I want to stop running

image / pxfuel
 
Eternal God, you are a song amid silence,
    a voice out of quietness,
    a light out of darkness,
    a Presence in the emptiness,
    a coming out of the void.
You are all of these things and more.
You are mystery that encompasses meaning,
    meaning that penetrates mystery.
You are God,
    I am man.
I strut and brag.
I put down my fellows
    and bluster out assortments of my achievements.
And then something happens:
    I wonder who I am,
        and if I matter.
Night falls,
    I am alone in the dark and afraid.
Someone dies,
    I feel so powerless.
A child is born,
    I feel touched by the miracle of new life.
At such moments I pause . . .
    to listen for a song amid the silence,
    a voice out of stillness,
    to look for a light out of darkness.
I want to feel a Presence in the emptiness.
I find myself reaching for a hand. 
 
Oftentimes, the feeling passes quickly,
    and I am on the run again:
        success to achieve,
        money to make.
O Lord, you have to catch me on the run
    most of the time.
I am too busy to stop,
    too important to pause for contemplation.
I hold up too big a section of the sky
    to sit down and meditate.
But even on the run,
    an occasional flicker of doubt assails me,
And I suspect I may not be as important 
        to the world
     as I think I am.
Jesus said each of us is important to you.
It is as if every hair of our heads were numbered.
How can that be?
But in the hope that is is so,
I would stop running,
        stop shouting,
    and be myself.
 
Let me be still now.
Let me be calm.
Let me rest upon the faith that you are, God,
    and I need not be afraid. Amen.
 
Kenneth G. Phifer, Presbyterian minister and author
 
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Come, behold the works of the Lord,
    how he has brought desolations on the earth.
He makes wars cease to the end of the earth;
    he breaks the bow and shatters the spear;
    he burns the chariots with fire.
“Be still, and know that I am God.
    I will be exalted among the nations,
    I will be exalted in the earth!”

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my merciful Redeemer

image / falco / pixabay
 
O Lord, I am you clay. You are my potter and skilled master.  Because you pronounce me a sinner, I accept your word.  I sincerely acknowledge and confess the godless condition which shows itself in my flesh and my entire nature.  I do so that you may be glorified and I humiliated.  As with all others, I am sin and death; you are life and righteousness.  Together with all people I am the worst evil; you are and remain the highest good.  I acknowledge and confess all this.  I am led to this confession not by my reason, which would rather cover up and disguise this godless condition, but through your law and promises, I want your honor to stay and increase.  
 
Lord, I am your sin; you are my righteousness.  Therefore I am glad and have victory without fear.  For my sin cannot outweigh or overpower your righteousness.  Neither will your righteousness permit me to be or remain a sinner.  Your Spirit, O Lord, must make and keep me alive.  Blessed are you, O faithful God, my merciful Redeemer.  In you alone do I trust.  Amen.
 
Martin Luther, 1483 – 1546, German Reformer
 
______________________________
 
 
I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.
 

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Your disposition toward me is goodness

image /peasap / flickr / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
 
Lord, remind me that Your disposition toward me is goodness.
    Keep me from the dark suspicion that You are not good.
You act with generosity and benevolence.
    Keep me from believing that You are not for me.
You are gracious and compassionate.
    Keep me from the assumption that I am beyond Your grace.
You are faithful and steadfast.
    Keep me from the opinion that Your disposition toward me could change.
You are rich in love and never petty in Your anger.
    Keep me from doubting the richness of Your love for me.
 
Kurt Bjorklund, 1968- , American Minister and author of
 
_________________
 
 
You parents—if your children ask for a loaf of bread, do you give them a stone instead?
Or if they ask for a fish, do you give them a snake? Of course not! 
So if you sinful people know how to give good gifts to your children, 
    how much more will your heavenly Father give good gifts to those who ask him.

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the royal way of humility

image / Wilrooij, CC BY-SA 4.0 / Wikimedia Commons
 
My dear Lord and Savior, I come to you burdened and oppressed by many worries and slavish work, by an unbearable yoke, which I have imposed on myself because of my lack of humility.
 
It is a burden which I have deserved, but it is also the heavy yoke of a sinful world, of collective pride and arrogance.  We are tied together in this lamentable condition.  I groan and sigh, realizing my plight in this double slavery of mine and the world.  What a relief if I listen to your invitation, “Come to me all whose load is heavy”! Yes, now I dare to come.
 
The more I meditate on the crushing burdens you have carried in your humility, accepting even the most atrocious humiliation from proud and arrogant human beings, the more I am filled with grateful wonder.  In your divine glory and your human humility you are totally Other, so different from the close-minded and high-handedness of man.  You are the wholly Other, the only true God, so unlike man-made gods.  You have come into the valley of tears where misery is constantly multiplied by humankind’s ridiculous pride.  You come with the astonishing remedy, the humility of the Son of God, of the Redeemer, who has freely made himself “one-of-us” in all things except sin: the totally holy and humble One.
 
You come to us whose vanity and pride are odious.  You come on the royal road of humility, showing us that this is the way to you and to the heart of the Father, the way to the hearts of our fellow men and the way of salvation.
 
Humble heart of our Divine Master, I entrust myself to your school.  I want to learn from you, day by day, the royal way of humility.  It is your own love that teaches us.  
 
Lord, transform our hearts, make them mirror images of your own heart.  Make them fountains of healing for many.  Lord, make us humble.
 
Bernard Häring 1912 – 1998, German Catholic moral theologian
 
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In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus:

Who, being in very nature[a] God,
    did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; 
 rather, he made himself nothing
    by taking the very nature[b] of a servant,
    being made in human likeness.
And being found in appearance as a man,
    he humbled himself
    by becoming obedient to death—
        even death on a cross!
 

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You, Who Are

Transfiguration / Giovanni Bellini / Wikimedia Commons
 
You, who are over us,
You, who are one of us,
You, who are –
Also within us,
May all see You – in me also,
May I prepare the way for You,
May I thank You for all that shall fall to my lot,
May I also not forget the needs of others,
Keep me in Your love
As You desire that all should be kept in mine.
May everything in this, my being, be directed to Your glory
And may I never despair.
For I am under Your hand,
And in You is all power and goodness.
 
Give me a pure heart – that I may see You,
A humble heart – that I may hear You,
A heart of love – that I may serve You,
A heart of faith – that I may abide in You.
 
Dag Hammarskjöld, 1905 – 1961, Swedish diplomat, UN Secretary General
Markings freely modified
 
___________________
 
 
The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it,
    the world, and all who live in it;
  for he founded it on the seas
     established it on the waters.

Who may ascend the mountain of the Lord?
    Who may stand in his holy place?
The one who has clean hands and a pure heart,
    who does not trust in an idol
    or swear by a false god.

They will receive blessing from the Lord
    and vindication from God their Savior.
Such is the generation of those who seek him,
    who seek your face, God of Jacob

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Forgive them all, O Lord

image / pxfuel
 
Forgive them all, O Lord:
our sins of omission and our sins of commission;
the sins of our youth and the sins of our riper years;
the sins of our souls and the sins of our bodies;
our secret and our more open sins;
our sins of ignorance and surprise,
and our more deliberate and presumptuous sins;
the sins we have done to please ourselves
and the sins we have done to please others;
the sins we know and remember,
and the sins we have forgotten;
the sins we have striven to hide from others
and the sins by which we have made others offend;
forgive them, O Lord, forgive them all for his sake,
who died for our sins and rose for our justification,
and now stands at thy right hand to make intercession for us,
Jesus Christ our Lord.
 
John Wesley, 1703-1791, English churchman and founder of Methodism
 
__________________________
 
 
My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin.
But if anybody does sin, we have an advocate with the Father
—Jesus Christ, the Righteous One.
He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins,
and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world.
 

blessings of home

Photo by Scott Webb on Unsplash
 
O God, bless those who have no homes.
Bless those who have to live away from home
  in lodgings and boarding-houses and hotels.
Bless those who have been left alone,
  and who are solitary now.
Bless those who are searching or waiting for a house.
Specially bless young couples who have to live in furnished rooms,
  or with relatives, and who have never had the chance
  to be alone together and to have a home of their own.
Bless those who keep house for other people,
  and who have no house of their own.
Bless old people who are coming to the end in some institution
  which is very comfortable but which is still not home.
Help us who have the blessing of a good home
  to keep an open heart and an open door
  to those less fortunate than ourselves.
This we ask for your love’s sake. Amen.

from the Audenshaw prayers, UK
 
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Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. 
Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling.  
Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, 
as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.

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interceding for friends

image
 
My good Lord,
    I long to pray to you for my friends,
    but I am held back by my sins.
Since I stand in such need of grace myself,
    how can I dare ask for grace for others?
I anxiously seek intercession on my own behalf.
    yet even so I shall be so bold
    as to intercede for others.
You commend me to pray for my friends,
    and love prompts me to do so.
So I pray to you, good and gracious God,
    for those who love me for your sake
    and whom I love in you.
 
If my prayer does not deserve to be answered,
    please love them for their own sakes,
    for you are the source of all love.
And make them love you with all their hearts
    so that they will speak and do
    only that which pleases you.
My prayer is but a cold affair, Lord,
    because my love burns with such a small flame.
Yet you who are rich in mercy
    will bestow your grace not according to my prayers
    but according to the infinite warmth of your love.
 
Anselm of Canterbury, c. 1033-1109, Benedictine monk and archbishop
 
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Pray in the Spirit at all times and on every occasion. 
Stay alert and be persistent in your prayers for all believers everywhere.  
And pray for me, too. 
Ask God to give me the right words so I can boldly explain God’s mysterious plan
    that the Good News is for Jews and Gentiles alike.
 

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leaving everything to follow You

Jerusalem Alley by Joshuasy from Pixabay 
 
Agreeing to lose everything for you, O Christ,
in order to take hold of you,
as you have already taken hold of us,
means abandoning ourselves to the living God.
Centring our life on you, Jesus Christ,
means daring to choose:
leaving ourselves behind so as no longer to walk
on two roads at the same time:
saying no to all that keeps us from following you,
and yes to all that brings us closer to you,
and through you, to those whom you entrust to us.
 
Brother Roger, 1915 – 2005, Swiss monastic, founded the Taizé Community
 
________________________
 
 
You can enter God’s Kingdom only through the narrow gate. 
The highway to hell is broad, and its gate is wide for the many who choose that way. 
But the gateway to life is very narrow and the road is difficult, and only a few ever find it.

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Labor for one another

Photo by Caleb Gregory on Unsplash
 
Grant, Almighty God,
    as You invite us so kindly and graciously to Yourself,
  that we may not be resistant,
    but with every evil affection subdued,
    offer ourselves to Your service.
 
  And since You require nothing else from us
    but to observe what is right toward one another,
O grant that we may be mindful of the brotherhood 
    that Your only begotten Son by His own blood has consecrated,
    and call on You as our father,
    and prove by our whole conduct that we are Your children.
 
And may every one of us so labor for one another that,
    being united in heart and affection,
    we may with one sentiment aspire towards that blessed life,
    where we shall enjoy the inheritance 
    that has been prepared and obtained by the blood of Your son,
    and through Him prepared for us in heaven. Amen.
 
John Calvin, 1509-1564, Swiss Reformer
Lifting Up Our Hearts, freely modified
 
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This is what the Lord Almighty says: “Just as I had determined to bring disaster on you and showed no pity when your ancestors angered me,” says the Lord Almighty, “so now I have determined to do good again to Jerusalem and Judah. Do not be afraid. These are the things you are to do: Speak the truth to each other, and render true and sound judgment in your courts; do not plot evil against each other, and do not love to swear falsely. I hate all this,” declares the Lord.

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