to come, we lift up our prayers to you. Prayers for strength and help. How good it is that we can find refuge in you! During these uncertain times, refuge speaks of safety and blessing. So wrap your heavenly arms around us. Heal our world. We pray for our teachers and students as they are learning in innovative ways. We lift up those whose final semester of college has been altered and that a time of opportunity now has been challenged. Bless us that we may be a blessing to others – even if that is in new and different ways. Come, Lord Jesus! Amen.
Luke 2:10–11 "But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid; for see—I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people: to you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is the Messiah, the Lord.”
The Good News: Christ is born in Bethlehem and He lives today! Give thanks and take comfort in God’s inestimable gift of his only begotten son.
Prayer: O Holy Child of Bethlehem, it’s nine months until Christmas. What will the world be like then? We’re living day-by-day, so it’s challenging to think about the future. But to help guide us, our prayer is the third verse of “Away in a Manger”: Be near me, Lord Jesus; I ask thee to stay close by me forever, and love me, I pray. Bless all the dear children in thy tender care, and fit us for heaven, to live with thee there. Amen.
1 Corinthians 1:8–10 "He will also strengthen you to the end, so that you may be blameless on the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is faithful; by him you were called into the fellowship of his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord."
The Good News: Take heart. God’s love, made manifest to us through his son, Jesus Christ, will never falter.
Prayer: Powerful God – we are trying to have courage and feel strengthened, but there are just so many unknowns. But we do know, remember, and claim the promise that you are present, powerful and perfect. So we pray --- we pray for peace for our bodies, our minds, our souls. We pray for the healing of the nations. Especially be with those who are alone and those who are now unemployed. Help! In the name of the one who is the Keeper of Promises and the Composer of Grace, Jesus Christ. Amen.
Romans 8:26 "Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but that very Spirit intercedes with sighs too deep for words."
The Good News: God knows us better than we know ourselves. Turn to the Lord in prayer and trust that the Holy Spirit will search our hearts and know what we need.
Prayer: Heavenly Father, we are in need. We need your presence, your help, your healing. Give us holy permission to do what is best in each moment, even if that’s “hunker down.” In these days of questioning minds and heavy hearts, we lift to you our prayers, whether through words or just our sighs. Hear us and calm us by your assurance that you will bring us through this. So we pray – for our daily bread, for our friends and family, for our church family. We pray for all those who are wearied and worried. Gather us to be with you even in our separate places, as you are always with us. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
Psalm 34:17–18 "When the righteous cry for help, the Lord hears, and rescues them from all their troubles. The Lord is near to the brokenhearted, and saves the crushed in spirit."
The Good News: God stands with the broken hearted, the dispirited, the troubled. You are never alone.
Prayer: Great and Gracious God, be with us, abide with us, in this time of anxiety. Comfort those who are infected and soothe all of us who are affected. So many are affected emotionally, physically, economically, spiritually. Hear us as we cry for help. Answer us, please! Renew our world — With less anxiety and more joy, less fear, and more love. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
Romans 5:4–5 "And endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us."
The Good News: Do not lose heart. Practice endurance. Wait patiently for the Holy Spirit and the strengthening love of God.
Prayer: Precious Lord, we need you. We need the miracle of your presence and the miracle of stopping this pandemic. Life is murky and we seek clarity. Help! Especially be with those who are in nursing homes, hospitals, rehab centers and places where visitors are not able to stopover for a face-to-face word of encouragement. Be with those who work in these places of care and support. Come alongside those who are lonely, anxious, and depressed that they would be granted peace for their soul. Please, O God! Amen
1 Corinthians 13:13 "Now I know only in part; then I will know fully, even as I have been fully known. And now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; and the greatest of these is love."
The Good News: As the Beatles said all those years ago, love is all you need. With love for one another reflecting the love of God, everything is possible; without it, our lives have no meaning.
Prayer: O God and Father, despite all the problems that surround us, there are yet reasons for giving thanks. Let us not lose sight of the blessings that you provide – of friends, of family, of this day, of our daily bread, of your amazing grace. May we be a blessing to others as we reach out to our neighbors and extend compassion to others. This we pray in the name of Jesus – the Savior of healing touches, of wondrous stories, of broken bread, of the cross, and of resurrection. Amen.
Romans 8:31–32 "What then are we to say about these things? If God is for us, who is against us? He who did not withhold his own Son, but gave him up for all of us, will he not with him also give us everything else?"
The Good News: Nothing will separate us from God and God’s presence – not things past or present, not disease or difficulty!
Prayer: O Lord, help us. We are alone, but we are not alone. You abide. Help us and heal our world. We ask for your wisdom to guide our leaders, your blessing to be with health care workers and emergency responders, your support to be with those whose income and work are affected, with our students and educators as they deal with a whole new way of learning. Help us in our distress and comfort us in our concerns. In the name of our Savior Jesus, Amen.
John 4:8–9 "Whoever does not love does not know God, for God is love. God’s love was revealed among us in this way: God sent his only Son into the world so that we might live through him."
The Good News: Jesus has redeemed the world and is our only comfort in life and in death. Accept this gift of grace and rest with confidence in the arms of our merciful God.
Prayer (written by St. Patrick about 433 A.D.):
I arise today through God's strength to pilot me, God's might to uphold me,
God's wisdom to guide me, God's eye to see before me,
God's ear to hear me, God's word to speak for me,
God's hand to guard me, God's way to lie before me,
God's shield to protect me, God's host to secure me –
against snares of devils,
against temptations and vices,
against inclinations of nature,
against everyone who shall wish me ill, afar and anear, alone and in a crowd...
Christ, be with me, Christ before me, Christ behind me,
Christ in me, Christ beneath me, Christ above me,
Christ on my right, Christ on my left, Christ where I lie, Christ where I sit,
Christ where I arise, Christ in the heart of every man who thinks of me,
Christ in the mouth of every man who speaks of me,
Christ in every eye that sees me, Christ in every ear that hears me.
Salvation is of the Lord.
Salvation is of the Lord.
Salvation is of the Christ.
May your salvation, O Lord, be ever with us. Amen.