CHRIST IN WINTER: Reflections on Faith & Life for the Years of Winter
Our pastors at St. Mark’s UMC, in Bloomington, IN, where we were the first couple married 58 years ago, asked me to give the pastoral prayer at worship on 2-5-17. The Gospel for the day was Matthew 5:13-18, where Jesus says that we are the salt of the earth and talks about how communities can be transformed.
As we prepared to pray, I led the congregation in singing, a capella: Turn your eyes upon Jesus, look full in his wonderful face, and the things of earth will grow strangely dim in the light of his glory and grace. [Helen H. Lemmel]
Here is the prayer:
We give you thanks, O Loving God, for the gift of Jesus, the Christ, for that face that is so dim in the eyes of the world, but so clear in the eyes of the spirit, the one in whose countenance is life and light.
We give you thanks, Almighty God, for this day that you have made, and allow us to share.
We thank you, merciful God, for those who are the salt of the earth, who give life its flavor. We thank you for those who cast salt on icy streets and icy souls so that we will not slip and fall.
We thank you, sort of, O God, for designating us to be the salt of the world, but salt is just so common. It’s so easy to lose our saltiness, but it’s not really our fault. Salt is so mundane. Who notices salt, really?
A saltiness app would be nice, to remind us of who we are, or you could let us be something a little more palatable, like the cookies of the world, so that people would like us better, the ice cream of the world, that would be nice, at least some flavoring a little less common, more exotic, more cool and current, like the cardamom of the world, or the turmeric of the world. We’d seem more interesting and exciting cool and dope.
But if we must be salt, may it be that when the hard rains come, we may be those who still pour, pour out wisdom and love upon our community.
We pray, O God, for those for whom life has no flavor, those trapped in the boredom of sin, in the dull routine of addiction, in the drab pursuit of greed and lust, in the tedious grasp for power.
We pray for those in pain, whose lives are a constant struggle for just a bit of peace, who fear each coming moment, who pray for surcease of agony.
We pray for those who live in worlds of delusion and lies and the false paradise of selfishness.
We pray for children, whose lives so often are laced with fears they cannot understand, and forces they cannot control.
We pray for those who are always on the outside, always left out, who have no community of hope and love.
There seem to be so many these days, O God, in high places and low, who want to rub salt into the wounds of your people instead of binding up those wounds with the oil of healing, who scatter salt on the fields of our common life so that those fields cannot produce the daily bread we need and pray for. Help us to repent of the misuse of our saltiness and to commit ourselves anew to being salt and light, flavor and hope.
We give you thanks for the communities you have given us—family and friends and church and nation and world. Help us to be good salty citizens of these communities.
We pray for Jimmy Moore and Mary Beth Morgan and Trina Mescher and Andy Cron, the leaders of our church , for Michael McRobbie, the president of our university, for John Hamilton, the mayor of our city, for Trey Hollingsworth and Joe Donnelly and Todd Young, the congresspersons of our state, for Donald Trump, the President of our nation, and for all of the other servant-leaders of our various communities. Endue them, each and every, with wisdom and kindness and all other virtues necessary to lead, so that everything they do may be pleasing in your sight, and all our communities may be transformed into fellowships of salt and light. [This was followed by silent prayer and The Lord’s Prayer]
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1] Moore and Morgan are pastors. Mescher and Cron are Lay Leaders.