Lament in Times of Sorrow

Image by S. Hermann & F. Richter from Pixabay 

God, we call out to you!
From the depths of our hearts, we cry,
“Lord, hear our prayer!”

We are consumed by grief.
The events of the past few days have overwhelmed us—
it’s hard to sleep,
it’s hard to eat,
it’s even hard to pray.

Where are you, God?

Deep down, we know that you love us—
we’ve experienced your mercy and your faithfulness in the past,
and it has sustained us through many difficult times.
We refuse to believe that you have deserted us,
or that you are unaware of the pain that we’re feeling.
And so we turn to you again,
longing for your presence,
looking for your comfort and peace.

Surround us with your unfailing love.
Remind us that you alone are God,
and that you hold us in the palm of your hand.
Give us courage and strength to face the days ahead,
and strengthen us in the knowledge that we do not face them alone.

In the name of Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord, we pray.

Amen.

 

Christine Longhurst, Worship Professor, Canadian Mennonite University

 re-worship.blogspot.com

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Psalm 77:1-2

I cried out to God for help;
    I cried out to God to hear me.
When I was in distress, I sought the Lord;
    at night I stretched out untiring hands,
    and I would not be comforted. Continue reading

cleanse me from my sin!

Adam and Eve, Sistine Chapel / Sebastian Bergmann / CC BY-SA 2.0 / Wikimedia Commons
 
Where shall I begin to weep for the actions of my wretched life?
What first-fruit shall I offer, O Christ, in this my lamentation?
But in Your compassion grant me forgiveness of sins.
 
        Have mercy on me, O God, have mercy on me.
 
Come, wretched soul, with your flesh to the Creator of all.
Make confession to Him, and abstain henceforth from past brutishness;
    and offer to God tears of repentance.
 
        Have mercy on me, O God, have mercy on me.
 
I have rivaled in transgression, Adam, the first-formed man,
    and I have found myself stripped naked of God,
    of the eternal Kingdom and its joy, because of my sins.
 
        Have mercy on me, O God, have mercy on me.  
 
Woe to you, miserable soul! How alike you are to first Eve!
For you have looked in wickedness and were grievously wounded;
    you have touched the tree and rashly tasted the deceptive food.
 
        Have mercy on me, O God, have mercy on me.   
 
Instead of the visible Eve, I have the Eve of the mind:
    the passionate thought in my flesh,
    showing me what seems sweet;
    yet whenever I taste from it, I find it bitter.
 
        Have mercy on me, O God, have mercy on me.   
 
Adam was justly banished from Eden,
    because he disobeyed one commandment of Yours, O Savior,
What then shall I suffer, for I am always rejecting Your words of life?
 
        Have mercy on me, O God, have mercy on me.
 
By my own free choice I have incurred the guilt of Cain’s murder.
I have killed my conscience,
    bringing the flesh to life and making war upon the soul 
    by my wicked actions.
 
        Have mercy on me, O God, have mercy on me.
  
O Jesus, I have not been like Abel in his righteousness.
Never have I offered You acceptable gifts or godly actions,
    a pure sacrifice or a life unblemished.
 
        Have mercy on me, O God, have mercy on me.
 
Like Cain, O miserable soul, we too have offered,
    to the Creator of all,
    defiled actions and a polluted sacrifice and a worthless life;
    and so we also are condemned.
 
        Have mercy on me, O God, have mercy on me.
 
 
Frederica Mathewes-Green, American Orthodox author
 
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Have mercy on me, O God,
    according to your steadfast love;
according to your abundant mercy
    blot out my transgressions.
Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity,
    and cleanse me from my sin!

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transforming lives for your glory

image / pixabay
 
Creator God, our heavenly Father,
your Son was a carpenter in Nazareth:
we pray for all those who labor
in our factories and shops.
Grant them wisdom and honesty, strength and skill,
to provide for themselves
and for the needs of our country.
Look with compassion on the landless poor,
the unemployed and homeless,
the orphans and the hungry,
and grant us your power to work towards justice
in transforming their lives for your glory;
through the risen Lord Jesus Christ,
who had nowhere to lay his head.
 
prayer from Kenya
 
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Give justice to the weak and the fatherless;
    maintain the right of the afflicted and the destitute.
Rescue the weak and the needy;
    deliver them from the hand of the wicked.
They have neither knowledge nor understanding,
    they walk about in darkness;
    all the foundations of the earth are shaken.

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embraced by your unwavering love

Photo by Alfonso Scarpa on Unsplash
 
Dear Lord, today I thought of the words of Vincent van Gogh:
“It is true there is an ebb and flow, but the sea remains the sea.”

You are the sea. Although I experience many ups and downs in my emotions and often feel great shifts and changes in my inner life, you remain the same. Your sameness is not the sameness of a rock, but the sameness of a faithful lover. Out of your love I came to life; by your love I am sustained; and to your love I am always called back. There are days of sadness and days of joy; there are feelings of guilt and feelings of gratitude; there are moments of failure and moments of success; but all of them are embraced by your unwavering love.

My only real temptation is to doubt in your love, to think of myself as beyond the reach of your love, to remove myself from the healing radiance of your love. To do these things is to move into the darkness of despair.

O Lord, sea of love and goodness, let me not fear too much the storms and winds of my daily life, and let me know that there is ebb and flow but that the sea remains the sea. Amen.

Henri J.M. Nouwen, 1932 – 1996, Dutch-born Catholic priest and author 
 
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Psalm 65:5-8

By awesome deeds you answer us with righteousness,
    O God of our salvation,
 the hope of all the ends of the earth
    and of the farthest seas;
 the one who by his strength established the mountains,
    being girded with might;
 who stills the roaring of the seas,
    the roaring of their waves,
    the tumult of the peoples,
 so that those who dwell at the ends of the earth 
    are in awe at your signs.
You make the going out of the morning and the evening 
    to shout for joy.

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go with me in a new exodus

Saint Peter Liberated from Prison / The Metropolitan Museum of Art / CC0
 
O God of fire and freedom,
deliver me from my bondage
    to what can be counted
and go with me in a new exodus
    toward what counts,
but can only be measured
    in bread shared
        and swords become plowshares;
    in bodies healed
        and minds liberated;
    in songs sung
        and justice done;
    in laughter in the night
        and joy in the morning;
    in love through all seasons
        and great gladness of heart;
    in all people coming together
        and a kingdom coming in glory;
    in your name being praised
        and my becoming an alleluia,
through Jesus Christ our Lord.
 
Ted Loder, born 1930, American Methodist minister
 
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I sought the Lord, and he answered me
    and delivered me from all my fears.
Those who look to him are radiant,
    and their faces shall never be ashamed.
This poor man cried, and the Lord heard him
    and saved him out of all his troubles.

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prayer for mercy against lying

 image / GDJ / Pixabay
 
Almighty and eternal God, you see how your saints are so few and indeed how rarely and infrequently they seek or promote your honor.  And now, as unfortunately you can see, in churches and worldly governments as well as in common life there is a great sense of  discord and dissension.  Thus, dear Lord, we ask you that you would mercifully turn away, or, even as a father, temper our well-deserved punishments and leave us a true seed, so that we would not become like Sodom and Gomorrah.  
 
Send faithful workers into your vineyard who do not speak of useless matters and made-up fables, who are not hypocrites, who are not proud, arrogant and lazy and self-assured.  Ensure that they teach from unity of heart and that they are united in you; grant them humble hearts.  
 
O Lord God, it is dearly needed! Bring your help, so that we would be consoled and taught rightly and remain in our Christian walk and life, that we would not be a stumbling block for others nor would we continue in sins against conscience.  Protect us from sluggish people who do not observe your Word; sustain us by your Word which is pure, perfect and clear.  Grant us endurance in suffering and crossbearing and rule us with your Holy Spirit, so that we would not fall into error and vice but instead would be and remain your dwelling and temple.  Amen
 
Nikolaus Selnecker, 1530 – 1592, German Protestant Reformer
 
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Save, O Lord, for the godly one is gone;
    for the faithful have vanished from among the children of man.
Everyone utters lies to his neighbor;
    with flattering lips and a double heart they speak.

May the Lord cut off all flattering lips,
    the tongue that makes great boasts,
 those who say, “With our tongue we will prevail,
    our lips are with us; who is master over us?”

“Because the poor are plundered, because the needy groan,
    I will now arise,” says the Lord;
    “I will place him in the safety for which he longs.”

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to live these days with you

                                  Photo by Elijah Hiett on Unsplash                          
 
Surrounded by good powers, faithful and still,
wonderfully protected and comforted –
in this way I want to live these days with you
and go with you into a new year.
 
The old year still wants to torment our hearts;
the heavy burdens of evil days still hold us down.
O Lord, give our frightened souls
the salvation for which you created us.
 
And if you hand us the heavy cup, the bitter one,
of sorrow, filled to the highest brim,
then we take it thankfully, without trembling,
from your good and loving hand.
 
Yet if you want to give us joy once again
in this world and its sun’s bright light,
then we want to remember what has passed,
and then our life belongs fully to you.
 
Today, let the candles glow warm and bright
that you brought into our darkness,
and if it can be, bring us together again!
We know your light shines in the night.
 
When now the profound stillness spreads round us,
let us hear that full sound of the world
that widens invisibly all around us,
the high hymn of praise of all your children.
 
Wonderfully secured by good powers,
we confidently await what may come.
God is with us in the evening and the morning,
and most certainly in each new day.
 
Dietrich Bonhoeffer, 1906 – 1945, German Lutheran theologian and martyr
 
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Teach us to realize the brevity of life,
    so that we may grow in wisdom.
O Lord, come back to us!
    How long will you delay?
    Take pity on your servants!
Satisfy us each morning with your unfailing love,
    so we may sing for joy to the end of our lives.
Give us gladness in proportion to our former misery!
    Replace the evil years with good.
Let us, your servants, see you work again;
    let our children see your glory.

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sharing Thanksgiving

photo by Element5 Digital on Unsplash  
 
Thanksgiving!  What a wonderful holiday! 
How fitting it is, Gracious God, that we have a day set aside
    to give thanks for all the blessings we have received.
Our ancestors declared a day of worship to celebrate 
    simply having enough to survive;
    we give thanks for bounty well beyond the necessities of life.
We are blessed to be among those who have not only enough,
    but enough to share.
We rejoice at your blessing, Maker of All,
    and pray that your spirit will lead us in an ardent effort
    to see that the whole world shares in your abundant gifts.
 
Walter C. Sutton
 
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Enter his gates with thanksgiving,
    and his courts with praise!
    Give thanks to him; bless his name!
For the Lord is good;
    his steadfast love endures forever,
    and his faithfulness to all generations.

humble thankfulness

image / pxfuel
We thank you Father, for your readiness to hear and to forgive;
    for your great love to us, in spite of our unworthiness;
    for the many blessings we enjoy above our deserving, hoping or asking.
You have been so good to us 
    despite our ingratitude, thoughtlessness, and forgetfulness of you.
For your pity, longsuffering, gentleness and tenderness,
    we bow our heads in humble thankfulness of heart.
We worship you who are infinite love, infinite compassion, infinite power.
Accept our praise and gratitude; through Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior.
Amen.
 
Rev. C.J.N Child, English minister and headmaster
 
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Oh come, let us sing to the Lord;
    let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation!
Let us come into his presence with thanksgiving;
    let us make a joyful noise to him with songs of praise!
For the Lord is a great God,
    and a great King above all gods.
In his hand are the depths of the earth;
    the heights of the mountains are his also.
The sea is his, for he made it,
    and his hands formed the dry land.

Oh come, let us worship and bow down;
    let us kneel before the Lord, our Maker!
For he is our God,
    and we are the people of his pasture,
    and the sheep of his hand.

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Lead us out of this conflict

image
O God, who has ordained that all men should live
        and work together as brethren,
    remove, we humbly beg you, the spirit of strife
        and commitment to bitterness,
             from those who are now quarreling, 
    so that seeking only what is just and equal
they may go forward in brotherly unity and accord.
 
Lead us out of the night of this conflict and into the day of justice.
 
Give us grace to be instruments
    of the kingdom of love and justice in human affairs,
    and patience in dealing with all the sins and selfishness of men,
        and humility in recognizing our own,
    that we may judge wisely between brothers,
    between nations and peoples,
    and by composing and reducing their differences, 
build ourselves up into a true community of peoples and nations.
 
Reinhold Niebuhr, 1892-1971, American theologian and professor
 
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The Lord reigns forever;
    he has established his throne for judgment.
He rules the world in righteousness
    and judges the peoples with equity.
The Lord is a refuge for the oppressed,
    a stronghold in times of trouble.
Those who know your name trust in you,
    for you, Lord, have never forsaken those who seek you.

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