Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. speaking on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial at the 1957 ‘Prayer Pilgrimage for Freedom’.
A Prayer for Those Who Govern
ALL SINGING: America the Beautiful
United Methodist Hymnal #969, first verse
O beautiful for spacious skies, for amber waves of grain,
For purple mountain majesties above the fruited plain!
America! America! God shed His grace on thee,
And crown thy good with brotherhood from sea to shining sea!
Lord of All,
As we draw near another Independence Day,
we confess our dependence on you.
Thank you for extending abundance, mercy, and protection
to our nation through the years.
Every resource, freedom, and opportunity we have is a good gift from you.
Without you, we are lost.
In humility, we seek your face.
In repentance, we turn from our ungrateful, destructive and selfish ways.
In faith, we call on your power to forgive our sin and heal our land.
ALL SINGING: America the Beautiful
United Methodist Hymnal #969, second verse
O beautiful for heroes prov’d in liberating strife,
Who more than self their country lov’d, and mercy more than life.
America! America! May God thy gold refine
Till all success be nobleness and ev’ry gain divine.
Pour out your Holy Spirit on those who govern our land,
Leaders of our nation, our state, and our community
and all who are running for office.
Grant them a love of justice.
Open their minds with wisdom and compassion,
so all people may be treated fairly and with dignity.
Open their ears to the cries of the desperate and powerless
so cycles of poverty, disease, and abuse may be broken.
Open their eyes to see how best to respond
and open their hearts with courage to do the right thing,
even when pressured to do otherwise.
Dawn a new day of integrity and servant leadership upon our land.
Shower down your Spirit of collaboration for the common good
that there may be lasting peace and plenty for all.
The congregation is invited to lift up their own prayers for our nation
We ask this in the name of Jesus, our Leader and Savior forever, Amen.
Option: We ask this in the name of Jesus, our Leader and Savior forever, who taught us to pray, Our Father, who art in heaven….
ALL SINGING: America the Beautiful
United Methodist Hymnal #969, fourth verse
O beautiful for patriot dream that sees beyond the years
Thine alabaster cities gleam, undimmed by human tears!
America! America! God mend thine every flaw,
confirm thy soul in self-control, thy liberty in law.
Washington Post columnist, Gene Weingarten, and world-famous violinist Joshua Bell worked together to answer this question: If one of the world’s greatest musicians played some of history’s most beautiful music on one of the world’s most expensive instruments, but in an ordinary place, would anyone notice?
Video of Joshua Bell playing in a Washington, DC metro station
What did you notice?
Bell played for 45 minutes, playing 6 or 7 classical pieces, earning $32
Very few people stopped. 1,097 people passed by. Only 7 people stopped. One stayed for 3 minutes. One stayed for 9 minutes. The woman who recognized him stayed the last 2 minutes of his performance.
Everyone was busy.
7 years later, in 2014, Joshua Bell played in Union Station again. What do you think happened?
Why was it different this time?
Both times he played the exact same music
He had more people helping him
It was announced. They recognized him and his gifts. They knew who he was.
There was a sense of expectancy.
They acknowledged his presence.
The poet Elizabeth Barrett Browning once wrote, Earth’s crammed with heaven, And every common bush afire with God, But only he who sees takes off his shoes; The rest sit round and pluck blackberries.
What great extravagant gifts do we pass by- not expecting it, not acknowledging it? We’re picking blackberries with our face in our BlackBerries.
Even more so, we’re passing by the presence of Almighty God. The world is afire with the power, presence, and beauty of the Holy Spirit. Are we expectant for it? Are we awakened to it? Are we acknowledging it?
Who is the Holy Spirit? God’s presence with us now
Have you acknowledged the presence of the Holy Spirit? Are you allowing the Holy Spirit to awaken you to the beauty and power of God all around you?
John 14:15-18, 23
This passage is part of Jesus’ Farewell Discourse. (John 13-17) Jesus is speaking at the Last Supper, the night of his arrest, less than 24 hours before his death. He’s preparing the disciples and reminding them of the promises of God.
Jesus Promises the Holy Spirit, God’s Presence
John 14:16 And I will ask the Father, and he will give you anotherAdvocate, to be with you forever.
Another = Just Like the First
We continue to have access to the presence, wisdom, healing, grace of Christ
Advocate = Parakletos in Greek, One sent from the Father, called alongside you
The parent who climbs in bed with a scared or sick child to comfort him or her
The person who takes the hand of a friend to walk alongside them through the situation
With you forever
Jesus walked this earth for a specific period of time. The presence of God in the Holy Spirit is with us forever.
We can see and know the Spirit. The Spirit is here! There can be expectancy, awakening, opening, acknowledging what others are just passing by. (John 14:17)
With you forever- with you and in you
Abides with you (John 14:17)
Will not leave you orphaned (John 14:18)
The disciples were feeling abandoned and orphaned by Jesus’ reminder that he must go. Jesus sends another just like him.
I am coming to you (John 14:18)
The Spirit comes to us. We don’t have to go searching. God always makes the first move.
You will see me (John 14:19)
We will come to them (John 14:23)
Make our home with them (John 14:23)
Consider the intimacy and immediacy of someone moving in with you
God makes a home with us and in us
Abides in you (John 14:17)
You in me, I in you (John 14:20)
1 Corinthians 3:16 Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you?
The Holy Spirit abiding with you and in you. How do I get the Holy Spirit?
Consider your baptism.
Brothers and Sisters in Christ
Family language, making a home with us and in us, belonging
Through the Sacrament of Baptism,
Sacrament means mystery. We can relate to God the Father as Creator. We can relate to Jesus Christ, who walked this earth and shared our experience. The Holy Spirit is a mystery.
we are initiated into Christ’s holy church. We are incorporated into God’s mighty acts of salvation and given new birth by water and the Spirit.
We’re part of the Body of Christ, the Family of God, the church. We receive a calling on our life and are empowered to fulfill it. We are given new birth. We are made new.
All this is God’s gift, offered to us without price.
In Baptism we recognize the Holy Spirit is already at work in our life, has a plan for our life, already knows us, loves us, is working and calling.
When we receive baptism and the Holy Spirit as babies, we don’t know what we don’t know because we are babies. When we grow up, we may still not know what we don’t know because no one has ever talked to us about the Holy Spirit.
That’s why we’re doing it now. It’s a tremendous gift. The promise of presence that we can know now. We can acknowledge now. That’s how you get the Holy Spirit because the Spirit is already there.
Lord, give me eyes to see. Lord, give me ears to hear. Holy Spirit, I want you in my life.
John 16:7 Jesus said, “Nevertheless, I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Advocate will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you.”
You have God with you here forever and ever and ever. You have the Holy Spirit.
Will you acknowledge? Will you receive? Will you awaken? The world is afire and there is One who wants to abide with you and in you. Will you say, “Yes!”
November and December, the Superbowl of consumerism. It’s everywhere- buy buy buy, do do do, eat eat eat.
What are you doing this season to keep things in perspective and whole? What are you doing to encourage peacemaking? (Oh the truth of family gatherings!)
I’m choosing silence, generosity, and sabbath. Let’s help each other out by sharing our practices below.
Prayer: Abundance, Provision, Plenty
You are the God of
Abundance, Provision, and Plenty
So many do not have enough
So many are burdened by far too much
So many squander what they have
So many do evil to get more
The “many” include me
Lord, have mercy
Help me choose
Collaboration over competition
Gratitude over greed
Rest over hustle
Generosity over fear
Help me choose You and Your ways
I trust you to provide everything I need
and everything others need
Increase my faith and trust
Help me approach every need and conflict
with fairness, generosity, openness
Help me see all you are providing
Help me see all people as you see them
Help me hear and listen to all you are saying
Your ways, always. Amen
This prayer is based on Genesis 13, the division of property between Abraham and Lot in light of the promises of God to Abraham
Matthew 6:7-8 Jesus said, “When you are praying, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do; for they think that they will be heard because of their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.”
You are there in the midst of my prattle
and my hiding
Thank you for your patient presence
Thank you for calling me again to what is deeper and true
Forgive me for defaulting to well-worn words
Empty language borrowed from ritual or even scripture
Help me come to you honest and real
nothing veiled, nothing hidden
Help me come to you present and fresh
new every morning
Matthew 6:9-10 Jesus said, “Pray then in this way: Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come. Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.”
Glory to You, Heavenly One
Abba, Maker, Creator
I long for your kingdom, the fullness of your grace and victory
The longing is a sign of you in me
Abide more and more, so I not only long but look and see
Abide forever, so I not only long but pray and speak and act
Full-filling your words
Matthew 5:1-12 NRSV When Jesus saw the crowds, he went up the mountain; and after he sat down, his disciples came to him. Then he began to speak, and taught them, saying:
Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.
Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.
Blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy.
Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.
Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when people revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for in the same way, they persecuted the prophets who were before you.
We receive your blessings and pray for the Holy Spirit to make them real in our lives.
Renew a right spirit within us, a poor spirit, a spirit which knows our deep need of your grace and deliverance. Free us from trying to save ourselves. Free us for the fullness of your kingdom.
Soften our hard hearts with the gift of tears. Help us mourn our brokenness and the brokenness of our world. Help us feel it fully. Help us welcome the refreshment of your comfort and share it well with others.
Generous Savior, you fill each person with gifts, talents, and strength. Open us to meekness, that we may gladly surrender them to your authority and discipline. In our hands, they are often weapons. With you, they are refined for your glory and the common good.
Bread of Life, sour every false and destructive appetite, that we may hunger and thirst for righteousness alone- a right relationship with you, a right relationship with others, a right relationship with ourselves, a right relationship with your creation.
We bless you and honor you for your unending mercy, a flood of grace, pouring out and spilling over. Make us mercy-full. May all people know you like this.
Suffering One, break our hearts as yours is broken. In the breaking, create in us clean hearts, pure hearts, undivided hearts. Our deepest desire is to see you at work in us and all around us and to one day see you face to face.
In your grace, please don’t stop with our hearts. Re-Birth us fully in the breaking and creating. Named your beloved, your children, forever.
One with you and each other
One in your great work of peace
One in your words and ways
One in commitment to reconciliation and righteousness
One in the face of falsehood
One in the bloody bonds of persecution
One in your joy
One in your promises
One on earth and one in heaven