Heritage Prayer

This pastoral prayer was offered on a Sunday when we learned about our Puritan heritage: 

We thank you, O God, for all your good gifts.
But especially this day we thank you for faith.

We thank you for the faith of our fathers and mothers—
both our biological ancestors,
but even more, for our ancestors by example.
We thank you for their openness to receiving more light and truth
as it broke forth from your holy word,
their willingness to change and be changed,
and for their courage in standing up to oppression.
We thank you for their pilgrim spirits,
which crossed the oceans in order to establish
what they hoped would be a shining city on a hill,
a beacon of faith and order and freedom to the world around them.
We thank you for their commitment to one another in community,
and their love for each other in their homes.

And yet we acknowledge to you the danger
that our gratitude for our ancestors might easily become idolatry.
As you show us how to be thankful,
also gift us with the sword of discernment,
that we might divide truth from falsehood,
the good from the bad.
We therefore thank you that not all examples are good examples,
and that in learning of the past,
you also show us how not to repeat its mistakes.

And so, O Holy One, we thank you today
not just for the faith of the church triumphant,
but for the faith of the church militant—
the church that is living and striving this day in this world.
We thank you for the faith of each individual Christian,
and, especially for the faith that we call our own.
Help us to be open to your word,
to be willing to live as examples to those around us—
not of judgment and self-righteousness, but of love and grace.
And grant us courage to speak truth to power,
and pilgrim hearts that go where you send.

Forgive us when we lack understanding of our neighbors,
forgive us when we are harsh and unloving,
and give us perhaps the most important of all graces:
the grace of repentance, which admits when we are wrong,
and in our weakness, is open to reformation by your Spirit
into the vessels you would have us be:
vessels of love for you and love for our neighbors.

All these things we pray to you in the Name of Jesus Christ your Son,
who with you and the Holy Spirit, lives and reigns as one God,
in glory everlasting. Amen.