In This Revised Edition of a classic collection of congregational prayers, Ernest T. Campbell demonstrates the value and creative potential of thoughtfully prepared public prayers. Originally crafted for use in The Riverside Church, New York City, these pastoral prayers continue to engage with the concerns of contemporary life and the richness of religious faith. They will be an invaluable resource both for those who plan worship services and for those who seek to deepen their personal prayer lives.
|Publisher:||Association Press, N.Y.|
|Product dimensions:||6.50(w) x 1.50(h) x 9.50(d)|
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Where Cross the Crowded WaysPRAYERS OF A CITY PASTOR
By Ernest T. Campbell
William B. Eerdmans Publishing CompanyCopyright © 2005 Ernest T. Campbell
All right reserved.
Chapter OneAs a Hen Gathers Her Brood
Our forebears stayed their minds on you in village, farm, and plain; Help us, their crowded, harried kin, no less your peace to claim.
O God, who made us to pass our years in freedom, show yourself merciful to us, for we are tightly wound, boxed in, prisoners of our illusions, and, in the main, a nervous, dreary, and joyless lot. The goals we seek have robbed us of our wonder, and the machines we worship have reduced us to a crowd of look-alike consumers. Here on this your day, through the vehicle of praise, grant that what is dead in us may come alive. We thank you for family roots and ties; for the look of trust in the faces of our children; for songs that penetrate the darkest night; for hope that will not be absorbed even by our doubt. Drive us, by a gnawing hunger for the real, outside the inn, until within the homely timbers of the stable we sight the Christ and find our souls made tall and free again in contemplation of your love. Through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Hear us now, O Lord, as we pray for New York City; pray for it, not from without, as though its dust and noise and pain were beneath us or beyond, but from within, as those who know its squeeze and take to heart its burned-out hopes and facelessness. Grant that fences that keep potential friends apart may be fashioned into bridges so that the hurts of any may be the concern of all. Help us to look for you and find you in the life we live and the work we do. If we take the IRT and ride to the edges of Van Cortlandt Park, you are there. If we shuttle our way into the milling density of Times Square, you are there. If we ride to the uppermost reaches of the Empire State Building, even there shall your hand lead us and your right hand hold us. If in the dead of night we feel deserted and depressed, the darkness hides not from you; for the light shines as the day. O God, for whom all times and places are your habitation, be our God for we would be your people. Through Jesus Christ our Lord.
As we look to the world within we are prompted to lay our many needs before you. In the light of our Savior's birth we ask for power to overcome whatever in us runs counter to his love, and for courage to be loyal to the light he came to share. May his lowliness curb our status-seeking, his humility melt away our pride, his purity condemn our lust, his love for people shame the love we waste on things, his sense of mission challenge our aimlessness. Give us feeling for those whose lot in life is harder than our own, and a particular concern for those who live and die as though Christ has not come, who do not know that at the heart of things love reigns, and heaven cares. All of this we pray through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Eternal God, our Father, help us in these precious moments of common prayer to forget the style of our dress, our plans for the day, and any momentary affliction that would make us more conscious of self than of you, so that we may pray with singleness of mind and from the heart. We thank you for all that keeps us believing that our years have meaning; that a knowing, caring hand is at the helm; that the resounding fury of the nations is not the final sound; that love endures when tongues have ceased and prophecies have failed. We thank you for ages past and ages still to come, for the wisdom of Scripture, the means of grace, the bonds of faith, and hope that springs from the eternal and fills our hearts. Let a sense of your goodness course through every fiber of our being until our lips declare your praise. Through Jesus Christ our Lord.
We pray, Lord, for our city, your gift to us: rich in buildings but, oh, so poor in soul; high in crime and low in morale; a playground for some and a nightmare for many; gateway to the nation, but road's end for those too drugged, too poor, too tired to get up and try again.
We pray for our mayor, our chief of police, our civil magistrates, our planners and advisors, that in these crisis years they may govern and direct us with wisdom, boldness, and imagination. Let the stark prospect of a shared demise unite all who would build against those who would destroy. And, if it please Thee, God, let your saving grace so reach and ransom every heart, that our homes may be joyful, our streets safe, our laws just, our pleasures pure, and our will to make things right indomitable. Through Jesus Christ our Lord.
We pray, lastly, for ourselves, bearing as individuals and as a church the marks of a culture that is too much with us. So tune our responses to human need that we may reflect your Spirit rather than the spirit of the age. So deliver us from cant and hypocrisy that our yes may be yes and our no no. So free us from the need to justify ourselves that others may be at ease in our presence, and our own hearts at peace. Bless this congregation with your loving-kindness, that here on this hill that cannot be hid we may continue to raise a consistent, costly, and contagious witness to the truth that sets us free. All of this we pray in faith and with thanksgiving, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Because we did not make ourselves; Because we do not keep ourselves; Because we cannot forgive ourselves; Our hearts reach out to you, O God. We thank you for our creation, preservation, and redemption: for hills to climb, burdens to carry, temptations to resist, and fears to overcome. We thank you for all that helps us in our pilgrimage: the remembrance of those who walked this way before us and did it well; signs of your presence, often in unlikely places, giving us to know that we are not alone; the unanswerable logic of lives given over to your service in selfless love; the work of your Holy Spirit in our minds and hearts, uniting for us the Jesus of history and the Christ of faith. With all that lies within us we acclaim your goodness and speak your praise, through Jesus Christ our Lord.
We pray today for all those who seek as Christians to make this towering metropolis mindful of your presence: concerned believers, at work in radio and television, to rescue the public airways from their bondage to puerility and greed; those in the judicial process who believe that justice partakes of the eternal, and labor in that light; business leaders who shun the shoddy product and the inflated price in an effort to serve the public well; librarians and museum keepers who delight in making their wares available for the flowering of our humanity; police officers who enforce the law fairly and with understanding; those in the performing arts who waken in us the good and beautiful and true; prison chaplains who quietly make their rounds each day, communicating hope; parents in our crowded slums who defy their grim surroundings and secure their children in a love that will not quit. Help these, and others like them, to keep at it. And through their several ministries, gracious Father, may a city find its soul again, through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Play the light of your truth upon our less-than-perfect hearts, O Lord; for, left to our own understanding, we have a way of befriending sin and opposing righteousness. Help those who pass through heavy seas to ride out the storm. By your providence lead those who are down on themselves into some life experience in which their worth will be affirmed. Call back to your side those who can recall a day when they loved you more. And for those who weep the tears of the bereaved, renew the vision of earth's first Easter that they may conceive of death henceforth as one of the "all things" that work together for our good. Keep us faithful to each other and to you, whatever comes, until on your strong arms we fall, and our work is done. Through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Eternal God, our Father, beneath whose rule we live and in whose grace we stand, with all that is within us we bless your holy name. We thank you for the constants in our life: that the ground is firm beneath our tread; that day follows night; that the seasons march in predictable succession; that the gates of mercy are ever open to us in our need. We thank you for all that is new and changing in our life: for startling breakthroughs in the realm of science; for the audibility of people too long silent, and the visibility of wrongs too long concealed; for experimentation in the arts, and in particular the art of public worship; for new people next door or up the street, and the prospect of contributing to each other's growth. O God, whose ways are from of old and yet whose works are ever new, make us grateful for the past and open toward the future. Through Jesus Christ our Lord.
We join our prayers to hold before you this city of bright lights and broken hearts - a comedy to those who think; but to those who feel, a tragedy. Grant to our mayor and those who share his rule the patience needed to contend with the clamor of competing voices, and the ability to hear this clamor as the language of democracy. Raise up in us, the people, the willingness to break with private goals often enough and long enough to ease some burden or to right some wrong. Give us a new confidence in due process as a means of getting where we want to go, and the good sense to use our power, personal and conferred, with modesty and restraint. Through Jesus Christ our Lord.
We pray now for ourselves, acknowledging that our lost radiance, our much fretting, our tell-tale tensions discredit the faith we profess and dishonor you. Renovate us, O Lord, through the tireless workings of your Holy Spirit, until all in us that is unworthy of the King may fall away, and Christ rule unrivaled in our hearts. Work your will through us, O Lord. If not, may your will be done through others. All of this we pray through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
We find your name upon our lips, O God, for you have placed it in our hearts. However much we twist and turn and run to flee from your great love, we sense in the inmost citadel of our being that we have no future save the future that we know in you. For minds that can think; For hearts that can feel; For hands and feet that can do; We thank you. For large purposes that call us; For associations and causes that unite us; For grace that restores and forgives; We thank you. In a day when the problems that confront us seem more than we can handle, open our eyes to the resources at our command as children of the king, and make us grateful. Through Jesus Christ our Lord.
We pray for all who find this city a place of bitterness and a wilderness of fear: those who came with hopes that have long since been abandoned; those who came with high ideals and long now to recover them; those who came with outstretched arms who now leave unexpressed their need for other people. Nor do we forget those who are trapped in jobs that slowly eat away their life; those who want to change the city, but don't know how; those for whom the dawn of each new day calls them to resume a war of nerves against a system that keeps them on the outside looking in. O God, you who are able to demolish the old and bring the new to birth, work in this our town and make us agents of our brother's good and the glory of your name. Through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Our names and needs are known to you, O Lord. Behind our Sunday clothes and manners lie unruly kingdoms of fierce ambition, shameful pride, and passions that we hope will never see the light of day. Where we shout the loudest we are most insecure; Where we have betrayed you most grievously we are most defensive. Where we have sensed and done your will most fully we are largely unaware, and our witness is the stronger for it. Help us to see each other as people. Let the love of Christ so rule our hearts that each may think of the other first, and all of us live to adorn the gospel of the crucified and risen Christ. These prayers we offer unto you through the same Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
O God, our maker and our God, the giver and sustainer of life, we bless your name at all times. Your praise continually rises from our grateful hearts. We thank you that your power extends beyond the prowess and achievements of humankind, that our towers never do quite touch the sky, that always you are more than we have thought or preached you to be. We thank you that a fall of snow can hobble a mighty city, that strong headwinds can slow our jets and make us late, that heavy rains can force a cancellation of public events, that high seas command the respect of our sturdiest ocean- going ships. In short, we thank you, God, for everything and anything that humbles us before the mystery of life and keeps us from the folly of worshiping the works of our own hands. You alone are God, and together we bless your holy name. Through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Be pleased to hear us, Lord, as we pray for this city and its inhabitants. Teach us how to add community to proximity; how better to use all the time we save by not having to commute; how to ward off hostility by running the risk of letting our humanity come through; how to relate the Sermon on the Mount to life on the hill or in the valley. Give us the good sense to ignore the oratory of the hatemonger, and keep us so honest about our own sin as to rise above the need for scapegoats. Bless those in authority over us with patience and understanding, with loyal colleagues and citizens who care. And guide the inhabitants of this renowned metropolis into paths of meaningful service and courageous action. Through Jesus Christ our Lord.
O God whose will for us is life and not death, forgive us the blindness and perversity that keep us from choosing life; help us to act on the truth we know lest we lose it and fall back; spare us the hypocrisy of assuming that our convictions are objectively pure while our brother's point of view is slanted with self-interest; when our grasp of you is weak, keep firm your hold on us; when what you are is most hidden from our eyes, help us to cling to what you command. May it be our joy and uppermost intention to rest in you, to work for you, to become like you. Through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Excerpted from Where Cross the Crowded Ways by Ernest T. Campbell Copyright © 2005 by Ernest T. Campbell.
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Table of Contents
|About These Prayers||ix|
|A City-Dweller's Prayer||xi|
|As a Hen Gathers Her Brood||1|
|All Sorts and Conditions of People||21|
|Among You as One Who Serves||47|
|Around the Christian Year||71|