Gaudete Sunday Prayers

Old First Reformed Church
Third Sunday of Advent 2016
Prayers of Intercession

Dear God, we come to you with cluttered minds and wayward hearts. Some of us have forgotten how to pray. Some of us just don’t much feel like praying. Some of us have the feelings but not the words. Thank you for meeting us where we are, loving us as we are, and hearing what we can’t even speak. Turn us toward you and open us up to you.

Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.

Patient God, we bring you the cares of our world. Why do we fail so blatantly to love our neighbors as ourselves? We pray especially for our brothers and sisters in Egypt as they grieve the deadly bombing of the Coptic cathedral in Cairo; for the people of Turkey as they mourn the dozens who died in the attacks in Istanbul; for South Sudan and Syria, Korea and Gambia, the Philippines and Burma, as they deal with war and waves of killing, political uncertainty and questions of governance, vigilantism and rampant disregard for the sanctity of life. What are we doing to one another, God? Guide us to the Holy Way, away from vengeance and toward love.

Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.

All-powerful God, show us how to heal the divisions in our nation. We pray for our leaders at every level. We remember President Obama as he walks through his last days as our president and Donald Trump as his first days in office approach. Be with our governors, senators, congressmen, and cabinet secretaries. Humble them and turn them toward true service. Give them spirits of justice, selflessness, and genuine curiosity. Open their eyes and hearts—and all our eyes and hearts—to the needs of those around us, to the inequities that pervade our lives, and to the ways in which we can bring healing. Be overwhelmingly present to all who feel overlooked, marginalized, and rejected: to the black lives who have been treated as if they don’t matter; to the Native Americans with whom we have not stood; to the refugee and the immigrant; to the poor and working-class people who fear being left behind. Equip our teachers and our entrepreneurs, our artists and our musicians, our writers and our activists, to help lead us in the way of redemption and righteousness. Temper our tongues as we speak, and slow our fingers as we tweet, email, and post on Facebook, giving us words that are truly good and truly life-giving.

Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.

Loving God, we seek you in the messiness of Advent, in this season of enforced joy and merrymaking, knowing that this season isn’t merry or joyous for so many. Amid the busy-ness of these weeks, save us from ourselves and return us to true peace. Move us from consumption to celebration. In the brokenness of our relationships and the tension of our families, we see the need for Jesus. As this season resurfaces painful memories and exacerbates stress, remind us of the meaning of your coming in human form. Break down our bitterness, and let the harried and the hurried, and especially the aching and the lonely, know the profound truth of Emmanuel—God with us.

Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.

Gracious God, we surrender to you the worries of our lives, as a congregation and as individuals, especially the ones that we are too scared to speak aloud. Hear these silent prayers.
[silence]
We also commit to your care this denomination, this church, and its leaders, that you would open new doors for our collective and individual ministries. And we lift up to you ______________. We trust that you know what we need better even than we do, and we thank you for being attentive to those needs.

Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer. 

Dear God, thank you for being with us—not just here on Sundays but every moment, every day. Give us the presence of mind to see, hear, and recognize the gifts of beauty and life around us—in a snowflake, in children’s laughter, even in the bite of the wind. Show yourself to us. Offer us otherworldly hope. Bolster our patience, and remind us that you are there and that you are love embodied. We love you, God, in our limited, flawed way; help us to love you and one another better. We lift all these prayers to you in the name of our beloved Jesus—

Amen.

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