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Zephaniah 3:14-20; Isaiah 12:2-6; Philippians 4:4-7;Luke 3:7-18
Great God in heaven, we here on earth sometimes wonder where you are. Have you turned your face away from us? Having seen what we do to one another have you turned in disgust and left us to our own devices?
Nations war against nations, will there ever be peace on earth? Shootings, suicide bombings and acts of terrorism fan the flames of fear and hatred, and what good is love in the face of all that? Inequities mark our society, we lack the courage to address them. Greed and envy drive us apart, how can we become one?
How long, O Lord? Have you packed it in? Have you bottled up your saving justice and closed the gates on your mercy?
Your people need to hear from you, O God. Do not let us descend from doubt into despair, do not let us trust our own wits or rely on our own resources without even a thought of turning to you. No Lord, turn to us, pour out your mercy and saving justice; let us see your hand at work in the places of our deepest sufferings. Let us feel your loving presence in times of grief, let us hear your guidance in times of confusion, let us rise up to follow at your call to go forth in love. May we see you at work in this, your world….. We pray, Lord, open conversations among nations long suspicious of one another, help us to figure out how to hold terrorism in check and undercut whatever hatreds drive people to such acts. Let us remember how you welcomed strangers, fed the hungry, and healed the hurting and follow suit. And when anxieties mount turn us anew to the kingdom of your love and grace.
And Lord, in those times and places where we cannot see you at work, let us be your work, your handiwork, in and for this world, this church, our families and friends.
All this we ask in the name of the One who taught his disciples to pray:
Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed it 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. Amen.