A word before we start. That first Easter was a time of failure, and rescue. Israel, the Jews, Pilate, even the disciples failed Jesus. Yet through His death and His resurrection, we are all rescued. That first Easter was the turning point, the rolling away of the stone of death. Echoes of it can be seen in our everyday lives, if only we look for them. Lord, we bring to you today our prayers for the people.
Lord, we give thanks that the War in Iraq is over.
We pray earnestly, for the Iraqi people. While some cry "Victory", thousands lay dead, and many more are injured. The country is in ruins. There is no water; no electricity; no infrastructure. The shops have been looted, the museums pillaged; their history and culture destroyed. The initial cries of ’welcome’ to the ’liberators’ have become shouts of ’unwelcome’ to the ’occupiers’.
We confess that we failed in our feeble attempts to prevent the war in Iraq. We turned away from You, and your guidance, and listening to the false Gods of desire, power, and technology, we sent people with guns to make peace.
We pray that through you, the world will rescue the Iraqi peoples from the trouble and turmoil that they are now experiencing. We pray that you will bring comfort to the family and friends of all those hurt or killed in wars, regardless of who they are, or where they live. As each unwillingly begins a new life, we pray that you will help them build that new life on a foundation of love, and forgiveness.
Similarly, we give thanks and pray for the coming talks between North Korea, China and the United States. May they not fail. Lord, we pray for Smart Politicians, not Smart Bombs. For compromise and co-operation not shock and awe.
And we pray for the peoples of Palestine and Israel. May they be rescued from violence and aggression, and delivered into peace and harmony.
Lord, we give thanks for the safe delivery of those who travel our roads and freeways. For the family whose car plunged over the Great Ocean Road, but who, in your keeping, were unhurt.
And we pray for all the others who die or are injured each year in road accidents. Last year there were 1,725 fatalities on our roads, each a brother, or sister, mother or father, uncle, aunt, cousin, nephew, niece or friend. Yet we know them only as a statistic. A number. We pray for their families and friends. As they unwillingly begin their new lives without their loved ones, may they be strengthened by your presence. And we pray for a time when there will be no deaths or injuries on our roads.
Lord, we give thanks that the infamous Woomera detention centre is now closed.
But we acknowledge that we have failed the detainees, since they have simply been moved to other detention centres. They come to us for protection and for a new life, but we deny them and lock them away in distant prisons, out of sight and out of mind. We label them criminals, or terrorists, detainees or illegal immigrants, but never people, or human beings. Lord, rescue us from this myopia of the heart. We pray that our leaders will roll away the gates, just as you rolled away the stone.
Lord, we give thanks for doctors, nurses, ambulance drivers, natural therapists, psychologists, cardiologists, physiotherapists, and so on. Rather than make lists of -ists, we pray for, and give thanks for all of the caring professions. Just as the women tended the body of Jesus, so do each of these care for us.
And we pray for those who are ill, or suffering. They may have physical illnesses, such as cancer, heart conditions, arthritis, or have suffered strokes. They may have addictions to alcohol, cigarettes or drugs. They may have emotional problems or have difficulty coping with life, or with family. They might suffer from mental illness, such as schizophrenia, or depression, or phobias. They might just be lonely, or friendless. Too often we fail them because they are difficult to deal with or hard to help, or just unpleasing to our eyes. We wish to follow in Jesus’ footsteps, yet at the same time walk past our less fortunate brothers and sisters. We pray that you will rescue them from our callous and self-serving attitudes.
For just a few minutes, we pray silently for those whom we know, who we are not able to mention; for those who have failed us, and for those whom we have failed; for friends or families in need.
(Lord, we pray for: insert names here)
Lord, Some Rolling Stones once sang that they ’could not get no satisfaction’. But through you, the rolling stone at Jesus’ tomb brings immeasurable satisfaction.
We give thanks for all the stones that you roll away, for all the doors that you open in our lives, and we pray that each door will lead us closer to you.
It is easy to see demons all around us. Yet, just as you sent an Angel with the good news about Jesus, so you send many others with the same message.
We pray for the Uniting Church, Presbytery, the Synod, the Elders, the congregations, and for its ministers. We pray especially for our Minister, and for our congregation and its elders.
It is said that the Roman guards on duty at the tomb fell and became as dead men when the tomb was opened. We pray that the guards which we have ordered to entomb our hearts, may be so cast down, that they may be filled with the Holy Spirit.
Lord, just as the disciples did not recognize the risen Jesus, so we do not always recognize the spirit as it moves through us, and others. Our knowledge and understanding of you is imperfect, as we are imperfect.
If others do not look exactly as we do, we think they are wrong. If others do not do exactly as we do, we think they are wrong. If others do not think exactly as we do, we think they are wrong.
Lord, as cultures change, as societies change, as even our very faith itself changes, we pray that you will continue to guide us, and to keep our hearts and eyes open to your will. Help us to see the truth of the resurrection played out everyday in our lives.