Prayers of the People as we enter Holy Week

Prayers of the People as we enter Holy Week

Paul Peters Derry’s Prayers of the People for Palm Sunday 2017  


Recount Marcus Borg and John Dominic Crossan:

Two processions entered Jerusalem on a spring day in the year 30.  It was the beginning … of Passover, the most sacred week of the Jewish year…

From the east, Jesus … cheered by his followers. Jesus was from the peasant village of Nazareth, his message was about the kingdom of God, and his followers came from the peasant class. They had … been aiming for Jerusalem, pointing toward Jerusalem … now arrived.

On the opposite side of the city, from the west, Pontius Pilate, the Roman governor …  entered Jerusalem at the head of a column of imperial cavalry and soldiers. Jesus’s procession proclaimed the kingdom of God; Pilate’s proclaimed the power of empire.[i]

Even so, with the many and varied processions we engage – individually, collectively, and globally – I call this community into a time of prayer.

Loving God, you cause rain to fall on the just and the unjust. At this start of our Holy Week Journey, a week of familiarity as well as uncertainty, a roller-coaster pilgrimage of promise, disappointment, despair and God-only-knows-what …

we pray for the hungry and the overfed, for the mourners and the mockers,

for the victims and the oppressors, for the peacemakers and the warmongers,

for the silenced and the propagandists, the truth-tellers and the alternative-fact practitioners,

for the unemployed and the overworked, for the troubled and the secure,

for the homeless and the pampered, for the vibrant and the dying …[ii]

Lord, in your mercy:  Hear our prayer.

You come to us in Jesus, riding on a donkey small; we thank you for his witness of the power of love, despite the powers of this world. We thank you for all who have withstood evil, who have suffered the jeers – and worse – of the crowds,[iii] and even today, as Christians gather around the world, to reenact the Passion only to find the Passion reenacted upon them, we acknowledge all who have been tormented, even put to death, and yet still refused to use weapons of hatred.

Lord, in your mercy:  Hear our prayer.

Like the disciples answering Jesus call, “Follow me…” we pray for all who work for healing, folk in caring ministries, for ecologists and researchers, our ministry team here at saint benedict’s table – Larry, Rachel, Kalyn, Carolyn and Jamie – spiritual care workers and friends – the hands and feet and heart and hope of Christ in the world.[iv]

Lord, in your mercy:  Hear our prayer.

With this time of year also marking the beginning of the end of academic terms, submission of papers and evaluations, we pray for all who learn and teach, apprentices and supervisors, students and resource people, schools, universities, colleges and systems.

Lord, in your mercy:  Hear our prayer.

Finally, as we continue to work our way into your story such that your story continues to work its way in and through our lives, we thank you for the times we have been able to let go our defenses, give up control, and live with open hands and hearts. We thank you with “hosannas!” joy in our hearts,[v] in the name of Jesus, our Suffering Servant, our Weeping Friend, our Soulful, Soul-filled Saviour, our “Here’s-Mud-in-Your-Eyes” Healer, our Loving, Leading Lord.

Lord, in your mercy:  Hear our prayer. 

[i]Marcus J. Borg and John Dominic Crossan, The Last Week: The Day-by-Day Account of Jesus’s Final Week in Jerusalem (2006).
[ii]Words/phrases adapted from New Zealand Prayer Book: He Karakia Mihinare a Aotearoa (1989).
[iii]From a prayer by Janet Cawley, reprinted in Celebrate God’s Presence:  A Book of Services for The United Church of Canada (2000).
[iv]From a prayer by Gertrude Lebans, included as part of From Out of the Fire: Worship of Liberation and Theology (1992).
[v]From a prayer by Janet Cawley, reprinted in Celebrate God’s Presence:  A Book of Services for The United Church of Canada (2000).

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