Fifth Sunday in Lent, March 29th

Call to Worship

God of compassion,
you call us out of the bindings of death
on this, our resurrection day:
make us ready to surrender
the fear in which we hide
to step into your future
alive and unashamed;
through Jesus Christ, the life of the world.
Amen
~Father Steven Shakespeare

First Lesson: Ezekiel 37:1–14

The hand of the LORD came upon me, and he brought me out by the spirit of the LORD and set me down in the middle of a valley; it was full of bones.

2 He led me all around them; there were very many lying in the valley, and they were very dry.

3 He said to me, "Mortal, can these bones live?" I answered, "O Lord GOD, you know."

4 Then he said to me, "Prophesy to these bones, and say to them: O dry bones, hear the word of the LORD.

5 Thus says the Lord GOD to these bones: I will cause breath to enter you, and you shall live.

6 I will lay sinews on you, and will cause flesh to come upon you, and cover you with skin, and put breath in you, and you shall live; and you shall know that I am the LORD."

7 So I prophesied as I had been commanded; and as I prophesied, suddenly there was a noise, a rattling, and the bones came together, bone to its bone.

8 I looked, and there were sinews on them, and flesh had come upon them, and skin had covered them; but there was no breath in them.

9 Then he said to me, "Prophesy to the breath, prophesy, mortal, and say to the breath: Thus says the Lord GOD: Come from the four winds, O breath, and breathe upon these slain, that they may live."

10 I prophesied as he commanded me, and the breath came into them, and they lived, and stood on their feet, a vast multitude.

11 Then he said to me, "Mortal, these bones are the whole house of Israel. They say, 'Our bones are dried up, and our hope is lost; we are cut off completely.'

12 Therefore prophesy, and say to them, Thus says the Lord GOD: I am going to open your graves, and bring you up from your graves, O my people; and I will bring you back to the land of Israel.

13 And you shall know that I am the LORD, when I open your graves, and bring you up from your graves, O my people.

14 I will put my spirit within you, and you shall live, and I will place you on your own soil; then you shall know that I, the LORD, have spoken and will act, says the LORD."

Gospel: John 11:1–45

Now a certain man was ill, Lazarus of Bethany, the village of Mary and her sister Martha.

2 Mary was the one who anointed the Lord with perfume and wiped his feet with her hair; her brother Lazarus was ill.

3 So the sisters sent a message to Jesus, "Lord, he whom you love is ill."

4 But when Jesus heard it, he said, "This illness does not lead to death; rather it is for God's glory, so that the Son of God may be glorified through it."

5 Accordingly, though Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus,

6 after having heard that Lazarus was ill, he stayed two days longer in the place where he was.

7 Then after this he said to the disciples, "Let us go to Judea again."

8 The disciples said to him, "Rabbi, the Jews were just now trying to stone you, and are you going there again?"

9 Jesus answered, "Are there not twelve hours of daylight? Those who walk during the day do not stumble, because they see the light of this world.

10 But those who walk at night stumble, because the light is not in them."

11 After saying this, he told them, "Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep, but I am going there to awaken him."

12 The disciples said to him, "Lord, if he has fallen asleep, he will be all right."

13 Jesus, however, had been speaking about his death, but they thought that he was referring merely to sleep.

14 Then Jesus told them plainly, "Lazarus is dead.

15 For your sake I am glad I was not there, so that you may believe. But let us go to him."

16 Thomas, who was called the Twin, said to his fellow disciples, "Let us also go, that we may die with him."

17 When Jesus arrived, he found that Lazarus had already been in the tomb four days.

18 Now Bethany was near Jerusalem, some two miles away,

19 and many of the Jews had come to Martha and Mary to console them about their brother.

20 When Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went and met him, while Mary stayed at home.

21 Martha said to Jesus, "Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.

22 But even now I know that God will give you whatever you ask of him."

23 Jesus said to her, "Your brother will rise again."

24 Martha said to him, "I know that he will rise again in the resurrection on the last day."

25 Jesus said to her, "I am the resurrection and the life. Those who believe in me, even though they die, will live,

26 and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?"

27 She said to him, "Yes, Lord, I believe that you are the Messiah, the Son of God, the one coming into the world."

28 When she had said this, she went back and called her sister Mary, and told her privately, "The Teacher is here and is calling for you."

29 And when she heard it, she got up quickly and went to him.

30 Now Jesus had not yet come to the village, but was still at the place where Martha had met him.

31 The Jews who were with her in the house, consoling her, saw Mary get up quickly and go out. They followed her because they thought that she was going to the tomb to weep there.

32 When Mary came where Jesus was and saw him, she knelt at his feet and said to him, "Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died."

33 When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who came with her also weeping, he was greatly disturbed in spirit and deeply moved.

34 He said, "Where have you laid him?" They said to him, "Lord, come and see."

35 Jesus began to weep.

36 So the Jews said, "See how he loved him!"

37 But some of them said, "Could not he who opened the eyes of the blind man have kept this man from dying?"

38 Then Jesus, again greatly disturbed, came to the tomb. It was a cave, and a stone was lying against it.

39 Jesus said, "Take away the stone." Martha, the sister of the dead man, said to him, "Lord, already there is a stench because he has been dead four days."

40 Jesus said to her, "Did I not tell you that if you believed, you would see the glory of God?"

41 So they took away the stone. And Jesus looked upward and said, "Father, I thank you for having heard me.

42 I knew that you always hear me, but I have said this for the sake of the crowd standing here, so that they may believe that you sent me."

43 When he had said this, he cried with a loud voice, "Lazarus, come out!"

44 The dead man came out, his hands and feet bound with strips of cloth, and his face wrapped in a cloth. Jesus said to them, "Unbind him, and let him go."

45 Many of the Jews therefore, who had come with Mary and had seen what Jesus did, believed in him.

Reflection

In the late summer of 2010, Mary and I accompanied a tour group to Germany. The main focus of the tour was to see the Passion Play in Oberammergau. We had assembled a small group from Trinity Lutheran Church on Washington Island. Given the small number in our party, the tour company paired us with a much larger group from Mt. Olivet Lutheran Church in Minneapolis (which happens to be the largest congregation in the ELCA with 15,500 members). Mt. Olivet has seven pastors on staff! At the time of our tour, one of the pastors was a classmate of mine from seminary, Ken Kotzer.

The tour began in Munich. Over a ten day period, our bus covered many miles (oops! kilometers) as we traveled through Germany, Austria, Italy and Switzerland with the Passion Play being the much-anticipated highlight on the last day. On day eight of the tour, we left Innsbruck on a sunny morning and headed south through the Brenner Pass into northern Italy where we stopped for lunch in Bolzano. In a beautiful outdoor courtyard reminiscent of a scene from a Cary Grant movie, we dined on fresh pasta and salad. It was a grand day! All was right with the world!

Following lunch, we boarded the bus and headed northwest toward Switzerland where we would spend the next two nights in Lucerne. An hour or so into the trip, I began to feel ill . . . stomach ache ill. Without getting into great detail, let’s just say I knew that the sooner we got to Lucerne . . . the better. This is where things get kind of fuzzy. I do remember Terry Henkel (a retired cardiologist who lives on Washington Island) slapping me in the face like they do in the movies. Apparently I had passed out . . . cold. Even worse, when I came to, Mary and the others around me were wiping the contents of my lunch off me and themselves . . . as I had become violently ill. (Hopefully you’re reading this after you’ve had your breakfast . . . sorry).

As it turned out, others in the group became sick as well although none quite as dramatically as me. The culprit was food poisoning.

By now you are thinking okay, Frank, this is an interesting albeit somewhat gross story, but what does it have to do with the fifth Sunday in Lent? Hang on, I’m getting to that. Each morning on the tour, after we had all taken our seats on the bus, Pastor Kotzer and I took turns leading a brief devotion. Following my “incident”, my old friend, Pastor Ken referred to me as “Lazarus” for the remainder of the trip. (I should mention that after spending two days in Lucerne, when we again boarded the bus, my entire seat had been physically removed!) So, ever since that time, I have viewed the story of Jesus raising Lazarus from dead a bit differently.

Today is the fifth Sunday in Lent. It will be Palm Sunday next week and then after that Holy Week and Easter. You are reading this on your tablet or your phone or your laptop because you are unable to physically be in church. Our doors are locked. These have been strange days. As the days are now turning into weeks, we have become weary and uncertain as to what comes next.

The Lazarus story points us to a better day and reminds us that God’s love is universal. May we view the story of Jesus and Lazarus as a sign of hope. And, Lord knows, we could use a little hope right about now. And we need each other. Even if you are unable to visit friends and family “in person”, make sure that you continue to email or text or call. We need each other!

Ten years ago, on a bus ride from Bolzano to Lucerne, I became ill. There were some on the bus who thought that I had died! The man in the seat across the aisle was from Minnesota and was a former state senator. We were practically complete strangers. After I had been revived and somewhat wiped-down, the man across the aisle held out a large, black plastic garbage bag in the event I would get sick again. With a loving and assuring voice, he said, “Don’t worry about a thing. I’ll be your wing man.” Although I have long forgotten his name, I will never forget his simple act of kindness.

In these coming days, my we be wing-women and wing-men for one another. And may the love of God which passes all understanding be with you today and the days that are yet to come.

Peace and love,
Frank

Prayers of Intercession

As we return to the waters of baptism during this season of Lent, let us pray for the church, those in need, and all of God's creation.

You are the Lord: You have spoken, and you will act. Give your church confidence that in this life, you feed us with your word, and answer our every prayer. God of mercy, hear our prayer.

You breathe into our dry bones, and we live. We pray for the universe, the solar system, and our fragile planet; for all creatures that creep or swim or fly or run. God of mercy, hear our prayer.

You wept at Lazarus's tomb and weep with us when we mourn. We pray for those who have asked for our prayers: Harriet, Skylar, Kate, Ron Blair, Diane Choinski, Ginny Derong, Sandy Habrat, Kathy Jones, Jim Laack, Evelyn Manthei, Lois Paulsen, Shirley Flores Perez, Duane Rehrer, Zaida Reyes Perez, Laurelle Rendon, Kathy Slavens, Dennis Studer and Emma Waite. We pray also for the men and women serving in our military. We pray for these and all whom we name before you in our hearts . . . (silence for reflection) . . . God of mercy, hear our prayer.

You are the resurrection and the life. We pray for our congregation; for the very old and the very young among us; for those who are afraid; for those who are missing the company of others; for those dealing with the reality of isolation . . . that all may be safe. God of mercy, hear our prayer.

You are our Messiah and teacher. We thank you for giving us examples of faithful living in the saints who have gone before us. God of mercy, hear our prayer.

Good and gracious God, we ask all these things and whatever else you see that we need with a sure and certain hope in your goodness and mercy, through Jesus Christ our Savior.

Amen.

Closing Prayer

Merciful God,
accompany our journey through these forty days.
Renew us in the gift of baptism,
that we may provide for those who are poor,
pray for those in need,
fast from self-indulgence,
and above all that we may find our treasure
in the life of your Son,
Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord.
Amen.

Sermon for Sunday March 22nd

Introduction

Collect
Creator and Healer,
root of all goodness,
working your Sabbath will
in the chaos of our life:
teach us the insight
that gives true judgement
and praises you
wherever you are found,
making miracles
from spit and mud;
through Jesus Christ,
the Son of earth.
Amen
~Rev. Steven Shakespeare

Prayer of the Day

Bend your ear to our prayers, Lord Christ, and come among us. By your gracious life and death for us, bring light into the darkness of our hearts, and anoint us with your Spirit, for you live and reign with the Father and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.
Amen

Psalm 23

Loving God, you are my shepherd—
I want nothing more.

You let me lie down in green meadows;
you lead me beside restful waters:
you refresh my soul.

You guide me to lush pastures
for the sake of your Name.

Even if I’m surrounded by shadows of Death,
I fear no danger, for you are with me.

Your rod and your staff—
they give me courage.

You spread a table for me
in the presence of my enemies,
and you anoint my head with oil—
my cup overflows!

Only goodness and love will follow me
all the days of my life,
and I will dwell in your house, loving God,
for days without end.

Gospel: John 9:1–17

As he walked along, he saw a man blind from birth.

2 His disciples asked him, "Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?"

3 Jesus answered, "Neither this man nor his parents sinned; he was born blind so that God's works might be revealed in him.

4 We must work the works of him who sent me while it is day; night is coming when no one can work.

5 As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world."

6 When he had said this, he spat on the ground and made mud with the saliva and spread the mud on the man's eyes,

7 saying to him, "Go, wash in the pool of Siloam" (which means Sent). Then he went and washed and came back able to see.

8 The neighbors and those who had seen him before as a beggar began to ask, "Is this not the man who used to sit and beg?"

9 Some were saying, "It is he." Others were saying, "No, but it is someone like him." He kept saying, "I am the man."

10 But they kept asking him, "Then how were your eyes opened?"

11 He answered, "The man called Jesus made mud, spread it on my eyes, and said to me, 'Go to Siloam and wash.' Then I went and washed and received my sight."

12 They said to him, "Where is he?" He said, "I do not know."

13 They brought to the Pharisees the man who had formerly been blind.

14 Now it was a sabbath day when Jesus made the mud and opened his eyes.

15 Then the Pharisees also began to ask him how he had received his sight. He said to them, "He put mud on my eyes. Then I washed, and now I see."

16 Some of the Pharisees said, "This man is not from God, for he does not observe the sabbath." But others said, "How can a man who is a sinner perform such signs?" And they were divided.

17 So they said again to the blind man, "What do you say about him? It was your eyes he opened." He said, "He is a prophet."

Reflection

First of all . . . how are you doing? It has been a crazy week! Surreal, scary, upsetting and unbelievable. I pray that you’re doing okay; that you’re coping; that you know you are cared for and loved and valued.

I’ve been doing this pastor thing for 45 years now. And for nearly the entire span of these years, I am one of those quasi-obnoxious-work-ahead types. As the weekly lessons are prescribed well ahead, I try to write my sermons at least a week or two in advance. Why? Stuff happens. People get sick or there is an auto accident or some other unforseen tragedy. One can carefully carve out a proper amount of time on a Friday to write a sermon only to get that phone call. A beloved parishioner has been admitted to the ICU and is not expected to make it through the night. Unfortunately, in this line of work one always needs to be prepared for the unexpected.

I’m not telling you all of this to share great insights into my work habits. I’m sharing this because for the present time I need to do things differently. The coronavirus news is coming to us fast and furious in an endless barrage of changing protocols and closings and warnings. If I work too far ahead, whatever it is I have written for the coming week might seem out of touch with the reality of the present day. So for now, these are Sunday morning reflections . . . written on the day they are posted. Hot off the press!

With that out of the way, let us consider the lessons for this fourth Sunday in Lent. The story in John’s gospel recalls Jesus healing a man’s blindness. It’s a great story that offers important insights into the teachings of Jesus. A few weeks ago, I was planning to preach on this text, but much has happened since then. The appointed psalm for this day is the most well known psalm of all—the beloved 23rd Psalm. We need this today.

The translation included in this post is not the traditional King James version (sorry about that). I choose this for the very first verse, “Loving God, you are my shepherd—I want nothing more.” Of course we are familiar with, “The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.” Why did I choose this alternate translation? Instead of “I shall not want”, it says, “I want nothing more”. That is to say, we’ve got everything we need.

I know, I know . . . you’re screaming at me through your computer or tablet, “Everything I need!! Are you kidding me!! I’m stuck in the house! I can’t hug my grandchildren! I’ve been laid off!”. Believe me, I hear you. We all hear each other.

Within the short span of a week, so much of life has been reduced to the basics: food, shelter, maintaining our health (and for some accumulating more toilet paper than they could possibly use in two lifetimes). Daily activities have come to a screeching halt and within the four walls of our houses/apartments, we have been given a gift . . . time. Time to reflect on what is truly important . . . time to count our blessings . . . and, perhaps, time to re-connect with God.

For me, this day began like every other day. Around 6:00 a.m. I took Addie out. Addie’s our dog. It was still dark at 6:00 a.m. The air was crisp and still . . . and the robins . . . the robins were going nuts! What a glorious noise! It was as if a heavenly chorus was greeting the new day. I felt as if they were singing just for Addie and me. And I thanked God for the early morning gift of song. Even in the midst of this scary pandemic, may we greet this new day . . . a day filled with hope and possibility and love. May we trust in God and want nothing more.

Dear friends, I have no idea what these next days will bring. Please know that you are in my thoughts and prayers. We are still community, even though separated for a time. And, if you need to talk, give me a call (414-308-3478).

For now be safe . . . wash your hands . . .

Peace and love,

Frank

Prayers of Intercession

Turning our hearts to God who is gracious and merciful, we pray for the church, the world, and all who are in need.

God of insight, open the hearts of the church and the world to all who testify to your deeds of power. Raise up voices in your church that are often silenced or overlooked due to age, gender expression, race, or economic status. Hear us, O God. Your mercy is great.

God of insight, bring peace to all people and nations. Anoint leaders who seek goodness, righteousness, and truth on behalf of all. Frustrate the efforts of those who would seek to cause violence or terror. Hear us, O God. Your mercy is great.

God of insight, you care for our needs even before we ask. Comfort those whom we remember before you today: Harriet, Skylar, Kate, Ron Blair, Diane Choinski, Ginny Derong, Sandy Habrat, Kathy Jones, Jim Laack, Evelyn Manthei, Lois Paulsen, Shirley Flores Perez, Duane Rehrer, Zaida Reyes Perez, Laurelle Rendon, Kathy Slavens, Dennis Studer and Emma Waite. We pray also for the men and women serving in our military. We pray for these and all whom we name before you in our hearts . . . (silence for reflection) . . . Hear us, O God. Your mercy is great.

God of insight, help this assembly lift up the unique gifts of each person who enters, no matter their physical capacity, cognitive ability, or sensory need. Help us to be creative and brave in making our facilities and our ministries accessible to all. Hear us, O God. Your mercy is great.

God of insight, you call out to those who are asleep and awaken them to new life with you. We give thanks for your saints. Join us together with them as your children in this world and the next. Hear us, O God. Your mercy is great.

According to your steadfast love, O God, hear these and all our prayers as we commend them to you; through Christ our Lord.

Amen.

Closing Prayer

Merciful God,

accompany our journey through these forty days.

Renew us in the gift of baptism,

that we may provide for those who are poor,

pray for those in need,

fast from self-indulgence,

and above all that we may find our treasure

in the life of your Son,

Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord.

Amen.

Sermon for Sunday March 15th

Prayer of the Day

Merciful God, the fountain of living water,

you quench our thirst and wash away our sin.

Give us this water always.

Bring us to drink from the well that flows with the beauty of your truth through Jesus Christ,

our Savior and Lord,

who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,

one God, now and forever.

Amen.

The Lesson: Romans 5:1–11

Therefore, since we are justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ,

2 through whom we have obtained access to this grace in which we stand; and we boast in our hope of sharing the glory of God.

3 And not only that, but we also boast in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance,

4 and endurance produces character, and character produces hope,

5 and hope does not disappoint us, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us.

6 For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly.

7 Indeed, rarely will anyone die for a righteous person — though perhaps for a good person someone might actually dare to die.

8 But God proves his love for us in that while we still were sinners Christ died for us.

9 Much more surely then, now that we have been justified by his blood, will we be saved through him from the wrath of God.

10 For if while we were enemies, we were reconciled to God through the death of his Son, much more surely, having been reconciled, will we be saved by his life.

11 But more than that, we even boast in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.

Gospel: John 4:5–26

5 So he came to a Samaritan city called Sychar, near the plot of ground that Jacob had given to his son Joseph.

6 Jacob's well was there, and Jesus, tired out by his journey, was sitting by the well. It was about noon.

7 A Samaritan woman came to draw water, and Jesus said to her, "Give me a drink."

8 (His disciples had gone to the city to buy food.)

9 The Samaritan woman said to him, "How is it that you, a Jew, ask a drink of me, a woman of Samaria?" (Jews do not share things in common with Samaritans.)

10 Jesus answered her, "If you knew the gift of God, and who it is that is saying to you, 'Give me a drink,' you would have asked him, and he would have given you living water."

11 The woman said to him, "Sir, you have no bucket, and the well is deep. Where do you get that living water?

12 Are you greater than our ancestor Jacob, who gave us the well, and with his sons and his flocks drank from it?"

13 Jesus said to her, "Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again,

14 but those who drink of the water that I will give them will never be thirsty. The water that I will give will become in them a spring of water gushing up to eternal life."

15 The woman said to him, "Sir, give me this water, so that I may never be thirsty or have to keep coming here to draw water."

16 Jesus said to her, "Go, call your husband, and come back."

17 The woman answered him, "I have no husband." Jesus said to her, "You are right in saying, 'I have no husband';

18 for you have had five husbands, and the one you have now is not your husband. What you have said is true!"

19 The woman said to him, "Sir, I see that you are a prophet.

20 Our ancestors worshiped on this mountain, but you say that the place where people must worship is in Jerusalem."

21 Jesus said to her, "Woman, believe me, the hour is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem.

22 You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews.

23 But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father seeks such as these to worship him.

24 God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth."

25 The woman said to him, "I know that Messiah is coming" (who is called Christ). "When he comes, he will proclaim all things to us."

26 Jesus said to her, "I am he, the one who is speaking to you."

Reflection

On the morning of Tuesday, September 11, 2001, I was making a call on an elderly man who was dying of cancer. He and I both knew that I would soon be doing his funeral and so we were meeting to discuss his wishes and desires. We were sitting in the sun porch. He was smoking a cigarette and the TV was on in the background . . . he was watching the Today Show. At some point in the conversation, the image of the twin towers of the World Trade Center appeared on the screen. One of the towers had a large passenger plane protruding from it’s side. We assumed it was a very realistic preview for some upcoming action movie or TV show. Of course, it wasn’t long before we realized this was no movie . . . it was real.

At the time, I was the senior pastor of St. James Lutheran Church in Verona, a suburb of Madison. Facebook didn’t exist in 2001 nor did social media for that matter. We had no way of informing the members of the church that we were planning a service that evening. But we did what felt natural. At 7:00 p.m. we opened the sanctuary doors and people filed in . . . well over 200 in number. There had been no formal announcement of the service but somehow they knew we would be there and that they needed to be there as well. I began by telling everyone that we had never covered such a situation in seminary . . . there was no plan . . . no liturgy. It was a simple service. Using a George Winston CD as background music, the service alternated between long periods of silence punctuated with readings from scripture and prayer. The “formal” portion of the service lasted an hour or so with many people remaining well afterwards . . . sitting silently.

On September 11, 2001 we were caught off guard. Our world had been shattered and would be forever changed. It was an unsettling kind of time . . . but, as a nation and as a people, we have persevered.

For me, today, March 15, 2020 feels eerily a bit like 9/11. It is unsettling and much seems to be happening that is beyond our control. Unlike 9/11, the enemy is not human; it is an invisible virus. We are scared and worried and uncertain about tomorrow. And for so many people of faith, the sanctuary doors are locked and we are asked to observe social distancing.

So how are we to cope given the present isolation?

  • First of all, heed the warnings and admonitions by the knowledgeable medical and scientific folks. For a time, we need to remain apart in order that we can later gather together.
  • Second, don’t sit in front of the TV all day long streaming the endless barrage of news regarding the pandemic. Read a good book . . . call a friend or family member . . . take a walk outside (observing proper social distancing) . . . clean out that junk drawer that you have been meaning to get to . . .
  • Third, and definitely most important . . . know and trust that God is with us in and through the coming days. God provides the “living water” that enables us to cope with a myriad of challenges.

In the coming days, I will continue to post scripture, prayers and reflections. And, for those who are without access to laptops or tablets, let’s try to find a way to get such a resource to them. I fear that this interruption in our day-to-day living could last beyond just a few weeks.

And as always, may the peace of God which passes all understanding remain with you this day and always.

Peace and love,

Pastor Frank

Prayers of Intercession

Turning our hearts to God who is gracious and merciful, we pray for the church, the world, and all who are in need.

God of living water, send your church beyond boundaries to proclaim your grace. May its witness be a source of refreshment for thirsty souls. Strengthen our voices, that all people can know and believe that Jesus is truly the savior of the world. Hear us, O God. Your mercy is great.

God of living water, open the hearts of leaders and authorities, that they hear the cries of the suffering and act with compassion toward them. Bring peace to disputed lands and bring reconciliation to people divided by race, culture, or nationality. Hear us, O God. Your mercy is great.

God of living water, draw near to all who are ill especially those whom we remember before you today: Skylar, Kate, Ron Blair, Diane Choinski, Ginny Derong, Sandy Habrat, Kathy Jones, Jim Laack, Evelyn Manthei, Lois Paulsen, Shirley Flores Perez, Duane Rehrer, Zaida Reyes Perez, Laurelle Rendon, Kathy Slavens, Dennis Studer and Emma Waite. We pray also for the men and women serving in our military. We pray for these and all whom we name before you in our hearts . . . (silence for reflection) . . . Hear us, O God. Your mercy is great.

God of living water, renew us in the promises of baptism. Join us together in worship, fellowship, and sharing your good news. Embolden us to serve others and to work for justice and peace. Hear us, O God. Your mercy is great.

God of living water, we thank you for those who endured suffering and who now boast in the glory of God. Pour your Holy Spirit into our hearts and give us peace as we live in the hope of our salvation. Hear us, O God. Your mercy is great.

According to your steadfast love, O God, hear these and all our prayers as we commend them to you; through Christ our Lord.

Amen.