I led worship at our 9:00 and 10:45 services this morning and used the following prayers. This is the third week of our “When Christians Get it Wrong” series and today we talked about how Christians can get it wrong “When Talking About Other Religions.”
Prayer of Confession
In April of 1963, in his now famous letter from a Birmingham jail, Martin Luther King, Jr. said, “We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly… Anyone who lives inside the United States can never be considered an outsider anywhere within its bounds.” It is in the spirit of Dr. King that we confess to God the ways in which we have lived with divisive attitudes and actions. Will you join me the prayer of confession printed on the screen…
Creator God, we know that you are the creator of us all and we are grateful for your love that extends to all parts of your creation. Yet today we confess that we often live and speak in ways that are divisive and disruptive to your plans for unity. We often pass judgments against those who experience you differently than we do, even before we fully know them. We often remain distant from those of different cultures and faiths because we are fearful of what we do not know. Forgive us God, for the ways in which we have failed to extend your love and grace to our brothers and sisters in creation who experience and worship you in ways different than ours.
Transition to Prayer
Mahatma Gandhi, a man who profoundly influenced Dr. King, is credited with having said, “I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ.” Many of us have gathered in this place today because we love Christ and want to grow deeper in our relationship with him and we want to be more like him. Others of us have gathered here out of curiosity, wanting to learn more about God and Christ and what it might mean to be a Christian today. As we go to God in prayer this morning, let us open our hearts and our spirits to hear what God might be speaking to us. I invite you to bow with me for a time of prayer…
<pause for centering>
God of each and every one of us, we are grateful for the ways in which we have experienced your love in this last week. For many it has been a difficult several days as we’ve dealt with tragedy and loss. And when all else fails and nothing else makes sense, we are grateful that you still are God.
As we remember Dr. King this weekend we find ourselves in the midst of an historic week. In just a couple of days our country will have our first African American president. We pray for our country this week and we trust, loving God, that you will be present and at work through the events of Tuesday. We pray that it might be a peaceful day and that all who have gathered to witness this event might be smart and safe.
God, we are only able to comprehend a very small portion of who you are and what you are doing in the midst of your creation. And we know that we can at times be arrogant presuming to know more than we really do. But, if nothing else, we know that you are our God, a God who loves us, a God who is working for the healing of all creation – and we are grateful. So we pause now to give you thanks for the specific blessings of family and friends, those people in our lives who help us best know your love – we lift them up to you now in silence.
<pause for silent prayer>
We thank you, God, for all of those who have come before us and who are forming us into who we are. We hope and pray that as we continue to grow in faith we might do so in ways that reflect the good news for others, that are humble, that truly reflect your nature and your will for us all. We pray all of these things in the name of Jesus who came and who taught us to pray…