God of wonder and mystery,
God of the stars and the universe,
God of winding ways and straight paths,
we gather today with gratitude for the gift of your constant presence,
your trustworthy guidance,
and your daring risk-taking with us.
You dare to love us despite our inability to respond fully.
You dare to care for us, despite our challenge in caring for others.
You dare to walk with us, despite our fickleness.
On our own journeys toward the stars and guiding points you put before us,
you continue to lead us forward,
guiding us by the teachings of Jesus
to seek justice, love kindness, and walk humbly in your loving shadow.
As we struggle with the political wrangling of this world,
the wars waged for both justice and greed,
the violence committed daily against the innocent,
let alone the pain of broken relationships and loss,
you remain steadfast in your care and devotion
for your entire creation throughout the universe.
It is almost too much to take in sometimes.
And even in our doubts and disbelief,
our struggle to understand and constant misunderstanding,
and our flat-out ignorance about your ways,
you remain constantly present to us.
We pray for peace in this world, Lord,
the kind of peace in which we celebrate diversity,
are joyfully challenged by adversity,
and share in the joy that is to be found everywhere.
We pray for those who are lonely,
that you might lead us to reach out and be friends.
We pray for those who are hungry,
that you might lead us to offer sustenance.
We pray for those who are lost,
that you might lead us to give hope and direction.
We pray for the countries of the world,
that we might find a way to work together to lift one another up.
We pray for our leaders in Washington,
that your Spirit might guide them set an example for our country and the world
to work together rather than against one another.
We pray for our denomination,
that we may seek to build up this body
and seek to repair the theological divisions that are tearing us apart.
We pray for officers, both those returning and those newly installed,
that they may continually seek your Spirit in their lives and their daily decisions
as they lead this congregation.
And we pray for ourselves,
that we might continue on this journey,
learning the lessons you offer,
seeking the fullness of your perfection,
and live as you would have us live.
These prayers and hopes we offer in confidence and gratitude of your love and presence in our lives.