“Supporting, inspring and connecting Christ-centred leaders and congregations within the United Church of Canada”

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.