to wage peace instead of war

image / Scott Akerman / CC by 2.0
 
Dear Lord, awaken the people of the earth and their leaders 
    to the realization of the madness of the nuclear arms race.  
Today we mourn the dead of past wars, 
    but will there be anyone to mourn the dead of the next one?  
O Lord, turn us away from our foolish race to self-destruction; 
    let us see that more and more weaponry indeed 
    means more of a chance to use it.  
Please, Lord, let the great talents you have given to your creatures 
    not fall into the hands of the powers and principalities 
    for whom death is the means as well as the goal.  
Let us see that the resources hidden in your earth 
    are for feeding each other, healing each other, offering shelter to each other, 
    making this world a place where men, women, and children of all races 
    and nations can live together in peace.
 
Give us new prophets who can speak 
    openly, directly, convincingly, and lovingly 
    to kings, presidents, senators, church leaders, 
    and all men and women of good will, 
  prophets who can make us wage peace instead of war.    
Lord, make haste to help us.  
Do not come too late!
 
Henri J.M. Nouwen, 1932 – 1996, Dutch-born Catholic priest and author 
 
_________________________
 
 
He shall judge between the nations,
    and shall decide disputes for many peoples;
and they shall beat their swords into plowshares,
    and their spears into pruning hooks;
nation shall not lift up sword against nation,
    neither shall they learn war anymore.

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We seem to give back the dead to you . . .

image / jplenio / pixabay
 
We seem to give back the dead to you, Lord, 
    who gave them to us.
But as you did not lose them in giving, 
    so do we not lose them by their return.
Not as the world gives do you give, O lover of souls.
What you give you do not take away,
    for what is yours is ours if we are yours.
And life is eternal and love is immortal,
    and death is only a horizon, and a horizon is nothing,
    save the limit of our sight.
Lift us up, strong Son of God,
    that we may see further;
    cleanse our eyes that we may see more clearly;
    draw us closer to yourself, that we may know ourselves
    to be nearer to our loved ones who are with you.
And while you prepare a place for us,
    prepare us also for that happy place,
    that where you are we may be also,
    for ever, and ever. Amen.
 
Rossiter W. Raymond, 1840-1918, American mining engineer, scholar and writer
 
_______________________
 
 
Do not let your hearts be troubled. 
You believe in God; believe also in me. 
My Father’s house has many rooms; 
    if that were not so, 
    would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? 
 And if I go and prepare a place for you, 
    I will come back and take you to be with me 
    that you also may be where I am. 

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Eye of God, look not away

Photo by Timothy Eberly on Unsplash
 
All-Seeing One,
above me, around me, within me,
Be my seeing as I read these sacred words.
Look down upon me
Look out from within me
Look all around me
See through my eyes
Hear through my ears
Feel through my heart
Touch me where I need to be touched;
    and when my heart is touched,
    give me the grace to lay down this Holy Book
    and ask significant questions:
Why has my heart been touched?
How am I to be changed through this touch?
All-Seeing One,
I need to change
I need to look a little more like You
May these sacred words change and transform me.
Then I can meet You face to face
    without dying
    because I’ve finally died enough.
To die is to be healed a little more each death,
    until that final death
    when I’ll be healed forever.
It will be a healing that will last.
Your Words are healing
    although they bring about my death.
 
Macrina Wiederkehr, 1939-2020, Benedictine sister and spiritual director
 
_____________________________
 
 
For the word of God is alive and active.
Sharper than any double-edged sword,
    it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow;
    it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.
Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight.
Everything is uncovered and laid bare
    before the eyes of him to whom we must give account.
 

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sharing in your death

imageMikhail Nesterov Public domain / Wikimedia Commons
 
My Lord and God, I know that I cannot share in your resurrection 
    without also sharing in your death.  
Strengthen me to take up my cross and deny myself daily; 
    that I may crucify the drives within me that lure me away from loving you 
        and loving my neighbor as I ought.  
Silence the voices within me calling me 
    to self-indulgence, to self-service, and to self-advancement, 
 and let me hear only the voice of your Spirit 
    leading me into the ways of love, peace, and obedience.
 
I belong to you, Lord Jesus, 
    for you bought me at the price of your own blood.
Help me to live the rest of my life in this body for you,
    and not for my own desires or pleasures.
Make me a new creature who does your will.
 
David A. de Silva, Methodist professor
 
_____________________
 
 
Then he said to the crowd, “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must give up your own way, take up your cross daily, and follow me. If you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for my sake, you will save it.

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O wondrous power of the cross!

Bonnat Crucifixion Detailsdalry / Flickr / CC BY-NC 2.0
 
O wondrous power of the cross!
O unspeakable glory of the passion 
    which became the Lord’s tribunal, the world’s judgment, 
    and the power of the Crucified!
From Your cross You draw all things to Yourself, O Lord!
When You stretched out Your hands to an unbelieving people that mocked You,
    the whole world was finally brought to confess Your majesty. . . .
In this way type gave way to truth, prophecy to revelation,
    the ancient law to the gospel.
You drew all things to Yourself, Lord, 
    so that what previously was performed 
         in the one temple of the Jews in mystic signs
    is now celebrated everywhere by holy men
         in every country in revealing rites. . . .
Your cross is the font of all blessings, the source of all graces,
    and through it the believers receive strength in return for weakness,
    glory in return for shame, life in return for death.
 
Pope Leo the Great, c.400-461, influenced the Chalcedonian Creed and Attila the Hun
 
________________________
 
 
 
So he delivered him over to them to be crucified.  So they took Jesus, and he went out, bearing his own cross, to the place called The Place of a Skull, which in Aramaic is called Golgotha. There they crucified him, and with him two others, one on either side, and Jesus between them. Pilate also wrote an inscription and put it on the cross. It read, “Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews.”

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Sometimes I choose sin

Photo by Nick Gavrilov on Unsplash
 
Father – the truth about me is that often I choose sin:
    Sometimes I choose hatred.  Sometimes I choose slander.
    Sometimes I choose envy.  Sometimes I choose greed.
    Sometimes I choose pettiness.  Sometimes I choose lust.
    Sometimes I choose gossip.  Sometimes I choose pride.
    Sometimes I choose self-reliance.
    Sometimes I choose self-righteousness.
    Sometimes I choose self-aggrandizement.
    Sometimes I choose dishonesty.
    Sometimes I choose unkind words.
    Sometimes I choose to ignore the obvious needs around me.
    Sometimes I choose to hoard my resources.
    Sometimes I choose to neglect Your command to share the gospel.
The list of things I wrongly choose could go on and on.  And sometimes
I act on these things in ways that are darker than I ever care to state.
Each time I make such a choice, I choose death.
Today, I ask that You breathe life into my soul afresh
    and enable me to choose life – to choose You and Your ways.
 
Kurt Bjorklund, 1968- , American Minister and author or
 
____________________
 
 
For the wages of sin is death, 
    but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

to celebrate Christ’s victory

image / GDJ / Pixabay
 
Thanks be to God, the almighty, 
    the king of the universe, for all his mercies, 
and heartfelt thanks to the Savior and Redeemer of our souls, 
    Jesus Christ, through whom we pray 
that his peace may keep us stable and unshaken
    from troubles outside and troubles within the heart.
Let me obediently sing aloud the new song, 
    because after those terrifying dark sights and stories
    I was now privileged to see and celebrate such things
    that many righteous men and martyrs of God before us
    desired to see on earth and did not see,
        and to hear and did not hear.
But they attained far better things in heaven; whereas I, 
    acknowledging that even my present lot is better than I deserve,
    have been more than amazed at the bountiful grace of its author,
    and am duly filled with wonder,
    worshipping him with my soul’s full strength.
 
Eusebius of Caesarea, c. 260- c.340, Christian historian and bishop
2000 Years of Prayer freely modified
 
_________________________
 
 
And I heard a loud voice in heaven, saying, “Now the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God and the authority of his Christ have come, for the accuser of our brothers has been thrown down, who accuses them day and night before our God. And they have conquered him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, for they loved not their lives even unto death. Therefore, rejoice, O heavens and you who dwell in them! But woe to you, O earth and sea, for the devil has come down to you in great wrath, because he knows that his time is short!”

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That face, Lord, haunts me

George Floyd / Wikimedia Commons

That face, Lord, has haunted me all evening.
It is a living reproach,
A prolonged cry that reaches me in my quietude.
 
That face is alive, Lord, yet men’s sins have struck it;
He was defenceless and exposed to their blows.
 
They came from all over;
Destitution came,
The shanty,
The dilapidated bed,
The foul air,
Smoke,
Alcohol, 
Hunger,
The hospital,
The sanatorium.
 
Work – crushing, humiliating,
Unemployment,
The depression, 
War.
 
Frenzied dances,
Revolting songs,
Demoralizing films,
Languorous music,
Unclean and deceitful kisses.
 
The struggle to live,
Rebellion,
Brawls,
Cries,
Blows,
Hate.
 
They came from everywhere,
Men with their horrid selfishness, their dreadful faces,
    their great dirty fingers,
    their broken nails,
    their fetid breath.
They hastened here from the ends of the earth,
    from the bounds of time.
And slowly, one after another,
Or suddenly, all together, like brutes,
They struck,
    whipped
    lashed,
    wrought,
    moulded,
    hammered,
    engraved,
    sculptured.
And here at last is this face, this poor face;
It took forty six years to fashion it,
It took hundreds of centuries to produce it.
Ecce homo : behold the man.
 
Here is this poor face of a man, like an open book,
The book of the miseries and sins on men;
    the book of
        selfishness,
        conceit,
        cowardice;
    the book of
        greed,
        lust,
        abdications,
        compromises.
 
Here it is like a mournful protest,
    like a cry of revolt,
    but also like a heart-rending call,
For behind this ridiculous, grimacing face,
Behind those uneasy eyes,
Is a light
A flame,
A tragic supplication,
The infinite desire of a soul to live above its mud.
 
Lord, that face haunts me, it frightens me, it condemns me;
For with everyone else, I have made it, or allowed it to be made!
And I realize, Lord, that this man is my brother, and yours.
 
What have we done with a member of your family?
 
I fear your judgement, Lord.
It seems to me that at the end of time all the faces of my brothers,
    and especially those of my town, my district, my work, 
    will be lined up before me,
And in your merciless light I shall recognize in these faces
    the lines that I have cut,
    the mouth that I have twisted,
    the eyes that I have darkened,
    the neck that I have crushed,
    and those whose light I have extinguished.
They will come, those that I have known
    and those that I have not known,
    those of my time and all those that have followed,
    fashioned by the workshop of the world.
And I shall stand still, terrified, silent.
It is then, O Lord, that you will say to me
     . . . it was I . . .

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