Holy God, you came to reconcile the world and bring new life. No one is excluded from your embrace. Open the arms of your church as wide as the arms of your love. Enliven this body of Christ that we may rejoice when any of your sons and daughters come seeking refuge and healing in our midst. Let us not cling to our traditions so firmly that we fail to be ambassadors of Christ seeking your way and listening for your counsel. Reconciling God, show us the way to new life that we may be alive again.
God of creation, your love for the world is something we so easily forget. More often than not we believe a stranger to be an enemy and dismiss those who suffer. Yet, you would have us throw our arms around the lost ones without judgment. There are places in our world –near and far– that know only violence and despair. Your heartbreaks every time a life is lost in violence or fear or ignorance. God of safe places, widen our reach, open our hearts. Reveal the way of peace to all your people, especially those in positions of leadership and power.
Surprising God, you would have us welcome one another with joy and celebration. But we live in a country divided on nearly all things. Much harm is done in your name, even here. We are a nation of great wealth, power, and resources and still we fail to care for those who cannot care for themselves. Help us to see beyond budgets and party lines to the face of real people who seek hope, safety, and life. It does not matter how much or how hard we have labored or for how long, if any of your children are hungry or hurting. God of abundant life, lead us in ways of justice and equity for all those who live in this great nation.
God of mercy and grace, you offer safety in times of adversity. Remind us that you offer yourself to all people, even those who call you by another name. Our communities are changing and we grow fearful. We tend to forget that all that you have is ours. We are free to share the abundance of your grace because there will always be more than enough. Show us the path to welcome our neighbors from foreign places. May our churches be true sanctuaries for the refugee, the immigrant, the mentally ill, the developmentally disabled, the elderly, the homeless, and all those who are vulnerable and feel unloved and unwanted. Welcoming God, open our hearts to the joy of knowing you that we may kill our fatted calves and rejoice with those who find new life in you.
Healing God, we long to rejoice with you whenever a son or daughter comes alive again. Too often we are overwhelmed by all the broken places in our world, our country, our community, and our lives. We ask that you surround with deliverance all those who are lost to addiction, to illness, to poverty, to hunger, to injustice of any kind. Empower us to stand with those who cannot stand on their own. Make us mindful of the needs of all your children. We pray for the countries, the towns, and all people who are in need of healing and reconciliation. Rejoicing God, unite us with our brothers and sisters around the world. Let us all work with your hands to mend our ways and bring healing to all.
God of abundance and life, we thank you for all that we are and all that we have. We know the benefits of life in you. Too often we are distracted from the joy of living in you. But in this moment, we are grateful. You have called us to be your body in this place and we celebrate our call to be the church today. We will continue on this journey through the wilderness, removing those things that separate us from your love. We know that wherever we go or wherever we have been, you welcome us with open arms. We rejoice in your steadfast love and seek to honor you with all that we do. Gracious God, words fail to express the wonders of your love for us. Keep us firmly in your embrace while reminding us that there is room enough for all your children.
In the name of Christ who reconciles the world to you, we pray. Amen.
RCL – Year C – Fourth Sunday in Lent
2 Corinthians 5:16-21
Luke 15:1-3, 11b-32
(image from pdphoto.org)