Sunday, June 11, 2006

Morning prayer. This morning Van is out of town. Pepe (the Director of Miami Springs Youth Ministries) will preach, and I have the privilege of leading in prayer. The prayer will have two parts. The first part is as follows, and the second part will have our petitions, which I will not reproduce. (I don't like to extemporize in these situations, so I write these kinds of prayers down on the few occasions I accept this sort of duty.)

Heavenly father,

We praise you and lift you up for the God you are not.

That you are not a God who hides the truth, truth which is secret, not connected with any idea of what is right and what is wrong, and accessible only to a selected few who have some special code that the rest of us do not, but who reveals the truth to all of us, reveals it in the manifold splendor and marvel of your creation, whether it is the beauty of a South Florida sky, with its pastels and the endless shapes of clouds, or in how a light emitting diode works on the panel of some kitchen appliance;

Who reveals truth in history, whether the history is of the earth or of a people or of a family or of even one us, as we are privileged to explore that history and to see it working out according to your loving and redemptive purpose;

Who reveals the truth in your Scripture, in the written word of the Bible, words that we can read and understand, words that make light bulbs go off in the best parts of us, words that warn us, words that comfort us and guide us, that show us who you are and who we are;

who finally reveals the truth through the flesh you made of yourself, through your very incarnate person, Jesus Christ, the same as you are, but a man whom we can know, who shows us that you are not only a grand creator, but also a brother to us, a friend;

who gives us a guide along the way of truth, your Holy Spirit, who helps us understand what we find difficult and who helps us express things so deep and profound that, without your Spirit’s guidance, we can only express in groans and sighs.

We praise you that you are not a God who tires of us, some currently preoccupied deity who long ago put together creation like some sort of clock, wound it up, set it working, and then wondered off to other places, leaving us here fatherless, blind, bereft of any purpose other than to wind down and die.

We praise you that you are so near to us, before us and behind us, so intimately involved with us that it is you who sends every electric charge through our hearts that makes them beat, that it is you who decides each time whether even to allow our heart’s next beat;

That you know our rising in the morning and going to bed every night and all points of our day in between; that you refresh us when we sleep and you guard us from moment to moment; that you have a plan for the United States in the Middle East, yes, but you have a plan for each of us as well, whether we acknowledge you or not, a plan to prosper us and not at all to harm us;

That you, even in your intimacy with us, mysteriously make room for the working of our own wills. That you do not run us like robots, but that you will stand by and wait and let us come to you, for you told us that you are like a father who looks down the road each day for the return of a wayward son who went off to join a world without you in it, willing to allow him to make destructive decisions, but always ready to welcome him home, to embrace him, to redeem him, to love him.

We confess that we lose track, sometimes carelessly and sometimes willfully, of who you are and who you are not, with all the attendant consequences of that inattention. Please forgive us.

Thank you for loving us, for forgiving us, and for listening to our prayers, especially as we pray this morning for people who are struggling. We pray for . . .

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