salvation confession

 image / Lawrence OP / flickr / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
 
I don’t remember Who – or what – put the question, I don’t know when it was put.  I don’t even remember answering.  But at some moment I did answer Yes to Someone – or Something – and from that hour I was certain that existence is meaningful and that, therefore, my life, in self surrender, had a goal.
 
From that moment I had known what it means “not to look back,” and ” to take no thought of the morrow.” 
 
Led by Ariedne’s thread of my answer through the labyrinth of Life, I came to a time and place where I realized that the Way leads to a triumph which is a catastrophe, and to a catastrophe which as triumph, that the price for committing one’s life would be reproach, and that the only elevation possible to man lies in the depths of humiliation.  After that, the word “courage” lost its meaning, since nothing could be taken from me.
 
As I continued along the Way, I learned, step by step, word by word, that behind every saying in the Gospels stands one man and one man’s experience.  Also behind the prayer that the cup might pass from him and his promise to drink it.  Also  behind each of the words from the Cross.
 
Dag Hammarskjöld, 1905 – 1961, Swedish diplomat, UN Secretary General
 
__________________________
 
 
Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. 
No one comes to the Father except through me.”
 
 

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restoring worship

image / Lawrence OP / Flickr / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
 
O God, be Thou exalted over my possessions.
Nothing of earth’s treasures shall seem dear to me, 
    if only You are glorified in my life.
Be Thou exalted over my friendships.
I am determined that You shall be above all,
    though I must stand deserted and alone in the midst of the earth.
Be Thou exalted above my comforts.
Though it means the loss of bodily comforts 
    and the carrying of heavy crosses,
    I shall keep my vow made this day before You.
Be Thou exalted over my reputation.
Make me ambitious to please You 
    even if as a result I must sink into obscurity
    and my name be forgotten as a dream.
Rise, O Lord, into Your proper place of honor,
    above my ambitions, above my likes and dislikes, 
    above my family, my health and even my life itself.
Let me decrease that You may increase;
    let me sink that You may rise above.
Ride forth upon me as You rode into Jerusalem 
    mounted on the humble little beast, a colt, the foul of a donkey,
    and let me hear the children cry to You, “Hosanna in the highest.”
 
A. W. Tozer, 1897 – 1963,  American pastor, author and spiritual mentor
The Pursuit of God, slightly modernized
 
______________________
 
 
He must become greater and greater, and I must become less and less.
He has come from above and is greater than anyone else. 
We are of the earth, and we speak of earthly things, 
    but he has come from heaven and is greater than anyone else.

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to listen to others

image / Thomas Hawk / flickr
 
Lord Jesus, 
    you were ever ready to listen to those who cried out to you.
You gave us ears to hear:
    help us to hear.
May we listen to all we meet, 
    and to those who come to us in trouble.
Remind us daily that there is a time for silence and a time for speaking,
    and show us when to speak and when to hold our peace.
Never let us miss a cry for help, 
    because we are too busy talking about ourselves.
Make us ready to listen to others, 
    because we listen each day in silence to you,
O Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen
 
Michael Counsell, 1935-2015, retired Anglican priest
 
________________________________
 
 
Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. 
Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, 
    not looking to your own interests 
    but each of you to the interests of the others.
 

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You justify the humble

Publican & Pharisee Icon
Publican & Pharisee Icon / Ted / Flickr / CC BY-SA 2.0
 
Humility once exalted the tax collector,
    who bewailed his sin
    and cried: ‘Be merciful,’
    and was justified.
Let him be our example,
    for we have all fallen into the abyss of evil.
Let us cry to the Savior
    from the bottom of our heart:
  we have sinned, be merciful,
    for you alone love us.
 
Lord, you condemned the Pharisee
    who, boasting of his works,
    justified himself.
You justified the tax collector
    who, humbling himself,
    with sorrowful sighing asked for mercy.
For you reject proud hearts.
    but do not reject contrite hearts.
So in humility we prostrate ourselves
    before you, who suffered for us.
Grant us forgiveness
    and generous mercy.
 
From Orthodox Lent. Holy Week, Easter
 
_______________________
 
 
To some who were confident of their own righteousness and looked down on everyone else, Jesus told this parable: “Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood by himself and prayed: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other people—robbers, evildoers, adulterers—or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.’

“But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, ‘God, have mercy on me, a sinner.’

“I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.”

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to finish my course of service

image / Joshbdork at the English Wikipedia, CC BY-SA 3.0 / Wikimedia Commons
 
I know, O Lord, and do with all humility acknowledge myself 
    an object altogether unworthy of your love;
    but sure I am, you are an object altogether worthy of mine.
I am not good enough to serve you,
    but you have a right to the best service I can pay.
Do then impart to me some of that excellence,
    and that shall supply my own want of worth.
Help me to cease from sin according to your will,
    that I may be capable of doing you service according to my duty.
Enable me so to guard and govern myself,
    so to begin and finish my course that,
    when the race of life is run,
    I may sleep in peace and rest in you.
Be with me to the end, that my sleep may be rest indeed,
    my rest perfect security and that security a blessed eternity.
 
St. Augustine of Hippo, 354-430
 
_____________________
 
 
However, I consider my life worth nothing to me; my only aim is to finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me—the task of testifying to the good news of God’s grace.

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meek in your kingdom

Zechariah / www.LumoProject.com
 
O Lord, Catch us up, like Zechariah,
    in the whirl of your holy history.
We seem to be but particles in the wind;
    but you declare each of us to be a holy person,
    spokes in the great wheel 
        of your covenant-loving of the world.
Let us be meek in your kingdom, but not abject;
    humble, not self-pitiful;
    obedient, not obsequious; 
    servants, not servile;
    childlike, not childish;
yours in love and willingness,
  and then our smallness shall be your greatness indeed.
Amen.
 
Walter Wangerin, Jr., American writer and research professor
 
_____________________________
 
 
In the time of Herod king of Judea there was a priest named Zechariah, who belonged to the priestly division of Abijah; his wife Elizabeth was also a descendant of Aaron. Both of them were righteous in the sight of God, observing all the Lord’s commands and decrees blamelessly. But they were childless because Elizabeth was not able to conceive, and they were both very old.

Once when Zechariah’s division was on duty and he was serving as priest before God, he was chosen by lot, according to the custom of the priesthood, to go into the temple of the Lord and burn incense. And when the time for the burning of incense came, all the assembled worshipers were praying outside.

Then an angel of the Lord appeared to him, standing at the right side of the altar of incense. When Zechariah saw him, he was startled and was gripped with fear. But the angel said to him: “Do not be afraid, Zechariah; your prayer has been heard. Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you are to call him John. He will be a joy and delight to you, and many will rejoice because of his birth, for he will be great in the sight of the Lord. He is never to take wine or other fermented drink, and he will be filled with the Holy Spirit even before he is born.  He will bring back many of the people of Israel to the Lord their God.  And he will go on before the Lord, in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the parents to their children and the disobedient to the wisdom of the righteous—to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.”
 

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to prepare for your coming

Image by StockSnap from Pixabay  
 
Christ our Advent hope,
bare brown trees,
etched dark across a winter sky,
leaves fallen, rustling,
ground hard and cold,
remind us to prepare for your coming;
remind us to prepare for the time
when the soles of your feet will touch the ground,
when you will become one of us
to be one with us.
 
Karen McIlhappa, 1938 – 2002, Scottish minister of the Iona Community
 
________________________
 
 
And it shall be said,
“Build up, build up, prepare the way,
    remove every obstruction from my people’s way.”
For thus says the One who is high and lifted up,
    who inhabits eternity, whose name is Holy:
“I dwell in the high and holy place,
    and also with him who is of a contrite and lowly spirit,
to revive the spirit of the lowly,
    and to revive the heart of the contrite.

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humble thankfulness

image / pxfuel
We thank you Father, for your readiness to hear and to forgive;
    for your great love to us, in spite of our unworthiness;
    for the many blessings we enjoy above our deserving, hoping or asking.
You have been so good to us 
    despite our ingratitude, thoughtlessness, and forgetfulness of you.
For your pity, longsuffering, gentleness and tenderness,
    we bow our heads in humble thankfulness of heart.
We worship you who are infinite love, infinite compassion, infinite power.
Accept our praise and gratitude; through Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior.
Amen.
 
Rev. C.J.N Child, English minister and headmaster
 
____________________
 
 
Oh come, let us sing to the Lord;
    let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation!
Let us come into his presence with thanksgiving;
    let us make a joyful noise to him with songs of praise!
For the Lord is a great God,
    and a great King above all gods.
In his hand are the depths of the earth;
    the heights of the mountains are his also.
The sea is his, for he made it,
    and his hands formed the dry land.

Oh come, let us worship and bow down;
    let us kneel before the Lord, our Maker!
For he is our God,
    and we are the people of his pasture,
    and the sheep of his hand.

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Lead us out of this conflict

image
O God, who has ordained that all men should live
        and work together as brethren,
    remove, we humbly beg you, the spirit of strife
        and commitment to bitterness,
             from those who are now quarreling, 
    so that seeking only what is just and equal
they may go forward in brotherly unity and accord.
 
Lead us out of the night of this conflict and into the day of justice.
 
Give us grace to be instruments
    of the kingdom of love and justice in human affairs,
    and patience in dealing with all the sins and selfishness of men,
        and humility in recognizing our own,
    that we may judge wisely between brothers,
    between nations and peoples,
    and by composing and reducing their differences, 
build ourselves up into a true community of peoples and nations.
 
Reinhold Niebuhr, 1892-1971, American theologian and professor
 
______________________
 
 
The Lord reigns forever;
    he has established his throne for judgment.
He rules the world in righteousness
    and judges the peoples with equity.
The Lord is a refuge for the oppressed,
    a stronghold in times of trouble.
Those who know your name trust in you,
    for you, Lord, have never forsaken those who seek you.

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Pondering the small ways

plumb bob by Wolfgang Sauber / CC BY-SA 3.0
 
We ponder at your greatness.
 
We bless you in your wonders of creation.
 
We magnify you for your miracles of deliverance.
 
We relish the news of your gift of
    newness given us in Jesus of Nazareth.
 
We make our doxology as large as we can,
    in order to match your
    massive presence in the world.
 
But then, in slow times and in lesser venues,
    we know you to be the God of small things;
        one widow and one orphan,
        one touch of healing,
        one lunch turned to much food,
        one small temple for a small people in a small city,
        one small scroll to power the small city.
 
On good days we are among those,
    who do not occupy ourselves
        with things too great and too marvelous.
 
It is enough that short of glory and magnificence,
    you hang in to make small places your venue for governance.
We are grateful for your “tidbits”
         that bespeak life among us.
 
Walter Brueggemann, 1933 -,  American Protestant Old Testament theologian
_____________________________
 
 
Then the word of the Lord came to me, saying, “The hands of Zerubbabel have laid the foundation of this house; his hands shall also complete it. Then you will know that the Lord of hosts has sent me to you. For whoever has despised the day of small things shall rejoice, and shall see the plumb line in the hand of Zerubbabel.

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