Sermon: Praying for Hope in Gaza – Matthew 2:1-23, Ecclesiastes 4:1-3

Jesus was a child refugee in Gaza. We can see Jesus’ face in the many children in Gaza today. And the weeping of the parents in Bethlehem described in our scripture resonates with so many images we’ve seen in the last few weeks of Israeli and Arab parents wailing. “A voice was heard in Rama, wailing and loud lamentation, Rachel weeping for her children, she refused to be consoled, because they are no more.”

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Late Stage Pandemic Prayer

God of hope, we need your presence here,
because sometimes hope is in short supply.
We’ve been dealing with this pandemic for a year,
and we are so very tired of this all.
Thank you that scientists were able to develop vaccines in short order
and we celebrate that some people have had their shots already. 
We need your help with this vaccine rollout to make it fair,
so that the most needy get it soonest. 
We pray for countries where no vaccines are available,

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Prayer for the 22nd Century

Remember your angels and their glorias,
their promise of “on earth peace”?
God Almighty, we are wondering what is going on.
Jesus was wonderful, and yes, in my heart there lives a melody,
but honestly, things are getting out of hand.
We need an intervention.
Hatred growing, prejudice spewing, greed hoarding, and
tick tick tick goes the doomsday clock and
drip drip drip goes the great Antarctic shelf.
What are we to do with all these new babies 
hopeful and fresh faced, looking at us expectantly?
When it’s time to hand it over, what have we got?

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Pandemic Prayer

Spirit of Hope, can you hear us calling?
This is our pandemic prayer.
You see the virus, and chart its path.
You are with the sick and with those who die,
you are with the caregivers taking such great precautions;
you know our fears of the unseen.
We need your help to keep the virus at bay!
Help us stay vigilant, as we wash our hands
for the thousandth time, as we again mask up
and make choices not to mingle….

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God our Provider Call to Worship

God our Provider,
we walked into church today
needing you in different ways.
Some of us need strength
because we are facing a big challenge.
Some of us need hope,
because we are feel like giving up.
Some of us need love
because we are feeling alone.
We trust that you will provide for us,
whether through words or music,
or in a quiet moment of reflection.
You are here,
you are with us.
Bless our time together. Amen.

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Blue Christmas Prayer

There are good years and bad years,
hear our prayer O God, for all who are slogging.
You know the tears that slide into pillows at night,
you hear the cries of people at the end of their rope.
We acknowledge that not all is sparkling and bright,
and that people are desperate for glad tidings.
And so we pray for good news;
for children being hurt by their parents,
who fear the people they also love;
for teenagers who struggle because they are being bullied
not just at school, but at home through social media;
for young adults who are caught
in the web of drug addiction;

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Hopeful Advent Prayer

On this most beautiful of mornings
we come with thankfulness for life and breath.
Thankful for the brilliant blue of the winter sky,
for the bracing pinch of the cold wind on our cheeks,
for the lacy frost decorating our windows,
for the comfort of coffee and tea and hot chocolate,
for the taste of cinnamon and gingerbread.
Open our eyes to the beauty all around us.
Thank you for another season of advent
where we light a candle of hope
which we need so much in these dark times.

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End of the Year Prayer

We’re still here, God,
another year come and gone 
like a freight train.
Some parts are clear and memorable,
and there are blurry parts that went by too fast.
Thank you for every hug and handshake,
every smile and look of reassurance.
At the end of the year, we sit across the table,
and say “Here we are,” like a benediction.
Our feet are on the ground, this good earth,
thank you for the way we are paying more attention.
Touching, tasting, drinking in the beauty,
inhaling the melodies on the wind that sing the world.

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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 www.leadinginworship.com” (and say whether you modified it). If publishing, please contact me for permission. Contact me at carol@leadinginworship.com

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