Reading: 1 Peter 2:11-12
11 Dear friends, I urge you, as foreigners and exiles, to abstain from sinful desires, which wage war against your soul. 12 Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us.
Prayer – A powerful prayer offered by the Moderator of the 2006 General Assembly, Rick Fee:
O Lord, our God, how great is your name in all the earth! In your gracious mercy, you came to us and redeemed us through your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord. You have called us to be your children, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, your own people. By your Spirit, you have been with your people and faithful to your covenant with them in all generations. By that same Spirit, you have baptized us into one holy church to be brothers and sisters in Christ.
Hear us as we pray for the church. Awaken us from complacency, that in truth, simplicity and compassion, we may bear witness to your saving purposes in this place and throughout the world. May your people be set afire with the passion of Pentecost, to praise your name, to proclaim good news to the poor, to set the captive free, to heal the sick, and to rejoice in your presence at the breaking of bread. Teach us to love one another, to forgive one another, to serve one another, so that in all we say and do, we may have the same mind that was in Christ Jesus, and proclaim him to the world, to the glory of your name.
We pray for those among us, and in the world around us, who are burdened not by too little but by too much; those who have so much power they have grown indifferent to the welfare of others, and are fast becoming what they did not intend to be; those who have so much health they cannot understand the sick or reckon with their own mortality; those who have so much wealth they prize possessions more than people, and worry into the night about losing what they have; those who have so much knowledge they have grown proud and self-sufficient; those who have so much virtue they cannot see their own fault or appreciate your gracious mercy; those who have so much leisure they move like driftwood on the surface of life, lacking any cause larger than themselves.
God of all grace, we also boldly pray for those with so little, rather than the much. In so praying lead us to recognize with contrition that each of the aspects of our own lives is linked so nearly with those who do not have as we do. Power, health, wealth, knowledge, virtue, leisure, are shared among all peoples here on earth.
Give to each one of us a portion of Your concern for all people that we may never be indifferent to the rights and needs of others. Keep us ever close to Jesus who came not to be ministered to but to minister. In this great and challenging generation, let us never become little people.
Almighty and everlasting God, who by Your Holy Spirit presided over the first assembly of the apostles and elders in Jerusalem: You have promised to be with your church always unto the end of this world. As we now re-assemble deliver us from error, pride, and prejudice. Enlighten us with wisdom and so order all of our doings that your kingdom may be advanced, and your ministers and congregations established in their life and witness.
Keep us this day in health of body and soundness of mind, in purity of heart and cheerfulness of spirit, in contentment with our lot and charity with our neighbour. Further our undertakings in this Assembly with your blessing. In our labour, strengthen us; in our pleasure, purify us; in our difficulties, direct us; in our perils, defend us; in our troubles, comfort us; and supply all of our needs. Unite us by the bonds of friendship that we may work together for the betterment of the world. Make wars to cease, and hasten the day when there shall be peace on earth and good will among all people; this we ask in the name of the Prince of Peace. AMEN