A few weeks ago, we celebrated Laity Sunday in worship at Saint Andrew United Methodist Church. The laity of our church organized and led worship while I bore witness to their faith as it was proclaimed through the reading of Scripture, in song, the preached word, and during prayer. Sitting in the pew, pondering the gift of working alongside the saints of the church, I was awash in gratitude, gratitude for the many saints of the church who have shaped and formed me in the way of Christ. How would I know the love of God if someone had not loved me in God’s name? How would I know the humility and generosity of Christ if someone had not graciously served me, as a child in Sunday school, as a teen in youth ministry, and as a young adult discerning my way in the world?
On Laity Sunday, the pastoral prayer was written and prayed by St. Andrew’s incoming Lay Leader Vivian Juarez. As an ordained person, I have been the default “pray-er” for many fellowship dinners, Sunday school gatherings, committee meetings, sick rooms, and celebrations. When I heard Vivian’s prayer, with thanksgiving I remembered those who taught me how to pray as Jesus did. For all the saints who from their labors rest, let us give praise to our Creator, Redeemer, and Sustainer.
Gracious and loving God, You are whom we seek. You are our comfort and our shelter. We find refuge in you; you give us strength and unconditional love. Without you, we could not stand. We praise you for the wonder of your mighty love; we sing for joy at the work of your hands. Lord God, there is none like you!
We are blessed beyond measure. Your son and our Lord gave his life that we might live eternally with you. We are called to be your people, to show your love and light in this world. Yet, sometimes we forget to follow Christ’s teachings – we worry about things we shouldn’t, we act possessively over our little area of the world, we forget to treat others with kindness, we talk when we should listen, we hold grudges, and we don’t forgive. Lord Jesus, we need to mend our ways. You forgive us for our mistakes and wrong doings. Because we are a forgiven people, we have to exemplify your grace by forgiving others; we must let go of the grudges we hold, the possessiveness we feel, and the worries that we hold. Help us to trust in you that just as the flower in the field and the bird in the sky, you will take care of us. Help us to understand that everything is yours; we own nothing. Give us courage in the face of illness and devastation.
We lift up to you the names of those we have mentioned. . .
May your spirit and your love be with each of these persons and families. May your healing presence bring peace and comfort. We give you thanks and praise for the joys in our lives, and we remember to pray as Christ Jesus taught us:
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. Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil; for Thine is the kingdom, the power, and the glory, forever. Amen.
© Vivian Juarez 2013