Our Almighty Father, we pray today for the grace to love others.
It’s not always easy, for some are easier to love than others.
But, you have commanded us to love others as we have been loved, even to love our enemies and to pray for those who persecute us.
Our love is our foremost witness to the world.
It is our love which distinguishes our gathering from all other gatherings;
It is our love for one another that distinguishes the church as unique among all other institutions,
And our lack of it that makes us ordinary and invisible.
And so, we confess to you that we have not been faithful to your command.
We have done the very opposite by nurturing grudges, remembering past offenses and making quick and harmful judgments against others.
We have been quick to believe what is salacious and unkind and slow to listen for the truth.
We have believed what we wanted to believe.
Let us die to such afflictions.
And let us grow into the new life you won for us in your resurrection.
Let us defy our inclinations and believe what you believe.
Let us reject false notions and scandalous gossip,
Let us embrace the truth that you love the world and all who dwell in it.
Open our eyes not only to see others as you see them,
But to see your face in theirs,
To hear your voice in theirs,
And to feel the touch of your hands in theirs.
Grant to us the grace to love even the unlovely and the irritating,
Knowing that by your Sovereign grace you have brought these people into our lives to teach us long-suffering love, patient love, forgiving love;
The very love with which you have loved us.
Love is a rare commodity;
It is the pearl of greatest price.
It is the greatest gift.
We ask for it so that we may return it to others.
In the name of and for the sake of Jesus Christ,
In whose name we pray, “Our Father…”