Labor for one another

Photo by Caleb Gregory on Unsplash
 
Grant, Almighty God,
    as You invite us so kindly and graciously to Yourself,
  that we may not be resistant,
    but with every evil affection subdued,
    offer ourselves to Your service.
 
  And since You require nothing else from us
    but to observe what is right toward one another,
O grant that we may be mindful of the brotherhood 
    that Your only begotten Son by His own blood has consecrated,
    and call on You as our father,
    and prove by our whole conduct that we are Your children.
 
And may every one of us so labor for one another that,
    being united in heart and affection,
    we may with one sentiment aspire towards that blessed life,
    where we shall enjoy the inheritance 
    that has been prepared and obtained by the blood of Your son,
    and through Him prepared for us in heaven. Amen.
 
John Calvin, 1509-1564, Swiss Reformer
Lifting Up Our Hearts, freely modified
 
__________________________
 
 
This is what the Lord Almighty says: “Just as I had determined to bring disaster on you and showed no pity when your ancestors angered me,” says the Lord Almighty, “so now I have determined to do good again to Jerusalem and Judah. Do not be afraid. These are the things you are to do: Speak the truth to each other, and render true and sound judgment in your courts; do not plot evil against each other, and do not love to swear falsely. I hate all this,” declares the Lord.

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prayer for teachers and students

image / flickr / CC BY-NC 2.0
 
Grant, O Lord, to all teachers and students,
    to know what is worth knowing,
    to love what is worth loving,
    to praise what pleases you most,
    and to dislike whatsoever is evil in your sight.
Grant us with judgment to distinguish things that differ,
and above all to search out and do what is well-pleasing to you,
through Jesus Christ our Lord.
 
Thomas à Kempis, 1379-1471, German monk
 
______________________________
 
 
The teaching of the wise is a fountain of life,
    turning a person from the snares of death.
Good judgment wins favor,
    but the way of the unfaithful leads to their destruction.

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this troubled and divided world

Garden of Eden, Metropolitan Museum of Art , Public Domain
 
Look in compassion, O heavenly Father,
    upon this troubled and divided world.
Though we cannot trace your footsteps 
    or understand your working,
    give us grace to trust you with an undoubting faith;
 and when your own time is come,
    reveal, O Lord, that new heaven and new earth
    wherein dwells righteousness,
    where the Prince of Peace rules,
    your Son our Savior Jesus Christ.
 
Charles Vaughan, 1816 – 1897, English scholar and Anglican churchman
 
________________
 
 
For behold, I create new heavens
    and a new earth,
and the former things shall not be remembered
    or come into mind.
But be glad and rejoice forever
    in that which I create;
for behold, I create Jerusalem to be a joy,
    and her people to be a gladness.

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that all mothers may bear your love

Photo by Andrae Ricketts on Unsplash
 
O God, the mother of all living beings,
    the creator of the universe and the giver of all good things.
We thank you for our home on earth 
    and for the joy of living.
By your divine wisdom you have made mothers 
    the bearers of new life on earth.
As we worship, O Lord, call to our minds 
    the magnificent and gracious gifts that you have bestowed upon mothers.
We thank you for their love, their forbearance, 
    their patience and their unselfishness.
And we pray that all mothers may be bearers 
    of the love that you have so graciously shared 
    in the gift of your Son, Jesus Christ, for our salvation.
Amen.
 
Thomas Kilgore, Jr., 1913-1988, pastor and human rights advocate
    
_______________________
 
 
She opens her mouth with wisdom,
    and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue.
She looks well to the ways of her household
    and does not eat the bread of idleness.
Her children rise up and call her blessed;
    her husband also, and he praises her:
 

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May I be the friend You want me to be

image / pixabay
 
May I be an enemy to no one 
    and the friend of what abides eternally.
May I never quarrel with those nearest me,
    and be reconciled quickly if I should.
May I never plot evil against others,
    and if anyone plots evil against me,
  may I escape unharmed 
    and without the need to hurt anyone else.
May I love, seek, and attain only what is good.
May I desire happiness for all
    and harbor envy for none.
May I never find joy 
    in the misfortune of one who has wronged me.
May I never wait for the rebuke of others,
    but always rebuke myself and make reparation.
May I gain no victory 
    that harms me or my opponent.
May I reconcile friends 
    who are mad at each other.
May I, insofar as I can, give all necessary help
    to my friends and to all who are in need.
May I never fail a friend in trouble.
May I be able to soften the pain of the grief stricken
    and give them comforting words.
May I respect myself.
May I always maintain control of my emotions.
May I habituate myself to be gentle,
     and never angry with others because of circumstances.
May I never discuss the wicked or what they have done,
    but know good people and follow in their footsteps.
 
Eusebius of Caesarea, c. 260- c.340, Christian historian and bishop
 
_________________________
 
 
Gracious words are like a honeycomb,
    sweetness to the soul and health to the body.

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Great God Almighty, We Are Free at Last!

 Martin Luther King, 1964 / Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain
 
God grant that right here in America and all over the world,
    we will choose the high way:
a way in which men will live together as brothers.
A way in which the nations of the world will beat their swords into plowshares,
    and their spears into pruning hooks.
A way in which every man will respect 
    the dignity and worth of all human personality.
A way in which every nation will allow justice to flow down like waters,
    and righteousness like a mighty stream.
A way in which men will do justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with God.
A way in which men will be able to stand up, 
    and in the midst of oppression, in the midst of darkness and agony,
    they will be able to stand there and love their enemies,
        bless those persons that curse them,
        pray for those individuals that despitefully use them.
And this is the way that will bring us once more into that society
    which we think of as the brotherhood of man.
This will be that day when white people, colored people,
    whether they are brown or whether they are yellow  or whether they are black,
    will join together and stretch out with their arms and be able to cry out:
“Free at last! Free at last! Great God Almighty, we are free at last!”
 
Martin Luther King, Jr. 1929 -1968, American pastor and civil rights activist
 
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And a highway will be there;
    it will be called the Way of Holiness;
    it will be for those who walk on that Way.
The unclean will not journey on it;
    wicked fools will not go about on it.
No lion will be there,
    nor any ravenous beast;
    they will not be found there.
But only the redeemed will walk there,
    and those the Lord has rescued will return.
They will enter Zion with singing;
    everlasting joy will crown their heads.
Gladness and joy will overtake them,
    and sorrow and sighing will flee away.

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prayer for our leaders

Image by Myriams-Fotos from Pixabay   
 
Lord God, in our prayers for our country
we remember especially the men and women 
who powerfully influence the life of society:
    those who fashion our politics,
    those who frame and administer our laws,
    those who mold public opinion through various forms of media,
    those who write what many read.
May all such recognize their responsibility to you and to the nation, 
    that people may be influenced for what is good, not evil;
    for what is true, not false;
for the glory of your name,
 
Frank Colquhoun,1909-1997, evangelical priest and author, Church of England
 
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Behold, a king will reign in righteousness,
    and princes will rule in justice.
Each will be like a hiding place from the wind,
    a shelter from the storm,
  like streams of water in a dry place,
    like the shade of a great rock in a weary land.
Then the eyes of those who see will not be closed,
    and the ears of those who hear will give attention.
The heart of the hasty will understand and know,
    and the tongue of the stammerers will hasten to speak distinctly.
The fool will no more be called noble,
    nor the scoundrel said to be honorable.
For the fool speaks folly,
    and his heart is busy with iniquity,
  to practice ungodliness,
    to utter error concerning the Lord,
  to leave the craving of the hungry unsatisfied,
    and to deprive the thirsty of drink.
As for the scoundrel—his devices are evil;
    he plans wicked schemes
  to ruin the poor with lying words,
    even when the plea of the needy is right.
But he who is noble plans noble things,
    and on noble things he stands.

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Lord, we lament the state of our nation

 image by Billy Hathorn, CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons
 
Lord, we lament the state of our nation.

Lord, we lament the divisions between us as people in our nation that we cannot seem to resolve.

Lord, we lament the pain, confusion, hatred, and violence that seems to reign in our personal and national life.

Lord, we lament the lack of leadership in our government that has in many ways led to the state of affairs in which we now find ourselves.

Lord, we lament the darkness in our own hearts that contributes to this situation.

Lord, we pray for those who perpetrated the attacks on the Capitol, and the broader attacks on our democracy, to be brought to justice and ultimately to repentance.

Lord, we pray for truth to reign in our national conversations and our communities, as well as in our church.

Lord we pray for President Trump, during the final days of his administration, that he will fulfill his duties responsibly.

Lord, we pray for President-elect Biden, that he will have wisdom as he prepares to assume office on January 20.

Lord, we pray for all our elected officials in the Senate and House of Representatives to be led by Your grace and wisdom, whether they want to be or not.

Lord, we pray for protection of our nation from any adversaries who would seek to harm us during this perilous transitional period.

Lord, we remember that “our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms” (Ephesians 6:12), so we pray that You would protect us from all spiritual evil that seeks to bring devastation upon us.

Lord, we pray for healing of relationships between Americans who are deeply divided by partisanship, that they will seek to resolve their differences peacefully and cooperate where possible for the common good.

Lord, we pray for protection of those in other countries suffering persecution, who have seen the United States as a model of democracy, who may now be endangered as dictators are emboldened to commit further abuses.

Lord, we pray for all who follow the Prince of Peace, that we will humble ourselves before God and allow the light of Christ to shine through us into our dark and broken world.

And Lord, we pray for our own church that we might stand in Your truth, be filled with Your grace, live as one through Christ, and might boldly walk forward as witnesses to You and Your Kingdom, individually and corporately.

All this we pray through Jesus Christ, who with You and the Holy Spirit, are one God, both now and forever. Amen.
 
Matt Erickson, pastor serving in Milwaukee, WI, blogging at Renovate
 
_______________________
 
 
If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.
 
 

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watchful for your coming

Photo by Joshua Earle on Unsplash  
 
Righteous one,
to you alone
we lift our souls;
in you alone
we place our trust;
for you alone
we wait all day long.
For you are the God
of our salvation,
abounding in mercy
and steadfast love.
Help us remain alert and watchful
for the coming of your promised one—
the one who comes with power and glory,
the one drawing near
to bring our salvation. 
Amen.
 
Adapted from The Abingdon Worship Annual 2009 © 2008 Abingdon Press
 
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Behold, the days are coming, declares the Lord, when I will fulfill the promise I made to the house of Israel and the house of Judah. In those days and at that time I will cause a righteous Branch to spring up for David, and he shall execute justice and righteousness in the land.  In those days Judah will be saved, and Jerusalem will dwell securely. And this is the name by which it will be called: ‘The Lord is our righteousness.’

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seasons of your presence

Photo by Derek Thomson on Unsplash  
O my God,
let me never forget that seasons of consolation are refreshments here, 
    and nothing more; not our abiding state. 
They will not remain with us except in heaven. 
Here they are only intended to prepare us for doing and suffering. 
I pray Thee, O my God, to give them to me from time to time. 
Shed over me the sweetness of Thy Presence, lest I faint by the way; 
    lest I go about my daily work in a dry spirit, 
    or am tempted to take pleasure in it for its own sake, and not for Thee. 
Give me Thy Divine consolations from time to time; 
    but let me not rest in them. 
Let me use them for the purpose for which Thou givest them. 
Let me not think it grievous, let me not be downcast, if they go. 
Let them carry me forward to the thought and the desire of heaven.
 
John Henry Newman, 1801-1890, English Catholic priest, theologian & poet
 
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He gives power to the faint,
    and to him who has no might he increases strength.
Even youths shall faint and be weary,
    and young men shall fall exhausted;
but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength;
    they shall mount up with wings like eagles;
they shall run and not be weary;
    they shall walk and not faint.
 

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