Labor for one another

Photo by Caleb Gregory on Unsplash
 
Grant, Almighty God,
    as You invite us so kindly and graciously to Yourself,
  that we may not be resistant,
    but with every evil affection subdued,
    offer ourselves to Your service.
 
  And since You require nothing else from us
    but to observe what is right toward one another,
O grant that we may be mindful of the brotherhood 
    that Your only begotten Son by His own blood has consecrated,
    and call on You as our father,
    and prove by our whole conduct that we are Your children.
 
And may every one of us so labor for one another that,
    being united in heart and affection,
    we may with one sentiment aspire towards that blessed life,
    where we shall enjoy the inheritance 
    that has been prepared and obtained by the blood of Your son,
    and through Him prepared for us in heaven. Amen.
 
John Calvin, 1509-1564, Swiss Reformer
Lifting Up Our Hearts, freely modified
 
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This is what the Lord Almighty says: “Just as I had determined to bring disaster on you and showed no pity when your ancestors angered me,” says the Lord Almighty, “so now I have determined to do good again to Jerusalem and Judah. Do not be afraid. These are the things you are to do: Speak the truth to each other, and render true and sound judgment in your courts; do not plot evil against each other, and do not love to swear falsely. I hate all this,” declares the Lord.

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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
 
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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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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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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
 
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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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seasons of your presence

Photo by Derek Thomson on Unsplash  
O my God,
let me never forget that seasons of consolation are refreshments here, 
    and nothing more; not our abiding state. 
They will not remain with us except in heaven. 
Here they are only intended to prepare us for doing and suffering. 
I pray Thee, O my God, to give them to me from time to time. 
Shed over me the sweetness of Thy Presence, lest I faint by the way; 
    lest I go about my daily work in a dry spirit, 
    or am tempted to take pleasure in it for its own sake, and not for Thee. 
Give me Thy Divine consolations from time to time; 
    but let me not rest in them. 
Let me use them for the purpose for which Thou givest them. 
Let me not think it grievous, let me not be downcast, if they go. 
Let them carry me forward to the thought and the desire of heaven.
 
John Henry Newman, 1801-1890, English Catholic priest, theologian & poet
 
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He gives power to the faint,
    and to him who has no might he increases strength.
Even youths shall faint and be weary,
    and young men shall fall exhausted;
but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength;
    they shall mount up with wings like eagles;
they shall run and not be weary;
    they shall walk and not faint.
 

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