Senior Pastor Scott Black Johnston offered these Prayers of the People on Sunday, Feb. 26, 2017.
God of blessing, Author of life, Giver of grace, we pray to you.
We thank you for the breath that sustains life, for the fruits of the earth that nurture our bodies, for the love of family and friends, love that makes life sweet—sweet and good like warm strawberry jam.
We thank you, God, for those in this life, who made us and mentored us. We thank you for the men and women who criticized and encouraged, challenged and bolstered—people who called us to be our best selves.
We thank you for those who shared their faith with us: Sunday School teachers, grandparents, pastors, uncles, aunts, friends, youth group leaders, mothers, fathers, professors, spouses. These people told us your stories, and they assured us that we are part of your story. They warned us that faith is no rabbit’s foot—no lucky charm. It will not make us perfect. It will not make our lives free from trouble. It will not prevent suffering and heartache.
Still, they urged us to embrace this journey… to pursue faith… to chase after it… to wrestle with it, to work at it, on it, in it, to make it our own… to tattoo it onto our hearts.
Faith, they said—getting so serious, so earnest—faith provides hope in the face of hardship, community in times of loneliness, and direction in times of chaos. For faith teaches us to look for you, O God, to listen for your voice, to anchor our identity in you, to ground ourselves in love, and then to stand alongside those in need.
Faith teaches us to love our self and to love the stranger; to care about the refugee, the homeless and the homebound. Faith enables us to look beyond fear and selfishness to see a world full of children, your struggling, imperfect, beloved children.
We thank you, O God, for this gift, this faith. We thank you for those who taught faith to us. We thank you for this church and its faithful witness through the years. We thank you for this day—a day to celebrate, a day to lean on your grace, a day to commit ourselves to justice and peace.
For this, and for all the blessings you shower on us, we give you thanks, eternal, loving God, through Jesus Christ, who taught us to pray, saying…
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 debts as we forgive our debtors.
And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.
For thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.