Dear God of instruction, open our hearts to learn, learn as our forebears in faith learned. Looking back on their experiences in captivity and liberation, they heard, “So He humbled you, allowed you to hunger, and fed you with manna which you did not know nor did your fathers know, that He might make you know that man shall not live by bread alone; but man lives by every word that proceeds from the mouth of the Lord.”(Deuteronomy 8:3). Free us from the temptation to wallow in the infantile comfort of feeding without growing into the mature works of justice and loving-kindness in our own communities.
Dear God of preparation, mold us to the courage of Christ, in the midst of temptation, rejecting Satan’s offer of worldly power. “Jesus answered, ‘It is written: ‘One does not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’ “[Matthew 4:4 NRSV] We live in contentious times. Build in us the power to withstand the desire to ignore the great threats of systemically-caused tragedies like global warming. Take any fear of thinking clearly from us. It is only a ploy lest we learn what we don’t want to know.
Dear God of inspiration, open our eyes to see your will in marvels around us. Let us witness to and praise the human chain quickly and efficiently formed in Florida in the United States to rescue a family caught in a riptide. Let us rejoice in the life of Chinese dissident Lin Xiaobo, an intellectual who put himself in the path of soldiers in Tiananmen Square to save protestors, winning the Nobel Peace Prize while serving a prison term, and who died of liver cancer while in custody this week. With compassion for his widow Liu Xia and all who mourn his death personally, receive our gratitude for all who show the rest of us the way.
Dear God of eternity, stretch our stubborn desire to think short term. Frighten us, if you must, when a trillion-ton iceberg is calved in Antarctica. Amaze us with DNA imaging. Fill us with enthusiasm for all that is good and may one day be even better in your beautiful world.
All of this we pray, trusting in your grace-filled love and compassion for us, your people. Amen