Create in me a clean heart

image / pixabay 

 
I thank you, my dear God,
    that I have learned not to begin faith by my own efforts, 
    nor attempt to destroy my sin with my own repentance.
I might do this before other people
    and be acceptable to the world and its judges.
But with you, O God, there is an eternal wrath 
    which I cannot satisfy,
    and before it I would despair.
Therefore I thank you that Another 
    has seized and carried my sins 
    and has made atonement for them.
 
With joy I wish to believe this.
It seems so very right and comforting to me.
But I cannot believe it by myself,
    and I find no power in me to convince myself.
I cannot comprehend it as I ought.
 
Lord, lead me, help me.
Give me the power and the gift to believe.
I plead, as did David:
    “Create in me a clean heart, O God,
        and put a new and right spirit within me.”
I am unable to create a new and clean heart: it is your work and creation.
I cannot create the sun and moon
    and make them rise and shine brightly in the heavens
    any more than I can make the heart clean and give myself a right spirit,
    a strong and firm frame of mind that is unbending and unwavering
    and that will not doubt or mistrust your Word.
 
Help us daily to increase in faith.
Though the world should topple and all conspire against us,
    and though the devil were to destroy every creature,
    grant that I may not fall.
By your divine help let me remain in the Gospel.
Amen.
 
Martin Luther, 1483 – 1546, German Reformer
 
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Create in me a clean heart, O God,

    and renew a right spirit within me.
Cast me not away from your presence,
    and take not your Holy Spirit from me.
Restore to me the joy of your salvation,
    and uphold me with a willing spirit.

as we follow you down the Road to Calvary

Old Jerusalem Ramparts / Utilisateur:Djampa, CC BY-SA 4.0 / Wikimedia Commons
 
O Christ, as we walk through the land that you loved,
    in the country where you lived and taught,
    grant us the grace and wisdom to see clearly
          and understand deeply
    that all you suffered was for the sake of redeeming humanity.
Through your life, death, and resurrection,
    you have made it possible for us to have life,
    and have it more abundantly.

O Christ, as we follow you down the Road to Calvary,
   Guide us to become active participants, not curious bystanders.
O Christ, as we stand with the mourners at the Cross,
   Give us the love that can forgive those who trespass against us.
O Christ, as we witness the new life given to us
        through your Resurrection,
   Empower us with faith to act and spread the Good News.

Palestinian women of Jerusalem 
Prayers Encircling the World

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Luke 23:26-27

As the soldiers led him away, they seized Simon from Cyrene, 
    who was on his way in from the country, 
    and put the cross on him and made him carry it behind Jesus. 
A large number of people followed him, 
    including women who mourned and wailed for him.

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Come, Lord, enter my heart

image / pixabay / public domain
 
Come, Lord, enter my heart,
    you who are crucified, who have died, who love,
    who are faithful, truthful, patient, and humble,
    you who have taken upon yourself a slow and toilsome life
    in a single corner of the world,
    denied by those who are your friends,
    betrayed by them, subjected to the law,
    made the plaything of politics right from the very first,
    a refugee child, a carpenter’s son, a creature who found
    only barrenness and futility as a result of his labors,
    a man who loved and who found no love in response,
    you who were too exalted for those about you to understand,
    you who were left desolate,
    who were brought to the point of feeling yourself forsaken by God,
    you who sacrificed all,
    who commend yourself into the hands of your Father,
    you who cry, “My God, my Father, why have you forsaken me?”
 
I will receive you as you are,
    make you the innermost law of my life,
    take you as at once the burden and the strength of my life.
 
When I receive you I accept my everyday just as it is.
I do not need to have any lofty feelings in my heart to recount to you.
I can lay my everyday before you just as it is,
    for I receive it from you yourself,
    the everyday and its inward light,
    the everyday and its meaning,
    the everyday and the power to endure it,
    the sheer familiarity of it,
    which becomes the dimmedness of your eternal life.
 
Karl Rahner, 1904 – 1984, German Jesuit theologian
 
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And this is eternal life, 
    that they know you the only true God, 
    and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.

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give us the light of reconciliation

Chapel Of Reconciliation, Michael McLaughlin Photography, CC BY-SA 4.0, Wikimedia Commons
 
Lord, God our Father, 
through Jesus Christ, your Son, 
in the power of your Holy Spirit, 
    give light to our eyes, that we may see your light, 
    the brightly shining light of reconciliation! 
For this is the greatest sickness, 
    when one cannot see the light, even during the day.
Free us from this sickness, 
    us and all Christians who celebrate Easter either well or poorly,
    the entire human community, both near and far,
    who are again and again being confused and endangered anew!
 
Bless what comes to pass in this church and in other churches 
    and communities that are now still separated from us,
    that it may be a testimony to your name, your kingdom, and your will!
Reign also over all the various concerns of the government authorities,
    administrations, and courts here and all over the world!
Strengthen the teachers in consideration of their high task 
    for the growing generation;
  the people who write newspapers,
    conscious of their grave responsibility for public opinion that they influence;
  the doctors and nurses,
    for genuine attentiveness to the needs of those who are in their care!
Substitute your comfort, your counsel, and your help 
    for all that would accuse the many lonely, poor, sick and confused among us!
And let your mercy be apparent and powerful to all who are here in this house,
    along with their families!
We place ourselves and all that we lack and that the world requires
    in your hands.
 
Our hope is on you.  We trust in you.
You have never let your people be put to shame,
    whenever they earnestly called on you.
What you have begun,
    you will surely finish. Amen.
 
Karl Barth, 1886 – 1968, Swiss Reformed theologian
 
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From now on, therefore, we regard no one according to the flesh. 
Even though we once regarded Christ according to the flesh, 
    we regard him thus no longer. 
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. 
The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. 
All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself 
    and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; 
  that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, 
    not counting their trespasses against them, 
    and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation.

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O Jesus, crucified, have mercy upon me

image / Luca Giarelli, CC BY-SA 4.0 / Wikimedia Commons
 
O Jesus, poor and abject, unknown and despised,
    have mercy upon me, and let me not be ashamed to follow thee.
O Jesus, hated, calumniated, and persecuted,
    have mercy upon me, and make me content to be as my master.
O Jesus, blasphemed, accused, and wrongfully condemned,
    have mercy upon me, and teach me to endure the contradiction of sinners.
O Jesus, clothed with a habit of reproach and shame,
    have mercy upon me, and let me not seek my own glory.
O Jesus, insulted mocked, and spit upon,
    have mercy upon me, and let me not faint in the fiery trial.
O Jesus, crowned with thorns and hailed in derision;
O Jesus, burdened with our sins and the curses of the people;
O Jesus, affronted, outraged, buffeted,
    overwhelmed with injuries, griefs and humiliations;
O Jesus, hanging on the accursed tree, bowing the head, giving up the ghost,
    have mercy upon me,
    and conform my whole soul to thy holy, humble, suffering Spirit.
 
John Wesley, 1703-1791, English churchman and founder of Methodism
 
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It was now about the sixth hour,
    and there was darkness over the whole land until the ninth hour, 
    while the sun’s light failed. 
And the curtain of the temple was torn in two.
Then Jesus, calling out with a loud voice, said,
    “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit!” 
And having said this he breathed his last.

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to find our constant inspiration in you

image / picryl
 
Servant Jesus,
    what love you showed to your disciples
        and what humility in your service.
    You are the Life of life, Son of God,
        yet you stooped down
        to take off the grimy sandals
        and to wash their dusty feet.
    With loving care you dried them with the towel
        make them fresh and cool.
    Since you, our Lord and Savior,
        did such lowly service for us,
        ought we not humbly to serve others also?
Lord God,
    it is not easy to walk in your way
        when we seek peace among the nations.
    We find there are many who hate peace
        and prefer to seek the victory in war.
    Even amongst our neighbors and friends
        are those who want to prepare for war.
    I am for peace;
        but when I speak, they are for war.
    In my distress I call to you, O Lord;
    give me the courage and the faith
        to speak for peace.
Spirit of God,
    you call your people to patient endurance
        that we might not fail in time of testing,
        that we might not grow weary in well-doing.
        that we should not abandon our first love.
    Help us to find our constant inspiration in you
        that the lamp may be kept burning
            as we witness by your grace.
 
John Johansen-Berg, 1935- , English Minister
 
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When he had washed their feet and put on his outer garments and resumed his place, he said to them, “Do you understand what I have done to you? You call me Teacher and Lord, and you are right, for so I am. If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have given you an example, that you also should do just as I have done to you.  Truly, truly, I say to you, a servant is not greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him.  If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them.

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Do you weep over my city?

Donegall Street, Belfast / Albert Bridge / Wikimedia Commons
 
This is my city, Lord:
I’ve flown over it,
driven around it,
walked through it,
and I love it.
Its concrete chasms, its quiet parks,
its massive buildings and its tiny houses,
its suburbs rich and poor.
But most of all, Lord, its people…
My city, Lord. Your city.
Remember, Lord, there was one city
over which you stood and wept.
Do you weep over this city?
With its hunger, its greed, its cruelty?
Its foolishness and heartbreak?
Lord, I believe you do.
 
prayer used over Belfast, Northern Ireland
from A Procession of Prayers, edited by John Carden
 
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And when he drew near and saw the city, he wept over it, saying, 
“Would that you, even you, had known on this day 
    the things that make for peace! 
But now they are hidden from your eyes.”

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let me practice pure religion

Photo by Ben Hershey on Unsplash
 
Father, I have seen the commands of Scripture
    to care deeply about the plight of the oppressed.
I am often moved emotionally 
    when oppression is before me.
I am often filled with good intentions about what I could do
    to help those who are oppressed.
Yet I seldom act.
I seldom visit the orphans and the widows.
I seldom speak against the systematic oppression in our world.
Sometimes I don’t act because I’m too consumed 
    with the details of my life.
Sometimes I don’t act because I don’t want to complicate my life.
But today please strip away all my excuses,
    and let me practice pure religion:
    by visiting the afflicted and comforting them,
    by working to stop injustice,
    and by keeping myself from loving this world too much to act or pray.
 
Kurt Bjorklund, 1968- , American Minister and author of
Prayers for Today A Yearlong Journey of Devotional Prayer
 
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Religion that is pure and undefiled before God the Father is this: 
    to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, 
    and to keep oneself unstained from the world.
 
 

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We seem to give back the dead to you . . .

image / jplenio / pixabay
 
We seem to give back the dead to you, Lord, 
    who gave them to us.
But as you did not lose them in giving, 
    so do we not lose them by their return.
Not as the world gives do you give, O lover of souls.
What you give you do not take away,
    for what is yours is ours if we are yours.
And life is eternal and love is immortal,
    and death is only a horizon, and a horizon is nothing,
    save the limit of our sight.
Lift us up, strong Son of God,
    that we may see further;
    cleanse our eyes that we may see more clearly;
    draw us closer to yourself, that we may know ourselves
    to be nearer to our loved ones who are with you.
And while you prepare a place for us,
    prepare us also for that happy place,
    that where you are we may be also,
    for ever, and ever. Amen.
 
Rossiter W. Raymond, 1840-1918, American mining engineer, scholar and writer
 
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Do not let your hearts be troubled. 
You believe in God; believe also in me. 
My Father’s house has many rooms; 
    if that were not so, 
    would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? 
 And if I go and prepare a place for you, 
    I will come back and take you to be with me 
    that you also may be where I am. 

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