What a joy it is to be with you on this Sunday morning, to honor you, to worship you and to love you. We are grateful to be together, to celebrate your baptism, your life and the Epiphany that gives us joy for your ministry and teaching, and hope in your wilderness journey. We are comforted today by your presence. We are humbled by your grace. We are touched by your love.
As we hear the word this morning, we watch in awe the relationship that you have with John the Baptist and the admiration and respect that you share. Not only do we learn from you, but we also learn from John, what it means to serve; what it means to give; and what it means to live with humility. May we learn from him on this day.
And as we read the gospel today, let us learn from you and the steps that you took to show that you understand us and how you come closer to those who follow. May we remember our commitment to you as we witness your baptism. May we remember our temptations as you enter into the wilderness. When we remember, we will feel Your pleasing love and the Spirit’s trusted guidance; all of which will protect us just as they protected your on His tempted journey, and we will be protected in whatever wilderness we encounter. We can know that whatever wilderness is before us, whether financial, grief, illness, anger, job loss, uncertainty, a unknown future….we will have the guidance of your spirit to bring us through.
Let us rely on that guidance as we worry over things we cannot control and we worry about what tomorrow holds. We forget that you are before us and you ask that we not worry about what lies ahead, but that we trust you. As individuals and as a congregation, as we look toward the future, give us the courage to let go of that control and trust that you will guide our path as we open our minds, hearts, and souls to you.
As we remember our own struggles, let us not forget others who struggle and need guidance now.
We are grateful for the story of Ted Williams who was homeless just days ago and now famous for a golden voice and a second chance. Let us remember the other homeless and those caught in addiction; and people in our own communities, who are still unknown, passed by and ignored….may they be given second chances too.
We pray for all who were impacted by the tragedy in Arizona. There is pain, hurt, anger, and frustration pouring out all over the country today. There are questions that may never get answered; words that will leave permanent stings; and tears that will be shed.
Most importantly, there are people who have been hurt in the grimmest of ways.
We pray for Representative Gabrielle Giffords and all who have been injured. Heal them, comfort them.
We pray for those who lives were lost:
Federal Judge John Roll and 9 Year old Christina Greene; Dorwin Stoddard, Phyllis Scheck, Gabe Zimmerman, and Dorothy Murray.
We also pray for the Loughner family, all of them, who we are sure, will be ostracized, ridiculed and blamed; we pray for them, because they have suffered loss too…loss that we will never understand. Prayers are for the assailant, with the understanding that we don’t comprehend his actions, and maybe he doesn’t either, and if there is any way that questions can get answered, confessions said, a hardened heart that can be remorseful, let that be so. You God, may be the only one who can make it so.
We pray for all lives that have been affected by violence and anger over these years; through words and actions. There are too many of them to count and say…too many of them to understand why. We pray that these souls, lives, and spirits will be baptized by the waters of your grace and love and that all the pain, anger, and suffering will be washed away….some day…someday soon.
As the baptismal waters wash away all pain and bring with it new life of grace, we ask for that comfort, as we come to you from our hearts in our silent confessions that we lift up the burdens on our hearts at this time……
As the clouds open up, God looked down and said, “This is my child, whom I am well pleased. May you be pleased with us on this day, and the days that lie ahead. May we please you now with the words taught by your Son as we pray together……