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
 
_____________________________
 
 
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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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
 
_______________________
 
 
 
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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December Solstice

 photo by Michael Niessl on Unsplash  
 
it is solstice night
it is the death of darkness

for an age
light has been slipping away
but now
no further

it shall return

and in the hearing of the darkness
the light says:
arise
shine
for your light has come

the promise frees itself from the frost
and long nights

there is an awakening
and in the hearing of the darkness
the light says:
the people who have walked in darkness
have seen a great light

the day now
shrunken yet
is filled with hope
and begins to stretch
pushing at the edges of darkness
scraping it away
with hope of new life

and in the hearing of the darkness
the light says:
for unto you a child is born
unto you a son is given

this is a darkness greater than any night
and the light more than the day

right in the heart of the deeper, human darkness
a manger is ready
as the age of brightness returns

the advent promise
has found a place
to chase the darkness
and make room for the light
 
Roddy Hamilton, Scottish Pastor
 
________________
 
 
In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. 
The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.

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prayer at the shortest day

Photo by Kristopher Roller on Unsplash  
 
From the rising of the midwinter sun to its setting.
    scatter the darkness with the light of your love, O shining One.
Make me short on mean thoughts,
    long on offering words of comfort.
Make me short on being driven,
    long on paying attention.
Make me short on focusing only on my own,
    long on looking beyond.
Make me short on obsessive lists,
    long on spontaneous acts of kindness.
Make me short on mindless activity,
    long on time to reflect.
Make me short on tradition as habit,
    long on re-discovery and re-owning.
Make me short on rushing and tiring,
    long on walking and wondering.
Make me short on false festive jollity,
    long on stilling and rooted joy.
Make me short on guilt,
    long on being merciful to myself.
Make me short on being overwhelmed,
    long on peaceableness as I set forth this day.
 
Tess Ward, Retreat leader and writing in the UK
 
_________________________
 
 
But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; 
    then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, 
    full of mercy and good fruit, 
    impartial and sincere. 
Peacemakers who sow in peace reap a harvest of righteousness.

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Come, Lord Jesus

Photo by Tim Umphreys on Unsplash  
 
Lord Jesus,
Master of both the light and the darkness,
    send Your Holy Spirit upon our preparations for Christmas.
We who have so much to do seek quiet spaces to hear
    Your voice each day.
We who are anxious over many things look forward to
    Your coming among us.
We who are blessed in so many ways long for
    the complete joy of Your kingdom.
We whose hearts are heavy seek
    the joy of Your presence.
We are Your people, walking in darkness,
    yet seeking the light.
To You we say, ‘Come Lord Jesus!”
Amen
 
Joel Mason
 
__________________________
 
 
He who testifies to these things says, 
    “Surely I am coming soon.” 
Amen. Come, Lord Jesus!
 

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enlighten the blindness of our minds

Photo by Emma on Unsplash  
 
You who send forth the light, 
    create the morning, 
    and make the sun rise on the good and the evil,
enlighten the blindness of our minds 
    with the knowledge of the truth:
Lift up the light of your countenance upon us,
    that in your light we may see light,
    and, at the end, be in the light of grace
    and in the light of glory.
 
Lancelot Andrewes, 1555-1626, English bishop, oversaw the KJV translation
 
_______________________
 
 
Arise, shine, for your light has come,
    and the glory of the Lord rises upon you.
See, darkness covers the earth
    and thick darkness is over the peoples,
but the Lord rises upon you
    and his glory appears over you.
Nations will come to your light,
    and kings to the brightness of your dawn.
 

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Teach us how to pray

LYNN Ministries
O Savior of the world, teach us how to pray for those who are lost
    in desolations of darkness
    without knowledge of the mercy that is yourself.
We remember the innocent victims of war 
    and all the agony they suffer,
    those who are greatly afraid, 
    those who have been overwhelmed by torment of mind or body.
Save us from the cowardice that would turn us away 
    from the thought of these things,
    from the indifference that would pass them by.
Give us penitence for the evil in ourselves 
    which has added to the darkness of the world,
    and if there be any small thing we can do to lighten any misery,
    show us what it is and help us to do it.
Teach us how to pray with the compassion that is not afraid to suffer
    with those who suffer 
        and if need be, 
        to enter darkness with them.
O Everlasting Mercy, who once in time came from the height of heaven
    down to the depth of our need,
    come again in power to forgive us and renew us and set us on fire,
    that through the labors and prayers of broken-hearted sinners
    your mercy may banish the darkness and bring new life upon the earth.
 
Elizabeth Goudge, 1900-1984, English novelist
 
__________________________
 
 
When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, 
    because they were harassed and helpless, 
    like sheep without a shepherd. 
Then he said to his disciples, 
    “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; 
      therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest 
      to send out laborers into his harvest.”
 

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the pursuit of Wisdom

You are wisdom, uncreated and eternal,
    the supreme first cause, above all being,
    sovereign Godhead, sovereign goodness,
    watching unseen the God-inspired wisdom of Christian people.
Raise us, we pray, that we may totally respond
    to the supreme, unknown, ultimate, and splendid height
    of your words, mysterious and inspired.
There all God’s secret matters lie covered and hidden
    under darkness both profound and brilliant, silent and wise.
You make what is ultimate and beyond brightness
    secretly to shine in all that is most dark.
In your way, ever unseen and intangible,
    you fill to the full with most beautiful splendor
    those souls who close their eyes that they may see.
And I, please, with love that goes on beyond mind
    to all that is beyond mind,
    seek to gain such for myself through this prayer.
 
St. Denis prayer, from The Cloud of Unknowing, 14th century
 
______________________________
 
 
My goal is that they may be encouraged in heart and united in love, 
    so that they may have the full riches of complete understanding, 
    in order that they may know the mystery of God, namely, Christ, 
    in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.
 

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