As the United Church of Canada prepares for General Council 43 in Oshawa, ON July 21-27, 2018, members of Cruxifusion have committed to pray for GC43 and all related activities. Some have chosen to share these prayers, and you will find those captured below.
So many prayers have been offered for wisdom and discernment and awareness of Your guidance. All of those things are truly important . But today God I ask for FUN. Please reward the commissioners and volunteers with fun through fellowship. Please give opportunity and blessing to those gatherings of friends – fellow body parts of Christ. Your church isn’t about business it is about people working together with joy and comradery. So release an extra dose of joy into the hearts of all those who gather. Do not let Your yoke become a burden to them. Give them light hearts that are quick to smile and to laugh easily.
May the good times roll!!
In the name of the creator of our smiles and the joy of our hearts, Jesus the laughing saviour!
we pray this day for your Holy Spirit to fall afresh.
You promise your people the spirit not of fear and timidity,
but of power, love and self-discipline (2 Tim 1:7).
May it be so for us
and among the commissioners, leadership,
guests and hosts of General Council 43.
Let us be your church,
responding to your love,
humble to your correction,
gentle with one another,
guided by your wisdom,
and faithful to your call.
We pray in the trustworthy name of
Jesus Christ our Lord and Saviour.
May all glory be yours. Amen.”
Today’s special Canada Day prayer for General Council comes from Rev. Ingrid Hartloff Brown, ordained this spring by BC Conference. To view the archive of all prayers being offered in the lead up to GC43 click here.
“Yesterday’s lectionary text from 2 Corinthians was Paul’s appeal to the church in Corinth to send money (!) and it got me thinking about our upcoming gathering, and the changing nature of our church. During our “Learning Together” time where the children gather at the front of the sanctuary, I illustrated the way things are with oranges. Handing out an orange to each child, I asked if this was fair. Yes, the answered diligently. Then, taking all the oranges, I precariously piled them high in the arms of one child. To the remaining children I gave one orange. There you are, I said, now – all of you, peel that orange and split it amongst yourselves. Now everyone has some. As you might imagine, that’s not fair! Became the chorus of the moment. No, it is not fair, but it is the way it is right now, I said, do you think this is God’s dream for us? One child proceeded to redistribute the fruit, stating, No, this is God’s dream for us.
We come from so many places and churches – ones who operate in fear and scarcity, and ones who trust in the abundance of God’s generosity. We all hold in our congregations those who have never felt like they had enough, folks that never believed that they were enough. I pray that as we head into GC we might all feel the stirring of the Holy Spirit urging us to a love that is beyond our own capabilities, a love that comes from the Father and is poured out all over us by the Son, for the flourishing of all.
And so hear these words and pray with me (borrowing a bit from Walter Brueggemann):
Before our well-being, there was your graciousness,
Before our delight, there was your generosity,
Before our joy, there was your good will.
We are second and you are first.
You are there initially with your graciousness, your generosity,
Your goodwill –
And we receive from your inscrutable goodness grace upon grace,
Gift upon gift,
Life upon life –
Because you are there at the beginning, at all our beginnings.
Guide us Oh Holy One, in our preparations for this gathering of your church.
Remind us of our call,
Remind us of our place as second.
Remind of our responsibilities first to you.
Free us to move out beyond our competence, our productivity, our self sufficiency,
That we might catch a glimpse of the freedom you pour out unreservedly.
Free us from the restraints of our timidity, our trembling, the tight grips we hold,
That we might turn ourselves loose to you, for your glory.
In the gathering days ahead, may our gratitude well up in the midst of our regularity:
New words, new vistas, new risks, new healing,
Grounded in ancient words, ancient vistas, ancient risks, ancient healing.
We confess that in these startling breaking points sure to come,
We will be daring to glimpse your powerful care
Which runs beyond our exhausted capacity to cope or manage.
You…after all our best efforts, it is you, you who hold and lead and guide and change…us.
And we are grateful.
Today’s special Canada Day prayer for General Council comes from Rev. Lisa Waites, ordained this spring by Alberta Northwest Conference. To view the archive of all prayers being offered in the lead up to GC43 click here.
Before we pray, a note from Lisa.
I wrote this prayer for July 1st in seven stanzas, thinking I’d use one section each day with my congregants this week; the prayer ended up being longer than I’d imagined, but the words just kept pouring out of my heart, so I just kept typing. I’ve added a few of the Scripture references too, in case a phrase catches your ear and you’d like to read the verse/passage for context. Blessings all, – Lisa
“A Prayer for July 1st
Almighty God, we approach you today with reverence and, if we are being honest with ourselves, also with a bit of trepidation. You are a holy God, and we are your beloved, yet broken people (Isaiah 6:5). We fear that we have failed you. We know that the United Church is sickly, and we secretly worry that we have contributed to this spiritual and theological illness, instead of nurturing and grounding the church in the Word (Deuteronomy 8:1-18). We echo the plaintive cries of the Psalmist from the depths: “if you kept a record of our iniquities, Lord, who among us could stand? But there is forgiveness with you, so that you may be revered.” (Psalm 130:3-4)
Eternal God, as we prepare our hearts for worship on this Canada Day, we are aware of the all-too-often unconscious conflicts between our various identities as your people living in this time and place. We are Canadians, we are Christians, and we are leaders in the United Church of Canada, the closest approximation to a “national church” that Canada has ever had. Whether we intended harm, or not, our collective denominational history has been bound up with colonialism, nationalism, and the kind of patriarchal racism that implicitly assumed that the church “knew better than” our neighbours who were part of racial, cultural, or sexual minorities. In our fervour to share your gospel, we forgot to listen – to you, to our neighbours, and to those following spiritual paths that were different than our own (Leviticus 19:33-34). In our fervour to build your church while simultaneously building our nation, we forgot that elevating our country above your Christ was idolatry, a spiritual sin that could only ever lead to heartbreak and heresy (Exodus 20; Psalm 31:5-7). We would like to believe that we have relegated our colonialism, consumerism, and our racism in the past, but both our contemporary history, and our marginalized brothers and sisters say otherwise. O Lord, if you kept a record of our iniquities, who among us could stand? But there is forgiveness with you, so that you may be revered.
Gracious God, we desire to be obedient to your call as ministers of your gospel and leaders in your United Church of Canada. As we prepare our hearts for this pivotal gathering of General Council, call us to prayerful reflection and to deep, respectful listening. Help us to be mindful of our historical errors, lest we repeat them by “speaking for” those who ought to be included in the conversation and welcomed to speak from their own perspectives. Help us to be willing to hear what your Holy Spirit is saying to us. Empty our hearts, O God, for we are far too often full of ourselves, and our own agendas, instead of being filled with your Holy Spirit (Isaiah 29:13-14). O Lord, if you kept a record of our iniquities, who among us could stand? But there is forgiveness with you, so that you may be revered.
Patient God, you pour out your endless grace on us through your Son. You revealed your heart for us, and for all of humanity through the gift of the infant Saviour. The life, death, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus Christ demonstrated your love for us while we were yet sinners, and your patience with us defies belief (Romans 5:8). O God, your United Church seems sickly and full of decay; give us hope and direction for the future. Kindle within us, and within all who attend GC43 repentant hearts, because in our fervour to pursue social justice and environmentalism, we have too often neglected the gospel, and forgotten your call to make disciples (Matthew 28:18-20). Remind us that you will not despise or reject us, despite our sin. Call us back to you, O God! Kindle within us a holy boldness and give us the courage to believe that the United Church can be restored – not by our own efforts or in our own strength; not depending on our ability to make wise decisions, or on our personal charisma or character as Commissioners, but by your strength, O God, and through your infinite wisdom alone (Zechariah 4:6). Jesus, we cry out to you; show us mercy, and restore your United Church to spiritual health, we pray. O Lord, if you kept a record of our iniquities, who among us could stand? But there is forgiveness with you, so that you may be revered.
Creative God, you birthed the church, the Body of Christ, by sending the Holy Spirit to the earliest disciples (Acts 2:1-4). We humbly ask you to rebirth and renew the United Church during GC43 by sending the Holy Spirit to all those who are physically present, and all who are praying for the proceedings at a distance. Like the wind that blew through the house where the early disciples were praying together on the day of Pentecost, send the wind of your Spirit to blow through the hearts of your servants at GC43, and through the very structures of the United Church. May the flames of your holy fire burn up our spiritual dross, refining us until we shine like the stars (Philippians 2:15-16a). Consume our arrogance, our apathy, our prideful assumptions, our antagonistic attitudes. Holy Spirit, lead us into all wisdom, reminding us that your voice is not often heard in those who shout the loudest or argue the longest, but through those who have learned to hear your voice by waiting patiently for your gentle whispers (1 Kings 19:11b-12). You comfort and challenge, console and convict us in your still, small voice; create in us the spiritual humility and maturity needed to not only hear you, Holy Spirit, but to recognize your voice, and to deeply listen and respond to the Word, spoken faithfully through you. O Lord, if you kept a record of our iniquities, who among us could stand? But there is forgiveness with you, so that you may be revered.
Holy God, as we lift our concerns for GC43 before you, we know that you are already aware of every person who will attend these meetings, and every concern they will carry with them into the highest court of your United Church. May the grace and peace of Jesus Christ pervade the heart and soul of each person who has been invited to attend GC43 (2 Peter 1b-3). May the abundance of your merciful love and faithful guidance overwhelm each person’s spirit while they are serving you through their administrative, ecclesial, ethical, and theological tasks. May the many of us who are waiting and watching at home, from pulpits and in pews across the country, remember to pray daily for the United Church, especially for the spiritual health and well-being of the denomination, grounded in the person and work of Jesus Christ. We must not allow you to be relegated to the margins of your own church, O God! Finally, please help us to remember that our spiritual rebirth as Christians – as the adopted daughters and sons of the living God – and our missional purpose as your servants, is far more important than our Canadian citizenship, no matter how proud of our country we may be (John 1:11-13). O Lord, if you kept a record of our iniquities, who among us could stand? But there is forgiveness with you, so that you may be revered.
Triune God, we pray these things humbly, but also with confidence, through the grace of Jesus Christ, our Redeemer, by the power of the Holy Spirit, our Comforter, for the glory of God the Father, our Creator, and also for the healing of this broken, yet still beautiful world that you so love, and long to restore through us, your beloved daughters and sons (John 3:16-21). We lift our hearts and join our hands as we worship you, O God – praying and preparing, watching and working to bring the kingdom of God to earth, as it is in heaven (Matthew 6:10). O Lord, if you kept a record of our iniquities, who among us could stand? But there is forgiveness with you, so that you may be revered. May these words become a spiritual sign of our willingness to repent, to become a church that is once again united in humble prayer for redemption and renewal, for rescue (from ourselves, mostly) and for a re-engagement with the good news of the gospel, sharing the reason that we have for the hope in our hearts with our neighbours and the nations (1 Peter 3:15b-16). May the content of this prayer provoke thoughtful reflection and faithful action in our own lives, and in the lives of all who are involved in GC43. Amen.”
“Gracious God, you know we stand at a turning point as a denomination. Once, we were great. We had influence. We had power. From our moderators, prime ministers sought counsel. By legislators, we were regarded as sources of wisdom. Families brought their children to us, trusting that we would guide them in the ways of righteousness. Troubled souls turned to us, asking to be shown the path of salvation.
We are no longer great. Influence and power have deserted us, and society’s decision-makers regard us with suspicion—if not outright disdain. The “ways of righteousness” are seen as quaint by most, as families bring their children not to us, but to Sunday morning hockey practice or soccer league. Souls enquiring of salvation’s path too often discover that we have misplaced the road map.
Out of this chaos and confusion and despair, our commissioners draw nigh unto Oshawa.
Yes, God. They draw nigh. Drawn by your Spirit, they make their pilgrimage: “risking faith and daring hope.” With steps oft uncertain, occasionally bold—yet always resolute—they approach this 43rd meeting of our General Council.
They are us. They move forward because you call them—and because they know they carry us with them: all our hopes, all our dreams, all our fears and anxieties and doubts. They come to gather in convocation for the same cause that all the rest of us—we who still gather, in cities and towns across this nation, as the United Church of Canada—turn out for Sunday worship, and mid-week study, and regular fellowship.
It’s because we get it, Lord. It’s because we understand something about grace. It’s because—somehow, somewhere—we learned to trust you enough to not run away. To not turn our backs upon you or upon one another. It’s because we found out that perseverance is a huge part of discipleship.
More than that, it’s because we’ve discovered that the apostle Paul was right: we are the Body of Christ, and individually members of it. And we have care and concern for one another.
Even more than that, it’s because the True Vine—the One to whom we have by faith been grafted, apart from whom we can accomplish nothing—calls us to abide in him and bear fruit for him, fruit that will last.
And so it is, God of grace and power and mercy; God of healing and reconciliation and peace …
So it is—for our General Council and for ourselves—we pray:
From a spirit of contention which would destroy our unity; Good Lord, deliver us.
From a spirit of rage which would destroy our love; Good Lord, deliver us.
From a spirit of despair which would destroy our hope; Good Lord, deliver us.
From pride of self which leaves no room for your Spirit; Good Lord, deliver us—for Jesus’ sake. Amen.”
“Almighty God, we first acknowledge that all we have is your’s. You created this universe and all that is in it, and we praise you for the gift of life. We also acknowledge the Church is your’s as well, including the United Church of Canada. We are simple stewards of all you have entrusted to our care. In that, Lord, we ask for your guidance and support as we look into the future of this church. We ask for your Holy Spirit to lead those preparing to attend GC43 and also for those planning it.
And when we do gather in a few weeks, may there be a peace that you only can provide. May there be a vision of unity as we seek to move forward, and may you guide every discussion and every decision.
Bless your church, O God. Use it to further your kingdom here on this earth, as it is in heaven. We pray this in the strong name of Jesus Christ, our Lord and our Saviour. Amen.”
“Gracious God, Source of Love and Life, we pray now for everyone preparing for the meeting of General Council. The time is approaching, so we pray for all the “lists” be they in mind, on phones, or on sticky notes. Lists of so many things…what to prepare at home or work before leaving for the meeting; what to pack for a week away; so many things to remember like charging cords and medications and weather-appropriate clothing; car servicing if there’s a long drive involved; confirming child-care arrangements on site; and so much more.
But the other lists – the theological ones, are being made as well… remembering to listen to others intentionally and carefully; seeing each person as a beloved child of Your making; beginning and ending each day with prayer; stopping to pray with someone who is having a tough day; remaining open to new ideas; leading with faith and not with fear.
God, may the lists of seemingly small, but important things, be manageable and not overwhelming. May the lists of profound significance be so fulfilled that Your presence will be palpable when all gather in Oshawa.
May folks arrive to the meeting confident that they are prepared for the week ahead, and may they know the presence of Christ by their side – the same Christ whose Spirit is our gift, grace, and guide. We pray in his strong name. Amen.”
We celebrate Your goodness to us each and every day. In a world where darkness would press in, Your light dispels it. You invite us to walk in Your light and we pray this for our commissioners. We pray that they would walk in Your light. Grant them wisdom to discern the path You have set for Your church. Give them courage to speak out in Your truth when it may be unpopular. Give them perseverance as they read through the required documents. We are thankful for the people You have raised to lead us in these times, may they be faithful to You and blessed.
Lord, we also pray for each congregation within Your church that they might also seek Your wisdom as they move forward in a time of change. Help them keep their eyes on Jesus, remembering to love others in all they do.
We ask these things in the name of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ!”
“Almighty and Most Merciful Father, we thank You and praise You for the manifold ways in which You have blessed us, Your children, collectively and individually. We stand in awe of who You are and what You’ve done through your Son, Jesus Christ. We love you, Lord!
We pray this morning for the expression of Your Church that we find ourselves in, The United Church of Canada. God, we acknowledge that our institutional impulses and hang-ups have, at times, caused us to stray from your ways like lost sheep. We have too often followed the deceits and desires of our own hearts, instead of living with a posture of utter trust and reliance upon You. For this and our other sins, forgive us, Lord.
Wonderful Creator, make us into the likeness of Jesus, we pray. By the power of the Holy Spirit—the same Spirit that raised Him from the dead—resurrect our lives with new life, new energy, a new passion for Your name. Grant us hope for the future which only You can see, humility about our own limited perspective about what is to come, and the wisdom to know the difference.
As GC43 approaches, we pray for all the leaders, clergy, laypeople, commissioners, stewards, and behind-the-scenes servants, who will come together in Oshawa to make decisions about the direction this church is heading in the years ahead. We pray that what we profess to believe about gatherings of church courts would actually happen—infill the commissioners and the whole room in which they meet with the tangible, physical, overwhelming, and undeniable presence of Your Holy Spirit. Show Yourself to them, O God, so that the decisions that they make and the votes that they cast would be deeply informed by Holy Scripture and by Your Living Word as you move in their midst.
Strong Deliverer, You are mighty to save, and we bless your name. May you see fit to preserve us and empower us to continue our participation in this Kingdom work to which You have called us. May You revive Your Church, across denominational lines and human divisiveness. We seek to do Your will. In the most holy and powerful name of our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ, we ask all these things. Amen.
Today’s prayer for General Council comes from Rev. Heather Joy James on this, the National Day of Indigenous People. To view the archive of all prayers being offered in the lead up to GC43 click here.
“Great God of the Universe, we come to you with heavy hearts, weary from a world gone wrong. We Canadians stand on our home and native land that does not belong to us. We have not honoured you in all that we do. We have not loved our neighbour as ourselves. We have not always protected and cared for the sea, the land, the sky. We have not always been in right relationship with you and with one another. But we want to. Today, we repent, and turn from our broken and selfish ways. Today, we accept your offer of mercy, healing, and grace. Today we breathe in your love, and we breathe out the habits and hangups that have caused harm to your creation.
As we look towards the the General Council, prepare our hearts, O God, to listen to you, to listen to one another, and to be ready and willing to follow the light of Christ above all else. Turn our hearts to you, O God. Keep us mindful of your Spirit in every breath, every moment, every creature. Keep us present with your Holy Spirit as we move through our days, and keep us willing to move with your Spirit as you give us eyes to see and ears to hear your will and your direction. From the beginning of time, you have been Creator and protector, Redeemer and friend, you are our loving parent, and we are your children. Guide us, o holy one, and set our hearts in tune with yours. Amen.”