Prayer to close out a minister’s conference

W. L. Ransome
 
Almighty God, we thank thee for the hours we have spent on this campus.
Every now and then when the way seems dark,
    you give us a little sample of what is better further along.
We have been encouraged this week by the fact that 
    what we have received is a sample of that which is waiting for those 
    who hold out and prove faithful to the end.
We are like the ox who is pulling the load up the hill,   
    and about to give out;
    when the driver gets out of the ox cart and carries a little food up the hill –
    and the oxen know the food is up there,
    by faith they pull harder.
We are gonna pull harder now.
We are gonna cut more deeply.
We are gonna believe more firmly.
We are gonna hold more assuredly,
    because one thing you told Peter,
    “that the gates of hell will not prevail against the church.”
Help us to go back now.
When Samson wanted to burn down the wheat fields of the Philistines,
    he got a hundred or so foxes and tied their tails together.
He struck one match and lighted all those fiery tails and
    turned them loose among the wheat fields of the Philistines.
When the foxes got through,
    the enemies of God didn’t have nothing to feed on.
We’ve been tied together here this week.
The Servant of God has lighted our hearts with the candle of Thy Word.
He’s turning us loose now! 
We’re going out into the world, 
    and we’re gonna burn down hell and the kingdom of Satan in this age!
May the grace of God 
  and the sweet communion of the Holy Spirit
  and the peace that passeth all understanding,
    abide with us until that same Jesus,
        who went into the first airship, manned by two pilots,
        ascended out of sight,
    and the angel said,” In like manner, He’s coming again.”
And when He comes, when He comes,
    all those looking for Him by faith will be with Him
    and shall never separate from that Holy Church.
Where the shadows never fall, calendars never bedeck the walls,
    funerals are never had, and parting is no more.
On the sea of glass, we will retire.
Palms of victory in our hands,
    we will waive to Him who shall reign forevermore.
 
prayer given by W. L. Ransome at the Hampton Ministers’ Conference 1973
 
_______________________________
 
 
Let us hold tightly without wavering to the hope we affirm, 
    for God can be trusted to keep his promise. 
Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works. 
And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, 
    but encourage one another, 
    especially now that the day of his return is drawing near.

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Transfiguration Prayer

Transfiguration of Christ, Carl Bloch, Wikimedia Commons
 

O God,
We open our eyes and we see Jesus,
the months of ministry transfigured to a beam of light,
the light of the world,
your light.
May your light shine upon us.

We open our eyes and we see Moses and Elijah,
your word restoring us, showing us the way,
telling a story,
your story, his story, our story.
May your word speak to us.

We open our eyes and we see mist,
the cloud of your presence
which assures us of all we do not know
and that we do not need to fear that.
Teach us to trust.

We open our eyes and we see Peter’s constructions,
his best plans, our best plans,
our missing the point,
our missing the way.
Forgive our foolishness and sin

We open our eyes and we see Jesus,
not casting us off,
but leading us down, leading us out –
to ministry, to people.
Your love endures forever.

We open our ears and we hear your voice,
‘This is my beloved Son, listen to him!’
And we give you thanks.

Amen

 
William Loader, New Testament Professor emeritus in Australia
 
__________________________
 
 
And after six days Jesus took with him 
  Peter and James, and John his brother,   
  and led them up a high mountain by themselves.  
And he was transfigured before them, 
  and his face shone like the sun, 
  and his clothes became white as light.  
And behold, there appeared to them Moses and Elijah, 
  talking with him. 
And Peter said to Jesus, 
  “Lord, it is good that we are here. 
  If you wish, I will make three tents here, 
  one for you and one for Moses and one for Elijah.” 
He was still speaking when, 
  behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them, 
  and a voice from the cloud said, 
“This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to him.”
 
 

against the threat of malignant powers

Nebuchadnezzar, William Blake, Wikimedia Commons CC-BY-NC-ND 3.0
 
Lord, we pray this day mindful of the sorry confusion of our world. 
Look with mercy upon this generation of your children
    so steeped in misery of their own contriving, 
    so far strayed from your ways 
    and so blinded by passions. 
We pray for the victims of tyranny, 
    that they may resist oppression with courage. 
We pray for wicked and cruel men, 
    whose arrogance reveals to us 
    what the sin of our own hearts is like 
    when it has conceived and brought forth its final fruit.

We pray for ourselves who live in peace and quietness, 
    that we may not regard our good fortune as proof of our virtue, 
    or rest content to have our ease 
    at the price of other men’s sorrow and tribulation.

We pray for all who have some vision of your will, 
    despite the confusions and betrayals of human sin, 
  that they may humbly and resolutely plan for and fashion 
    the foundations of a just peace between men, 
    even while they seek to preserve what is fair and just among us 
    against the threat of malignant powers.
 
Reinhold Niebuhr, 1892-1971, American theologian and professor
The Complete Book of Christian Prayer
 
__________________________
 
 
“That same hour the judgment was fulfilled, 
    and Nebuchadnezzar was driven from human society.
 He ate grass like a cow, and he was drenched with the dew of heaven. 
He lived this way until his hair was as long as eagles’ feathers 
    and his nails were like birds’ claws.
 
“After this time had passed, I, Nebuchadnezzar, looked up to heaven. 
My sanity returned, and I praised and worshiped the Most High 
    and honored the one who lives forever.

His rule is everlasting,
    and his kingdom is eternal.
All the people of the earth
    are nothing compared to him.
He does as he pleases
    among the angels of heaven
    and among the people of the earth.
No one can stop him or say to him,
    ‘What do you mean by doing these things?’

“When my sanity returned to me, so did my honor and glory and kingdom. 
My advisers and nobles sought me out, 
    and I was restored as head of my kingdom, 
    with even greater honor than before.

“Now I, Nebuchadnezzar, praise and glorify and honor the King of heaven. 
All his acts are just and true, and he is able to humble the proud.”

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teach us the unity of Thy family

 
O God, who has made man in thine own likeness,
    And who loves all whom Thou hast made,
  suffer us not because of difference of race, color, or condition
    to separate ourselves from others
    and thereby from Thee;
  but teach us the unity of Thy family
    and universality of Thy Love.
As Thou Savior, as a Son, was born of a Hebrew mother,
    who had the blood of many nations in her veins;
    and ministered first to Thy brethren of the Israelites,
    but rejoiced in the faith of a Syro-Phoenician woman and of a Roman soldier,
    and suffered your cross to be carried by an Ethiopian;
  teach us, also, while loving and serving our own,
    to enter into the communion of the whole family;
  and forbid that from pride of birth, color, achievement and hardness of heart,
    we should despise any for who Christ died,
    or injure or grieve any in whom He lives.
We pray in Jesus’ precious name. AMEN.
 
Robert C. Lawson, 1883-1961, 20th-century African American clergyman
 
_______________________
 
 
I appeal to you, dear brothers and sisters,
    by the authority of our Lord Jesus Christ, 
    to live in harmony with each other. 
Let there be no divisions in the church. 
Rather, be of one mind, united in thought and purpose.

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You are the nearest person to us

icon of Jesus and James, Nepoznati Ikonopisac, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons
 
There is no person so near to us as you, Christ Jesus.
You are our father because we were created through you.
You are our brother because you took on our nature.
You are our father because you provided an inheritance for us.
You are our brother because you divided this inheritance with us.
And because you died to give us possession of that inheritance,
    you are the Nourishing One, our foster father 
    who has nursed us in his house, in the Christian church.
You are our twin brother, 
    so similar to us that your Father is ours
    and He will not know us from one another
    but will mingle our conditions:
He finds our sins in you
    and your righteousness in us.
 
after John Donne, 1572 – 1631, English poet, satirist, lawyer and priest
 
And now that you belong to Christ, you are the true children of Abraham. 
You are his heirs, and God’s promise to Abraham belongs to you.
 

Incarnate yourself into our hopelessness

image / The Flight to Egypt / James Tissot
 
 
God of the homeless, the refugee, the displaced:
    we come expectant and hopeful before you.
In the world around us today
    we find ourselves surrounded by those, like Christ,
    without a place to simply be.
A season of blessing, our season of rain,
    is a curse for those without shelter.
 
You know what it is like to be displaced from your home,
    your family expelled from Israel out of fear of Herod.
In the same way, people flee their homes in fear of earthy leaders,
    uncertain of what the future may hold.
Those whose lands have been taken from them
    despair at the loss of valuable assets and resources.
 
Lord of hope, we are assured of your provision in this season
    where we expect the Bread of Life.
We are assured that you come to be with those who lack,
    those on the periphery, 
    as we remember you being born in a manger.
 
We are assured that your hand is outstretched to all,
    first to the poor and then to the rich,
    as shepherds and then magi came to the place of your birth.
Incarnate in hopeless situations for us, your people, we pray.
Amen.
 
complied by Claudio Carvalhaes, professor of worship in New York City
 
________________________
 

After the wise men were gone, 
    an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream. 
“Get up! Flee to Egypt with the child and his mother,” the angel said. 
“Stay there until I tell you to return, 
    because Herod is going to search for the child to kill him.”

That night Joseph left for Egypt with the child and Mary, his mother, 
    and they stayed there until Herod’s death. 
This fulfilled what the Lord had spoken through the prophet: 
    “I called my Son out of Egypt.”

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The Presentation

The Presentation in the Temple, Alvaro Pirez, The Met, public domain
 
 
From all eternity, O Jesus Christ, 
    you have been our Lord and our God; so did the Father will it.  
Yet in this, the last of all periods of time, you also had your birth; 
    you were born of a virgin, 
    of one that had no knowledge of any man.  
To redeem us from the Law, you submitted to the Law.  
Your purpose was to free us from slavery 
    to which our corruption had reduced us 
    and to confer upon us the rank of sons.
 
This is the day when you were carried to the temple 
    and the aged Simeon took you in his arms 
    and asked leave to go in peace.  
‘My own eyes have seen’, he said, ‘your grace and your saving power.’
 
Deliver us, now, Lord, from all that is vain;
    fulfill your promise and free us from sin and shame;
    fill our hearts with your holy Spirit and enable us to say:
‘Abba, Father.’
 
Early Christian Prayers edited by A. Hamman, #218
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Simeon took him in his arms and praised God, saying:

“Sovereign Lord, as you have promised,
    you may now dismiss your servant in peace.
For my eyes have seen your salvation,
     which you have prepared in the sight of all nations:
 a light for revelation to the Gentiles,
    and the glory of your people Israel.”
 

You became human, really human.

Te tamari no atua, Paul Gauguin, CC BY-SA 4.0 via Wikimedia Commons
 
 
You became human, really human.
While we endeavor to grow out of our humanity,
    to leave our human nature behind us,
    You became human,
    and we must recognize that You want us also to be human – 
    really human.
Whereas we distinguish between the godly and the godless,
    the good and the evil, the noble and the common,
    You love real human beings without distinction. . . .
    You take the side of real human beings and the real world
        against all their accusers. . . .
 
But it’s not enough to say that You take care of human beings.
This sentence rests on something
    infinitely deeper and more impenetrable, 
    namely, that in the conception and birth of Jesus Christ, 
    You took on humanity in bodily fashion.
You raised your love for human beings 
    above every reproach of falsehood and doubt and uncertainty
    by yourself entering into the life of human beings as a human being,
    by bodily taking upon yourself 
    and bearing the nature, essence, guilt, and suffering of human beings.
 
Out of love for human beings, You became a human being.
You do not seek out the most perfect human being
    in order to unite with that person.
Rather, You take on human nature as it is.
 
after Dietrich Bonhoeffer, 1906 – 1945, German  theologian and martyr
 
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Look! The virgin will conceive a child!
    She will give birth to a son,
and they will call him Immanuel,
    which means ‘God is with us.’

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O Come Emmanuel

Image from Art4TheGlryOfGod by Sharon under Creative Commons license

 

Our world carries the scars of the way we live, Jesus;
    the preferential treatment given
        to the few who are wealthy and powerful and famous
        leaves the rest ignored and neglected;
    the desperate quest for more
        leaves all of us feeling less, enjoying less;
    the self-protective aggression we embrace to feel safe
        leaves us and others wounded and frightened;
    the apathetic disregard for the suffering, the grieving, the dying   
        leaves us disconnected from our own humanity,
        from our ability to feel and to care.

 

We need our world turned upside down, Jesus;
   We need our self-importance and self-sufficiency to be undermined;
   We need a new way of being that is built on a whole new set of

   values:
        Humble the powerful
            and exalt the humble, we pray;
        Fill the hungry with good things,
            and keep the satisfied from taking even more;
        Give us the wisdom to let a Child lead us
            into a world of justice and love;
            into the joy of sacrifice and service and simplicity.
 
O come, Emmanuel, and ransom your captive people.
Amen.
 
John van de Laar,  South African Methodist worship minster
 
___________________
 
 
A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse;
    from his roots a Branch will bear fruit.
The Spirit of the Lord will rest on him—
    the Spirit of wisdom and of understanding,
    the Spirit of counsel and of might,
    the Spirit of the knowledge and fear of the Lord—
and he will delight in the fear of the Lord.

 

He will not judge by what he sees with his eyes,
    or decide by what he hears with his ears;
 but with righteousness he will judge the needy,
    with justice he will give decisions for the poor of the earth.
He will strike the earth with the rod of his mouth;
    with the breath of his lips he will slay the wicked.
Righteousness will be his belt
    and faithfulness the sash around his waist.

The wolf will live with the lamb,
    the leopard will lie down with the goat,
 the calf and the lion and the yearling[a] together;
    and a little child will lead them.
The cow will feed with the bear,
    their young will lie down together,
    and the lion will eat straw like the ox.
The infant will play near the cobra’s den,
    and the young child will put its hand into the viper’s nest.
They will neither harm nor destroy
    on all my holy mountain,
 for the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the Lord
    as the waters cover the sea.

 
 
 
 

Glory be to God on high

image / Lawrence OP / Flickr
 
 
Glory be to God on high,
and on earth peace,
peace among those of good will.
We praise you, we bless you,
we give thanks for your great glory,
holy God, tender God, God our beloved creator.
 
Christ our desire 
only embodiment of God,
bone of our bone and flesh of our flesh,
foolishness of God, greater than human wisdom,
emptiness of God, full of redemption,
bearing away the sin of the world,
have mercy on us.
Holy one, bearing away the sin of the world,
have mercy on us.
Beloved one, bearing away the sin of the world,
receive our prayer.
 
For you alone are holy,
you alone our desire.
You alone, O Christ,
with the comforter of fire,
are radiant with the grace and glory of God most high.
 
Janet Morely, British poet and theologian
 
_________________________________
 
 
For to us a child is born,
    to us a son is given;
and the government shall be upon his shoulder,
    and his name shall be called
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
    Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Of the increase of his government and of peace
    there will be no end,
on the throne of David and over his kingdom,
    to establish it and to uphold it
with justice and with righteousness
    from this time forth and forevermore.
The zeal of the Lord of hosts will do this.
 

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