Congregational Prayers

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Holy Father,

From the very beginning of Creation Your desire and intent for us was that we might live and walk in eternal fellowship with You. When You set man down in the Garden of Eden, among those trees You gave him for food was the Tree of Life, that he might eat and live forever in the presence of his Creator. With the Fall came that banishment from the garden and the onset of decline and death that is now the hallmark of our earthly attendance. But You, Oh Immutable Lord, have not wavered in Your desire that man should be restored and walk with You in the beauty of Paradise, and in Trinitarian harmony, set in motion that timeless plan of redemption, sending Your only begotten Son to take upon Himself the consequences of humanity’s fall. How somber and necessary that He should live the fleeting and mournful human life, and die the human death, crushed by sin and Your holy wrath. How common to our experience – how representative of our state. That Christ should enter that same tomb of death that awaits each of us unites Him in our suffering and aligns Him with our misery and shame. But a Christ’s death alone, regardless of how characteristic and identifiable, does not save or benefit us. What fellowship have a dead people with a dead God? No, the tomb was not our salvation, but the prelude and pathway to it. Our hope and restoration lay not in Christ’s death, but in His victorious resurrection! It is in our identification with Christ in His death that seals us to His fate, and binds us to Him not only in His suffering and death, but in the glory to come – His rising to eternal life! We died as men in the Garden, but we died in Christ in our baptism, and as Christ rose to life on Resurrection Sunday, so too, are we risen to life, no longer mere men, but Children of God and coheirs with Christ. And as we feed upon our Risen Christ, our blossomed Tree of Life, we are already walking the streets of the new Jerusalem, and live and breathe and have our being in the holy presence of our Creator God – the culmination of that redemption plan forged before time itself. He is risen to life, and we are with Him raised!

As resurrected citizens of the Kingdom of God, You have nevertheless ordained that we tarry a while in this foreign land. While we, the restored, yet live in the Kingdom of Man, we are called to service and sacrifice. Among such services are our prayers and petitions on behalf of the world and Church. We pray now for these charges You have given us. We pray for our civil magistrate, our President, Congress and Justices, our state and local authorities. Grant them wisdom and health, steering them by their hearts as a horse by its bridle, leading them to will and to act according to Your purposes.

We pray for Your vineyard, Your new Eden, the Holy Church Universal, that She may grow and prosper in soils rich and poor. May Your planting and watering and nourishing and pruning cause Her to grow into the likeness of that Tree of Life Who is Her Savior. Be with our sick, our sorrowful, our fearful and distressed, we who still struggle with sin and disease and the dregs of the Curse. Comfort us and remind us of the rising of our Lord and the promise that portends. Be with our elders and deacons and ministers of the Word, that Your Church would be protected and prospered and that the glories of Christ and His resurrection would be made known to men everywhere.

We pray these things in the name of Jesus Christ, our Tree of Life, our Holy Vine, from Whom we receive all things in this life and the life to come.