Summary: On the Seventh Sunday of Easter, "series B" Jesus prays for the church. This sermon is follows his example, and is a prayer for the church
7th Sunday of Easter, June 4, 2000 “Series B”
Grace be unto you and peace, from God our Father and from our Lord, Jesus Christ. Amen.
Let us pray: Dear Heavenly Father, I can not come to you in prayer as eloquently as your Son has done for us, as reflected in our Gospel lesson. Yet as a pastor of your church, I too pray that our congregation might be so united with you, that we might live and act to reflect your love in a way that will enable others to experience of your Holy Spirit present in our lives, and to know the forgiveness that we have received, as a result of Christ’s death and resurrection.
Jesus asks you, his heavenly Father, the very Creator of this Universe, that we might be one with him, as he is one with you. I realize that this is the very foundation of his ministry, and yet, I sometimes wonder if we, his church, truly grasp and understand the importance of his prayer for us.
For to be one with Jesus, and to be one with you, not only assures us of your adoption of us as your own, not only assures us that we participate in Jesus’ victory over sin and death, but it also calls us to be at one with Jesus in his ministry, the ministry to which you sent him to this earth to accomplish.
By the power of your Holy Spirit, move among each of us here present, and inspire us to envision ways that we might reach out to others with the saving grace with which your Son reached out to those of his day. Help us to envision new avenues of ministry, so that we don’t just talk about the ills of our society, but actively invest our time and energy and resources to do something to meet the challenges of our day.
Help us to realize that we now stand at a crossroads in our ministry. For so long, our indebtedness has dictated what we can, and what we can not do. This reality has even taken its toll on all of us, including me. How much I had wanted to exercise creativity, become innovative, and reach out to provide new ways to enhance the faith of this congregation.
And yet, the reality of the situation was such that we couldn’t afford to do much more than we were presently doing. To be honest with you Lord, although I rejoice in the fact that our debt has been retired, I also pray for your continued guidance, that I might help to lead this congregation to become excited about carrying on your ministry.
Inspire us through your Holy Spirit, to seek new ways to become more dynamic in helping our youth grow in faith. I believe that your Spirit has led us to improve our confirmation program, but there is more to be done. With all of the pressures of this world that tug and pull at the faith of our youth, open our hearts and minds to find ways to support them.
Help us to realize that we might not be able to meet this challenge on our own, that we might need to engage others with special skills to assist us.
I have seen the enthusiasm and excitement that is generated in the lives of our youth at camp, and how quickly it dissipates when we return. I have seen the excitement that Shawn Smith was able to generate with his concert, and yet that was so long ago. I have heard of the success of youth programs in other parishes, which attract a multitude of youth.
Oh Lord, help us to become more dynamic in our ministry to our youth. Help us to envision developing such a program that will be exciting for them to attend, within the context of our own faith. And grant us the courage to see it through.
And dear Lord, enable us to envision new ways of supporting our parents to nurture their own faith, as well as assisting them to fulfill their vows to raise their children to affirm the faith of their baptism. To be a parent is an awesome responsibility, especially in this time, when so many outside influences in our world would undermine our parental leadership, as well as the fabric of the relationship between husbands and wives.
In his prayer, Oh Lord, Jesus asked that we not be taken out of the world, but that we might be protected from evil. He asked this of you through the assurance of having given us your word. Inspire us, Lord, to find new and exciting ways of proclaiming your word, that it might strengthen the bonds between husbands and wives, parents and children.