My church (Alger First UMC) is engaging in the work of prayer through our Prayer Vigil today (Good Friday) and tomorrow (Holy Saturday). During this holiest of weekends, we are rehearsing again the realities of Jesus Christ’s suffering, death, and burial, as well as preparing our hearts, souls, and minds for Easter Sunday.
What you have below are the resources that were put together for this prayer vigil. They’re all available at Alger First, but we realize many people aren’t able to come to our church and share in this.
Additionally, other people may read this who have never been a part of our church or any church, and could still desire guidance through this holy weekend. These prayers are for you too-notes in italics, begun with “For my online-only readers,” suggest how you might engage in these prayers, even if you aren’t a part of this church or any church.
This is a gift to you, as followers of Christ everywhere engage in this important work of participation and preparation.
To Alger First UMC’s prayer vigil
The church is open from 7 am – 6 pm. Come whenever you like. Stay for as long or as short as you like, and leave when you must.
There will be prayer services at 7 am, 12 noon, and 5 pm, led by Pastor Andy. All are welcome.
On the table ahead as well as on the altar, you will see prayer guides/helps and meditations. Feel free to take any of them with you when you leave (there are plenty of copies of everything), and continue your prayer at home and with your family and friends.
Of particular note are the “Progressive Prayer Guide,” which will guide you on a prayer walk through church, ending at the small, rough, wooden cross in front of the chancel area with a Meditation there, as well as the “Creation Station” in the East Classroom, where you are invited to draw or create your prayers and responses.
Also feel free to completely disregard them and spend this time in prayer and meditation, going where you need to go with God in your prayers. The resources are there to assist you in this.
May this time of prayer and meditation be a blessing to you; may you find God-Creator, Redeemer, and Sustainer-in this space, and may you be prepared for this most holy of weekends.
Today, Good Friday, we remember and re-experience the reality that Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the eternal Word who has been present since the beginning of creation, died on the cross. On the cross, the brutal instrument of torture and execution used by the Romans for criminals and revolutionaries, our Lord Jesus Christ was executed.
Today is the day when the church, through the centuries, has focused intently on the suffering, desolation, and death of Jesus in his betrayal, trial, torture, and execution. Today, we ask the question, “What in the world does it mean when we say that God, in Jesus Christ, died?”
If you want to orient yourself to today, you can read the story of Jesus’ death in one of the Gospels: Matthew 27:11-54; Mark 15:1-47; Luke 23:1-49; John 18:1-19:42. Or you can just continue on to your prayers, with or without the prayer guides, knowing that it is in this brutal truth that we pray today.
“Grieving God, on the cross your Son embraced death even as he had embraced life: faithfully and with good courage. Grant that we who have been born out of his wounded side may hold fast to our faith in him exalted and may find mercy in all times of need. Amen” (This prayer found here)
Progressive Prayer Guide
(For my online-only readers: This is a guide for a prayer walk around Alger First’s interior. Feel free to appropriate it and change it to fit your context in whatever way works best for you.)
In East Vestibule (where bulletins are handed out):
Pray for all who enter these doors, both old friends and new faces, that they may experience Jesus through Alger First UMC.
In Action Classroom:
Pray that our learning would deepen our love for God and each other, as well as our desire to serve God and serve others.
In Youth Sunday School Classroom:
Pray that our youth may know and grow in the Lord, and be welcomed fully into the church family with all of their newness.
In Children Sunday School Classroom:
Pray that we would welcome the children just like Jesus did, encourage their souls, and help them to know Jesus.
(Use West stairway to go down to basement)
Remember all the ways that good food brings the people together. Pray for those who work in this room to find God’s blessing in the preparing.
In Fellowship Hall
Thank God for all of the meals shared here. Pray for those who gather here to find food for all the complexities of life.
Pray that we would come to see God, our faith, and the world more often through the innocent eyes of these little ones.
Pray that the Holy Spirit would move in our worship and that we would experience true transformation.
At the Baptismal Font
Pray that you would be empowered to live into your identity as a baptized daughter or son of God.
Go to table with small wooden cross for further direction (For my online-only readers: see below for the Meditation at the Cross. This is what was available for pray-ers at the cross.)
Meditation at the Cross
(For my online-only readers: This meditation takes a bit of preparation. It may be helpful for you to find a small cross around your house, or to join with a neighbor or friend who has a cross (It could even be from a piece of jewelry), and set up your own little altar, placing the cross on a low table or something of the sort. Find a small bowl, a few small pieces of paper, and a writing utensil. Place these materials on your own little altar, and do this meditation in front of it.)
Here is the simple yet difficult, painful, and excruciating truth of today:
And through this death, we gain redemption, freedom from our sins, mending for our brokenness, reunion with God and others after separation and alienation. All good and blessed results. But at what cost?
Today, as we remember that Jesus Christ died on the cross to free us from our sins, you are invited to take time to meditate before this cross. Stand, sit, kneel, lay prostrate (lie stretched out and face-down on the ground), whatever works for you.
Meditate on your own specific sins, brokenness, and alienation for which Christ died.
Then, if you feel comfortable, write them down on one of the scraps of paper provided.
Then leave them in the bowl, and leave them behind.
Christ took your sins to the cross, where they were nailed and died with him.
May you truly leave them here, and may you take up the freedom bought for you by Christ’s blood.
Prayer for Our Community
(For my online-only readers: The prayers below were written specifically for Alger First UMC and our community, the Village of Alger, in mind. That being said, most are wide enough to be able to be used for any community, anywhere. I believe that these will be most effective if you print this page off, leave the comforting light of your computer, and take a prayer walk around your own community.)
You’re invited to make this a time of prayer not just for yourself, but also for our community, the Village of Alger. You may use this prayer guide while you’re here in the church. Even better than that, you could take it with you as you leave this place, to continue your prayers out in our community. You could even take a prayer walk around the village today or tomorrow, using the prayers below or the prayers of your own heart to guide your feet and your words.
Pray for Alger First’s ministry to this community through our newly completed Community Outreach Center. Pray that we would follow God’s call to minister to our community in the places of greatest pain and need.
Pray for the poor in our village.
Pray for those in our village who do not have a stable and/or healthy home life.
Pray for those in our village who struggle with medical issues and affording the care needed.
Pray for those in our village struggling with substance abuse and addiction.
Pray for those in our village who are hungry and are unsure of where they will find their next meal.
Pray for those in our village who face discrimination, separation, and/or alienation because of their race/ethnicity, gender, age, occupation, or lifestyle.
Pray for those in our village who do not have a home.
Pray for those in our village who struggle to find a job.
Pray for Alger First UMC to hear God’s call in our community and follow it, wherever and to whomever it may lead.
Prayer for our Community Outreach Center
(For my online-only readers: The Community Outreach Center is a building project started by Alger First UMC as a way to reach out to those in our community who will not step foot in a church, or even come near with a ten-foot pole. After a long and frustrating building process, it was finally completed last week. These prayers are the most specific to our context and therefore are more difficult to change to fit another context. Two things could be done: We covet your prayers for this project, and ask that you pray for us, whether or not you’ve ever been a part of this church or any church. Also, you could keep in mind any community ministry or outreach that is near and dear to your heart, and apply these prayers to that.)
Our Community Outreach Center is finally complete-all inspections passed, all bills paid-and we are ready to move in! Yay! But while we are ecstatic that construction work is finally complete, the real work actually begins now. In order for us to be able to use this building in the way God would have us use this building, we must start with prayer.
You’re invited to join in praying for this building, using the prompts below or prayers from your own heart. Additionally, the Creation Station in the East classroom provides an opportunity to create your prayers, insights and ideas related to the Community Outreach Center. Along with the “Prayer for Our Community” sheet, you can pray for this here, but you could also take it with you as you leave this place. Consider walking or driving down to the Community Outreach Center (on the corner of Main St. and Place St. in Alger) and praying on-site.
Pray for Alger First’s ministry to this community through this newly completed Community Outreach Center. Pray that we would follow God’s call to minister to our community in the places of greatest pain and need.
Pray that God would guide the right people from this church into leadership over this building and its operations.
Pray that God would show us the best way to use this building-what ministries to start and to whom we should reach out.
Pray that God would not let this building sit unused, but would make all the work, delays, waiting, and frustration worth it.
Pray that this building would be a tool we use to bring the Kingdom of God into this Village and into the lives of those around us who need it the most.