In my sermon last Sunday I compared the Church, our church, to the Thorne Rooms at The Art Institute. While not perfect or behind glass, we are meant to be a model of love and forgiveness for the world. We point to God’s dream of Beloved Community in how we treat one another, how we act in the world, and in our worship. After all, in worship we practice things like saying “I’m sorry” (that’s the Confession), reconciliation (that’s the Peace), and being generous and thankful (the Offertory).
We also practice love and concern for ourselves and others and trust in God every time we pray. The Prayers of the People differ from our personal prayers and are structured so that we always pray for big categories: the whole church, its leaders and members; our nation and all in authority; the welfare of the world; the concerns of the local community; those who suffer or are in any trouble; and the departed.
During each of those general petitions, though, there is space for very specific prayers—YOUR prayers. Please know that when the person leading the prayers invites prayers from all of us gathered, you are encouraged to share prayers as you like. You may whisper them, you may pray in silence, and you may pray loudly, inviting the whole assembly to pray for your concern. You can be formal (“I bid your prayers for . . .”) or casual (“Please pray for . . .”), specific (“Pray that Mary, my sister, will heal swiftly after her appendectomy”) or general (“For a friend who is ill”).
And there is much to pray about! In the world, we pray for those suffering and those who have died after the earthquake in Morocco and the flooding in Libya. In our city, we pray for an end to gun violence and for those without homes or enough food. In our own church and families, we pray for those who are ill or struggling in some way and we give thanks for our blessings.
Sometimes our prayers inspire us to act, and sometimes there is nothing we can do but pray, trusting only God can handle things.
Whatever is happening in your heart and your life, bring yourself and your prayers to church this Sunday. Share your blessings and concerns in this beautiful, imperfect, loving, and joyful community. We’ll have a great time at Start Up Sunday and get to practice Beloved Community together. See you in church!