Zack Jackson

January 21st, 2024

Will you join me in prayer?

God of all that was, and is, and will be, meet us here is this, our hour of worship. We arrive in this space in conditions as diverse as our church’s gathered people. Some among us woke up with gratitude on our hearts, others grief, and perhaps the largest lot of us woke up experiencing some awkward combination of the two. For these are challenging days to traverse. The world’s atrocities are so numerous and widespread that we can easily feel guilty, God, for petitioning you with our prayers. Our challenges can often seem meager compared to things like unending war, persistent hunger, and unjust death, to name only a smattering of all that unfolds around us. God, we ask that you bring us back again and again to an embodied understanding of your belovedness for all people, and that you might help us to count ourselves as beloved too among that crowd. Remind us that we do no one any favors by abandoning ourselves to tend to others. Instead, point us inward to then turn from there toward our neighbors in focused and attentive care, offering them the loving kindness we’ve already extended to ourselves. This, by the power of your Spirit, we pray might be how your world will be redeemed. God, may it be so!

As time marches on, so too do our very lives. These lives, which hold the capacity for both profound beauty and unspeakable pain, are an ever-emerging gift to us. Many among us are facing health-related challenges—some of us are on the mend, others of us have just received a diagnosis, and a cohort of us know the discomfort we feel in our bodies, which perhaps doesn’t even have a name, will follow us around indefinitely. Be with all whose bodies—those triumphs of creation which are both blessed and broken in this life—simply don’t work like they used to. And tend also, God, to those among us who care for the afflicted. Help them know your grace and peace in the most personal way, even as they care for others.

God, be with us at the beginning of a new calendar year in the fresh starts we’ll encounter in the days and weeks ahead, which have met us in the bleakness of a cold winter, and remind us always of resurrection hope—that hope which always finds us and points toward the horizon to a better day. In the intimate details of our own lives and on a global scale, remind us, God, that Spring is coming! New life always bursts forth, and, thanks be to God, it doesn’t wait for permission to do so! Help us to hold on to hope—not that flimsy kind of hope that folds under the first sign of adversity, but the kind that we pull from deep within ourselves, which has been tested and tried. In these days of dis-ease and discord, center our hope in you, Prince of Peace, and mend strained relationships like only you can.

Bind us as a gathered people. Give us new vision as a church for how to mobilize around our shared mission and ministry priorities, and help us to do as much good as we can for as long as we can. Even with our collective effort, we surely won’t meet every need. But remind us that the moral arc of the universe bends toward justice, and that the road to a redeemed future is long and as-yet not well charted. Give us the eyes to see and ears to listen to those in need, and give us the wherewithal to bring your Kingdom here, in whatever incremental fashion it might slowly reveal itself. As we wait, help us to see your presence all around us—in ourselves, in one another, in your created world, and in all that we’ll craft together in harmony with one another and all you’ve gifted us. We pray these things in the name of Jesus who taught us to pray…

“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.”