Sunday, May 22, 2011

Breath of God: Today's Pastoral Prayer

Below is a pastoral I wrote this morning for the worship liturgy. It is based off of the lectionary text from Ezekiel 37

God, in the beginning you created the heavens and the earth; the earth was a formless void, a stirring chaos, and darkness was as deep as it was wide. A sacred wind, even a breath from God, swept over the face of the waters and You said, 'Let there be light.'
Breath of God, where there is darkness in our world, bring light. Where there is chaos, bring calm and stillness. Where there are empty voids, fill them with your creative, hope-filled love and presence.
When there were yet to be plants, or herbs, harvests or creatures, God, You created humans, breathed into the their nostrils the breath of life, and invited humanity to be filled as living beings who dwelled within and cared for the world You created as good.
Breath of God, breathe yet again into us the call to care for your creation, to love one another, and to cultivate life in the world you created. Remind us over and again that all life begins in you, each breath a gift from you, each day an opportunity to dwell as living beings in a world filled with possibilities for growth and new life.
God, in the valley filled with dry and dead bones You announced that through Your breath life was to be returned and restored. God, You promised once again to do a new thing with something old, to set free what was held captive to death, to give fresh movement to what was left frail and immobile.
Breath of God, announce to us and the world that in you life is returned and restored. Breathe into our bones the ability to move in rhythm with your dreams for the world and your kingdom here and yet to come. Open our eyes to people and places held captive by systems of evil, greed, violence, and poverty. Breathe into your church, near and far, the ability to work for justice, strive for peace, and live into the resurrection that is for us and the whole world. We especially ask that on this day you would be with those in this congregation who are in need of a fresh breath of hope and strength for whatever reason or circumstance. We also lift up to you those who have recently been hospitalized or sick... We also pray for a breath of compassion upon those who grieve...
Jesus, after the resurrection you entered into a gathering with your disciples, greeted them, and breathed into them the Spirit of God. You then invited them to follow this Spirit, filled by the breath of God, as faithful disciples who carried out the mission of God that is for the whole world.
Breath of God, Holy Spirit, fill our lungs and stir within us the ability to follow you into the world. Send us from this place to be your people who bear the fruit of love, joy, peace, patience, generosity, faithfulness, and self-control. And may the prayer Jesus taught us form us along the way as we travel together:

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