May our congregation build one another up to trust you in the present. Indeed, all of your creation relies on you and praises your name, just as the 4th century church rehearsed as they sang: All the earth doth worship thee : the Father everlasting. We whine instead of sing. Give us boldness to befriend the friendless and love the unlovely. May we be quick to listen and slow to speak. Protect and empower Pastor Larry in Ethiopia. May we seek first to understand and then to be understood. Finally, Lord, we thank you for those who are choosing to be baptized today. You are compassionate toward us when we are only thinking of ourselves. We thank you for the opportunity Larry has to serve Your global church by training pastors in the Philippines this week, and for his safe travels there. You are not surprised by the threat of nuclear war coming from countries like North Korea. From the depths of the earth to the highest mountain peaks, the expanses of land, air, and sea – it is all yours, and under your control. In any case, help us to be open to your teaching. Our merciful God and gracious heavenly father, we are reminded today by the psalmist to: Proclaim the Lord’s greatness with me; We praise you that you do not abandon those who seek you. Intro: As you will hear, Psalm 126 is celebrating something great! May future generations, far and near, hear this news and turn to you in trust and praise. Thank you, Father, that as followers of Christ, we get to bear your majestic name and be a part of your family. We ask all of this in the name of our Redeemer, Jesus Christ. And thank you for returning each of us to this place of worship from our many walks of life. We have much to celebrate, Lord, but this can be a not-so-merry time of year as well. It is sure. We have sat among the wicked, taken part in evil, and lived in hypocrisy. When you call us out of darkness into relationship with Christ, we are forever changed. Father God, you are mighty to save and I pray for those here who have trusted in Jesus for the forgiveness of their sins; fill us with joy over your deliverance. Satisfy us Father. Today we say together that we gladly acclaim you as our King. Heavenly Father, continue your formative work in our lives that we might be conduits of your goodness and generosity to others, whether it be by helping our fellow believers in California or reaching out to families of prisoners through our current Angel Tree ministry or in other ways, small or large, ordinary or extraordinary, touching the lives of others around us day by day. We thank you that you call us to be ourselves, as you made us to be in Christ. Father, may this good news of your wonders through Jesus Christ spread to all the ends of the earth. Restore us, God Almighty; make your face shine on us, that we may be saved. Protect us from consumerism and protect us from placing our hope in possessions. Help us to remember that each of us is suffering in our own ways. Bind up satan’s efforts to have people get caught up in the petty. Some here question the significance of the work they do have. We anticipate that this work in us will result not in a burdensome, boring life, but in great joy and excitement. Provide their needs. You set your plan into motion through the word of your mouth. We are so convinced of our own position that we cannot even hear the heart of those with whom we disagree. Encourage us with the fact that Heaven is real and we will someday see our risen Savior face to face! Our gracious God and heavenly Father, like David before us, we give praise and thanks this morning that we can come to this place and say, “I trust in you, Lord… You are my God… my times are in your hands.” Like David our faith may grow weak at times, but nonetheless you have taught us we can trust you with everything and you are God above all gods. O God, as we ponder these things, how can we keep from singing? Additionally, please bless Jennifer, Katie, and John as they travel to Austin to for CREO Network training. We think specifically of the Circle Pines GC today and we lift them to you in prayer. We ask for Your Kingdom to grow in Columbia Heights because of this Gospel Community. For those caring for aging parents, bless them with patience and gentleness. We thank you for joy in the midst of hardship and provision in times of want. God, forgive us for making the Gospel about us, about what we can get out of our relationship with you, about how you make us feel, about our comfort. Help us to listen to you now, in this moment of silence. Shine Christ through them. All glory and honor we give to you, O Glorious One. Break down the barriers that TLI faces; we pray that you would give the staff of TLI favor with international communities and government agencies. We so easily delight in our food, our toys, our homes, our vacations, and so many other things. We praise you, Father, for your goodness shown to us in more ways than we can count. We lift up your work at Elmwood Church. Like the psalmist, we see the evil around us, and we abhor it. You, God, are our gracious Ruler, the Savior of the world, and a generous Father. Rightly we will sing again at the conclusion of our service. We pray that You act—and help us, as Your people, to act—in such a way that in the midst of this hard year Your goodness shines forth in new ways and draws people to Yourself. It was written by Rev. May their relationship be centered on you as their friendship continues to grow. kingdom, to be raised with Jesus, to be seated in the heavenly places, to be rejoiced over. Father, we thank you for the time Catherine has been able to be at home these last months. And yet in so many ways we have failed, and continue to fail, to live up to this ideal. As we listen to this psalm, we hear the overwhelming language of speech—words like exalt, praise, extol, commend, tell, speak, proclaim, celebrate, and sing. Would you give him good relationships with those he is instructing? Why should you have to be carried in a peasant woman that you made? How often do we reflect on your protection in our own lives? We praise you for the words of today’s psalm, “Though my father and mother forsake me, the Lord will receive me.”. And Lord, we need Your hope. We’re excited to see the works you have in store for Centennial Church, as well as for Park Community Church and Elmwood Evangelical Free Church and for this partnership that You’ve begun between us. There’s so much in the world that leaves us weary. We pray also for those who struggle with addictions and habitual sin – it is so easy for us to become discouraged by our repeated failures, and to rely on our own strength to change. We need to be filled with You if we are going to be good stewards as You have designed us to be. You know the pain in their heart. As we trust you in all things, as we rest in your goodness and your provision and your strength in everyday struggles, may our neighbors and coworkers and friends marvel. These are often places of darkness and danger and despair. You demonstrate your love by being the God who is with us and for us. You created each one of us and know what our innermost thoughts and desires are. You are righteous. To acknowledge the hard things but to press on with endurance, knowing that You also faced pain and loss and did so for the joy set before You, and for love of us. We praise You not only that Your creation is incredible and is a constant display of Your glory, but that Your truth is even more beautiful. Forgive us Father when we lose sight of the fact that you are always in control. Lord, we come to You poor and needy, knowing we have nothing of any value to offer to You but bringing ourselves. Lord, we pray for those in our congregation who have been treated abusively, whether emotionally, physically, or sexually. We give you thanks that these women, who are so important to us as a church, could have time away together to build relationships, learn together, and spend focused, undistracted time with you. We come to you today, not as a crowd of individuals but as your people, as your congregation, as the sheep of your pasture. Forgive the selfishness that has led us to be so consumed with ourselves that we are hardly moved by images of small children being pulled from the rubble of a crumbling city. Give strength to your people. We are encouraged by the ways this group of people cares for one another and is present during times of joy as well as times of difficulty. Father, may our response begin with trust in you. Today we celebrate the hope and the grace You have poured into our lives although we’ve done nothing to deserve it. We think also of the ethnic diversity in our own country, in our own state, in our own communities. Generate hope in our hearts by means of the disappointments of the Christmas season. We praise you for your loving faithfulness in the past, we praise you for how you are sustaining our lives in the very moment. In a broken world, often filled with conflict and confusion, we just praise you and adore you for being our loving God and we praise you that we can say, with David, “I trust in you, Lord. Creator of the Universe, but named, called, adopted as sons and daughters. When culture around us is changing and our country is afraid of the future, we look to political figures as our source of stability and protection.