A United Methodist Pastor's Theological Reflections

"But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory (nikos) through our Lord Jesus Christ." - I Corinthians 15:57

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Pastoral Prayer (July 10) @ Athens First UMC

[As a shooting in Dallas was taking place this past week, our church's mission team to Honduras was in the airport getting ready to leave to serve and do good in the name of Christ. Whenever there is brokenness and tragedy, it's good to remember that there is also a lot of good being done in the world. Sunday's pastoral prayer (see below) mentioned both. Several people from the congregation came forward and knelt at our chancel railing to pray for our nation and world. It was a beautiful thing to see.]

Lord Jesus, throughout your ministry with your disciples, you broke down the barriers that divided people. You healed those who were considered ritually unclean and untouchable. You made a Samaritan the hero of one of your parables. You taught us to love our enemies. Help us to follow your example and extend your loving kindness to all people. We especially pray for those who feel like they have been stranded along the road with nobody to help. Thank you for Good Samaritans who are willing to step over social and religious boundaries in order to help others who are in need. Help us to do the same.

Our hearts continue to be heavy from the news this past week in the recent shootings of police officers in Dallas, Texas. Bring those who were part of this shooting to justice, O God. Our hearts are also heavy from the other recent news story that involved the questionable use of deadly force by police officers. Our world needs you more than ever, O God. Teach us what it means to seek peace in a world that is so prone to violence.

As we gather for our first Wonderful Wednesday this week at Richland Avenue Park, may our presence there be a symbol of our church’s desire to put Athens First in all that we do. May the people who are going for a walk or taking their children over to the swing set at that park feel your welcoming love as we gather together for our fun picnic.

We pray for our church’s mission team as they serve in Honduras this week. Thank you for calling them to step over national and cultural boundaries so that they can be a blessing to new friends of that community. And we pray that they would also receive the blessings that the people they are serving want to give to them.

We lift up those who are in nursing homes or assisted living or who are confined to their homes. Be with those who are in need of healing and those who are facing transitions in their lives. Thank you for the many ways that people stay connected to our church through our monthly Telecare ministry, our Stephen’s Ministry, visits from church members, Monday Lunch, and our Sunday morning radio ministry. We are grateful for these many ministries that help people to feel included in the life of our church.

And most of all, thank you for your willingness to save us from our brokenness and sins and for including us in your family. With grateful hearts, we pray together the prayer you taught your disciples… “Our Father, who art in heaven.”

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