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

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

December Solstice

 photo by Michael Niessl on Unsplash  
 
it is solstice night
it is the death of darkness

for an age
light has been slipping away
but now
no further

it shall return

and in the hearing of the darkness
the light says:
arise
shine
for your light has come

the promise frees itself from the frost
and long nights

there is an awakening
and in the hearing of the darkness
the light says:
the people who have walked in darkness
have seen a great light

the day now
shrunken yet
is filled with hope
and begins to stretch
pushing at the edges of darkness
scraping it away
with hope of new life

and in the hearing of the darkness
the light says:
for unto you a child is born
unto you a son is given

this is a darkness greater than any night
and the light more than the day

right in the heart of the deeper, human darkness
a manger is ready
as the age of brightness returns

the advent promise
has found a place
to chase the darkness
and make room for the light
 
Roddy Hamilton, Scottish Pastor
 
________________
 
 
In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. 
The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.

Continue reading

your Son, born of a virgin

image / pixabay

 

O Holy God of Promise,
    we so often place our trust in the things we can see,
    and touch, and easily believe.
But you did not ask us to believe what is easy,
    you have asked us to believe what is true!
Forgive us, Holy One, when we doubt the ways you work.
Forgive us when we find it hard to believe an ancient story.
Forgive us when we question how you chose to enter the world,
    born as one of us.
Forgive our lack of faith and belief
    in ways which seem so impossible to believe.
Help us to look in faith, open our belief, and set aside our doubts
    that you sent your Son, born of a virgin –
        the one who has come to set us all free.
We offer these prayers in the name of your Son,
Emmanuel, God with us.  
Amen.

Jan Brook, Presbyterian Pastor serving in Kansas
re-worship.blogspot
____________________________

 
 
In the sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee, to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. The angel went to her and said, “Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.”

Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be. But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary; you have found favor with God. You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over Jacob’s descendants forever; his kingdom will never end.”

“How will this be,” Mary asked the angel, “since I am a virgin?”

The angel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come on you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called[a] the Son of God. Even Elizabeth your relative is going to have a child in her old age, and she who was said to be unable to conceive is in her sixth month. For no word from God will ever fail.”

“I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered. “May your word to me be fulfilled.” Then the angel left her.
 

Continue reading

We prepare to welcome Christ Jesus, Messiah

Rainbow in Bethelehem by Ami Tesler on Unsplash  
 
In this season of expectation
We prepare to welcome Christ Jesus, Messiah
Into the bustle of our lives
and the hard to find moments of solitude
We prepare to welcome Christ Jesus, Messiah
Into our homes and situations
along with friends and families
We prepare to welcome Christ Jesus, Messiah
Into our hearts, and those often hidden parts of our lives
We prepare to welcome Christ Jesus, Messiah
For beneath the surface of your story
is an inescapable fact
You entered this world
as vulnerable as any one of us
in order to nail that vulnerability to the cross.
Our fears, our insecurities and our sins
all that can separate us from God
exchanged by your Grace for Love.
We cannot comprehend the reasoning
only marvel that Salvation comes to us
through a baby born in a stable,
and reaches out to a world in need.

In this season of anticipation
We prepare to welcome Christ Jesus, Messiah
 
John Birch, Methodist Lay Preacher and worship leader in Wales
 
__________________
 
 
As it is written in the book of the words of Isaiah the prophet,

“The voice of one crying in the wilderness:
‘Prepare the way of the Lord,
    make his paths straight.
Every valley shall be filled,
    and every mountain and hill shall be made low,
  and the crooked shall become straight,
    and the rough places shall become level ways,
  and all flesh shall see the salvation of God.’”

Continue reading

meek in your kingdom

Zechariah / www.LumoProject.com
 
O Lord, Catch us up, like Zechariah,
    in the whirl of your holy history.
We seem to be but particles in the wind;
    but you declare each of us to be a holy person,
    spokes in the great wheel 
        of your covenant-loving of the world.
Let us be meek in your kingdom, but not abject;
    humble, not self-pitiful;
    obedient, not obsequious; 
    servants, not servile;
    childlike, not childish;
yours in love and willingness,
  and then our smallness shall be your greatness indeed.
Amen.
 
Walter Wangerin, Jr., American writer and research professor
 
_____________________________
 
 
In the time of Herod king of Judea there was a priest named Zechariah, who belonged to the priestly division of Abijah; his wife Elizabeth was also a descendant of Aaron. Both of them were righteous in the sight of God, observing all the Lord’s commands and decrees blamelessly. But they were childless because Elizabeth was not able to conceive, and they were both very old.

Once when Zechariah’s division was on duty and he was serving as priest before God, he was chosen by lot, according to the custom of the priesthood, to go into the temple of the Lord and burn incense. And when the time for the burning of incense came, all the assembled worshipers were praying outside.

Then an angel of the Lord appeared to him, standing at the right side of the altar of incense. When Zechariah saw him, he was startled and was gripped with fear. But the angel said to him: “Do not be afraid, Zechariah; your prayer has been heard. Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you are to call him John. He will be a joy and delight to you, and many will rejoice because of his birth, for he will be great in the sight of the Lord. He is never to take wine or other fermented drink, and he will be filled with the Holy Spirit even before he is born.  He will bring back many of the people of Israel to the Lord their God.  And he will go on before the Lord, in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the parents to their children and the disobedient to the wisdom of the righteous—to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.”
 

Continue reading

Teach us how to pray

LYNN Ministries
O Savior of the world, teach us how to pray for those who are lost
    in desolations of darkness
    without knowledge of the mercy that is yourself.
We remember the innocent victims of war 
    and all the agony they suffer,
    those who are greatly afraid, 
    those who have been overwhelmed by torment of mind or body.
Save us from the cowardice that would turn us away 
    from the thought of these things,
    from the indifference that would pass them by.
Give us penitence for the evil in ourselves 
    which has added to the darkness of the world,
    and if there be any small thing we can do to lighten any misery,
    show us what it is and help us to do it.
Teach us how to pray with the compassion that is not afraid to suffer
    with those who suffer 
        and if need be, 
        to enter darkness with them.
O Everlasting Mercy, who once in time came from the height of heaven
    down to the depth of our need,
    come again in power to forgive us and renew us and set us on fire,
    that through the labors and prayers of broken-hearted sinners
    your mercy may banish the darkness and bring new life upon the earth.
 
Elizabeth Goudge, 1900-1984, English novelist
 
__________________________
 
 
When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, 
    because they were harassed and helpless, 
    like sheep without a shepherd. 
Then he said to his disciples, 
    “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; 
      therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest 
      to send out laborers into his harvest.”
 

Continue reading

perfect freedom

Photo by Mohamed Nohassi on Unsplash
 
Almighty God, 
   in whom we live and move and have our being, 
you have made us for yourself, 
   and our hearts are restless until they rest in you. 
Of your great mercy, forgive us. 
Grant us purity of heart and strength of purpose, 
   that no selfish passion may hinder us from knowing your will, 
   and no weakness from doing it. 
In your light may we see light clearly, 
   and in your service may we find our perfect freedom
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen. 
 
St. Augustine of Hippo, 354-430, extracted from Confessions
 
_____________________________
 
 
 
To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said,
    “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples.
     Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.
 
     So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.”
 

Continue reading

draw me into your friendship

image / Lawrence OP / flickr
Lord Jesus, from the start
You invite ordinary people to come to where you live.
When they come, you welcome them
and call them to labor and rejoice with you.
You are the most beautiful among men,
and I hardly believe you want me for your friend.
You are powerful, Lord.
Draw me more and more into your friendship
and lead me along the way you took with friends.
 
Joseph Tetlow, SJ, retreat director and author
 
_________________________
 
 
The next day John was there again with two of his disciples. When he saw Jesus passing by, he said, “Look, the Lamb of God!”
When the two disciples heard him say this, they followed Jesus. Turning around, Jesus saw them following and asked, “What do you want?”
They said, “Rabbi” (which means “Teacher”), “where are you staying?”
“Come,” he replied, “and you will see.”
So they went and saw where he was staying, and they spent that day with him. It was about four in the afternoon.

Continue reading