Prayers from Pride

Happy Valley Pride in beautiful Hebden Bridge, Yorkshire, is a five day celebration of life and love and diversity. It was a huge privilege to be part of it this year. I was asked to speak in a Human Rights strand with the distinguished lawyer, Flo Krause, and found myself judging the Dog Show with Carol, the deputy mayor of the town.

Howard Pask, the vicar of St James’s Hebden Bridge, had welcomed a Eucharist for Inclusion on Sunday morning as part of the celebrations, and I was invited to lead the prayers. Here they are:

In the beauty of this day, let us pray to the Lord:

Lord in your mercy
Hear our prayer

John wrote:
“God is love, and those who live in love live in God , and God lives in them”

We pray today first of all, in a world too short of love and too full of hate, for our enemies, because Jesus told us to pray for them:

  • for those who nurse their hatred of others and express it in violence or cruelty
  • for the neo-Nazis of the USA and Europe
  • for those who hate others because of what they believe, or how they look
  • for the powerful who despise the humanity of little people and talk of “collateral damage” when they mean killing innocent people
  • for every person who today will hurt or harm either because they want to or because they are too weak to resist evil power that makes them work wickedness
  • We ask you, Lord, restrain these evils and heal the sicknesses of hate and violence and abuse of power

Lord, in your mercy
Hear our prayer

We give thanks today for the gifts of life and love:

  • for all those who taught us about loving and being loved
  • for parents, grandparents, step and foster-parents, carers, sibilings, families and friends
  • for the people who showed us that each one of us is a special gift from God, precious and irreplaceable
  • for the people who teach us and mentor us, and from whom we keep on learning about this beautiful world
  • for those who hug us, and dry our tears, and encourage us and give us hope and inspiration
  • Help us love, encourage, inspire and support others in the way we have been so cared for

Lord, in your mercy
Hear our prayer

We thank you, Lord, for the delights of diversity and difference in this world:

  • for a Pride Celebration in Happy Valley that encourages us to open our eyes and see the beauty in our neighbours who are not like us
  • Thank you for all the different children: tall and short, with their own special looks and the different things that interest them
  • Thank you for different families: mums and dads and mums and mums, and dads and dads and many more
  • Thank you for every family where love grows and the community is enriched
  • We thank you that we live in a part of the world where we can support and affirm difference:
    • different abilities
    • different sexualities
    • different gender expressions
    • different social and ethnic backgrounds
  • Help us to fight for a world where every person is helped to become all they could be and where their specialness is prized not punished

Lord, in your mercy
Hear our prayer

We pray for those whose lives are difficult and who are suffering:

  • For those who are sick and especially those on the sick lists and those who have asked us for our prayers
  • For those coming to the end of their lives
  • For those who have died and those who mourn the loss of loved ones especially…
  • For young people questioning their sexuality, who are fearful and don’t know where to find support
  • For those facing questions about their own gender identity
  • For those living with mental illness for whom every day is a day in black and white and not colour
  • In the year of the fiftieth anniversary of the Sexual Offences Act we pray for those men whose lives were blighted and spoiled by society’s persecution of their way of loving
  • For every person who feels so desperate that they are pondering ending their lived
  • God of love, give us the love to support, sustain and bring healing presence to those who are passing through great trials and troubles

Lord, in your mercy
Hear our prayer

Finally, dear Lord,
Teach us your way of love; hold us close to you and never let us go.
Merciful Father,
Accept these prayers for the sake of your son,
Our Saviour Jesus Christ. Amen.