against the threat of malignant powers

Nebuchadnezzar, William Blake, Wikimedia Commons CC-BY-NC-ND 3.0
 
Lord, we pray this day mindful of the sorry confusion of our world. 
Look with mercy upon this generation of your children
    so steeped in misery of their own contriving, 
    so far strayed from your ways 
    and so blinded by passions. 
We pray for the victims of tyranny, 
    that they may resist oppression with courage. 
We pray for wicked and cruel men, 
    whose arrogance reveals to us 
    what the sin of our own hearts is like 
    when it has conceived and brought forth its final fruit.

We pray for ourselves who live in peace and quietness, 
    that we may not regard our good fortune as proof of our virtue, 
    or rest content to have our ease 
    at the price of other men’s sorrow and tribulation.

We pray for all who have some vision of your will, 
    despite the confusions and betrayals of human sin, 
  that they may humbly and resolutely plan for and fashion 
    the foundations of a just peace between men, 
    even while they seek to preserve what is fair and just among us 
    against the threat of malignant powers.
 
Reinhold Niebuhr, 1892-1971, American theologian and professor
The Complete Book of Christian Prayer
 
__________________________
 
 
“That same hour the judgment was fulfilled, 
    and Nebuchadnezzar was driven from human society.
 He ate grass like a cow, and he was drenched with the dew of heaven. 
He lived this way until his hair was as long as eagles’ feathers 
    and his nails were like birds’ claws.
 
“After this time had passed, I, Nebuchadnezzar, looked up to heaven. 
My sanity returned, and I praised and worshiped the Most High 
    and honored the one who lives forever.

His rule is everlasting,
    and his kingdom is eternal.
All the people of the earth
    are nothing compared to him.
He does as he pleases
    among the angels of heaven
    and among the people of the earth.
No one can stop him or say to him,
    ‘What do you mean by doing these things?’

“When my sanity returned to me, so did my honor and glory and kingdom. 
My advisers and nobles sought me out, 
    and I was restored as head of my kingdom, 
    with even greater honor than before.

“Now I, Nebuchadnezzar, praise and glorify and honor the King of heaven. 
All his acts are just and true, and he is able to humble the proud.”

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O Come Emmanuel

Image from Art4TheGlryOfGod by Sharon under Creative Commons license

 

Our world carries the scars of the way we live, Jesus;
    the preferential treatment given
        to the few who are wealthy and powerful and famous
        leaves the rest ignored and neglected;
    the desperate quest for more
        leaves all of us feeling less, enjoying less;
    the self-protective aggression we embrace to feel safe
        leaves us and others wounded and frightened;
    the apathetic disregard for the suffering, the grieving, the dying   
        leaves us disconnected from our own humanity,
        from our ability to feel and to care.

 

We need our world turned upside down, Jesus;
   We need our self-importance and self-sufficiency to be undermined;
   We need a new way of being that is built on a whole new set of

   values:
        Humble the powerful
            and exalt the humble, we pray;
        Fill the hungry with good things,
            and keep the satisfied from taking even more;
        Give us the wisdom to let a Child lead us
            into a world of justice and love;
            into the joy of sacrifice and service and simplicity.
 
O come, Emmanuel, and ransom your captive people.
Amen.
 
John van de Laar,  South African Methodist worship minster
 
___________________
 
 
A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse;
    from his roots a Branch will bear fruit.
The Spirit of the Lord will rest on him—
    the Spirit of wisdom and of understanding,
    the Spirit of counsel and of might,
    the Spirit of the knowledge and fear of the Lord—
and he will delight in the fear of the Lord.

 

He will not judge by what he sees with his eyes,
    or decide by what he hears with his ears;
 but with righteousness he will judge the needy,
    with justice he will give decisions for the poor of the earth.
He will strike the earth with the rod of his mouth;
    with the breath of his lips he will slay the wicked.
Righteousness will be his belt
    and faithfulness the sash around his waist.

The wolf will live with the lamb,
    the leopard will lie down with the goat,
 the calf and the lion and the yearling[a] together;
    and a little child will lead them.
The cow will feed with the bear,
    their young will lie down together,
    and the lion will eat straw like the ox.
The infant will play near the cobra’s den,
    and the young child will put its hand into the viper’s nest.
They will neither harm nor destroy
    on all my holy mountain,
 for the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the Lord
    as the waters cover the sea.

 
 
 
 

Glory be to God on high

image / Lawrence OP / Flickr
 
 
Glory be to God on high,
and on earth peace,
peace among those of good will.
We praise you, we bless you,
we give thanks for your great glory,
holy God, tender God, God our beloved creator.
 
Christ our desire 
only embodiment of God,
bone of our bone and flesh of our flesh,
foolishness of God, greater than human wisdom,
emptiness of God, full of redemption,
bearing away the sin of the world,
have mercy on us.
Holy one, bearing away the sin of the world,
have mercy on us.
Beloved one, bearing away the sin of the world,
receive our prayer.
 
For you alone are holy,
you alone our desire.
You alone, O Christ,
with the comforter of fire,
are radiant with the grace and glory of God most high.
 
Janet Morely, British poet and theologian
 
_________________________________
 
 
For to us a child is born,
    to us a son is given;
and the government shall be upon his shoulder,
    and his name shall be called
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
    Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Of the increase of his government and of peace
    there will be no end,
on the throne of David and over his kingdom,
    to establish it and to uphold it
with justice and with righteousness
    from this time forth and forevermore.
The zeal of the Lord of hosts will do this.
 

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I pray for the children

Photo by Andrae Ricketts on Unsplash
 
This morning, Lord, I’m praying for many people,
    just a day after Dobbs v. Jackson…
 
I’m praying for those 
    disappointed and angry,
who believe their rights have been trampled and crushed:
    their choice and autonomy wrenched from their grasp…
 
And I’m praying for those 
    now claiming a victory,
who believe that justice has finally prevailed:
    the right to life, refreshed and reclaimed…
 
I pray for our country, 
    torn apart and embittered,
where the battle for rights will continue to rage,
    dividing our nation, body and soul…
 
I pray for the Church 
    to preach with compassion
the gospel of life as the wisdom for choosing
    what’s loving and true, what’s generous and good…
 
And I pray for the Church 
    to faithfully serve
with shelter, support, understanding and help
     people and life in all shapes and all forms…
 
And last, but not least, Lord, 
I pray for the children conceived every day:
    planned or unplanned, welcome or not,
    impaired or healthy, ill-timed or convenient,
        each one made in your image divine,
        each one named by your love and your grace,
        each one, your own, entrusted to us…
 
Many to pray for, many to hold
    in our arms, in our care, in our love.
Help us to welcome the gift of new life
    with its challenges, burdens and blessings, 
        with the strength and help of your grace…
 
Amen.
 
Fr. Austin Fleming, Roman Catholic Priest serving near Boston, MA  
Concord Pastor
 
______________________________
 
 
And the word of the Lord came to Zechariah, saying, 
“Thus says the Lord of hosts, 
Render true judgments, show kindness and mercy to one another, 
do not oppress the widow, the fatherless, the sojourner, or the poor, 
and let none of you devise evil against another in your heart.”

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What can I say to you, my God?

Holy Trinity, Lawrence OP, CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
 
What can I say to you, my God?
 
Shall I collect together all the words
    that praise your holy Name?
 
Shall I give you all the names of this world
    —you, the Unnameable?
 
Shall I call you
    “God of my life,
    meaning of my existence,
    hallowing of my acts,
    my journey’s end,
    bitterness of my bitter hours,
    home of my loneliness,
    you my most treasured happiness”?

Shall I say:
    “Creator, Sustainer, Pardoner,
    Near One, Distant One, Incomprehensible One,
    God both of flowers and stars,
    God of the gentle wind and of terrible battles,
    Wisdom, Power, Loyalty, and Truthfulness,
    Eternity and Infinity, you the All-merciful,
    you the Just One,
    you  – Love itself?”
 
Karl Rahner, 1904 – 1984, German Jesuit Priest
 
__________________________
 
 
Then Moses said to God, 
“If I come to the people of Israel and say to them, 
    ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you,’ 
and they ask me, ‘What is his name?’ 
what shall I say to them?
 

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to wage peace instead of war

image / Scott Akerman / CC by 2.0
 
Dear Lord, awaken the people of the earth and their leaders 
    to the realization of the madness of the nuclear arms race.  
Today we mourn the dead of past wars, 
    but will there be anyone to mourn the dead of the next one?  
O Lord, turn us away from our foolish race to self-destruction; 
    let us see that more and more weaponry indeed 
    means more of a chance to use it.  
Please, Lord, let the great talents you have given to your creatures 
    not fall into the hands of the powers and principalities 
    for whom death is the means as well as the goal.  
Let us see that the resources hidden in your earth 
    are for feeding each other, healing each other, offering shelter to each other, 
    making this world a place where men, women, and children of all races 
    and nations can live together in peace.
 
Give us new prophets who can speak 
    openly, directly, convincingly, and lovingly 
    to kings, presidents, senators, church leaders, 
    and all men and women of good will, 
  prophets who can make us wage peace instead of war.    
Lord, make haste to help us.  
Do not come too late!
 
Henri J.M. Nouwen, 1932 – 1996, Dutch-born Catholic priest and author 
 
_________________________
 
 
He shall judge between the nations,
    and shall decide disputes for many peoples;
and they shall beat their swords into plowshares,
    and their spears into pruning hooks;
nation shall not lift up sword against nation,
    neither shall they learn war anymore.

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Let me be like the Calm Sea

photo from Pxhere
 
Lord, I saw the sea attacking the rocks, sombre and raging.
From afar the waves gained momentum.
High and proud, they leapt, jostling one another 
    to be the first to strike.
When the white foam drew back, leaving the rock clear,
    they gathered themselves together to rush forward again.
 
The other day I saw the sea, calm and serene.
The waves came from afar, creeping, not to draw attention.
Quietly holding hands, they slipped noiselessly
    and stretched at full length on the sand,
    to touch the shore with the tips of their beautiful soft fingers.
The sea gently caressed them,
    and they generously returned streams of light.
 
Lord, grant that I may avoid useless quarrels 
    that tire and wound without achieving results.
Keep me from these angry outbursts that draw attention
    but leave one uselessly weakened.
Keep me from wanting always to outstrip others in my conceit,
    crushing those in my way.
Wipe from my face the look of dark, dominating anger.
 
Rather, Lord, grant that I may live my days calmly and fully,
    as the sea slowly covers the whole shore.
Make me humble like the sea, as silently and gently, 
    it spreads out unnoticed.
May I wait for my brothers and match my pace to theirs,
    that I may move upward with them.
Grant me the triumphant perseverance of the waters.
May each of my retreats turn into an advance.
Give my face the light of clear waters.
Give my soul the whiteness of foam.
Illumine my life that it may sing like sunbeams
    on the surface of the sea.
But above all, Lord, may I not keep this light for myself,
    and may all those who come near me return home 
    eager to bathe in your eternal grace.
 
Michel Quoist,1918 – 1997, French Catholic priest and writer
 
_________________________
 
 
A fool gives full vent to his spirit,
    but a wise man quietly holds it back.

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important and unimportant

image / geralt / pixabay
 
O God, our Father, forgive us that we so often give our best to the wrong things.
 
Sometimes we put far more enthusiasm and thought and effort into our pleasures and our games and our amusement than we do into our work.
 
Sometimes we keep our best behavior for strangers and our worst behavior for our own homes; and we treat our nearest and dearest with a discourtesy and disregard we would never show to strangers.
 
Sometimes we get irritated and annoyed and angry about things which in our calmer moments we know do not matter.
 
Sometimes we lose our temper in an argument about trifles.
 
Sometimes we allow very little things to cause a quarrel with a friend.
 
Help us to see what is important and what is unimportant, so that we may never forget the things that matter, and so that we may never allow the things which do not matter to matter too much.
 
William Barclay, 1907-1978, minister in the Church of Scotland
 
________________________________
 
 
Whoever restrains his words has knowledge,
    and he who has a cool spirit is a man of understanding.
Even a fool who keeps silent is considered wise;
    when he closes his lips, he is deemed intelligent.
 

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Be Thou My Vision

image / Donatas Dabravolskas / CC BY-SA 4.0 / Wikimedia Commons
 
Be Thou my Vision, O Lord of my heart;
Naught be all else to me, save that Thou art.
Thou my best Thought, by day or by night,
Waking or sleeping, Thy presence my light.

Be Thou my Wisdom, and Thou my true Word;
I ever with Thee and Thou with me, Lord;
Thou my great Father, I Thy true son;
Thou in me dwelling, and I with Thee one.

Be Thou my battle Shield, Sword for the fight;
Be Thou my Dignity, Thou my Delight;
Thou my soul’s Shelter, Thou my high Tower:
Raise Thou me heavenward, O Power of my power.

Riches I heed not, nor man’s empty praise,
Thou mine Inheritance, now and always:
Thou and Thou only, first in my heart,
High King of Heaven, my Treasure Thou art.

High King of Heaven, my victory won,
May I reach Heaven’s joys, O bright Heav’n’s Sun!
Heart of my own heart, whatever befall,
Still be my Vision, O Ruler of all.
 
Dallán Forgaillc. 560 – 640,  translated by Eleanor Hull 1912
 
_______________________
 
 
 
I saw in the night visions,
and behold, with the clouds of heaven
    there came one like a son of man,
and he came to the Ancient of Days
    and was presented before him.
And to him was given dominion
    and glory and a kingdom,
that all peoples, nations, and languages
    should serve him;
his dominion is an everlasting dominion,
    which shall not pass away,
and his kingdom one
    that shall not be destroyed.

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bring healing in thy wings

image by Sharon Tate Soberon / flickr / CC BY-ND 2.0

 

Lord Jesus Christ, 
Thou Son of the Most High, Prince of Peace, 
    be born into our world.  
Wherever there is war in this world, 
    wherever there is pain, 
    wherever there is loneliness, 
    wherever there is no hope, 
come, thou long-expected one, 
    with healing in thy wings.
 
Holy Child, 
whom the shepherds and the kings and the dumb beasts adored,
    be born again.  
Wherever there is boredom,
    wherever there is fear of failure,
    wherever there is temptation too strong to resist,
    wherever there is bitterness of heart, 
come, though blessed one,
    with healing in thy wings.
 
Frederick Buechner, 1926 – , American writer and theologian
 
______________________
 
 
Thus says God, the Lord,
    who created the heavens and stretched them out,
    who spread out the earth and what comes from it,
who gives breath to the people on it
    and spirit to those who walk in it:
“I am the Lord; I have called you in righteousness;
    I will take you by the hand and keep you;
I will give you as a covenant for the people,
    a light for the nations,
 to open the eyes that are blind,
to bring out the prisoners from the dungeon,
    from the prison those who sit in darkness.

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