[the following is the pastoral prayer prayed in worship at First United Methodist Church of Toms River on September 18, 2016]
When we got up this morning, we were greeted by so many realities that are outside of our control. Some of those realities are graces, they are gifts. We woke to the brightness of a sun we did not create. We did nothing to make it rise. We woke with air in our lungs and the beauty of the world just outside our windows. Many of us even received the grace of coffee we didn’t have to make… mmmm…
God, we know that this is all a gift. We might tell ourselves we deserve this, that we worked for it, but in the end, it is all from you. So we offer you the praises we have with the breath you’ve given us, with these bodies you made, among the people you love.
And in the same breath, we are reminded of the many other tragic realities to which we also woke up this morning, realities that are also outside of our control. We are reminded of the suffering of people we love; of victims of violence all around the world and right here in New Jersey and New York. We are reminded of the realities of racism, of poverty, of disaster and sickness. We are reminded… perhaps even overwhelmed… by the brokenness around us—just as undeserved as our blessings.
We know, God—because of your self-revelation in Jesus Christ, who was crucified among us—that you are good.
You are good.
Rescue us, Lord, from this brokenness, into the blessing of your love. Make a way for us. Be with us and for us. Because we cannot do this on our own. Come to us this morning, Jesus. Greet us in blessing and hold us close in the tragedy. For we are your people, your children, and you are our loving God.
In Jesus’ name. Amen.