Pastoral Prayer 3-13-2011
Lord of light and life and love, the psalmist says that you are our rock, our fortress and our shelter. Though a host should encamp against us we need not fear. You are the one whose steadfast love endures forever. And as we begin the season of Lent we are reminded of all that you have sacrificed in love for us in the cross of Christ and of the mercy and grace poured out on us through his resurrection. So in this time of silence we give thanks for all the blessings you have showered upon us.
Yet the psalmist also calls us to confess our sin and turn away from evil. He chides us that silence in the face of this call is a curse not a blessing. We have much to confess. We live in a culture of comfort, convenience and consumerism. And somehow we who are most comfortable are content to stand by as teachers are laid off, millions are denied health care, and the most vulnerable of our society are stripped of the protections once guaranteed them by the generations who preceded us. And few of us our willing to sacrifice to save others as you sacrificed to save us. We are all about maintaining our spending power even at the expense of others’ livelihoods or even their lives. Our individual fear, greed and pride have combined with others to create a society which cares less about the vulnerable than any other wealthy democracy. As those who have pledged to follow the one who calls us to deny ourselves, take up our cross and follow him, we are conscious that we have fallen far short of our calling.
Lord, the psalmist declares, happy are those to whom you impute no iniquity and in whose spirit there is no deceit. Lord, help us to face our sin. Help us once again to take on Jesus’ mission to bring good news to the poor, and to set free the oppressed and, yes, forgive our debtors. Fill us with the power of your Holy Spirit that throughout this Lenten season we might follow in the footsteps of Christ, that we who have received his compassion, his caring and his new creation, will share our many gifts with those who are in need.
We thank you, Father, that you sent your loving son to be our savior. Your love continues to make us a new people. As a people of love, help us to serve you and our neighbors in all that we do, that we might continue to build for you kingdom right where we are.
We pray this in the name of Jesus the Christ, who taught us to pray saying…
Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.
Dr. Tom Downing
First United Methodist Church, Dallas, Texas