united in one holy bond

image via pixy.org
 
O God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, 
      our only Savior, the Prince of Peace:
  give us grace seriously to lay to heart the great dangers we are in
      by our unhappy divisions.
Take away all hatred and prejudice, and whatsoever else may hinder us 
      from godly union and concord:
 that, as there is but one Body, and one Spirit, and one hope of our calling,
      one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of us all,
      so may we henceforth be all of one heart, and of one soul,
      united in one holy bond of truth and peace, of faith and charity,
  and may with one mind and one mouth glorify thee,
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
 
prayer from the Ascension Service of King George I (1714)
 
___________________________
 
 
I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call— one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.

Continue reading

Great God Almighty, We Are Free at Last!

 Martin Luther King, 1964 / Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain
 
God grant that right here in America and all over the world,
    we will choose the high way:
a way in which men will live together as brothers.
A way in which the nations of the world will beat their swords into plowshares,
    and their spears into pruning hooks.
A way in which every man will respect 
    the dignity and worth of all human personality.
A way in which every nation will allow justice to flow down like waters,
    and righteousness like a mighty stream.
A way in which men will do justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with God.
A way in which men will be able to stand up, 
    and in the midst of oppression, in the midst of darkness and agony,
    they will be able to stand there and love their enemies,
        bless those persons that curse them,
        pray for those individuals that despitefully use them.
And this is the way that will bring us once more into that society
    which we think of as the brotherhood of man.
This will be that day when white people, colored people,
    whether they are brown or whether they are yellow  or whether they are black,
    will join together and stretch out with their arms and be able to cry out:
“Free at last! Free at last! Great God Almighty, we are free at last!”
 
Martin Luther King, Jr. 1929 -1968, American pastor and civil rights activist
 
_____________________________
 
 
And a highway will be there;
    it will be called the Way of Holiness;
    it will be for those who walk on that Way.
The unclean will not journey on it;
    wicked fools will not go about on it.
No lion will be there,
    nor any ravenous beast;
    they will not be found there.
But only the redeemed will walk there,
    and those the Lord has rescued will return.
They will enter Zion with singing;
    everlasting joy will crown their heads.
Gladness and joy will overtake them,
    and sorrow and sighing will flee away.

Continue reading

prayer for our leaders

Image by Myriams-Fotos from Pixabay   
 
Lord God, in our prayers for our country
we remember especially the men and women 
who powerfully influence the life of society:
    those who fashion our politics,
    those who frame and administer our laws,
    those who mold public opinion through various forms of media,
    those who write what many read.
May all such recognize their responsibility to you and to the nation, 
    that people may be influenced for what is good, not evil;
    for what is true, not false;
for the glory of your name,
 
Frank Colquhoun,1909-1997, evangelical priest and author, Church of England
 
______________________
 
 
Behold, a king will reign in righteousness,
    and princes will rule in justice.
Each will be like a hiding place from the wind,
    a shelter from the storm,
  like streams of water in a dry place,
    like the shade of a great rock in a weary land.
Then the eyes of those who see will not be closed,
    and the ears of those who hear will give attention.
The heart of the hasty will understand and know,
    and the tongue of the stammerers will hasten to speak distinctly.
The fool will no more be called noble,
    nor the scoundrel said to be honorable.
For the fool speaks folly,
    and his heart is busy with iniquity,
  to practice ungodliness,
    to utter error concerning the Lord,
  to leave the craving of the hungry unsatisfied,
    and to deprive the thirsty of drink.
As for the scoundrel—his devices are evil;
    he plans wicked schemes
  to ruin the poor with lying words,
    even when the plea of the needy is right.
But he who is noble plans noble things,
    and on noble things he stands.

Continue reading

Lord, we lament the state of our nation

 image by Billy Hathorn, CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons
 
Lord, we lament the state of our nation.

Lord, we lament the divisions between us as people in our nation that we cannot seem to resolve.

Lord, we lament the pain, confusion, hatred, and violence that seems to reign in our personal and national life.

Lord, we lament the lack of leadership in our government that has in many ways led to the state of affairs in which we now find ourselves.

Lord, we lament the darkness in our own hearts that contributes to this situation.

Lord, we pray for those who perpetrated the attacks on the Capitol, and the broader attacks on our democracy, to be brought to justice and ultimately to repentance.

Lord, we pray for truth to reign in our national conversations and our communities, as well as in our church.

Lord we pray for President Trump, during the final days of his administration, that he will fulfill his duties responsibly.

Lord, we pray for President-elect Biden, that he will have wisdom as he prepares to assume office on January 20.

Lord, we pray for all our elected officials in the Senate and House of Representatives to be led by Your grace and wisdom, whether they want to be or not.

Lord, we pray for protection of our nation from any adversaries who would seek to harm us during this perilous transitional period.

Lord, we remember that “our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms” (Ephesians 6:12), so we pray that You would protect us from all spiritual evil that seeks to bring devastation upon us.

Lord, we pray for healing of relationships between Americans who are deeply divided by partisanship, that they will seek to resolve their differences peacefully and cooperate where possible for the common good.

Lord, we pray for protection of those in other countries suffering persecution, who have seen the United States as a model of democracy, who may now be endangered as dictators are emboldened to commit further abuses.

Lord, we pray for all who follow the Prince of Peace, that we will humble ourselves before God and allow the light of Christ to shine through us into our dark and broken world.

And Lord, we pray for our own church that we might stand in Your truth, be filled with Your grace, live as one through Christ, and might boldly walk forward as witnesses to You and Your Kingdom, individually and corporately.

All this we pray through Jesus Christ, who with You and the Holy Spirit, are one God, both now and forever. Amen.
 
Matt Erickson, pastor serving in Milwaukee, WI, blogging at Renovate
 
_______________________
 
 
If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.
 
 

Continue reading

prayer for mercy against lying

 image / GDJ / Pixabay
 
Almighty and eternal God, you see how your saints are so few and indeed how rarely and infrequently they seek or promote your honor.  And now, as unfortunately you can see, in churches and worldly governments as well as in common life there is a great sense of  discord and dissension.  Thus, dear Lord, we ask you that you would mercifully turn away, or, even as a father, temper our well-deserved punishments and leave us a true seed, so that we would not become like Sodom and Gomorrah.  
 
Send faithful workers into your vineyard who do not speak of useless matters and made-up fables, who are not hypocrites, who are not proud, arrogant and lazy and self-assured.  Ensure that they teach from unity of heart and that they are united in you; grant them humble hearts.  
 
O Lord God, it is dearly needed! Bring your help, so that we would be consoled and taught rightly and remain in our Christian walk and life, that we would not be a stumbling block for others nor would we continue in sins against conscience.  Protect us from sluggish people who do not observe your Word; sustain us by your Word which is pure, perfect and clear.  Grant us endurance in suffering and crossbearing and rule us with your Holy Spirit, so that we would not fall into error and vice but instead would be and remain your dwelling and temple.  Amen
 
Nikolaus Selnecker, 1530 – 1592, German Protestant Reformer
 
_______________________
 
 
Save, O Lord, for the godly one is gone;
    for the faithful have vanished from among the children of man.
Everyone utters lies to his neighbor;
    with flattering lips and a double heart they speak.

May the Lord cut off all flattering lips,
    the tongue that makes great boasts,
 those who say, “With our tongue we will prevail,
    our lips are with us; who is master over us?”

“Because the poor are plundered, because the needy groan,
    I will now arise,” says the Lord;
    “I will place him in the safety for which he longs.”

Continue reading

to not undervalue ourselves

 Parable of the Talents / A.N. Mironov / CC BY-SA 4.0 
Eternal and most glorious God,
who hast stamped the soul of man with thine Image,
received it into thy Revenue,
and made it part of thy Treasure;
suffer us not to undervalue ourselves,
nay, so to impoverish thee
as to give away these souls for nothing,
and all the world is nothing
if the soul must be given for it.
Do this, O God,
for his sake who knows our natural infirmities,
for he had them,
and knows the weight of our sins,
for he paid a dear price for them,
thy Son, our Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.
 
John Donne, 1572 – 1631, English poet, satirist, lawyer and priest
 
___________________
 
 
Now after a long time the master of those servants came and settled accounts with them. And he who had received the five talents came forward, bringing five talents more, saying, ‘Master, you delivered to me five talents; here, I have made five talents more.’ His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.’
 
 
For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what shall a man give in return for his soul? For the Son of Man is going to come with his angels in the glory of his Father, and then he will repay each person according to what he has done.

Continue reading

to celebrate Christ’s victory

image / GDJ / Pixabay
 
Thanks be to God, the almighty, 
    the king of the universe, for all his mercies, 
and heartfelt thanks to the Savior and Redeemer of our souls, 
    Jesus Christ, through whom we pray 
that his peace may keep us stable and unshaken
    from troubles outside and troubles within the heart.
Let me obediently sing aloud the new song, 
    because after those terrifying dark sights and stories
    I was now privileged to see and celebrate such things
    that many righteous men and martyrs of God before us
    desired to see on earth and did not see,
        and to hear and did not hear.
But they attained far better things in heaven; whereas I, 
    acknowledging that even my present lot is better than I deserve,
    have been more than amazed at the bountiful grace of its author,
    and am duly filled with wonder,
    worshipping him with my soul’s full strength.
 
Eusebius of Caesarea, c. 260- c.340, Christian historian and bishop
2000 Years of Prayer freely modified
 
_________________________
 
 
And I heard a loud voice in heaven, saying, “Now the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God and the authority of his Christ have come, for the accuser of our brothers has been thrown down, who accuses them day and night before our God. And they have conquered him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, for they loved not their lives even unto death. Therefore, rejoice, O heavens and you who dwell in them! But woe to you, O earth and sea, for the devil has come down to you in great wrath, because he knows that his time is short!”

Continue reading

to live these days with you

                                  Photo by Elijah Hiett on Unsplash                          
 
Surrounded by good powers, faithful and still,
wonderfully protected and comforted –
in this way I want to live these days with you
and go with you into a new year.
 
The old year still wants to torment our hearts;
the heavy burdens of evil days still hold us down.
O Lord, give our frightened souls
the salvation for which you created us.
 
And if you hand us the heavy cup, the bitter one,
of sorrow, filled to the highest brim,
then we take it thankfully, without trembling,
from your good and loving hand.
 
Yet if you want to give us joy once again
in this world and its sun’s bright light,
then we want to remember what has passed,
and then our life belongs fully to you.
 
Today, let the candles glow warm and bright
that you brought into our darkness,
and if it can be, bring us together again!
We know your light shines in the night.
 
When now the profound stillness spreads round us,
let us hear that full sound of the world
that widens invisibly all around us,
the high hymn of praise of all your children.
 
Wonderfully secured by good powers,
we confidently await what may come.
God is with us in the evening and the morning,
and most certainly in each new day.
 
Dietrich Bonhoeffer, 1906 – 1945, German Lutheran theologian and martyr
 
_______________________
 
 
 
Teach us to realize the brevity of life,
    so that we may grow in wisdom.
O Lord, come back to us!
    How long will you delay?
    Take pity on your servants!
Satisfy us each morning with your unfailing love,
    so we may sing for joy to the end of our lives.
Give us gladness in proportion to our former misery!
    Replace the evil years with good.
Let us, your servants, see you work again;
    let our children see your glory.

Continue reading

be our guiding star

 image / pixy
 
God of all time,
who makes all things new,
we bring before you the year now ending.
For life full and good,
for opportunities recognized and taken,
for love known and shared,
we thank you.
 
Where we have fallen short,
forgive us.
When we worry over what is past,
free us.
 
As we begin again
and take our first steps into the future,
where nothing is safe and certain,
except you,
we ask for the courage of the wise men
who simply went and followed a star.
We ask for their wisdom,
in choosing to pursue the deepest truth,
not knowing where they would be led.
 
In the year to come, God of all time,
be our help and company.
Hold our hands as we journey onwards
and may your dream of shalom,
where all will be at peace,
be our guiding star.
 
Francis Brienen, United Reformed Church, UK
 
_________________________
 
 
After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, 
Magi from the east came to Jerusalem and asked, 
    “Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? 
    We saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.”

Continue reading

Cusp of midnight

 imagegamagapix / pixabay
 
What Mary wants now
God says soon

What Joseph needs now
God says not long

What the peacemakers seek now
God says hold your breath a little longer

What the hungry long for now
God says hush but a moment

What the poor yearn for now
God says, wait a little more

What the lonely hunger for now
God says shortly

What the forgotten thirst for now
God says presently

What the world aches for now
God says soon and very soon

Time is moving towards incarnation
justice is slipping into skin
peace is labouring
truth is taking human shape
this night
this hour
this moment
soon
 
Roddy Hamilton, Scottish Pastor
 
____________________
 
 
And Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the town of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, to be registered with Mary, his betrothed, who was with child.  And while they were there, the time came for her to give birth.

Continue reading