as we come together, God of eternity,
we praise you for your bigger-than-us-ness.
we praise you for your dominion over balance sheets and boom reports.
we praise you for the way you've called each of us,
for the holy mystery of communion together,
for the free-gift-grace of holy conferencing,
for the joy of friends and colleagues,
sharing stories of seminary days, and memories of past appointments.
we praise you for the people called methodists in this corner of the world,
for the way you are using us, calling us, challenging us, pushing us and saving us from ourselves.
forgive us, we pray, for our assumptions.
forgive us for our audacity to think we can somehow control or manipulate you.
forgive us for the way we have excluded others.
forgive us for the way we have sometimes turned your church into business, replacing love with doctrine, hope with projections, joy with job-satisfaction, and faith with fierce posturing about who is right and wrong, in and out.
forgive us for failing to fully embody your wild, reckless, untamed, unstoppable love.
help us, Lord.
help us to move forward with great expectations.
help us to stop demanding righteousness of others while dining gluttonously at the table of mercy.
help us to dance.
help us to love well, to live abundantly, to give freely.
help us to be a people of hope.
help us to make disciples, not for the sake of survival, but for the sake of Truth.
help us to be united in love, and loving in division.
help us to keep the main things the main things.
we ask that you would bless our annual conference, not for our sake, but for yours, and for the sake of our neighbors, not just the ones who are easy to love, but especially those who are not.
in the name of Jesus, who broke all the rules in the name of love,