how the Spirit enlivens the faith within us

Photo by Nathan Dumlao on Unsplash

O Father of all mercy, you have begun your work in us.
Continue to fill us with all the dimensions of wisdom and knowledge.
May we be fully certain in our hearts and fully aware how the Spirit,
    who has raised up our Lord,
    also enlivens the faith within us with the same power and strength.
Through him we have also risen from the dead by his mighty power,
    which works in us through your holy Word.
Help us to grow in the knowledge of your dear Son, our Lord Jesus Christ,
    and to remain firm in confessing his blessed Word.
Martin Luther, 1483 – 1546, German Reformer
Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, 
    teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, 
    singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, 
    with thankfulness in your hearts to God. 
And whatever you do, in word or deed, 
    do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, 
    giving thanks to God the Father through him.

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to share in your reconciling mission

Veni, Dator Munerum by Lawrence OP 
Almighty God, our heavenly Father, 
    the privilege is ours to be called to share 
    in the loving, healing and reconciling mission
    of your Son Jesus Christ our Lord 
    in this age and wherever we are.
Since without you we can do no good thing,
    may your Spirit make us wise;
    may your Spirit guide us;
    may your Spirit renew us;
    may your Spirit strengthen us
    so that we will be
        strong in faith;
        discerning in proclamation;
        courageous in witness;
        persistent in good deeds.
This we ask through the same Jesus Christ our Lord.
Anglican Church of the West Indies
For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, 
    from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, 
    that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you 
    to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being

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Spirit of the Lord, we need you

image via pxhere CCO
Spirit, we know that we have done wrong by You.  
Please forgive us for grieving, resisting, and quenching You.  
We have resisted You through sin, through our rebellion, and through our hardness of heart.  
At times, we have been spiritually blind.  
At other times, we knew what You wanted us to do, 
    but we chose to ignore Your promptings.
Yet this is not how we want to live now
We need You to change us.  
Only through You can we truly worship.  
Spirit of the Lord, You are the one who brings us to a place where we can worship.  
You are the Spirit of truth, the Spirit of holiness, the Spirit of life. 
Thank You for the truth, the holiness and the life You give us.
We need Your wisdom and understanding as we seek to live this life.  
Keep us from disbelief, from fear.  
We need Your strength to help us do what you are asking us to do
    and to live how You are asking us to live.  
Speak loudly and drown out the other voices calling us 
    to conform to the patterns of this world.
You are the Spirit of self-control and love.  
Give us the self-control needed to deny our flesh and follow You.  
Give us a love strong enough to motivate courageous action.  
Manifest Yourself through us that we may serve and love Your bride the church, as You do.
Come, Holy Spirit, come.  
We don’t know exactly what that means and looks like for each of us yet, 
    in the particular places You’ve called us to inhabit.  
But, nonetheless, whatever it means, we ask for Your presence.  
Come, Holy Spirit, come.
Francis Chan, 1967- , American pastor and author
from Forgotten God, pg 165-166

1 Corinthians 3:16

Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you?

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O comforting fire of Spirit

Pentecost: Descent of the Holy Spirit,  French Mid-12th Century, CC BY-SA 2.0
O comforting fire of Spirit,
Life, within the very Life of all Creation.
Holy you are in giving life to All.

Holy you are in anointing
those who are not whole;
Holy you are in cleansing
a festering wound.

O sacred breath,
O fire of love,
O sweetest taste in my breast
which fills my heart
with a fine aroma of virtues.

O most pure fountain
through whom it is known
that God has united strangers
and inquired after the lost.

O breastplate of life
and hope of uniting
all members as One,
O sword-belt of honor,
enfold those who offer blessing.

Care for those
who are imprisoned by the enemy
and dissolve the bonds of those
whom Divinity wishes to save.

O mightiest path which penetrates All,
from the height to every Earthly abyss,
you compose All, you unite All.

Through you clouds stream, ether flies,
stones gain moisture,
waters become streams,
and the earth exudes Life.

You always draw out knowledge,
bringing joy through Wisdom’s inspiration.

Therefore, praise be to you
who are the sound of praise
and the greatest prize of Life,
who are hope and richest honor
bequeathing the reward of Light.
St. Hildegard of Bingen, 1098 – 1179, German, composer, Benedictine abbess
But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, 
    not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. 
He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, 
    he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, 
    so that, having been justified by his grace, 
    we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life.

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I believe, help my unbelief

praying man by Ruth Mabee
Lord, I want to love you, yet I’m not sure.
    I want to trust you, yet I’m afraid of being taken in.
    I know I need you, yet I’m ashamed of the need.
    I want to pray, yet I’m afraid of being a hypocrite.
    I need my independence, yet I fear to be alone.
    I want to belong, yet I must be myself.
    Take me, Lord, yet leave me alone.
    Lord, I do believe; help my unbelief.
O Lord, if you are there, you do understand, don’t you?
Give me what I need but leave me free to choose.
Help me work it out my own way, but don’t let me despair.
    Come unto me, O Lord – I want you there.
    Lighten my darkness – but don’t dazzle me.
    Help me to see what I need to do and give me strength to do it.
O Lord, I believe, help thou my unbelief.
Bernard SSF, 1928-2007
And they brought the boy to him. 
And when the spirit saw him, immediately it convulsed the boy, 
    and he fell on the ground and rolled about, foaming at the mouth. 
And Jesus asked his father, 
    “How long has this been happening to him?” 
And he said, “From childhood. 
    And it has often cast him into fire and into water, to destroy him. 
    But if you can do anything, have compassion on us and help us.” 
And Jesus said to him, 
    “‘If you can’! All things are possible for one who believes.” 
Immediately the father of the child cried out and said, 
    “I believe; help my unbelief!” 

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the wonder of his Ascension

Ascension of Christ, Pietro della Vecchia, Wikimedia Commons
Almighty God,
We come today reminded of your greatness and glory,
your sovereign power and eternal purpose
all expressed so wonderfully in Jesus Christ, our Lord,
Risen and Ascended.

We thank you for the wonder of Ascension,
that marvelous yet mysterious moment
in the life of the Apostles
which left them gazing heavenwards in confusion
yet departing in joy.

We thank you for the way that it brought the earthly ministry of Jesus
to a fitting conclusion;
signifying his oneness with you,
and demonstrating your final seal of approval
on all that he had done.

We thank you that through his Ascension
Jesus is now set free to be Lord of all:
no longer bound to a particular place or time,
but with us always—able to reach even to the ends of the earth.

We thank you that through his departing
Jesus prepared for his coming again:
through his Spirit,
his Church,
and his coming again in glory.

Gracious God,
Forgive us for so often failing
to grasp the wonder of Ascension,
for living each day as though it had never been.

Forgive the smallness of our vision,
the narrowness of our outlook,
the weakness of our love,
the nervousness of our witness,
our repeated failure to recognize
the fullness of your revelation in Christ.

Give us a deeper sense of wonder,
a stronger faith,
and a greater understanding of all you have done.

Father God,
Like the Apostles,
we too will never fully understand all Ascension means.
We accept, but we do not fully understand.
We believe, yet we have many questions.
Help us, despite our uncertainty, to hold firm to the great truth
that the wonder of Christ Jesus
goes far beyond anything we can ever imagine,
and in that faith may we live each day
to his glory and honour. Amen.
Bryce Calder, Church of Scotland Minister
Jesus said to her, “Mary.” 
She turned and said to him in Aramaic, “Rabboni!” (which means Teacher).  
Jesus said to her, “Do not cling to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father; 
but go to my brothers and say to them, 
    ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’”

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God of glory, Hear me, Spare me, Give me

God of glory,
you alone are true,
you alone are just.
In you are all things.
By you all things were made.
Hear my prayer,  O Lord,
just as you heard the three young men
    in the fury furnace.
Hear my prayer,
just as you heard Susanna and freed her
    from the hands of two enemy witnesses.
Hear me,
just as you heard Peter on the sea,
    and Paul in his chains.
Spare my soul.
Spare me from my deeds and from my sins.
Give me, O Lord, a holy mind to know you,
a perception that understands you,
a soul which knows you,
which seeks after the wisdom
    you have brought to me,
a soul that knows you,
a heart that loves you,
a mind that thinks about your works,
eyes that see you,
a tongue that proclaims you,
associations that are pleasing to you,
endurance that holds on to you,
perseverance that waits for your final completeness,
    at your resurrection 
    and the good reward you will give us, O Lord;
who lives and reigns forever. Amen.
Book of Cerne, 9th century
For thus says the Lord God: 
Behold, I, I myself will search for my sheep and will seek them out. 
As a shepherd seeks out his flock when he is among his sheep 
that have been scattered, so will I seek out my sheep, 
and I will rescue them from all places where they have been scattered 
on a day of clouds and thick darkness.

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Equip us to fight the enemy

Do not let us avoid the reading of the diving Scriptures, Lord.
For that would be Satan’s devising – not wanting us to see the treasure,
    otherwise we would gain the riches.
So he would say that hearing the divine laws means nothing.
Otherwise, if we did, we might become doers of the word,
    as well as hearers.
Knowing then his evil plan, Lord, 
    let us fortify ourselves against him on every side.
Fenced with this kind of armor,
    we can live unconquered lives,
    as well as strike a heavy blow to his head.
Then, crowned with glorious wreaths of victory, 
    we can attain the good things to come,
    by the grace and love towards others of our Lord Jesus Christ,
    to whom be glory and might for ever and ever, Amen.
John Chrysostom, c. 347- 407
Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness 
    to be tempted by the devil. 
And after fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry. 
And the tempter came and said to him, 
“If you are the Son of God, 
    command these stones to become loaves of bread.” 
But he answered, “It is written,
    “‘Man shall not live by bread alone,
        but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’”

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You are . . .

photo by Mario La Pergola on Unsplash
You alone are holy, Lord God, Worker of Wonders.
You are mighty.  You are great.  You are the Most High.
You are omnipotent, our holy Father, King of heaven and earth.
You, Lord God, three in one, are our every good.
You, Lord God, all good, our highest good – Lord God living and true.
You are charity and love.
You are wisdom. You are humility.
You are patience.
You are security.  You are peace.
You are joy and gladness.
You are justice and temperance.
You are riches altogether sufficient.
You are beauty.  You are meekness.
You are our refreshment.
You are our hope.  You are our faith.
You are our most profound sweetness.
You are our eternal life, great and admirable Lord,
    omnipotent God, merciful Savior!
Carlo Carretto, 1910 – 1988, Italian writer and minister
Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God!
How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways!
    “For who has known the mind of the Lord,
        or who has been his counselor?”
    “Or who has given a gift to him
        that he might be repaid?”
For from him and through him and to him are all things.
To him be glory forever. Amen.

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Forgiveness and Hope

Christ is Risen, Lawrence OP, Flickr CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
Our God, whose Son is the light of the world,
    in his penetrating light, we acknowledge our darkness;
    in his constant grace, our careless love;
    in his generous giving, our sordid grasping;
    in his equal justice, our dire prejudice;
    in his fortitude, our fearful failure;
    in his inclusive love, our deep divisions;
    in his pure sacrifice, our soiling sins.
But in his Cross is our forgiveness,
  and in his resurrection our enduring hope.
This pardon and the promise we now claim,
  in penitence and faith, through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Horton Davies, 1916-2005, Professor of Religion Princeton University
And Christ lives within you, so even though your body will die because of sin, 
    the Spirit gives you life because you have been made right with God. 
The Spirit of God, who raised Jesus from the dead, lives in you. 
And just as God raised Christ Jesus from the dead, 
    he will give life to your mortal bodies by this same Spirit living within you.

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