Nov  2009 11
Pastoral Prayer for PTS

Written in response to Mark 3:1-6, this pastoral prayer by Chaplain Susanna Southard lifts up the seminary community on the occasion of President Gary Peluso-Verdend's inauguration.


Mark 3:4 (NRSV) "Is it lawful to do good or to do harm on the sabbath, to save life or to kill?"



Almighty God,

Giver, Sustainer, and Restorer of Life—


You have gifted us with the Sabbath

as a reminder of your creative work

            as a reminder of your creative rest

And, according to another biblical witness,

            as a reminder of your deliverance to new life

            through the Sea of Reeds and into a land of promise.


We thank you for the Sabbath.

            We thank you for life, in all its complexities.


Even as we celebrate and embrace fullness of life for all creation,

            we are painfully aware that living is not easy;

            we are painfully aware that living faithfully is not easy

The gift of life and new life seems constantly under threat.

            We see the withered hands all around us.

            We anguish over the withered spirits that cry out in silence.

            We recognize the withering because sometimes it is our own.


At times, life comes into conflict with life,

            just as Jesus was forced to choose between healing and the Sabbath.

Life hangs in the balance as the wheels of government reform slowly turn.

Life hangs in the balance as gunfire lets loose unexpectedlyin our protected places.

Life hangs in the balance as families lose financial security in a difficult economy.

Life hangs in the balance as children near and far watch their parents face untimely death

           due to preventable and unpreventable diseases,

           and as parents watch their children.


O God, Source of Life and Wholeness, when we see the threat,

            we join the cry for restoration, the cry for new life;

            we practice our cry;

            we learn to cry out loud and with great passion;

            we master the cry.


And sometimes, we confess,

we become so invested in the cry that we lose focus on the withered hand.

            No, we lose focus on the person whose hand is withered.

            And ironically the need for life, the struggle for life,

becomes an object of theological reflection or debate.


Forgive us, O God.

            Keep us focused on what matters most to you.

            Let life in all its complexities be our passion.

            Help us make our faith effective in the church

                        and in the world.


We thank you, Dear God,

            for Phillips Theological Seminary,

                        a living and breathing community

committed to embracing all the joys and challenges that come with life,

preparing women and men for varied Christian ministries

in church and society,

bringing a dynamic history, a living history, of change and transition,

and entering with hope into a new stage of life.


Teach us how to join in your creative work.

Teach us how to join in your creative rest.

Teach us how to offer new life,

            life in the name of the One who shows us how to be a healing presence.


We praise you, O God—Giver, Sustainer and Restorer of Life,

            in Whom we live and move and have our being.

May it be so.




Susanna Weslie Southard

Chaplain and Instructor in Hebrew Bible

Phillips Theological Seminary 


Browse more posts by: Gary Peluso-Verdend, Phillips President
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