ever looking for Christ’s return

image, Donatas Dabravolskas, CC BY-SA 4.0 via Wikimedia Commons
 
O SON OF GOD AND SON OF MAN,
You were incarnate, suffered, rose, and ascended for my sake;
Your departure was not a token separation
     but a pledge of return.
Your Word, promises, and sacraments proclaim your death
    until you come again.
That day is no horror for me,
    for your death has redeemed me,
        your Spirit fills me,
        your love animates me,
        your Word governs me.
I have trusted you and you have not betrayed my trust;
     I have waited for you, and have not waited in vain.
You will come to raise my body from the dust,
    and re-unite it to my soul,
    by a wonderful work of infinite power and love,
    greater than that which bounds the ocean’s waters,
        ebbs and flows of the tides,
        keeps the stars in their courses,
        and gives life to all creatures.
This corruptible shall put on incorruption,
    this mortal, immortality,
    this natural body, a spiritual body,
    this dishonored body, a glorious body,
    this weak body, a body of power.
I triumph now in your promises,
    as I shall when they are performed,
    for the head cannot live if the members are dead;
Beyond the grave is resurrection, judgment, acquittal, dominion.
Every event and circumstance of my life will be dealt with – 
    the sins of my youth, my secret sins,
    the sins of abusing you, of disobeying your Word,
    the sins of neglecting minister’s admonitions,
    the sins of violating my conscience – 
        all will be judged;
And after judgment, peace and rest, life and service,
    employment and enjoyment, for your elect.
O God, keep me in this faith, and ever looking for Christ’s return.
 
 
_______________________________
 
 
And just as it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment, 
    so Christ, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, 
    will appear a second time, not to deal with sin 
    but to save those who are eagerly waiting for him.

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to ascend with Jesus

L’Ascension / Gustave Doré 
 
Lord, why should I doubt any more,
    when you have given me such assured pledges of your love?
First, you are my Creator, I am your creature,
   you are my Master, I your servant.
But hence arises not my comfort: you are my Father, I am your child.
   “You shall be my sons and daughters,” says the Lord Almighty.
Christ is my brother:
    “I ascend to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God,
     but, lest this should not be enough,
     your maker is your husband.”
Nay, more, I am a member of his body, he my head.
Such privileges – had not the Word of truth made them known,
   who or where is the man that dared 
   in his heart have presumed to have thought it!
So wonderful are these thoughts 
    that my spirit fails in me that their consideration, 
    and I am confounded to think that God,
    who has done so much for me,
    should have so little from me.
But this is my comfort, that when I come to heaven,
    I shall understand perfectly what he has done for me,
    and that I shall be able to praise him as I ought.
Lord, having this hope, let me purify myself as you are pure,
    and let me be no more afraid of death,
    but even desire to be dissolved and be with you,
    which is best of all.
 
Anne Bradstreet, c. 1612-1672, New England poet and Puritan
 
_________________________
 
 
For now we see in a mirror dimly,    
    but then face to face. 
Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, 
    even as I have been fully known.

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let me reflect your love

image / James Tissot / Wikimedia Commons
 
Thank you, dear Lord, for your love and care for me
    evidenced in so many ways.
Thank you for pardoning the sins I have committed this day;
    thank you for the opportunities to show love well used this day;
    thank you also for sins avoided on account  of your guidance and restraint.
Let it be my single ambition, my God, to honor you 
    in every thought, word, and deed;
    and make me bold to invite all people around me to honor and love you as well.
Your love toward me is so patient, so tender, 
    even when I provoke you with my disobedience.
Give me such an appreciation of your love for me
    that I show the same patient and tender love to my neighbor,
    especially when he or she opposed me.
Sit us within me a zeal to do all in my power,
    whether in prayer or deed, 
    to promote the safety and happiness of my neighbor;
    make me active to comfort and relieve all those whom you entrust to my care
    by bringing me into contact with them.
Lord, help me to be peaceful rather than argumentative;
    help me to be quick to forget an injury and be reconciled to my neighbor,
    mindful of how many times you have forgiven my provocations.
After your own example, make me glad to give good in return for evil,
    and thus share in the triumph of your love.
In all my dealings with my fellow human beings,
    let me reflect your love, your generous spirit,
    your desire to do good both to the just and the unjust.
You have so valued each person that you sent your Son for each and every one.
Implant, therefore, such a compassion in my heart for people.
    that I will eagerly seek out how I may win them to your love.
 
David A. de Silva, Methodist professor
 
_____________________
 
 
We know how much God loves us, and we have put our trust in his love.
God is love, and all who live in love live in God, and God lives in them.

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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
 
______________________________
 
 
 
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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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
 
______________________________
 
 
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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prepare the way to You

image / Maxpixel / CC0
 
Lord Jesus Christ, listen to the voice of our distress 
    in the desert of penitents crying out to you;
    that we may not be deceived 
    by the falsehood of discussion in nobility of birth, 
    from superstition of religion, 
    from curiosity of knowledge tempting us; 
grant us to prepare the way to you by abandoning sin,
    by the purpose of repenting,
    by the remission of wrongs,
    by contempt of temporal things,
    and by the observing of the commandments.
May your paths be made straight in us 
    by the renunciation of our own will, feeling, self-confidence,
    by the spending over and above of deliberations;
that in the house of Bethany of obedience 
    baptized with the water of true contrition, 
    with the Holy Spirit and with fire across Jordan, 
    and after the river of the last judgment 
we may perfectly know you,   
    the Mediator of virtue and knowledge, 
    the Mediator of God and men.
 
St. Albert the Great, 1206-1280, German Dominican
 
______________________________
 
 
Therefore, as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, 
    so walk in him, rooted and built up in him and established in the faith,
    just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving.
See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit,
    according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world, 
    and not according to Christ. 
For in him the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily, 
    and you have been filled in him,    
    who is the head of all rule and authority.
 

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I want to finish well

Photo by Johannes Plenio on Unsplash
 
O Lord, I want to finish well.
As the years march on, it is painful to realize I no longer possess
    the physical skills or energy I used to have.  
But even more frightening are the persistent temptations 
    that threaten to wear me down.  
The enemy knows my weaknesses, 
    and day after day, month after month, year after year, 
    he knows which temptations are most likely to attract me.  
I am afraid that, in a moment of weakness, I will sin boldly 
    and then have to live with the tragic consequences.  
Please keep me away from circumstances 
    where the temptation will be too strong for me to overcome.  
I don’t want to let an evening of fun ruin a lifetime of faithfulness.  
 
Lord, may I finish strong in my walk of faith.
When I am old and gray and depart this earth, 
    I will meet you face-to-face.
I pray that you will be able to say,
    ” Well done, my good and faithful servant.”
 
Ron A. Beers 
 
_______________________
 
 
And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, 
will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns.

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humble thankfulness

Photo by Kate Remmer on Unsplash
 
We thank you, Lord God and Father, Creator of heaven and earth, 
    for all your good gifts which we, O Father of lights, 
    have received from you, and receive daily from your generous hand 
    you who have clothed our bodies with the needed covering
    and satisfied them with the natural bread
    through Jesus Christ, your dearly beloved Son, our Lord, 
We humbly pray, dear beloved Father, that you would look upon us, your children,
     persecuted for the sake of your holy Gospel,
     and earnestly desiring in our weakness to live devoutly in this world.
Be pleased to keep us in your Word, in fatherly fashion,
     in order that to the end of our days we may remain constant in your Gospel,
     revealed by you to the plain and simple
     and hidden to the wise ones in this world.
 
Menno Simons, 1496-1561, Dutch Anabaptist leader & founder of the Mennonites
2000 Years of Prayer freely modified
 
__________________________
 
 
Every good and perfect gift is from above, 
    coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights,
    who does not change like shifting shadows. 
He chose to give us birth through the word of truth,
    that we might be a kind of firstfruits of all he created.
 

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Thank You for the trials

Photo by Dorothy Lin on Unsplash
 
Lord, I do not see many people who are happy.
I see more people who are vexed by troubles 
    and overcome with anguish at their difficulties. . . .
Sometimes, I too am derailed by trials. . . .
I am tempted to see trials as only negative 
    because I like to think that I’m in control. . . .
I am tempted to see trials as negative 
    because I tend to think that this life matters most. . . .
Remind me that there is a limit to my perspective and wisdom. . . .
I do not see all there is to see.
Remind me that Jesus suffered and He was completely innocent. . . .
If He suffered, I too may experience suffering.
Remind me that this world is temporary. . . .
I will not be satisfied in this life.
So I thank You today for the trials You have allowed in my life. . . .
I thank You for being my fortress and strength. . . .
    and for giving me perseverance. . . .
Thank You for what these trials are doing in me –
    developing maturity and completeness.
Amen.
 
Kurt Bjorklund, 1968- , American Minister and author of
Prayers for Today A Yearlong Journey of Devotional Prayer

_________________
 
 
Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters,whenever you face trials of many kinds,
   because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance

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Eye of God, look not away

Photo by Timothy Eberly on Unsplash
 
All-Seeing One,
above me, around me, within me,
Be my seeing as I read these sacred words.
Look down upon me
Look out from within me
Look all around me
See through my eyes
Hear through my ears
Feel through my heart
Touch me where I need to be touched;
    and when my heart is touched,
    give me the grace to lay down this Holy Book
    and ask significant questions:
Why has my heart been touched?
How am I to be changed through this touch?
All-Seeing One,
I need to change
I need to look a little more like You
May these sacred words change and transform me.
Then I can meet You face to face
    without dying
    because I’ve finally died enough.
To die is to be healed a little more each death,
    until that final death
    when I’ll be healed forever.
It will be a healing that will last.
Your Words are healing
    although they bring about my death.
 
Macrina Wiederkehr, 1939-2020, Benedictine sister and spiritual director
 
_____________________________
 
 
For the word of God is alive and active.
Sharper than any double-edged sword,
    it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow;
    it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.
Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight.
Everything is uncovered and laid bare
    before the eyes of him to whom we must give account.
 

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