Responsive prayers by Thomas Robb, for use on the first Sunday of the New Year, or any Sunday in Epiphany or the Green Season.
Oh God, lover of peace and concord,
Bless and prosper the ministries of all the shepherds you have sent to care for us. Lead our “fractious Body of Christ” to love one another as you love us.
Oh God, from whom all authority flows,
Guide and inspire all of those to whom we entrust power and authority in this world. Grant wisdom and courage to our new president for the many and difficult tasks ahead of him.
Oh God, lover of all creation,
Inspire us to worthy stewardship of the Earth and all its creatures which you have given into our care, to hold in trust for our children and our children’s children.
Oh God, whose creativity is wild beyond all we imagine or all we can imagine,
Bless and keep under your wings our marvelously diverse and creative community. Transform our differences into our strengths. Inspire us to use that creativity to weather this economic storm for the good of all.
Oh God, we lift up those of us who are suffering,
Carry them in your loving and merciful arms, Lord. Inspire us to soothe their pain and help you mend their wounded bodies and minds. Let us always see you in their faces.
Oh God, who created us to dance with you forever,
Welcome our dear departed into your joy and unimaginable peace. Comfort those of us who mourn their loss, who so deeply miss their friendship and their loving touch.
Oh God, be with us as we pray together today,
Help us to pray with our hands and our feet as well as with our lips.
Inspire us to pray always and everywhere.
Grant us the grace to become the prayer and to rest in you, our blessed beginning and perfect end.
These Prayers of the People were first used at Sunday services on 16 November 2008 (the 27th Sunday after Pentecost) at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Port Townsend, Washington. They were written by Thomas Robb.
Tom’s prayers have a “new year” feel to me—a sense of looking forward with hope and resolve for new beginnings. They also contain the Epiphany theme of discovery—discovery that there may be more to the Incarnation, to God-with-us, than first appears.
Katharine Jefferts Schori, Presiding Bishop of The Episcopal Church, used the phrase “fractious Body of Christ” on November 2, 2008, in remarks in which she asserted that people on all sides of the current tensions in the Episcopal Church are saints. She wasn’t the first person to use the term “fractious” to refer to the greater Church, and I doubt if she’ll be the last. — Margaret