Saturday, January 16, 2010

Prayer for Haiti

We each pray in our own way. Here’s mine right now…

Almighty and infinitely compassionate God,
before whom the waters recede and the earth trembles:
Look with mercy on your children in Haiti this day.

Wrap warm blankets around bruised shoulders.
Purify water to quench the most desperate thirst.
Calm terrified children and reunite them with parents, guardians, and friends.
Still the panic in your people and fill them with resolve.
Strengthen those waiting to be rescued and inspire the rescuers to find them.
Heal the injured; comfort the grieving; befriend the dying; receive the dead.

Hear our intercessions:
For lives that are injured or lost, we grieve.
For lives that are saved, we magnify your name.
For aid workers, missionaries and volunteers,
for peacekeepers, ecumenical partners, and our leaders, and especially for those whose gifts sustain and heal, we give you thanks.

Unbind the generosity in our hearts:
Use our gifts to build up those who have been torn down.
Make our hands extensions of your loving and healing touch.
Accept and bless all we have to offer,
that our gifts may meet the needs of those who suffer
and through our actions your love will be most fully known.

All this and more we ask in the name of Jesus Christ,
who knew suffering even unto death
and raises the dead to everlasting life. Amen.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Prayerful Promises

We made some prayerful promises these past two Sundays in worship. As we dedicated each infant, I charged the congregation with the following words: “As the congregation of God’s family, it is our sacred obligation with these parents to enfold this child in our affections and continuing care, to uphold her in good, to guide her in truth, to forgive her in error, and to protect her from all that is evil and unjust.”

When you think about how we raise children as a church, that charge covers a lot of ground.

First: affection and continuing care. That means getting to know our church’s children, and more than that, taking an interest in them and loving them. Each child in this church should be able to tell by our actions that she or he is beloved by God.

Second: to uphold the child in good. This means positive reinforcement, praise. Our children must hear from us when they do well—cards, letters, compliments. We all respond well to praise from those we love.

Third: to guide the child in truth. This means knowing ourselves well enough, including our relationship with God, to be able to teach things that never have to be unlearned later. It’s a high and humble responsibility to guide a child in truth.

Fourth: to forgive a child in error. How often have you felt the residual guilt of a childhood mistake that remains unforgiven? Children experiment. They try new things. They are creative. And sometimes they inadvertently err. If we can pray that God forgives us as we forgive others, then we should practice forgiveness toward those who feel it most—our children.

Fifth: to protect the child from all that is evil and unjust. Children have a keen sense of justice, fairness, good and evil, right and wrong. With a strong congregation as their shield, they can stand against anything life throws their way.

Our call this year is to do justice, love kindness, and walk humbly with God. Let it begin with the way we commit ourselves to our children’s care.

Blessings and Peace.