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Church of Firsts

Recognizing the Anniversaries of the Civil War & Human Spaceflight in Sunday’s Pastoral Prayer


17 April 2011


As we begin this Holy Week journey, let us join together in our Prayer of Confession, printed in your order of worship.


Loving God save us from thin hopes and small dreams. Our cry is from the heart, from our very soul.


Where and when we fail, God is there to make all things new.



As we come to our time of pastoral prayer this week, a variety of things have occupied my mind. First were the significant anniversaries commemorated last Tuesday, April 12. It was the 150th anniversary of the firing on Fort Sumter and the beginning of America's Civil War. It was also the 50th anniversary of the flight of Yuri Gagarin and humanity's first trip into outer space. Somehow, the two together were vivid reminders of the best and worst of the human condition. In my prayer today I will incorporate and adapt some words from President Abraham Lincoln's Second Inaugural Address and some words from the quite good, but now dated, hymn "God of Earth and Outer Space" by Thad Roberts, Jr.


Then, as you can see from your blue insert, there were many prayer needs this week. Most significantly, on Wednesday we received the very sad news that our dear friend and brother the Rev. Don Klohr had died. Don had been contending with Parkinson's and prostate cancer for many years, but it was a bout of pneumonia which concluded his life this week. Don served as the Minister of Visitation here at First Central from 1993 until 2004.


When Don first accepted this position, he wrote in The Congregationalist:


I feel honored that First Central has placed its confidence in my capacity to provide this most essential ministry and look forward to serving Christ's cause among you.


Which he proceeded to do with great dignity, integrity, and grace.


Please note the times and locations for visitation and the funeral, which are listed on the blue insert to your bulletin. The funeral will not be here, but will be at the First Congregational Church in Council Bluffs where Donald served as Senior Minister from 1973-1991.


Let us pray.


God of earth and outer space,

God of love and God of grace,

Bless the astronauts who fly

As they soar beyond the sky.


God who flung the stars in space,

God who set the sun ablaze,

Fling the spacecraft thro' the air,

Let [us] know your presence there.


God of depth and God of height

God of darkness, God of light,

As [we walk] in outer space,

Teach [us] how to walk in grace.


For our brother Donald, we give you thanks.

Through his ministry among us, we were blessed.

Give your comfort now to Sue, Ann, Robert, and Jim.

And may all of us sow seeds of joy and love and savour every minute of it.


Our thoughts and prayers reach out to include all our sisters and brothers in need.

For Val and Frances, we pray for a speedy recovery from surgery.

For Rick and his family, our condolences upon the death of his father.

For Patrick, strength in this time of illness.

For Dorothy and her family, courage and hope in the weeks ahead.

And praise and thanksgiving for how well Ryder's surgery went on Thursday.


Let us remember these and others in a time of silent reflection.




Finally, for our nation we pray, O God,

For the lasting wounds of slavery and civil war.

As we remember our darkest hours,

May we find the courage to face the truth:


With malice toward none,

with charity for all,

with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right,

let us strive on to finish the work we are in,

to bind up the nation's wounds,

to care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow and his orphan, to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace among ourselves and with all nations.


And, now, as our Savior taught us, we pray:




Our Father who art in heaven,

Hallowed be thy name.

Thy kingdom come, thy will be done

On earth as it is in heaven.


Give us this day our daily bread.

And forgive us our debts,

As we forgive our debtors.

And lead us not into temptation,

But deliver us from evil.


For thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.



In this Holy Week, we are reminded that God does not ask a token of support. We are called to give all of ourselves, of which our offering here today is but a symbol. May our gifts proclaim good news to the world.


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