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By Rev. Dr. Jean Hawxhurst, Ecumenical Staff Officer, Leadership Development, The Council of Bishops of The United Methodist Church

My favorite Scripture passage when I was growing up was Joshua 1:9 (…”be strong and courageous; do not be frightened or dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”)  I was very shy, and my Sunday School teacher gave me that passage, typed onto a small strip of paper, to keep with me.  Even today that beat-up, little piece of paper remains in my wallet.  The simple reminder of God’s persistent presence no matter where I go or what happens has given me hope and security time and time again throughout my life.  And now, as we walk through these current disconcerting times, it is that same promise that can help to keep all of us united in God’s peace.  As the Statement of Faith from the United Church of Canada says: “God is with us.  We are not alone.  Thanks be to God (United Methodist Book Hymnal, 1989, #883).” 

So, we pray:

Holy God: Creator, Redeemer and Sustainer, we join our hearts in unified love for you.  We worship you; we give you thanks; we trust completely in you.  And, even though we are necessarily separated by space and location, we renew our resolve to be united as your church in this time.  So, we humbly ask you to remind us again of your power and presence in our lives.  Make this Council of Churches both smart and fearless.  Find surprising ways to teach us daily how to walk in this world as your children, even when that separation seems so great.  And, Holy God, show us how to rest in your son’s arms.  It is to him we lift our hearts and prayers of concern, wonder and need.  We do trust, and we know we are not alone.  It is in the name of Christ we pray.  Amen.