to show the likeness of Jesus

Last dinner / Sieger Koder
 
O Lord God,
You have commanded me to believe in Jesus,
    and that I would flee to no other refuge,
                               wash in no other fountain,
                               build on no other foundation,
                               receive from no other fullness,
                               rest in no other relief.
Hi water and blood were not severed in their flow at the cross,
    may they never be separated in my creed and experiences;
May I be equally convinced of the guilt and pollution of my sin,
    feel my need of a prince and savior,
    implore of him repentance as well as forgiveness,
    love holiness, and be pure in heart,
    have the mind of Jesus, and follow in his steps.
Let me not be at my own disposal,
    but rejoice that I am under the care of one
    who is too wise to err,
                   too kind to injure,
                   too tender to crush.
Help me to guide my affections with discretion,
                   to owe no one anything,
                   to be able to give to the one in need,
                   to feel it my duty and pleasure to be merciful and forgiving,
                   to show to the world the likeness of Jesus.
 
 
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I charge you in the presence of God, who gives life to all things, and of Christ Jesus, who in his testimony before Pontius Pilate made the good confession, to keep the commandment unstained and free from reproach until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ, which he will display at the proper time—he who is the blessed and only Sovereign, the King of kings and Lord of lords
 

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this troubled and divided world

Garden of Eden, Metropolitan Museum of Art , Public Domain
 
Look in compassion, O heavenly Father,
    upon this troubled and divided world.
Though we cannot trace your footsteps 
    or understand your working,
    give us grace to trust you with an undoubting faith;
 and when your own time is come,
    reveal, O Lord, that new heaven and new earth
    wherein dwells righteousness,
    where the Prince of Peace rules,
    your Son our Savior Jesus Christ.
 
Charles Vaughan, 1816 – 1897, English scholar and Anglican churchman
 
________________
 
 
For behold, I create new heavens
    and a new earth,
and the former things shall not be remembered
    or come into mind.
But be glad and rejoice forever
    in that which I create;
for behold, I create Jerusalem to be a joy,
    and her people to be a gladness.

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a Deacon’s prayer

image / youtube
 
I thank Thee, Lord, for sparing me to see this morning, the blood running warm in my veins, the activity of my limbs and the use of my tongue.  I thank Thee, Lord, for clothing and for food, and above all, I thank Thee for the gift of your darling Son Jesus, who came all the way from heaven down to this low ground of sorrow, who died upon the cross, that “whosoever believeth upon Him should not perish but have eternal life.”
 
Our Lord, our heavenly Master, we ask Thee to teach us.  Guide us in the way we know not.  Give us more faith and a better understanding and a closer walk to your bleeding side.
 
I have faith to believe you are the same God that was in the days that are past and gone.  You heard Elijah praying in the cleft of the mountain.  You heard Paul and Silas in jail.  You heard the three Hebrew children in the fiery furnace.  I have faith to believe that you have once heard me pray, when I was laying and lugging ’round the gates of hell, no eye to pity me, no arm to save me.  You reached down your long arm of protection, snatched my soul from the midst of eternal burning.  You placed me in the rock and placed a new song in my mouth.  You told me to go, and you would go with me; open my mouth, and you would speak for me.
 
For this cause we call upon you at this hour.  And while we call upon you, we ask you please don’t go back to Glory, neither turn a deaf ear to our call.  But turn down the kindness of a listening ear, catch our moans and our groans, and take them home to the High Heavens.  We please boldly one thing more, if it is your glorious will, I pray Thee.
 
Deacon Washington Banks, Gethsemane Baptist Church, 1973
 
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To you, O Lord, I cry,
    and to the Lord I plead for mercy:
“What profit is there in my death,
    if I go down to the pit?
Will the dust praise you?
    Will it tell of your faithfulness?
Hear, O Lord, and be merciful to me!
    O Lord, be my helper!”

You have turned for me my mourning into dancing;
    you have loosed my sackcloth
    and clothed me with gladness,
 that my glory may sing your praise and not be silent.
    O Lord my God, I will give thanks to you forever!

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you ascended into the heavens

Rabula Gospels / 6th Century Dsmdgold / Wikimedia Commons
 
To complete your seamless robe, 
    and so to complete our faith,
you ascended through the air into the heavens,
    before the very eyes of the apostles.
In this way you showed that you are Lord of all,
    and are the fulfillment of all creation.
Thus from that moment every human and every living creature
    should bow at your name.
And, in the eyes of faith,
    we can see that all creation proclaims your greatness.
 
Bernard of Clairvaux, 1090-1153, French abbot and Cistercian mystic
 
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After saying this, he was taken up into a cloud while they were watching, and they could no longer see him.  As they strained to see him rising into heaven, two white-robed men suddenly stood among them.  “Men of Galilee,” they said, “why are you standing here staring into heaven? Jesus has been taken from you into heaven, but someday he will return from heaven in the same way you saw him go!”

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bless the vaccines

Photo by Daniel Schludi on Unsplash
 
Dear Heavenly Father,

Thank you for the countless ways you show us your love. 
Thank you for sharing your knowledge with us 
    and giving people (those we call brilliant) a spec of your brilliance 
    to create vaccines that ‘help our bodies develop immunity to the virus’. 
We ask you to bless the vaccines to our bodies, 
    for those who are already fully vaccinated 
    and for those who will be getting them. 
We pray we will not be adversely affected – long and short term, 
    and, if it is in our best interests, 
    to only experience mild or no symptoms after receiving the vaccine. 
Thank you for all the volunteers and medical community 
    that are tasked with administering the vaccines. 
We confess our FAITH IS IN YOU and not the vaccine. 
So, we also pray for those who do not feel led to get one, 
    that you would also give them immunity and keep them healthy. 
We trust in You and your Word!

We pray this prayer in the lovely name of Jesus!
Amen!

Paula Cianci, family friend

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Psalm 91:3-6  

Surely he will save you
    from the fowler’s snare
    and from the deadly pestilence.
He will cover you with his feathers,
    and under his wings you will find refuge;
    his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart.
You will not fear the terror of night,
    nor the arrow that flies by day,
nor the pestilence that stalks in the darkness,
    nor the plague that destroys at midday.

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But I confess that you are God

image / Lawrence OP / Flickr / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
 
With all my heart I worship you, O hidden God.
You who hide yourself behind the things of your creation.
My heart submits to you, and so does my mind.
Compared with contemplating you, all else is nothing.
I cannot touch you, taste you, see you.
All senses are cheated of you – except the ear.
Your Son has spoken, and I believe.
Nothing has truth beyond the word I hear.
On the cross your divinity was hidden,
And now on earth you humanity is hidden,
But I acknowledge you and cry to you.
I do not gaze, like Thomas, on your wounds,
But I confess that you are God.
Give me a stronger faith, a surer hope,
And a deeper love for you, my Lord.
You gave us a memorial of your dying
In the living Bread that gives life to men.
As I eat your bread, may you live in me.
And may I always turn to you for strength.
O Christ, who gave your heart for all men,
Cleanse my sin in your blood which was spilt.
A single drop of it would save the world,
Cleansing every man from his foul guilt.
A veil is over your face, I cannot see you.
I cry to you to show me yourself,
To let me see you face to face.
With that vision my soul will be at peace.
 
Thomas Aquinas, 1225 – 1274, Roman Catholic philosopher and theologian
 
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Jesus said to him, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”

Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; but these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.

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increase our hope in your promises

image / pixabay
 
Merciful Lord, the comforter and teacher of your faithful people,
  increase in your church the desires which you have given,
  and confirm the hearts of those who hope in you
  by enabling them to understand the depth of your promises,
    that all your adopted children
    may even now behold, with eyes of faith,
    and patiently wait for,
    the light which as yet you do not openly manifest;
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
 
St. Ambrose, c.339-397, Bishop of Milan
 
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His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature, having escaped the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.

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your Son, born of a virgin

image / pixabay

 

O Holy God of Promise,
    we so often place our trust in the things we can see,
    and touch, and easily believe.
But you did not ask us to believe what is easy,
    you have asked us to believe what is true!
Forgive us, Holy One, when we doubt the ways you work.
Forgive us when we find it hard to believe an ancient story.
Forgive us when we question how you chose to enter the world,
    born as one of us.
Forgive our lack of faith and belief
    in ways which seem so impossible to believe.
Help us to look in faith, open our belief, and set aside our doubts
    that you sent your Son, born of a virgin –
        the one who has come to set us all free.
We offer these prayers in the name of your Son,
Emmanuel, God with us.  
Amen.

Jan Brook, Presbyterian Pastor serving in Kansas
re-worship.blogspot
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In the sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee, to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. The angel went to her and said, “Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.”

Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be. But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary; you have found favor with God. You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over Jacob’s descendants forever; his kingdom will never end.”

“How will this be,” Mary asked the angel, “since I am a virgin?”

The angel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come on you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called[a] the Son of God. Even Elizabeth your relative is going to have a child in her old age, and she who was said to be unable to conceive is in her sixth month. For no word from God will ever fail.”

“I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered. “May your word to me be fulfilled.” Then the angel left her.
 

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