Such a wonderful old hymn -
"Jesus loves even me."
And so appropriate for all of us
today, and any day.
May we sing with joy, Lord God,
proclaiming our gladness and gratitude
that you, Our Father in Heaven,
love us so very much.
It is indeed a 'wonder'
and the 'dearest thing' we read
Thank you that you love even us.
Yet, even as we relish your love for us, Lord,
we acknowledge that we need help
to love ourselves in good and healthy ways,
and to love each other as you love us.
Will you help us to be glad in that
extension of your love, please?
And to do it with joyful obedience?
We've glad to be here today, Lord.
It's been a tough two weeks, filled with smoke and ash and bad memories.
We thank you for the valiant work of firefighters on our behalf.
We thank you for answered prayer about wind and weather.
We thank you that the worst is behind us,
that this particular group was not hit as harshly this time around.
But that is sadly not for so many others in our community, Lord God.
For 100 or so families, the mess is just beginning,
as too many of us fully know and understand.
Help us to help them -
to help them grieve,
to help them begin again,
to help them find hope.
Use us in ways that are helpful and hopeful to reach out
in Jesus' name.
And we're bold to ask for healing for ourselves today, Lord.
Even though we didn't lose any structures or possessions -
and we're really grateful for that,
honestly, we are -
still, we've been hit again with chaos,
with momentary dispossession, and displacement,
with reminders of our own fragility,
and with echoes of terror and devastation too recently true.
So, heal our memories with your sweet Spirit,
recall to us where home truly is found,
guide us to green pastures and still waters.
We thank you today for our pastor, Don Johnson, and for his wife, Martha.
And we're glad they are back again from a time away,
a time to weep and a time to rejoice in the life of Don's dad.
Bless them both as they return to life in Santa Barbara,
as they continue to grieve the loss of their own parents this past year,
as they help us to grieve our own losses.
Whoever else may be hurt or feeling lost or loss today, Lord,
bring your healing presence close, please.
Open our eyes to see those around us who need an extra smile or hug.
And bless the gifts we've brought to you today.
Make them grow miraculously,
use them to minister to the hurting,
to spread the good news both here and abroad,
to build the kingdom of God in the here and now.
Thank you that we can give,
that we can sing,
that we can pray.
And bless us in Jesus' name to do it all again and again and again.