Rev. Fowler’s Call To Peace and Prayer

A Call to Prayer

My sisters and brothers in Christ,

Our prayer time today has a singular focus – PEACE.

The great national tragedy last Wednesday has brought great pain in my soul due to the continuing crisis of violence in America. Wednesday, violence invaded the solemn halls of our democracy in what most people thought would never be possible.

Today’s prayer focus is NOT political, though some will insist on seeing it that way. But those who have listened to me for any length of time know that politics and partisanship are not a part of my leadership, though we have certainly often prayed for ALL political leaders in the past.

No, today I lead us in this prayer focus because I am heartsick at the violence that we have all become far too accustomed to, and which at times we participate in or accept. This prayer focus is to again make crystal clear that those who follow Jesus must never condone, accept or participate in violence, whether in thought, word, or deed, and should seek to prevent it where possible.

Rather, as Jesus did, they must reject, denounce, and condemn violence as a means of settling disputes or in routine human interactions.

Violence is any thought, word, or deed that harms, demeans, diminishes, or devalues the physical, emotional, mental, or spiritual welfare of another person. And I am heartsick at how much violence I see:

I AM HEARTSICK....at the violence of drugs that continue to ravage lives and families and communities.....and I am devastated to have to stand, again and again, and conduct funerals of those victimized by drugs, usually young souls.

I AM HEARTSICK ...... at the toxic and poisonous violent words, people aim at each other on the internet, often just because they see the world differently.

I AM HEARTSICK...... that I had to visit an innocent person in the hospital who was shot in an act of violence, and that I have to read almost daily of gun violence all around us.

I AM HEARTSICK......that differing political points of view in families have led to such violent disagreements, that forgiveness, grace, and understanding have been lost, and family unity has been poisoned.

I AM HEARTSICK......that some of our Hispanic community fear going to certain places in our town because they fear the violence of verbal harassment.

I AM HEARTSICK......at the memory of standing next to a coffin with a pretty teenage girl in it, who took her own life because she was mercilessly attacked by the violence of bullying.

I AM HEARTSICK......at hearing about and listening to divorced parents whose need for revenge and spite creates a perpetually violent verbal environment in which they use their children as pawns and leave lasting scars on those young souls.

I AM HEARTSICK......at the mental pain a teenager in our congregation is enduring because of the violent Judgement of others about their sexual identity, and pray they will not carry out their threat of suicide.

I AM HEARTSICK.......at the racism in our communities and country, both expressed and implied, which causes people of color to live in anxiety and fear for no other reason than because of how God created them. And I cry with them and their families over the violent cruelty of bigotry and prejudice directed at them, including that expressed toward some in my own family.

YES, I AM HEARTSICK AT ALL OF THE VIOLENCE THAT IS CONSUMING OUR COUNTRY, AND YOU SHOULD BE HEARTSICK TOO.

In addition to our prayers, I call all Jesus followers to refuse to support, tolerate, encourage, or ignore such violence and to work to prevent it when possible.

I call Jesus followers to speak and live against anything which harms, demeans, diminishes, or devalues the physical, emotional, mental, or spiritual welfare of any of God’s children.

WHY?

Because Jesus followers should understand that his entire life, teaching, and example for us to follow, was one of peace and non-violence and that he called his followers to live that way as well.

WHY?

Because we know that the salvation and deliverance we have received from the cross, and for which we are so grateful, is completely and thoroughly the result of Jesus’ choice to refuse violence.

That is why we call our leader the prince of peace.

And so today we pray for peace, in all its applications and dimensions.

We begin with a period of silent prayer....as I ask you to pray for peace in those places in your thoughts, words, and actions wherein you know you need to let peace prevail. Also, to pray for peace in that part of our world that is especially important to you.

After silence, we will have a responsive prayer. After I offer a prayer for a certain aspect of peace, the congregation will hear the prompt.......AND THE CHURCH PRAYS.....and your verbal response will be LORD, HEAR OUR PRAYER AND HEAL US.

Let the church be in prayer

Lord God, we confess that we have not always been agents of your peace; we have hurt others with words and deeds; we have been quick to judge and slow to listen, and we have put being right over being kind......AND THE CHURCH PRAYS.....LORD HEAR OUR PRAYER AND HEAL US.

Merciful Father, we confess that even with our own dearest ones in our family, we have spoken harshly, been thoughtless, and hurt those we love most. We confess that our selfish desires and prideful words have hurt those whom we love...... AND THE CHURCH PRAYS...LORD HEAR OUR PRAYER AND HEAL US.

God of eternal love, we pray for peace and harmony between people who think differently from one another. Guide us to Christlike wisdom to put people above politics and souls above opinions.....AND THE CHURCH PRAYS...LORD HEAR OUR PRAYER AND HEAL US.

Heavenly Father, Creator of all of your children, we pray for peace among people who look, act and speak differently from one another. Remind us that you created each person as a loveable, capable, and worthy soul and that by your will you made each of us different, yet all a part of your family.....AND THE CHURCH PRAYS...LORD HEAR OUR PRAYER AND HEAL US.

Lord God, we pray for peace between us and our friends. May precious ties of life and love over the years yield to abundant grace and mercy, even when we disagree and see things differently...AND THE CHURCH PRAYS......LORD HEAR OUR PRAYER AND HEAL US.

O God of truth, we pray that you would guard our tongue, for we know it can be a fire doing great damage. Help us to lovingly think before we speak, and to be silent if we cannot speak gently...AND THE CHURCH PRAYS.....LORD HEAR OUR PRAYER AND HEAL US.

O God of the whole universe, we pray for peace in our country in this time of sad division; teach us again that violence is sin and that Jesus calls us to love our neighbors as ourselves...... and we pray too for peace among the nations, that leaders will choose cooperation over conflict......AND THE CHURCH PRAYS...LORD HEAR OUR PRAYER AND HEAL US.

O God of peace, justice, mercy, and truth...... use your Church as an instrument of your peace wherever there is violence that harms, demeans, or diminishes any of your children...... AND THE CHURCH PRAYS......LORD HEAR OUR PRAYER AND HEAL US.

And the church prays in the unity of the Spirit and with one voice, the words that our Lord Jesus Christ taught us to say together.....OUR FATHER.....