Back in the fall I enjoyed incorporating an examen prayer meditation into several worship services and youth gatherings. The meditation I used was adapted from Sleeping with Bread: Holding What Gives You Life by Dennis Linn, Sheila Fabricant Linn, and Matthew Linn. As I prepared the prayers of the people for morning worship at Fourth Presbyterian Church yesterday it occurred to me that the first Sunday of a new year is a great opportunity for this kind of contemplative prayer. The “world of King Herod” part connects with the Shannon Johnson Kershner’s Epiphany sermon.
God of wisdom and truth,
at the beginning of this new year
we look back and we look forward.
In the year that has passed
we experienced joy and we experienced sorrow;
we felt blessed and we felt challenged.
Some things went by much too fast,
and some things lingered for far too long.
Here in this place
we are reminded that you are present through it all.
We are reminded that we are never alone.
We are reminded that nothing can separate us from your love.
So at the beginning of this new year,
we pause now in silence
to reflect on the year that has passed.
We remember the things from this past year that we are most thankful for.
We recall the moments we were the happiest.
We consider the times we felt most alive.
We recognize the times we gave and received the most love.
We are grateful, God, that you were present in those times.
We also remember the things from this past year that we are least thankful for.
We recall the moments we were the least happy.
We consider the times we felt life draining from us.
We recognize the times we gave and received the least love.
We are grateful, God, that you were present in those times too.
at the beginning of this new year,
we also look forward to the year to come.
We are confident that you will be with us still,
when we are thankful and when we are not;
when we are happy and when we are sad;
when we feel alive and when we feel drained;
when we give and receive love and when we do not.
God, the world we live in is messy and challenging,
it is the world of King Herod,
a world of pain,
a world of doubt,
a world of fear,
a world of jealousy,
a world of violence,
a world of domination,
a world of injustice,
a world of human failings.
Yet, God, you are with us always.
So give us grace and give us courage
to live faithfully in this imperfect world.
Remind us always of the promise of your kingdom,
emerging around us and through us.
It is for this kingdom that we now pray,
using the words Jesus taught us.