All Saints Day prayer

image by geralt via pixabay
 
 
Before you, O God,
    we remember today the ones who went before us.
Not held back by the awesomeness of the task
    they followed you with tenacity and joy.
Full of courage and trust they went to new places,
    ready to stand and suffer with you.
 
Like a cloud of many witnesses
    they stand around us.
 
Before you, O God,
    we remember the saints of our day,
    who do not live by the rigid letter of the law
    but by the wild demands of faith,
    always prepared to give more,
    always ready to be turned inside out,
    knowing that new ways can only be found
    through risk and pain.
 
Like a cloud of many witnesses
    they stand around us.
 
Eternal God,
    we thank you for the witnesses of all times and all places.
May the stories of their lives show us the richness of your grace.
May they inspire us to look deep within our souls.
May they encourage us to take the risk of faith
    and to serve you in new ways.
 
Francis Brienen, United Reformed Church, UK
 
__________________________
 
 
Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, 
    let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, 
and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, 
    looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, 
who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, 
    despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.  
Consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, 
    so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted.

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wise as serpents, innocent as doves

dove surrounded by snake, Lichfield Cathedral, CC BY-NC-SA 2.0
 
Dear Lord, you have sent me into this world to preach your word.
So often the problems of this world seem so complex and intricate
    that your word strikes me as embarrassingly simple.
Many times I feel tongue-tied in the company of people
    who are dealing with the world’s social and economic problems.
But you, O Lord, said, “Be clever as serpents and innocent as doves.”
Let me retain innocence and simplicity in the midst of this complex world.
I realize that I have to be informed,
     that I have to study the many aspects of the problems facing the world,
     and that I have to try to understand as well as possible 
     the dynamics of our contemporary society.
But what really counts in that all this information, knowledge, and insight
    allows me to speak more clearly and unambiguously 
    your truthful word.
Do not allow evil powers to seduce me with the complexities of the world’s problems,
    but give me the strength to think clearly, speak freely, and act boldly in your service.
Give me the courage to show the dove in a world so full of serpents.
 
Henri J.M. Nouwen, 1932 – 1996, Dutch-born Catholic priest and author 
 
__________________________
 
 
Behold, I am sending you out as sheep in the midst of wolves, 
    so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves. 
Beware of men, for they will deliver you over to courts and flog you in their synagogues, 
    and you will be dragged before governors and kings for my sake, 
    to bear witness before them and the Gentiles. 
When they deliver you over, do not be anxious how you are to speak or what you are to say, 
    for what you are to say will be given to you in that hour. 
For it is not you who speak, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you.

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to find our constant inspiration in you

image / picryl
 
Servant Jesus,
    what love you showed to your disciples
        and what humility in your service.
    You are the Life of life, Son of God,
        yet you stooped down
        to take off the grimy sandals
        and to wash their dusty feet.
    With loving care you dried them with the towel
        make them fresh and cool.
    Since you, our Lord and Savior,
        did such lowly service for us,
        ought we not humbly to serve others also?
Lord God,
    it is not easy to walk in your way
        when we seek peace among the nations.
    We find there are many who hate peace
        and prefer to seek the victory in war.
    Even amongst our neighbors and friends
        are those who want to prepare for war.
    I am for peace;
        but when I speak, they are for war.
    In my distress I call to you, O Lord;
    give me the courage and the faith
        to speak for peace.
Spirit of God,
    you call your people to patient endurance
        that we might not fail in time of testing,
        that we might not grow weary in well-doing.
        that we should not abandon our first love.
    Help us to find our constant inspiration in you
        that the lamp may be kept burning
            as we witness by your grace.
 
John Johansen-Berg, 1935- , English Minister
 
_______________________________
 
 
When he had washed their feet and put on his outer garments and resumed his place, he said to them, “Do you understand what I have done to you? You call me Teacher and Lord, and you are right, for so I am. If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have given you an example, that you also should do just as I have done to you.  Truly, truly, I say to you, a servant is not greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him.  If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them.

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God of the high and holy places

Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone
 
God of the high and holy places
where I catch a glimpse of your glory,
above the low levels of life,
above the evil and emptiness which drags me down,
beyond the limits of my senses and imagination,
you lift me up.

In the splendour of a sunset,
in the silence of the stars,
in the grandeur of the mountains,
in the vastness of the sea,
you lift me up.

In the majesty of music,
in the mystery of art,
in the freshness of morning,
in the fragrance of a single flower,
you lift me up.

Awe-inspiring God,
when I am lost in wonder
and lost for words,
receive the homage of my silent worship
but do not let me be content to bear your beauty and be still.
Go with me to the places where I live and work.
Lift the veil of reticence behind which I hide.
Give me the courage to speak of the things which move me,
with simple and unselfconscious delight.
Help me to share my glimpses of glory
until others are drawn to your light.

Rev. Jean Mortimer, Minister in the United Reformed Church, UK
 
______________________________
 
 
The heavens declare the glory of God;
    the skies proclaim the work of his hands.
Day after day they pour forth speech;
    night after night they reveal knowledge.
They have no speech, they use no words;
    no sound is heard from them.
Yet their voice goes out into all the earth,
    their words to the ends of the world.

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salvation confession

 image / Lawrence OP / flickr / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
 
I don’t remember Who – or what – put the question, I don’t know when it was put.  I don’t even remember answering.  But at some moment I did answer Yes to Someone – or Something – and from that hour I was certain that existence is meaningful and that, therefore, my life, in self surrender, had a goal.
 
From that moment I had known what it means “not to look back,” and ” to take no thought of the morrow.” 
 
Led by Ariedne’s thread of my answer through the labyrinth of Life, I came to a time and place where I realized that the Way leads to a triumph which is a catastrophe, and to a catastrophe which as triumph, that the price for committing one’s life would be reproach, and that the only elevation possible to man lies in the depths of humiliation.  After that, the word “courage” lost its meaning, since nothing could be taken from me.
 
As I continued along the Way, I learned, step by step, word by word, that behind every saying in the Gospels stands one man and one man’s experience.  Also behind the prayer that the cup might pass from him and his promise to drink it.  Also  behind each of the words from the Cross.
 
Dag Hammarskjöld, 1905 – 1961, Swedish diplomat, UN Secretary General
 
__________________________
 
 
Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. 
No one comes to the Father except through me.”
 
 

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