Most gracious and loving Heavenly Father, we have come together in reflection and prayer as your people across the Nashville Episcopal area of the United Methodist Church during these past forty days. We worship you and praise you as we now prepare to move into our Annual Conferences. You are an awesome and mighty God, more eager to give than we are to receive, more willing to forgive than we are to repent, more eager to heal than we are willing to pray for healing. You are awesome in your holiness, you are flawless in your righteousness, and you are never exhaustive in your grace and love. You are magnificent in splendor and ever-present through our times of trial, as well as in our times of mountaintop exuberance. You are closer than the air we breathe, and you are the Faithful One who has promised to never leave us nor forsake us.
Forgive us, we pray, for the times when we have put our own agendas before your will. Forgive us for making our decisions without consulting and yielding to your direction. Forgive us failing to respect and submit to one another out of love. Forgive us for allowing the enemy to break into our camp and to cause disharmony and division. Forgive us for living and thinking at the level that “it’s all about me.” Forgive us for failing to feed you when you were hungry, for failing to give you a drink when you were thirsty. Forgive us for failing to welcome you when we you were a stranger among us. Forgive us for leaving you naked, and for ignoring you when you were sick, and for failing to visit you when you sat all alone in a prison cell. Forgive us, we pray, and restore us to that place of holy favor with you, as you move in and through us, and make yourself known to us by your Holy Presence. We thank you, Lord, that you have promised if we will confess our sins, you are faithful and just and will forgive our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness. We thank you for the simple words we hear, “You are forgiven.” We shout, “Hallelujah,” as we move forth into this new season, redeemed, forgiven and set free to be your agents of love and grace to one another and to the world around us.
We thank you for your faithfulness to meet us, as you have promised, “where two or three are gathered in my name, I am there with them.” We thank you for drawing our hearts together around a common purpose, as we have invited you to invade our personal and corporate space. We thank you for your promise that if even one person would pray and seek your face, you would heal our land. We thank you that your healing and restorative power has gone forth “to bring good news to the poor, to bind up our broken hearts, to proclaim release for the captives, and liberation for prisoners…to comfort all who mourn…to give us a crown of beauty in place of ashes, to soak us with the oil of joy in place of mourning, and to place upon us a mantle of praise in place of discouragement.”
We ask you now to bless our spiritual leader, Bishop McAlilly, and all of our conference leaders. Bless our pastors and their families. Bless our congregations, and bless our mission posts near and far. Bring healing, restoration, and power to your people who will be gathering together in conference, and then going forth to carry your presence and power back to the local churches. May your glory cloud fill the temple as we come to meet you in this holy time and space. Bless us with your favor, bless us with your presence, bless us with the peace that passes all understanding as we go forth now to conference together in your name. All of this we pray to you, Father, in the power of the Holy Spirit, and in Jesus precious and holy name. AMEN!