how do I worship in spirit?

image / pixabay
 
O God, what is Spirit?
How do I worship in spirit and in truth?
I am such a solid, earthly creature,
    my feet planted firmly on the ground,
    my life based upon material things.
I like to touch and feel and see before I believe.
I am accustomed to dealing with houses, land, and money,
    with bread, meat and potatoes,
    with objects handled, weighed, and valued
    by my own standards.
I am uncomfortable with what cannot be analyzed
    or dissected or given a market value.
What is Spirit?
 
Yet, O Lord, the very things I handle and see
    lose meaning when they become ends in themselves.
They are all given meaning by the things of the spirit,
    by love and hope and faith.
I know when I come down to it,
    if I have all kinds of earthly goods
         and have not love,
    I have nothing.
I need the mystery beyond the tangible.
I need the things of the spirit
    to give meaning to the material things I prize.
I cannot divide life up,
    you have made it whole.
If I avoid love, diminish hope, deny faith,
    my appreciation of my house and land,
    my meat and potatoes, shrinks,
And I become a little man
     with little aims and little power.
 
Kenneth Phifer
 
————————————
 
 
But the time is coming—indeed it’s here now—
when true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and in truth. 
The Father is looking for those who will worship him that way. 
For God is Spirit, so those who worship him must worship in spirit and in truth.
 

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for those involved with the law

Jesus Before Pilate, James Tissot, Wikipedia Commons
 
Lord Jesus,
    You were in prison, found guilty when you were innocent,
    You were executed as traitor when in fact you were Savior.
To you who died to set all free we pray for:
    All makers of the laws of the land,
         that they do so with reason and compassion.
    All interpreters of the law – judges, lawyers –
        that they be fair, honest and impartial.
    All administrators of the law – prison guards and superintendents – 
        that they be merciful in their firmness.
    All prisoners – that they may know that you are in prison with them,
        in their homes with their loved ones,
        and that in you is their hope.
    Though bound, may they be perfectly free in you and in your service.
 
John B. Coburn, 1914- 2009, Bishop of Massachusetts
 
_____________________________________
 
 
Blessed are those whose help is the God of Jacob,
    whose hope is in the Lord their God.
He is the Maker of heaven and earth,
    the sea, and everything in them—
    he remains faithful forever.
He upholds the cause of the oppressed
    and gives food to the hungry.
The Lord sets prisoners free,
   the Lord gives sight to the blind,
the Lord lifts up those who are bowed down,
    the Lord loves the righteous.

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give us hope to share

image
 
Do not give us rest, Lord
while people are hungry
and we are rich.
As long as justice is a dream
press us on
and do not give us rest.
 
Do not give us peace, Lord,
while people live in fear
and we are safe.
As long as hatred stifles love
stir us up
and no not give us peace.
 
Do not give us comfort, Lord,
while people are desperate
and we are well.
As long as lives are lived in pain
disturb us
and do not give us comfort.
 
But give us hope to share, O Christ,
hope that disturbs and stirs and shakes,
the hope of Job,
the hope of the lame,
a hope of new life
beyond the pain.
Until all find comfort
and peace
and rest,
Christ, give us hope to share.
 
Francis Brienen, United Reformed Church, UK
 
_______________________
 
 
 
Don’t just pretend to love others. Really love them. 
Hate what is wrong. Hold tightly to what is good. 
Love each other with genuine affection, and take delight in honoring each other. 
Never be lazy, but work hard and serve the Lord enthusiastically. 
Rejoice in our confident hope. 
Be patient in trouble, and keep on praying. 
When God’s people are in need, be ready to help them. 
Always be eager to practice hospitality.
 

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give us the light of reconciliation

Chapel Of Reconciliation, Michael McLaughlin Photography, CC BY-SA 4.0, Wikimedia Commons
 
Lord, God our Father, 
through Jesus Christ, your Son, 
in the power of your Holy Spirit, 
    give light to our eyes, that we may see your light, 
    the brightly shining light of reconciliation! 
For this is the greatest sickness, 
    when one cannot see the light, even during the day.
Free us from this sickness, 
    us and all Christians who celebrate Easter either well or poorly,
    the entire human community, both near and far,
    who are again and again being confused and endangered anew!
 
Bless what comes to pass in this church and in other churches 
    and communities that are now still separated from us,
    that it may be a testimony to your name, your kingdom, and your will!
Reign also over all the various concerns of the government authorities,
    administrations, and courts here and all over the world!
Strengthen the teachers in consideration of their high task 
    for the growing generation;
  the people who write newspapers,
    conscious of their grave responsibility for public opinion that they influence;
  the doctors and nurses,
    for genuine attentiveness to the needs of those who are in their care!
Substitute your comfort, your counsel, and your help 
    for all that would accuse the many lonely, poor, sick and confused among us!
And let your mercy be apparent and powerful to all who are here in this house,
    along with their families!
We place ourselves and all that we lack and that the world requires
    in your hands.
 
Our hope is on you.  We trust in you.
You have never let your people be put to shame,
    whenever they earnestly called on you.
What you have begun,
    you will surely finish. Amen.
 
Karl Barth, 1886 – 1968, Swiss Reformed theologian
 
______________________________
 
 
 
From now on, therefore, we regard no one according to the flesh. 
Even though we once regarded Christ according to the flesh, 
    we regard him thus no longer. 
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. 
The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. 
All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself 
    and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; 
  that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, 
    not counting their trespasses against them, 
    and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation.

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bring healing in thy wings

image by Sharon Tate Soberon / flickr / CC BY-ND 2.0

 

Lord Jesus Christ, 
Thou Son of the Most High, Prince of Peace, 
    be born into our world.  
Wherever there is war in this world, 
    wherever there is pain, 
    wherever there is loneliness, 
    wherever there is no hope, 
come, thou long-expected one, 
    with healing in thy wings.
 
Holy Child, 
whom the shepherds and the kings and the dumb beasts adored,
    be born again.  
Wherever there is boredom,
    wherever there is fear of failure,
    wherever there is temptation too strong to resist,
    wherever there is bitterness of heart, 
come, though blessed one,
    with healing in thy wings.
 
Frederick Buechner, 1926 – , American writer and theologian
 
______________________
 
 
Thus says God, the Lord,
    who created the heavens and stretched them out,
    who spread out the earth and what comes from it,
who gives breath to the people on it
    and spirit to those who walk in it:
“I am the Lord; I have called you in righteousness;
    I will take you by the hand and keep you;
I will give you as a covenant for the people,
    a light for the nations,
 to open the eyes that are blind,
to bring out the prisoners from the dungeon,
    from the prison those who sit in darkness.

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Let hope be my hunch, Lord

 Rubem Alves
Lord, I’m so easily weighed down
by my struggles, my burdens
and the harsh realities of daily life…

Sometimes, I think I’ll lose hope in you
    in tomorrow,
    in others,
    and in myself
so I need you to help me trust,
to help me hope
that the peace I imagine,
the peace I pray for,
the peace you promise
is stronger and greater
than any of my problems…
 
Let hope be my hunch, Lord:
    that my future’s not limited
        by my present trials;
    that the troubles of the moment
        won’t have the last word;
    that my burdens are truly
        a prelude to joy…
 
Give me hope
    in the midst of suffering, Lord:
I know that’s the path of your love,
    I know it’s the way to peace…

Help me see, Lord,
how my troubles prepare me today
    for your coming, the advent of peace,
for the gift of your presence,
    the harvest of hope,
        my hunch proved right by your grace…
 
Protect me, Lord, while I’m awake
and watch over me while I asleep
that awake, I might keep watch with you
and asleep, rest in your peace…
Amen.
 
Fr. Austin Fleming, Roman Catholic Priest serving near Boston, MA  
Concord Pastor
 
______________________________
 
 
I wait for the Lord, my whole being waits,
    and in his word I put my hope.

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to you I commit my trust

image / Duccio di Buoninsegna / Public domain / Wikimedia Commons
 
Loving and tender providence of my God,
    into your hands I commend my spirit;
 to you I abandon my hopes and fears,
    my desires and repugnancies,
    my temporal and eternal prospects.
To you I commit the wants of my perishable body;
 to you I commit the more precious interests
    of my immortal soul
    for whose lot I have nothing to fear
    as long as I do not leave your care.
Though my faults are many, 
    my misery great,
    my spiritual poverty extreme,
        my hope in you surpasses all.
It is superior to my weakness,
    greater than my difficulties
    stronger than death.
Though temptations should assail me,
    I will hope in you;
 though I break my resolutions,
    I will look to you confidently
        for grace to keep them at last.
Though you should ask me to die,
    even then I will trust in you,
    for you are my Father, my God,
    the support of my salvation.
You are my kind, compassionate and indulgent parent,
    and I am your devoted son,
    who casts myself into your arms and begs your blessing.
I put my trust in you,
    and so trusting, shall not be confounded. Amen.
 
St. Claude de la Colombière, 1641-1682, French Jesuit priest and ascetic
_________________________
 
 
When I am afraid, I put my trust in you.
    In God, whose word I praise—
in God I trust and am not afraid.
    What can mere mortals do to me?

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in contact with the Spirit

image / Hans / Pixabay
 
Lord, I see what the Holy Spirit is like
  as I gather the garbage to burn in the fire.
I try to keep the fire burning continually;
  nevertheless there are times when it seems
  that the fire has gone out completely,
  but I know that underneath, a few embers continue to burn.
I think humanity is like the garbage and the Holy Spirit is like the fire.
Just as I gather the garbage to burn in the fire
  so may your church gather together humanity
  and put it in contact with the Spirit
  to purify it until it is no longer garbage.
May the church never lose hope,
  even when the fire cannot be seen
  and the garbage is plentiful.
May we be convinced that the fire continues to burn below
  and that it will never go out.

after words shared by a Garbage man in South America
A Procession of Prayers, edited by John Carden
 
_____________________________
 
 
John answered their questions by saying, 
“I baptize you with water; but someone is coming soon who is greater than I am—so much greater that I’m not even worthy to be his slave and untie the straps of his sandals. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire.”

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to see the human predicament

Jesus and the poor / 1857 / Library of Congress / public domain
 
O God, our Father,
the fountain of love, power and justice,
the God who cares, 
    particularly for the least,
    the most suffering and the poorest among us.
O God, Lord of creation, grant us today your guidance and wisdom
    so that we may see the human predicament for what it is.
Give us courage and obedience 
    so that we may follow you completely.
Help us, Lord, to bear witness to the cross of your Son,
    our Lord Jesus Christ, who alone is the reason for hope,
    and in whose name we pray. Amen.
 
Koson Srisang, Thailand
 
_____________________________
 
 
This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters. If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person?  Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.

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preparing to be bearers of reconciliation

image / Nick Thompson / Flickr / CC BY-NC-SA 2.0
 
 
O Risen Christ,
    you breathe your Holy Spirit upon us
    like a gentle breeze
    and tell us: ” Peace be yours.”
Opening ourselves to your peace,
    letting it penetrate the harsh and rocky ground
        of our hearts,
    means preparing ourselves to be bearers 
    of reconciliation wherever you may place us.
But you know that at times we are at a loss.
So come and lead us to wait in silence,
    to let a ray of hope shine through in our world.
 
Brother Roger, 1915 – 2005, Swiss monastic, founded the Taizé Community
 
_______________________
 
 
On the evening of that first day of the week, when the disciples were together, with the doors locked for fear of the Jewish leaders, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!”  After he said this, he showed them his hands and side. The disciples were overjoyed when they saw the Lord.

Again Jesus said, “Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.”  And with that he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit.  If you forgive anyone’s sins, their sins are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.”

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