This week, Pastor Brenda Loreman preached at Niles Discovery Church.  I offered the pastoral prayer.  The theme for the day was “Serve,” and I also recognized that it was the anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall and that on Tuesday the nation would celebrate Veterans’ Day.  The first part of the pray is inspired by Thomas Merton.  Here, then, is the prayer I offered.

Holy One, give us eyes to see each person as who they are and not twist them to fit our own image of who we think they should be. Give us hearts to love others without stopping to inquire whether or not they are worthy, for that is not our business and, in fact, it is nobody’s business. You have simply asked us to love, to love with a love that itself renders both ourselves and our neighbors worthy.

We know we cannot find the meaning of life by ourselves alone, but only with each other. So we thank you for community and for the opportunity to serve.

Because today is the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, we pause to consider the messy gift we call “democracy.” We know that it is not a perfect system of governance, nor is it the guarantor of your will, but we are unable to think of another system that human beings could have that more fully opens the possibilities of your will being done on earth as it is in heaven. And so we thank you for all who have worked for it, who have demonstrated for it, who have marched for it, who have sought to improve it and expand it. We thank you for those who, when it has been threatened, have defended it.

As our nation and nations around the globe approach a day when we remember those who have worn the military uniforms of their nation, we confess the sin of war and we confess that too frequently we are unable to think of ways to avoid war while preserving freedom. We honor and thank those who have sought to serve their country, especially those who have sought to serve our country, by donning a military uniform. We pray that, as a country, we will have the fortitude to stand by those who have served our nation in this capacity by serving them, in return, with appropriate health care, with support in the transitions to civilian life, with meaningful training to find civilian jobs.

Holy One, you have simply asked us to love, to love with a love that itself renders both ourselves and our neighbors worthy. Strengthen us to love in thought, in word, in prayer, and in deed as we serve our neighbors near and far.

Amen.

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