Almighty God, as I breathe in the air outside of our home in Englehart, northern Ontario, Canada, I am thankful to You for being in this beautiful small town with such a large heart. Father, thank you for placing my wife, Karen, and me here to, be Your lights in this community.
Father, You call to my spirit to share this prayer here, calling others to embrace what community means. I feel You say to my heart that community means how we see, listen and respond to the needs of those around us. It is caring not with a small c but a large one, because You have shown me in my over 31 years of being a Christian as I have seen the eyes of suffering as a social advocate, counsellor in correctional services, pastor, missionary in South Korea, assisting pastors in a church planting ministry,writer, journalist, singer, family services worker, English as a second language teacher and Assistant Professor, that being a true community means going far beyond saying as I heard one church member say, “I give my tithes so I’m not bothered by each need.” Father, Your love for me prepared me for those voices of false caring.
If we are to call ourselves people who truly care, we will go as far as You call us to go in being Your Son’s extended arms of love in our community. When You call us to volunteer our time to our church, community centre, food bank, charitable organization, a community Board of Directors or wherever You call us, let us do it not with complaining hearts, but hearts filled with the abounding joy You put in us. It is in serving with a heart filled with Your love that the tasks You call us to are lighter, because Your strength is with us in them.
Today, let us resolve that we will go that one step more for those who need us. Forgive us where we have failed being Your cup of tender compassion and mercy poured out and running over. Grant Your rest to those who have grown weary in serving. We are called to be a loving, supportive and not a criticizing community to our pastors, counsellors, social workers, politicians,community and church leaders and anyone who is in burnout from their service. Thank you for reminding me of that.
Draw us away from defeating thoughts that say we cannot improve our community. We can and do have the power You put within us being the voices of change in our community. Father, help us to understand that like Gandhi said, we need to be the change we wish to see in our world. Give us the humility within to admit, being open and honest with You about where we are wanting in our hearts, where we need to grow. Where we are weak let us see in ourselves that our greatest strength lies in our frailty. Others see that we do the things that we do not in our own strength but Yours.
As we become the people You created, we will be the true change we wish to see in our world. We will not seeking the limelight, but work for You behind the scenes, where the thanks in serving comes not from the world’s adulation, but from that well done from You at the end of that long day of service.
Help us to understand that at the end of those long days of serving You, You accept when we do not have the energy for an in-depth prayer to simply say, “Take this weary servant into Your tender arms of compassion, that I will awake refreshed to serve You another day. ”
When things go wrong as they often do, when we become the victims of friendly fire from those we trust, make us willing to forgive and carry out that forgiveness in our own hearts.
Give us eyes to see that it is in those small acts of caring that we live out what true community means. A smile, time spent listening to the lonely recuperating at home from an illness or visiting the sick in hospital — in these acts of love we are Your lights, Your candles shining in all the darkness and stress of people’s lives.
Loving Heavenly Father, forgive us where we have strayed from what it means being community and put us back on the path of caring. Give us the vision, creativity of mind and dedication of heart, that will help us come up with new and exciting ways in which we can raise funds for those who need of our help. Let us all remember that as we bring the suffering, the poor, the weary, torn, rejected and dejected from hopelessness to hope, from defeat to overcoming, that we ignite in ourselves that spark of caring, that will change our community and our world.
Help us to be the C that means CARING, the H that means HOPE for those who have lost their hope or whose hope is dying, the R that is RESPONDING to the need, the I that is IGNITED hearts of love, the S that is SERVICE with a heart and the T that is the TRANSFORMATION in us and in our community as we care for others. Fan into flame the spirit of Christ’s compassion within us being CHRIST”S CANDLES in our community as together we light up our world.