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

Monday, September 12, 2016

Pastoral Prayer (September 11) - Athens First UMC

Toward the end of worship, we divided into different groups to pray over the areas where our building improvements will be taking place. We prayed for the people who will be blessed by these improvements as well as the construction workers who will be working on these projects.

Top left picture is where we will be expanding our narthex.
Top right picture is where we will make enhancements and redecorate our large sanctuary.
Bottom picture is where we are in the process of installing an elevator. These folks are standing in Pastor Robert's old office.

During the closing hymn at the 10:30 am service, members of our church stripped the chancel/altar areas and took them down to Fellowship Hall where this service will be held through the end of November. It was a powerful symbol of how God is present with us during times of transition like this. Below is the pastoral prayer which focused primarily on the 15th anniversary of 9/11.

God of justice and peace, we confess that we find it extremely difficult to live in two worlds at the same time. We love the sense of joy and community we feel when we are together on Sunday morning, but as soon as someone gets our order wrong at the restaurant, we are tempted to be anything but Christ-like and gracious in that moment. Forgive us for whenever we choose to only live in the world that meets our needs, rather than seeks freedom and justice for all.

O God, teach us how to live in these two worlds at the same time. We know that you know that it’s not easy because Jesus told us it wouldn’t be easy. Thank you for getting our attention this morning with another of Jesus’ shocking statements to prove a point about how important it is to follow you at all costs in our day to day living. Help us to never get to a point in our walk with you where a scripture reading fails to wake us up so that we can be reoriented into a much deeper commitment to you.

Thank you for giving us people like Barbara whose humble service in the wake of her brother’s death in the 9/11 terrorist attacks led her and her family to help build a home for a needy family. May every act of injustice in our world, lead us to even greater acts of justice and peace. Teach us how to live in two worlds where we seek to overcome evil with good.

 To this end, we especially pray for our Sunday School teachers as they help us to put you first in everything we do. Thank you for their willingness to prepare lessons and teach on Sunday mornings. Remind us that we are never done learning, we are never done growing, and we are never done hearing your Word anew. Continue to help us to be life-long learners, life long disciples of Christ in all that we say and do.

On this day of remembrance, we lift up to you our broken and hurting world. Bless our world leaders in the pursuit of justice and peace for all humankind. Let there be peace on earth, and let it begin with me.

And now teach us to pray together…

“Our Father, who art in heaven…”

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