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.
 

All Saints Day prayer

image by geralt via pixabay
 
 
Before you, O God,
    we remember today the ones who went before us.
Not held back by the awesomeness of the task
    they followed you with tenacity and joy.
Full of courage and trust they went to new places,
    ready to stand and suffer with you.
 
Like a cloud of many witnesses
    they stand around us.
 
Before you, O God,
    we remember the saints of our day,
    who do not live by the rigid letter of the law
    but by the wild demands of faith,
    always prepared to give more,
    always ready to be turned inside out,
    knowing that new ways can only be found
    through risk and pain.
 
Like a cloud of many witnesses
    they stand around us.
 
Eternal God,
    we thank you for the witnesses of all times and all places.
May the stories of their lives show us the richness of your grace.
May they inspire us to look deep within our souls.
May they encourage us to take the risk of faith
    and to serve you in new ways.
 
Francis Brienen, United Reformed Church, UK
 
__________________________
 
 
Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, 
    let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, 
and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, 
    looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, 
who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, 
    despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.  
Consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, 
    so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted.

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May Your Spirit …

image
 
May your Spirit guide my mind,
Which is so often dull and empty.
Let my thoughts always be on you,
And let me see you in all things.
 
May your Spirit quicken my soul,
Which is so often listless and lethargic.
Let my soul be awake to your presence,
And let me know you in all things.
 
May your Spirit melt my heart,
Which is so often cold and indifferent.
Let my heart be warmed by your love,
And let me feel you in all things.
 
Johann Freylinghausen, 1670-1739, German pietist and hymnist
 
______________________________
 
 
how much more will the blood of Christ, 
who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without blemish to God,
purify our conscience from dead works to serve the living God.

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Ignatian Litany of the Names of Jesus

Christ Pantocrator 

 
Jesus, Son of the Virgin, . . . . . . . . Have mercy on us.
Jesus, our Creator and Lord, . . .
Jesus, eternal Lord of all things, . . . 
Jesus, who created and redeemed us, . . .
Jesus, who is to be our eternal judge, . . . 
Jesus, divine majesty, . . . 
Jesus, complete and perfect goodness, . . .
Jesus, infinite love, . . . 
Jesus, our kindly Lord, . . . 
Jesus, infinite wisdom, . . . 
Jesus, author and source of every blessing, . . .
Jesus, the giver of every gift, . . . 
Jesus, our perfect and eternal good, . . 
Jesus, our salvation, . . .
Jesus, our help and support, . . .
Jesus, our Mediator, . . .
Jesus, the power of God, . . .
Jesus, our supreme leader and Lord, . . .
Jesus, our food and companion in pilgrimage, . . .
Jesus, beautiful and lovable, . . .
Jesus, poor and humble, . . .
Jesus, made obedient for our sake, . . .
Jesus, plunged in sorrow, . . .
Jesus, overwhelmed by anguish and grief, . . .
Jesus, naked upon the cross, . . .
Jesus, who wished to be sold to redeem us, . . .
Jesus, who chose a painful death to give us eternal life, . . .
Jesus, now in glory, . . .
Jesus, full of happiness and joy, . . .
Jesus, our consoler, . . . 
Jesus, our peace, . . . 
Jesus, our joy, . . . 
Jesus, our hope, . . .
Jesus, our life, . . . 
Jesus, our reward exceedingly great, . . . 
Jesus, true life of the world, . . . 
Jesus, our model and guide, . . . 
Jesus, the head of your body the church, . . .
Jesus, the bridegroom of the church your spouse, . . .
Jesus, your Father has placed us with you, . . . 
Jesus, we have cast the anchor of our hope in you, . . . 
Jesus, move our hearts to follow you in complete poverty, . . . 
Jesus, help us conform to the will of the most Holy Trinity, . . . 
Jesus, be the means of our union with the most Holy Trinity, . . . 
Blessed be the name of Jesus, now and forever. 
Amen.
 
 
_______________________
 
 
Great indeed, we confess, is the mystery of godliness:

He was manifested in the flesh,
    vindicated by the Spirit,
        seen by angels,
proclaimed among the nations,
    believed on in the world,
        taken up in glory.
 

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Defend me from all temptation

Temptation on the Mount / Duccio / Wikimedia Commons
 
Defend me from all temptation, 
    that I may ever accept the right and refuse the wrong.
Defend me from myself, 
    that in your care my weakness may not bring me to shame.
May my lower nature never seize the upper hand.
Defend me from all that would seduce me,
    that in your power 
        no tempting voice may cause me to listen,
        no tempting sight fascinate my eyes.
Defend me from discouragement in difficulty and from despair in failure,
    from pride in success and from forgetting you in the day of prosperity.
Help me to remember that there is no time when you will fail me 
    and no moment when I do not need you.
Grant me this desire: 
    that guided by your light and defended by your grace,
        I may come in safety and bring honor to my journey’s end
        by the defending work of Jesus Christ my Lord.
 
Norman Shawchuck, 1935–2012, American United Methodist pastor
 
______________________________
 
 
And remember, when you are being tempted, do not say, 
    “God is tempting me.”
 God is never tempted to do wrong, and he never tempts anyone else. 
Temptation comes from our own desires, 
    which entice us and drag us away. 
These desires give birth to sinful actions. 
And when sin is allowed to grow, it gives birth to death.
 

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Your prescient eyes saw me

photo by Jason Hogan   on Unsplash
 
There was a time when I did not exist,
    and you have created me;
I did not implore you for a wish,
    and you have fulfilled it;
I had not come into the light,
    and you have seen me;
I had not yet appeared,
    and you have taken pity on me;
I had not called for you,
    and you have taken care of me;
I did not raise my hand,
    and you have looked at me;
I had not prayed to you,
    and you were merciful to me;
I had not uttered a sound,
    and you have heard me;
I had not groaned,
    and you have lent an ear;
 
With prescient eyes you saw
    the crimes of my guilty self,
    and yet, you have formed me.
And now, I who have been created by you,
    and saved by you,
    and have been tended with such care,
Let me not completely perish by the blow of sin –
    that is but the slanderer’s invention;
Let not the fog of my stubbornness
    triumph over the light of your forgiveness;
Nor the hardness of my heart
    over your forbearing goodness;
Nor my mortal carnal being
    over your most perfect fullness;
Nor my material weakness
    over your unconquerable grandeur.
 
Gregory of Narek, c.950 – c.1003, Armenian mystic and theologian
 
_________________________
 
 
Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, 
    who has blessed us in the heavenly realms 
    with every spiritual blessing in Christ. 
For he chose us in him before the creation of the world 
    to be holy and blameless in his sight. 
In love he predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, 
    in accordance with his pleasure and will
    to the praise of his glorious grace, 
    which he has freely given us in the One he loves.
 

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How we need your compassion!

Jesus and the woman taken in adultery / public domain

God, why do I call impossible what You call possible?
Why do I call unforgivable what You call forgiven?
Why do I compromise with what You call sin?
How I need to know Your heart,
    and reach out in Your love and wisdom to others.
It’s easy to love the people who are standing hard and fast,
    pressing on to meet that higher calling.
But the ones who might be struggling, 
    we tend to judge too harshly
    and refuse to try to catch them when they’re falling.
We put people into boxes and we draw our hard conclusions
     when they do things we know they should not do.
We sometimes write them off as hopeless 
    and we throw them to the dogs.
Our compassion and forgiveness sometimes seem in short supply.
We can love them and forgive them when their sin does not exceed our own,
    for we too have been down bumpy roads before.
But when they commit offences outside the boundaries we have set,
    we judge them in a word and we turn them out,
    and we close the door.
 
Chuck Girard, Celtic author
 
___________________________
 
 
You, therefore, have no excuse, you who pass judgment on someone else, 
    for at whatever point you judge another, you are condemning yourself, 
    because you who pass judgment do the same things. 
Now we know that God’s judgment against those who do such things is based on truth. 
So when you, a mere human being, pass judgment on them and yet do the same things, 
    do you think you will escape God’s judgment? 
Or do you show contempt for the riches of his kindness, forbearance and patience, 
    not realizing that God’s kindness is intended to lead you to repentance?
 

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give us hope to share

image
 
Do not give us rest, Lord
while people are hungry
and we are rich.
As long as justice is a dream
press us on
and do not give us rest.
 
Do not give us peace, Lord,
while people live in fear
and we are safe.
As long as hatred stifles love
stir us up
and no not give us peace.
 
Do not give us comfort, Lord,
while people are desperate
and we are well.
As long as lives are lived in pain
disturb us
and do not give us comfort.
 
But give us hope to share, O Christ,
hope that disturbs and stirs and shakes,
the hope of Job,
the hope of the lame,
a hope of new life
beyond the pain.
Until all find comfort
and peace
and rest,
Christ, give us hope to share.
 
Francis Brienen, United Reformed Church, UK
 
_______________________
 
 
 
Don’t just pretend to love others. Really love them. 
Hate what is wrong. Hold tightly to what is good. 
Love each other with genuine affection, and take delight in honoring each other. 
Never be lazy, but work hard and serve the Lord enthusiastically. 
Rejoice in our confident hope. 
Be patient in trouble, and keep on praying. 
When God’s people are in need, be ready to help them. 
Always be eager to practice hospitality.
 

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prayer for scrubbing floors

Cleaning Lady, Tomicmilos90, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons
 
Thank you for the privilege of scrubbing this floor.
Thank you for the health and the strength to do it.
That my back is straight and my hands are whole.
I can push a mop. 
I can feel the hard surface under my knees when I kneel.
I can grasp the brush and let my energy flow down into it
    as I erase this dirt and make this floor clean.
Lord, thank you for everything that has to do with scrubbing this floor.
Bless the soap and the bucket and the brush and the hands that do it.
Bless the feet that are running in right now to track it.
Those feet are the reason I do it.
That are the living reasons for my kneeling here
    – half to do a job, half in prayer.
A floor is a foundation. A family is a foundation.
You are our foundation.
Bless us all, and our newly scrubbed floor.
 
Marjorie Holmes, 1910–2002, American columnist and author
 
___________________________
 
 
For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, 
from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named
 

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