Through the Spring and Summer, and now into Fall, we have borne the grief of a global pandemic, endured a massive loss of life and of livelihood, and protested escalating violence against Black Lives. Even as we wait on the help of Almighty God, we are compelled to stand up; to defend the cause of righteousness. With boldness in our prayers and by our actions we seek to redeem the soul of our nation.
Abiding Love (John 15:4-17, NRSV)
The Scripture reading is drawn from Sunday’s lesson for November 8, 2020 ©Uniform Lessons Series, National Council of the Churches of Christ in the USA.
15:4 “Live in me. Make your home in me just as I do in you. In the same way that a branch can’t bear grapes by itself but only by being joined to the vine, you can’t bear fruit unless you are joined with me.
5-8 “I am the Vine, you are the branches. When you’re joined with me and I with you, the relation intimate and organic, the harvest is sure to be abundant. Separated, you can’t produce a thing. Anyone who separates from me is deadwood, gathered up and thrown on the bonfire. But if you make yourselves at home with me and my words are at home in you, you can be sure that whatever you ask will be listened to and acted upon. This is how my Father shows who he is—when you produce grapes, when you mature as my disciples.
9-10 “I’ve loved you the way my Father has loved me. Make yourselves at home in my love. If you keep my commands, you’ll remain intimately at home in my love. That’s what I’ve done—kept my Father’s commands and made myself at home in his love.
11-15 “I’ve told you these things for a purpose: that my joy might be your joy, and your joy wholly mature. This is my command: Love one another the way I loved you. This is the very best way to love. Put your life on the line for your friends. You are my friends when you do the things I command you. I’m no longer calling you servants because servants don’t understand what their master is thinking and planning. No, I’ve named you friends because I’ve let you in on everything I’ve heard from the Father.
16 “You didn’t choose me, remember; I chose you, and put you in the world to bear fruit, fruit that won’t spoil. As fruit bearers, whatever you ask the Father in relation to me, he gives you.
17 “But remember the root command: Love one another.
Today’s prayer by B. Michael Watson, Bishop in The United Methodist Church, is from, “United Against Racism: Churches for Change,” ©New York: Friendship Press, 2018, p. 79. You may purchase the book through Friendship Press, on their website at store.friendshippress.org.
Gracious and merciful God, whose divine and wondrous love is so freely poured upon us all, help us be united by that graceful love. We pray for peace, justice, and equality among all people. Teach us to be more and more like you and show no distinction among races, nations, and other people groups because you have created each of us in your image and as your beloved family. We are your family. You are Lord of all, and your impartial generosity is mercifully shown to all who will receive it.
Save us by your grace. Draw us together in Christ-like love for all our sisters and brothers of every race and tribe upon this earth you so lovingly created.
Bridge our divisions by cleansing our hearts from sin, hatred, and warring madness so that truly there may be equal justice and mercy for all.
We know that Christ is not to be divided but rather was sent to reconcile all of us to you, O God. In the precious name of Jesus, our Savior, let us praise your holy name by being reconciled to you and to each other and becoming ambassadors of your love, mercy, and grace.
In Jesus Christ’s name we pray. Amen.