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Prayer/meditation used at Methodist Conference 2006 in relation to what social responsibility might mean in the face of a pandemic or other national catastrophe.

Author. Susan Adams

Gracious God we are glad we belong to a church tradition that calls us from time to time to think about our world – to celebrate creation, to concern our self with stewardship.

We are glad of the example of those who have gone before who worried about their communities and world, and sought to repair damage and to restore relationships.

We are glad that today there are people who ‘worry’ about our world and the capacity of creation to sustain life.

We are glad there are people and organisations and committees who plan for our health and ways of caring for each other.

God of all peoples and places and times inspire us to seize the opportunities of our time in history with faith, hope and love. We cannot always see where the future will lead us, or what will be required of us.

We cannot see what the shape of the church will be, or what will become of the communities of faith we are part of.

Things we have treasured appear to be dying, while trends that make us anxious seem to be emerging.

At times we experience loss, grief and anger, and at other times we feel excitement and hope and that rush of adrenaline that pricks the skin when we are on the edge of the unknown.

We pray we might become aware when a first response is no/can’t/wont’ and to pause and consider why not.

We pray that we might graciously invite one another to remind us that Jesus taught his friends that people who hoard life will lose it yet those who spend theirs for the sake of the good news will find it.

May our hearts and minds be encourage by this memory, may our worrying be replaced with a firmer faith.

May we have the wisdom to bring out from our traditions the stories and ways that inspire us to know we are loved and to love others generously.

In these times of challenge and uncertainty may we not cling too tightly to what we have been, and to what we have always done. Rather may we be filled with a spirit of generosity and courage so we can journey and change, boldly meeting at table in love and hospitality and excitement friends we have not met before.

Encouraged by the life and love and stories of Jesus and those who have lived before us we are so bold as to pray for these things.

Prayer/meditation used at Methodist Conference 2006 in relation the invitation to be open to the presence of the activity of God in people who are different from us.

Author. Susan Adams

Life giving God, present in the genes and chromosomes of our human bodies, present when we were knit together in our Mother’s womb – we know there are times, in self-centered arrogance, when we think we are knit together in a superior way from others – may we have the grace to think about this – to be sorry.

We know how often we close our eyes to glimpses of your love that could be seen in people who are not like us; who are different in body, in intellect, in sexual preference, in ethnicity and in gender. We claim refuge in tradition, in culture, in what is familiar, in some particular interpretation of sacred books and stories. We close doors and pull down the blinds.

We turn our back on evidence of your loving power when it comes towards us in persons who are different and unfamiliar. We close our minds to revelations of possibility and hopeful relationships when the places and people seem strange to us. (When have you behaved in any of these ways?)

God of possibility and life, you dwell in the places where people meet. May we be brave enough to ask friends to prod us till we are discomforted, till we squirm, till we are willing to notice the potential of these strange meeting places and unfamiliar or rejected people. (Who do you trust enough to do this for you?)

We want to change.

From our treasure chest of stories about Jesus we recall the one where Jesus changed his mind after a woman chastised him for rejecting her. We remember how the children (the weakest and most important) were identified as signs to the way of God, we remember Jesus challenging his friends to refresh and nourish, to protect and love those on the margins, those in the places of difference.

For the sake of all whom we love; our children, and grandchildren, and all who are not yet born, we want to be part of restoring relationships and building the joyful harmonies and rhythms of loving that leads us dancing into healthy communities where all people can flourish.

So holy God of infinite patience, we pray for a willingness to notice the good things that happen in places strange to us.

We pray for the ears to listen to you in the wisdom and depth of the silence of strangeness.

We pray our eyes will be open to what you are doing through committees and organisations we will never be part of.

Again God, as so many times before, we pray for generosity of heart, for courage.

Another of our treasured stories tells us that when 2 or 3 gather in your name you are present and hear the depths of their hearts.

Well here we are.
We have heard each other, you have heard us.
Thanks be to God
for hope
for possibilities
for courage

Meditation 3

Author. Robyn Brown

Creator God

It is easy for us to stand in awe and wonder of your creation as we watch a sunset, feel the spray of the sea, look up to the blue sky through the canopy of the trees, feel the warmth of the sun, smell the fragrance of the flowers or the freshly mown grass.

It is easy for us to use words like sustainability and to talk about the ways in which we might better care for this beautiful world we live in. it is easy for us to feel virtuous when we make some effort to "walk the talk" by recycling our paper and plastics – live by the motto – re-use, reduce, recycle.

It is easy for us to feel privileged, special, in some way the superior beings of your creation and to take ownership of it as if it is ours to use solely for our pleasure. We choose to interpret the words of the creation story to that effect.

It is easy for us to say we care for one another, that we are a community of love and hope and peace.

Yet we continue to deplete the generous resources you have provided for us with little thought for those who will follow us. We use vast amounts of oil even though the level of production has past its peak. We drive when we could walk or take a bus or a train. We choose to ignore the pollution we create through thoughtless use of fuel.

We chop down trees and destroy the precious natural habitat thus depriving other creatures of a place to live and causing further climate change. We build more and more concrete jungles, covering the earth with impermeable surfaces creating huge drainage and flooding problems.

God do not forgive us for we know exactly what we are doing. Prompt us to act in a more responsible way.

We throw away food enough to feed another nation and fill our bodies with artificial colours and preservatives, choosing to eat more than we need to sustain us, eating foods that make us sluggish and ill. We tamper with seeds and plants and alter the fragile balance of the eco-system.

God do not forgive us for we know exactly what we are doing. Prompt us to act in a more responsible way.

We say we care for one another, trust one another, yet we frequently ask people to take on an extraordinary number of tasks, encouraging them to work in a manner that is not sustainable, we give people huge responsibilities but do not also give the authority to carry them through.

God do not forgive us for we know exactly what we are doing. Prompt us to act in a more responsible way so we may stand tall before you, so that we can show praise and honour through our actions as well as our words.

We pray these things in the name of Jesus the Christ. Amen.