I believe, help my unbelief

praying man by Ruth Mabee
Lord, I want to love you, yet I’m not sure.
    I want to trust you, yet I’m afraid of being taken in.
    I know I need you, yet I’m ashamed of the need.
    I want to pray, yet I’m afraid of being a hypocrite.
    I need my independence, yet I fear to be alone.
    I want to belong, yet I must be myself.
    Take me, Lord, yet leave me alone.
    Lord, I do believe; help my unbelief.
O Lord, if you are there, you do understand, don’t you?
Give me what I need but leave me free to choose.
Help me work it out my own way, but don’t let me despair.
    Come unto me, O Lord – I want you there.
    Lighten my darkness – but don’t dazzle me.
    Help me to see what I need to do and give me strength to do it.
O Lord, I believe, help thou my unbelief.
Bernard SSF, 1928-2007
And they brought the boy to him. 
And when the spirit saw him, immediately it convulsed the boy, 
    and he fell on the ground and rolled about, foaming at the mouth. 
And Jesus asked his father, 
    “How long has this been happening to him?” 
And he said, “From childhood. 
    And it has often cast him into fire and into water, to destroy him. 
    But if you can do anything, have compassion on us and help us.” 
And Jesus said to him, 
    “‘If you can’! All things are possible for one who believes.” 
Immediately the father of the child cried out and said, 
    “I believe; help my unbelief!” 

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desiring you with my whole heart

Give me grace, O my Father,
    to be utterly ashamed of my own reluctance.
Rouse me from sloth and coldness,
    and make me desire you with my whole heart.
Teach me to love 
    meditation, sacred reading and prayer.
Teach me to love 
    that which must engage my mind 
         for all eternity.
John Henry Newman, 1801-1890, English Catholic priest and poet
You will seek me and find me, 
    when you seek me with all your heart.

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Incarnate yourself into our hopelessness

image / The Flight to Egypt / James Tissot
God of the homeless, the refugee, the displaced:
    we come expectant and hopeful before you.
In the world around us today
    we find ourselves surrounded by those, like Christ,
    without a place to simply be.
A season of blessing, our season of rain,
    is a curse for those without shelter.
You know what it is like to be displaced from your home,
    your family expelled from Israel out of fear of Herod.
In the same way, people flee their homes in fear of earthy leaders,
    uncertain of what the future may hold.
Those whose lands have been taken from them
    despair at the loss of valuable assets and resources.
Lord of hope, we are assured of your provision in this season
    where we expect the Bread of Life.
We are assured that you come to be with those who lack,
    those on the periphery, 
    as we remember you being born in a manger.
We are assured that your hand is outstretched to all,
    first to the poor and then to the rich,
    as shepherds and then magi came to the place of your birth.
Incarnate in hopeless situations for us, your people, we pray.
complied by Claudio Carvalhaes, professor of worship in New York City

After the wise men were gone, 
    an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream. 
“Get up! Flee to Egypt with the child and his mother,” the angel said. 
“Stay there until I tell you to return, 
    because Herod is going to search for the child to kill him.”

That night Joseph left for Egypt with the child and Mary, his mother, 
    and they stayed there until Herod’s death. 
This fulfilled what the Lord had spoken through the prophet: 
    “I called my Son out of Egypt.”

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When You open Your hand


Loving God,
You are our Creator and Sustainer.
When You open Your hand,
You satisfy the hunger and thirst of every living thing.
And so we look to You whenever we are in need,
trusting in Your love and Your abundant goodness.

As You once fed the hungry crowds with five loaves and two small fish,
we ask that You would again fill those who are empty this day.
Pour out Your Spirit on all who hunger and thirst.

We pray for those who are physically hungry—whose stomachs are empty.
We think especially of the people in Somalia and Eastern Africa
who are facing critical food shortages;
    who are suffering the effects of malnutrition and starvation;
        and watching helplessly as loved ones die.

Lord, in Your mercy, open Your hand.
Pour out Your Spirit, so that they may be filled.

We pray for those who are empty emotionally—
who are lonely and long for companionship and love,
        who are caught in the grip of depression,
            or overwhelmed with grief.

Lord, in Your mercy, open Your hand.
Pour out Your Spirit, so that they may be filled.

We pray for those who are spiritually empty—
who are troubled, but don’t know where to turn;
    who long for purpose and meaning, but don’t know where to look;
        who need You, but do not yet know You.

Lord, in Your mercy, open Your hand.
Pour out Your Spirit, so that they may be filled.

God, we praise You for Your abundant gifts in our lives.
Pour out Your Spirit on us as well.
Fill us with Your compassion and love,
so that we would willingly share some of our abundance
with those who have need.

Lord, in Your mercy, open Your hand.
Pour out Your Spirit, so that we may be filled.

We pray in the name of Jesus Christ,
who came so that all of humanity might come to know
the abundant life that comes from You.


Christine Longhurst, Worship Professor, Canadian Mennonite University 



Psalm 145:14-19

The Lord upholds all who fall
    and lifts up all who are bowed down.
The eyes of all look to you,
    and you give them their food at the proper time.
You open your hand
    and satisfy the desires of every living thing.

The Lord is righteous in all his ways
    and faithful in all he does.
The Lord is near to all who call on him,
    to all who call on him in truth.
He fulfills the desires of those who fear him;
    he hears their cry and saves them. Continue reading

May Your Spirit …

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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living water

photo by Nicolas Ruiz on Unsplash
You invite us to ask for living water,
water that satisfies our thirst.  You are
that living water poured out for us.
We confess that we seek to quench our
thirst in other ways.
We drink deeply, choosing these sweet waters
that turn to fear in our bellies.
We confess that rather than turning to you,
we set out to be brave.
Seeing the fear outside ourselves, we try
to force out fear by casting out others.
Lord help us to drink deeply of your love
remembering it is perfect love that casts
out fear.
Strengthen us to practice love to ourselves,
those close to us, and those we overlook.
Fill us with living water until it
complied by Claudio Carvalhaes, professor of worship in New York City
Jesus replied, “Anyone who drinks this water will soon become thirsty again. 
But those who drink the water I give will never be thirsty again.
It becomes a fresh, bubbling spring within them, giving them eternal life.”

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Shine brightly, star of God

image / Stern von Betlehem / wikimedia commons
Shine brightly,
star of God,
and guide our wandering world
to where a prince of Peace is born.
Where children wish upon a star
or wise men scan the universe in hope
let your bright beams
surround their dreams
and guide their hesitating feet
to where a miracle is born.
Enable each of us
to make a New Year’s journey
leaving behind the prejudices and fears
of yester-year,
embracing a fresh openness
by which we welcome all world pilgrims
whose journeys end in worship and humility.
Be a sign today
of mercy and of love
like a rainbow in spring
or the bright summer sun,
and show us how our lives
can include the forgotten and forlorn,
    the grieving and the hurt.
And we will offer
to our God
now seen and touched in straw-filled bad 
the best gifts in the world:
our joy, our grief, our life.
David Jenkins, minister in the United Reformed Church UK
When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy.

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waiting for us

Photo by Jack Bassingthwaighte on Unsplash
Silent Word, Creative Act, Hidden Truth, Revealed Love:
We wait for you.
To be precise, we are impatient for you to come and set things right.
We are insecure with our world,
    fearful of crime and disease in the streets,
    and anxious about ourselves.
We refuse your guidance, but we often wish you would act
    according to our plans.
We seldom pause to consider that you are waiting for us;
    for some genuine act of contrition;
    waiting for us to repent and change;
    waiting for us to listen and respond 
         with a burning passion to your truth, your justice, and your mercy.
Furnish us with humble hearts and willing spirits to receive you
    as you come to us through all the experiences of our lives.
Allen P. Happe, 1938-1998, American Congregational Minister
For the grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people.  
It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, 
    and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, 
while we wait for the blessed hope—
the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ

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