Paul reminds us:
For we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, led astray, slaves to various passions and pleasures, passing our days in malice and envy, despicable, hating one another. But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of any good works of righteousness that we had done, but according to his mercy, through the water of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit. This Spirit he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life. The saying is sure. (Titus 3:3-8a, NRSV)
We have come to a season in the life of this church that has been a long time in coming. We gather this morning to take yet another step into the rebirth that we believe God is leading us into. And so it is appropriate that we gather this morning at the place at which we learn the meaning of our having been reborn and renewed. This is the place where we are enabled to remember where we were and who we were before the "goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared." We also gather at this table because we confess that the renewal and rebirth for which we long and work is a gift from God. We are unable to become the community of believers that God wants us to be on our own.
So today we approach the table in a time of thanksgiving and of need. We come thanking God for our deliverance from the powers that used to enslave us. That we are no longer slaves to sin, but now slaves to righteousness who are continuing to be transformed. We come expectant of the future of our life together. That we have come far, in both joy and pain, and that we ask God to lead us as a pillar of cloud by day and, by night, a fire that all may see. We ask that God may heal old wounds and give us grace for the journey before us.
Let us pray.
God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob,
Who led your people out of Egypt in power,
Who made an everlasting covenant with your people,
Who became like us and lived among us,
Who has conquered sin and death and the grave,
Who has ascended to heaven and who will return to redeem all things,
We stand before you today in gratitude and need,
Would you change us, would you shape us, would you guide us,
Would you make us your people in this place in this time,
For the glory of your name and the sake of the world.
We ask you to renew us, to transform us, and to go with us.
We bless you for this table that you have prepared,
May we see your face in our brothers and sisters this morning.