By Rev. Harold McKeithen
September 25, 2017

Lord, you have called your church, as you called Israel of old, to be your vineyard in the world, producing good fruit worthy of your character and purposes.

You have called us to be branches of the vine which is Christ, standing for what is good and true and loving in a world beset with what is bad and false and hateful.

You have called us to emulate witnesses of the past who took up their own crosses and followed Jesus with exemplary and costly fidelity.

Give us the courage, as political people, to be steady advocates for negotiation and reconciliation in a world governed by people who believe that they can only be safe and secure through confrontation and domination.

Give us the capacity, as spiritual people, to practice a kind of godly religion which brings people closer together rather than a kind of ungodly religion which drives them farther apart.  May the covenant between Williamsburg Presbyterian Church and St. Bede’s Roman Catholic Church and the developing relationship between Williamsburg Presbyterian Church and the Presbyterian Church in Guatemala and the enthusiastic participation of our church with non-Presbyterians in rising against hunger and providing harbor for the homeless be a continuing testimony to the kind of religion to which we are committed.

Give us the ability, as thinking people, not to become addicted to writers and speakers who simply reinforce our most cherished opinions and make it hard for us to entertain seriously ideas which might necessitate any change of mind.

Give us, as people of self interest, a genuine concern for other people which expresses itself in earnest prayers, kind words, thoughtful deeds and generous gifts.  We lift up for your loving care the loved ones of our members who have recently died and those of our members who are dealing with illnesses and injuries from which recovery is possible and those for whom it is not.  We pray that you will also be a source of empathy and of reassurance to those who now are seeing death as a friend rather than an enemy.

Give us, as family people, appreciation for the winsome qualities of those we love, patience with the irksome qualities of those we love and increasing awareness of the ways in which we ourselves are an aggravation to those we love.

Dear God, before your face generations rise and pass away.  You are the strength of those who labor, the rest of the blessed dead.  We rejoice in the company of your saints.  We remember all who have lived and died in faith, and especially those dear to us who rest in you and whom we name silently before you. . . . . Give us at length our portion with those who have trusted in you and have tried earnestly to do your holy will in a world which does not gladly welcome that.  To your name, with the church on earth and the church in heaven, we ascribe all honor and glory and pray together as your Son taught us, 

Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed by Thy name.  Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.  Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors.  And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.  For thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever.  Amen 

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By Pastor John Morgan
September 18, 2017

In life and in death, we belong to you O Lord.  We are so grateful that you have called us your very own and that everything in our life and even our death is lived out under your watchful care. 

You are with us in the everyday activities of our lives.  You wake us in the morning with a fresh beginning.  You walk with us through our daily tasks.  You give us daily food to sustain our bodies so that we can serve you.  At work you guide us in decisions, at school you open our minds to new ideas, at play you laugh with us.  You have given us friends and family with whom we share our lives.  Help us Lord, to be more aware of your presence in our daily life.

Thank you Lord, for being with us in the struggles of life.  When we are exhausted from the toil and stress of our days give us your peace and rest.  When we are in pain and suffering in times of illness, bring us your healing and the balm of your presence.  When we feel lost and are not sure which way to go, direct our steps and lead us into paths of your will.

We confidently lift up those who we know need your care this day: those in the hospital, those undergoing treatment, those who are depressed, those who just need a helping hand, those who are dealing with grief.  Hold them in your loving arms and let them know they belong to you and you will never let them go.

We also pray for our country and our world. We continue to lift us those whose lives have been devastated by hurricanes, fires and earthquakes.  Be with those aid responders as they give assistance as they help people put their lives back together.  We pray for the places where violence and aggression have shattered the peace of everyday living.  For London after the bombing and the ethnic cleansing in Myanmar where people are fleeing for their lives.  We pray for some diplomatic solution to the aggression being shown by North Korea and fervently pray that the impasse can be bridged before it deteriorates into war.

In life and in death we belong to you.  Be with those who are facing death to know that you will never leave them.  Be with us that we might live with the courage and assurance that we belong to you no matter what.  And remind us always of the joy which will come when your reign covers the earth as the waters cover the sea.
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By Rev. Rachel Christine Hébert
September 10, 2017

Beloved God, we praise you for this beautiful morning, from sunshine, to crisp winds, to lush fauna all around us, reminding us that all creation joins in praising you. We feel this new season of life upon us, with the bustle of the William and Mary campus as our sleepy town wakes once more, to watching school buses down streets, reminding us that school has started once more. We pray for all of those who have started a new academic year, for the transitions that life constantly seems to bring. We pray that homesickness would be alleviated, that anxieties would be soothed, and that friendships would blossom in unexpected places. Grant each of us a willingness to learn something new, to see You and learn about how you have been and are at work in the world around us. Because God, we so badly need you at work in this world.

We pray for brothers and sisters across this world who have been impacted by natural disasters over these past few weeks. For people in Texas who recover from the devastating effects of Harvey. For those in the Caribbeans, who will be without electricity and power for months as a result of Irma. For those in Florida, who have already started to see and feel the effects of this powerful hurricane. For those in Mexico and Guatemala, and other Central American countries just south of us, who were hit both with an earthquake and a hurricane. For those out west, where wildfires ravage all in its wake. O God, we are never so painfully aware of how small and insignificant we are, than when we see the devastation and hear of lives lost. Our souls long for homes, for places to find rest, and when our physical homes are destroyed, we feel it at a deeper level. God be with rescue workers, and with doctors and nurses, who provide time and energies at risk to their own health to care for others. We pray that you would become home to all those who are without, that you would wrap loving arms around them, that you would give all those providing aid with clarity, alertness, and grace. May our prayers be words that our siblings across the globe be sources of comfort, bringing words when they are unable to speak, and our ability to lament and grieve with them.

We are reminded, O God, that we were never meant to do life alone, that we have a need for others in our lives. We see this perhaps most especially throughout our church this day, as we see the various ministries of the church alive and active. We are grateful for the many ways in which your people give of their time and energy to be witnesses to you, from our church staff, to elders and deacons, to those who volunteer in countless ways to educate others, to discern and utilize our resources, to serve others, and to enjoy the wonders of worship and fellowship with each other. It takes more than one person to make up a community, and even then, it takes listening to each other, being patient with each other, speaking up when the Spirit moves us. O God, we pray for this sense of community to not just be present here in Williamsburg, but across the world, that warring factions, both politically, spiritually, and physically, would find themselves more willing to listen and show compassionate peace, rather than advance their own agendas for the sake of power and supremacy. For we have seen how truly full and rich lives comes not from wealth or personal gain, but by being in relationship with others, by listening to their stories, and sharing our own, and being so beautifully aware of your face—your beacon of love—shining through all.

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By Rev. Rachel Christine Hébert
August 28, 2017

Loving Creator, we find ourselves in awe of the world around us. We see evidence of creation praising you, in the swaying of branches in the Spirit’s breeze, waving arms of praise to you. We feel the sun’s rays warming our faces and see plants unfurling to lift their faces to you. We hear animal’s voices and the insect’s melody join in crying out Hosanna! Alleluia!

But God, our hearts cry out to you in other ways--we cry out to you with prayers of “Help us, help us, help us.” We continue to feel the ripple effects of Charlottesville across our states, in other cities and towns where rallies based on fear trigger violence, even in the face of those who seek non-violence and peace. Terror and fear run rampant across the globe, from Spain to the Middle East. O God, how we need you. We are reminded that we are finite and prone to fear, but you, O God, are one of love, and your love is infinite. This world needs signs of your love, is desperately seeking ways to reach together, to grasp hands, lock arms, and say NO to the darkness that is fear, terror, and violence. Help us to reach across divides and divisions, to seek common ground in the faces of those who look and believe differently from us, and grant us the grace to see them as precious children created in your image. Love will forever conquer fear, and light pierce any doom we might perceive, so help us to be light and image bearers, searching more for the light in others, than ways to extinguish your light within them.

God the earth cries out to you as well. We hear of earthquakes in Italy, mudslides in Congo, and can already see the effects of hurricane Harvey in the Texas area. Be with our brothers and sisters across the globe, as homes are destroyed, as the efforts of nesting and creating a space that is safe and welcoming are now collapsing and filling with water.  Help us to be more attentive to creation, to not be so consumed with dominating land, but seeing the many ways in which this earth provides a safe and welcoming space for us. For trees that help give us the air we need to breathe, for flowers and fauna that inspire beauty and artistry that our souls need, for sun and rain, both of which nourish the earth, just as you provide nourishment for us as well.

Grant us nourishment, inspiration, and moments to just breathe. You provide us with nourishment, with food to fill our bodies so that we might do your work. We are provided with nourishment in the form of medications, medication that helps us physically, mentally, and emotionally. We pray for all those where there is no nourishment of medication, for those who have seen the ways in which medication has failed, for those who abuse medication. 

We are grateful for inspiration, for the beauty of music--organ and trumpet--, for the rhythm of poetry, for the artistry of photographs, sculptures, and paintings. Creation inspires us, and reminds us that we are to be creators as well, creators of homes, of food, creators of friendships, and creative ways in which to reach out and serve others.

In all things, O God, help us to just take every moment one breath at a time. We can become so swept away in the busyness of life, in the craziness of transitions, in our own emotions ranging from excitement to anxiety, that we forget you are with us, that you are beside us, telling us to just breathe. We breathe your Spirit in now O God, and breathe out the prayer you taught us, saying…

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By Rachel Hebert
August 14, 2017

O God of newness, we are grateful for the sunrise of this new day, for our spirits are in need of rebirth and renewal, and every day reminds us of that promise.

O Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayers.

God you remind us that fear is the greatest enemy to love. We are reminded of those who perished with the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan, 72 years ago this week, and are reminded of the deadly combination of fear and power combined, and the innocent lives that are sacrificed at a physical, mental, and emotional level, from soldiers to civilians.

O Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayers.

God of grace, we feel the vines of fear and the grasping for power across the world. From political elections, to world leaders threatening each nation, to civil wars that still have not ceased.  

O Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayers.

Loving God, we feel the fear so near to us with the rallies in Charlottesville over this weekend. We weep, unable to understand how such hatred and violence can still be manifest? We pray for all those involved, for the peace-makers who were killed, to those who believe that individualism and skin color is more important and of more value than peace and unity.

O Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayers.

God of Strength, we can feel so overwhelmed by fear, can feel its suffocating powers distracting us, leaving us speechless and numb. When such fear strikes so close to home, we can be lost in our own maelstrom of thoughts and emotions that we forget that you have already extended a hand towards us. Help us to reach out to you and grasp the hand in the midst of the storm.

O Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayers.

Hear our prayers for this world, and it is because you call us to boldly approach the throne of grace, that we boldly pray that love will be the conquering force in this world. Help us to spread love, to be your instruments of love. That we would be aware of our own microaggressions that contribute to sexism and racism, that contribute to judging others and putting others down to build ourselves up, that contribute to caring more for our status, our privilege, our individualism, rather than for the sick, the lonely, the homeless, and our community.

O Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayers.

Hear our prayers for never-ending love and peace. You are writing a story of peace, and you wish to use our gifts, to use the precious ways in which we can be bearers of truth and life. Help us to proclaim the good news, that fear, power, and hatred will never win, but that love, grace, and peace are the pillars of your kingdom, a kingdom that we are citizens within. The storms may threaten us, but we have faith in You—even faith as small as a mustard seed—O God of truth and grace, that we will never be shaken or moved, and that nothing in this world, can separate us from your love.

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