Prayer for the Fourth Sunday of Advent

A prayer for Mitch Randall’s last Sunday as pastor of NorthHaven Church, before he takes his new position as executive director of the Baptist Center for Ethics.

God of peace and joy,

For centuries,
Israel anticipated
the coming of the Messiah;
and as one expectation
was fulfilled,
another was born,
for we still long
for the day when
that same Messiah
will come again.

Christmas is still a day
when old dreams are fulfilled,
and new dreams are born.

We give thanks for what
this church has become
in the years that Mitch
has been with us:

For those who have
been rejected,
it is a place to feel welcome.

For those who have
felt constrained,
a place to be free.

For those whose gifts
have been denied,
a place to serve.

And so it is fitting
that at Christmas
We share with the world.
this gift that we have received,

And may we, through our
words, actions, and gifts,
declare to the world
that there is still
good news of glad tidings,
for all people, everywhere.

Amen

Ordination Prayer

This is a prayer for the ordination service of Kim Divelbiss at NorthHaven Church on December 9, 2017

God of grace and hope,

We confess that, sometimes,
we are like Israel in Egypt,
overwhelmed by life and
tempted to believe that
you have abandoned your people.

In this, though, we have hope,
though Israel had forgotten you,
you did not abandon her.
Instead, you called Moses
to be her minister.

And so, from the desert
of our dry and parched lives,
you continue to call —
not from a burning bush,
but from within,
from a heart aflame
with passion for
the kingdom of God
and for your people.

Today, we give thanks for Kim,
a minister with such a heart,
who, like Moses,
has answered your call.

Grant her the vision
to see things as they are,
and the spiritual imagination
to recognize what they could be.

May her laughter be joyful;
her anger, righteous;
her compassion, gentle;
her witness, bold;
and her love, deep.

Fill her with the
power of the Almighty,
who took what was
formless and void
and created the universe,
then declared it good.

May her ministry
be the means by which
you continue to take
what is broken and empty,
and create that which is
new, beautiful and good.

In the name of the Father
who gives us our mission,
and of the Son,
whose obedience is our model,
and of the Spirit,
who gives us strength
for our task.

Three persons,
one God,
forever and ever.

Amen

Prayer for Times of Grief

God of compassion,

There are times when it
seems impossible to give thanks,
for the loss is too recent
and the pain is too great.

But in this, we have hope,
That even in the darkest valley,
we are not alone, for you are there

And our hope is not in vain,
for we see your presence in
the church, the body of Christ,
which walks beside us.

Give us the grace and love
to maintain this community,
so that our hope may be proclaimed,
again, and again, and again,
until that day when Christ himself
will wipe every tear from every eye.

Amen

When the Idols are Destroyed

Holy God,

We come to you bearing many things.
Some are burdens, but others are idols:

The idol of superiority,

The idol of certainty,

The idol of believing that
we are the gatekeepers to your kingdom,

The idol of making the gospel
an object of mere belief,
and not a way of life.

But when the burdens are lifted,
and the idols are destroyed,
What remains is truly precious:

Women and men in community,
Gifted people of all ages
working together so that
your kingdom may come,
and your will be done
even here, even now.

Amen

The Burden of Freedom

Hearing the sermon on Sunday, then reading Abraham Joshua Heschel on Monday and Flannery O’Connor on Tuesday – they all seemed to be speaking the same thing to me. This week’s prayer:

Lord,

I feel the weight of my choices,
bearing down upon my conscience,
each one a testimony to the truth
that those who do evil
have their greatest allies
in those who do nothing.

The burden of freedom is this,
though only some are guilty,
we are all surely responsible.

We ask not that this burden
be taken from us, but instead,
that we bear it with more
than the empty thoughts and prayers
of those who just pass by,
but with the grace and love
of the Samaritan
that leads to action.

Amen

Do Not Be Daunted

I bought an entire book for these two paragraphs, but they are worth much more than I paid:

“Rabbi Tarfon would say:

You are not obligated to complete the work,
but neither are you free to abandon it.

Do not be daunted
by the enormity of the world’s grief. Do justly, now,
Love mercy, now.
Walk humbly, now.”1


  1. Rabbi Rami M. Shapiro, Wisdom of the Jewish Sages: A Modern Reading of Pirke Avot, p. 41. [return]