Prayer for the History and the Future of the United Church
God of our history, we remember with praise and thanks those men and women of vision who came before us. We give thanks for their seemingly impossible dream of a United Church and for the hours and years of faith-filled and prayerful labour to make it a reality.
God of our triumphs, we remember with pride the great things that have been accomplished in the last 85 years of witness and worship. We give thanks for those who heard Your voice calling and stepped forward in leadership. We celebrate those who offered prophetic critiques of our nation and our church when it was needed. For those with courage and heart to make the difficult choices in a faithful manner we say thanks and pray that we can learn from their example.
God of our regrets, we acknowledge that our story has its times of shadow as well. There are times when we have not lived up to the ideal of what it means to be Your people. We remember the stories of residential schools and our interaction with the First Nations people of this country. We remember times when we as congregations and as a national church have chosen to remain silent when a prophetic voice was needed. We remember and regret all those times when people have been made to feel unwelcome or unworthy by member of this United and Uniting church. And as we share our regrets we offer our repentance, praying that we would learn a better way by reflecting on our past.
God of our present, we know that all is not well with the church today. In congregations and Presbyteries and Conferences across the country there is much anxiety and dis-ease. We worry about “greying” membership and declining numbers. We fret about finances. We wonder if there will be a 100th anniversary. In the midst of our worrying it can be easy to notice the good times, the signs of Your Spirit blowing new life into our midst. In the middle of our dis-ease, reawaken our hearts with words of hope and comfort.
God of our future, we can not know what the future will bring. Sometimes that unknowing brings excitement at the limitless possibilities. Sometimes it just makes us fearful at our lack of control. And so we attempt to shape the future in our own way, according to our own vision instead of opening our hearts and minds and souls to what Your vision may be. As we move forward in to the clouded uncertainty that lies ahead, help us to remember that we are not alone. Open our eyes to see and ears to hear what possibilities are out there. And whatever the future may bring, strengthen us to face it faithfully and as people of hope.
Challenging God, over the centuries You have challenged people of faith on countless occasions in innumerable ways. We are challenged constantly to live the old story in new times, to sing the old songs in new places, to keep the faith when it would be easier to let it fall by the wayside. At the same time we are challenged to hear new stories that intersect with the old, to learn new songs that capture the faith of the ages, to allow our understanding of You and Your world to grow and develop. Help us face the challenges of the present and the future with the knowledge that, just as you were with all those who faced challenges in the past, you are and will be with us as we face our own. All this we pray in the name of the One whose name we bear, Jesus of Nazareth, the One we call Christ, who taught his friends to pray by saying together...