Thanksgiving in Times Like These

God of all great gifts,
hear our thanksgiving prayer!
Thank you for this beautiful world spinning its way through space,
the earth, our home, magnificent beyond understanding.
Thank you for the golden sun beaming out energy,
and for moonlight and starlight gracing the night.
Thank you for the cycle of seasons and most particularly for autumn:
streams of golden grain flowing from combines,
fresh green and red apples mounded on market shelves,
pumpkins lined up at roadside stands.   

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Sermon: Travelling Mercies on Family Journeys – Genesis 37:17-35

The story of Joseph and his brothers has captured our attention for thousands of years. It’s a story of family violence. A story of a family walking a long journey with the consequences of that violence. It’s a story of how God can take violent people and turn them around.

Why did violence happen in that family? Maybe it wasn’t the coat they saw in the distance that tipped the balance on the day Joseph was sold into Egypt. Maybe it wasn’t because Joseph was a tattle tale, squealing on his brothers. Maybe it wasn’t the father’s love given unequally, unfairly. Maybe it wasn’t because of the dreams.  Maybe it wasn’t any of those things. Maybe it was simply the weather was too hot, everyone was cranky.

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Truth and Reconciliation Congregational Prayer

Thank you, God, for everything that is true and good:
for true love, and good friendships,
for true stories, and all who tell them,
for the good earth, which is truly a home for all your creatures. 
Thank you for all who seek the truth;
journalists who try to reveal injustice,
scientists who figure out how things work,
judges who listen to every side.
Thank you for the desire for truth
that you put inside each one of us,

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Before the Election Prayer

Almighty God, we need your presence in our land during this election time.

Guide the candidates to campaign fairly and present their viewpoints honestly.

Guide the voters as they listen and assess the positions of the different parties.

Jesus, you cared for those who were poor, physically challenged, social outcasts.

Walk with us into the voting booth and help us make a wise decision,

taking into account not only our own needs, but the needs of others.
Inspire many to vote, so the will of the people can be heard. 

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Labour Day Prayer in an Ongoing Pandemic

Thank you, God, for the changes that fall brings:
the sun sleeping in a bit longer each morning,
the cooler temperatures, the quiet dark evenings.
As peaches disappear from the market,
we have early apples, fresh and crisp.
The usual bustle of preparation for school and fall routines
feels different this year.
We are filled with uncertainty because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

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Sermon: Really Listening, The Story of the Wheat and the Tares – Matthew 13:24-30

It is sometimes very complicated to read the Bible and figure out a way forward. The best way to read the Bible is not to do it alone, but to do it with open ears…to listen to how other faithful people are reading the Bible, and to pray for God’s spirit to guide us. To listen not just to how people are interpreting the Bible in our congregation, or in our own conference, but to listen to the wider church here and around the world. And, importantly, can we listen to our own history, and see where we went wrong?  Can we listen to the terrible things that happen when we read only one bible story, and ignore another? 

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Longest Night Prayer

There are good years and bad years,
and then there are years from hell.
Hear our prayer, O God, for all who suffer.
You hear the anguished cries,
you collect our tears,
you know when hearts turn to stone. 
Send a Saviour now with good news
for those who sit in the shadow of death:

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Prayer of Thanks for Teachers in a Pandemic Year

Thank you, God, for teachers
whose work this pandemic year
has made such a difference
in the lives of students and their families.
For the way they showed care and concern through a screen;
for hours spent adapting lessons to an on-line format;
for the way they made learning fun;
for the keeping track of every student,
even the ones that didn’t show up;

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Sermon: Swearing Oaths: Taking Jesus’ Words to Heart – Exodus 22:10-11, Matthew 5:33-37

Truth-telling.  From the time we are very little, we know that the truth matters.   There’s a phrase from my childhood, “Cross my heart and hope to die”…words we say to show that we are really really telling the truth.  It’s actually an oath…although it’s lost its religious meaning.  “Cross my heart”…which is a religious symbol, calling God to bear witness, and “hope to die”, meaning,  if I don’t tell the truth, may God strike me dead!We need to know whether people are telling the truth.  Whether it’s the person who is selling us a car, the person we are dating, or a politician to whom we give power…we want to know that they are trustworthy.  We make decisions and base our lives on people telling us the truth.

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About Carol Penner

I am a Mennonite pastor currently teaching theology at Conrad Grebel University College in Waterloo, Ontario. I’ve served congregations in Ontario and most recently, Alberta.

I love to write and to lead worship! If you are finding my writing helpful, I would love to hear from you! Feel free to use or adapt the material here, it is all written by me. If printing material, please credit “Copyright Carol Penner” (and say whether you modified it). If publishing, please contact me for permission. Contact me at

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