Make me always busy in your service

Les femmes saintes, James Tissot, via Wikimedia Commons
 
Lord, I make you a present of myself.
    I do not know what to do with myself.
So let me make this exchange:
    I will place myself entirely in your hands,
    if you will cover my ugliness with your beauty,
    and tame my unruliness with your love.
Put out the flames of false passion in my heart,
    since these flames destroy all that is true within me.
Make me always busy in your service.
Lord, I want no special signs from you,
    nor am I looking for intense emotions in response to your love.
I would rather be free of all emotion,
    than to run the danger of falling victim once again to false passion.
Let my love for you be naked, without any emotional clothing.

St Catherine of Genoa, 1447-1510, Italian Catholic mystic
 
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Soon afterward Jesus began a tour of the nearby towns and villages, 
preaching and announcing the Good News about the Kingdom of God. 
He took his twelve disciples with him, 
along with some women who had been cured of evil spirits and diseases. 
Among them were Mary Magdalene, from whom he had cast out seven demons; 
Joanna, the wife of Chuza, Herod’s business manager; Susanna; and many others 
who were contributing from their own resources to support Jesus and his disciples.

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ever looking for Christ’s return

image, Donatas Dabravolskas, CC BY-SA 4.0 via Wikimedia Commons
 
O SON OF GOD AND SON OF MAN,
You were incarnate, suffered, rose, and ascended for my sake;
Your departure was not a token separation
     but a pledge of return.
Your Word, promises, and sacraments proclaim your death
    until you come again.
That day is no horror for me,
    for your death has redeemed me,
        your Spirit fills me,
        your love animates me,
        your Word governs me.
I have trusted you and you have not betrayed my trust;
     I have waited for you, and have not waited in vain.
You will come to raise my body from the dust,
    and re-unite it to my soul,
    by a wonderful work of infinite power and love,
    greater than that which bounds the ocean’s waters,
        ebbs and flows of the tides,
        keeps the stars in their courses,
        and gives life to all creatures.
This corruptible shall put on incorruption,
    this mortal, immortality,
    this natural body, a spiritual body,
    this dishonored body, a glorious body,
    this weak body, a body of power.
I triumph now in your promises,
    as I shall when they are performed,
    for the head cannot live if the members are dead;
Beyond the grave is resurrection, judgment, acquittal, dominion.
Every event and circumstance of my life will be dealt with – 
    the sins of my youth, my secret sins,
    the sins of abusing you, of disobeying your Word,
    the sins of neglecting minister’s admonitions,
    the sins of violating my conscience – 
        all will be judged;
And after judgment, peace and rest, life and service,
    employment and enjoyment, for your elect.
O God, keep me in this faith, and ever looking for Christ’s return.
 
 
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And just as it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment, 
    so Christ, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, 
    will appear a second time, not to deal with sin 
    but to save those who are eagerly waiting for him.

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to ascend with Jesus

L’Ascension / Gustave Doré 
 
Lord, why should I doubt any more,
    when you have given me such assured pledges of your love?
First, you are my Creator, I am your creature,
   you are my Master, I your servant.
But hence arises not my comfort: you are my Father, I am your child.
   “You shall be my sons and daughters,” says the Lord Almighty.
Christ is my brother:
    “I ascend to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God,
     but, lest this should not be enough,
     your maker is your husband.”
Nay, more, I am a member of his body, he my head.
Such privileges – had not the Word of truth made them known,
   who or where is the man that dared 
   in his heart have presumed to have thought it!
So wonderful are these thoughts 
    that my spirit fails in me that their consideration, 
    and I am confounded to think that God,
    who has done so much for me,
    should have so little from me.
But this is my comfort, that when I come to heaven,
    I shall understand perfectly what he has done for me,
    and that I shall be able to praise him as I ought.
Lord, having this hope, let me purify myself as you are pure,
    and let me be no more afraid of death,
    but even desire to be dissolved and be with you,
    which is best of all.
 
Anne Bradstreet, c. 1612-1672, New England poet and Puritan
 
_________________________
 
 
For now we see in a mirror dimly,    
    but then face to face. 
Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, 
    even as I have been fully known.

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let me reflect your love

image / James Tissot / Wikimedia Commons
 
Thank you, dear Lord, for your love and care for me
    evidenced in so many ways.
Thank you for pardoning the sins I have committed this day;
    thank you for the opportunities to show love well used this day;
    thank you also for sins avoided on account  of your guidance and restraint.
Let it be my single ambition, my God, to honor you 
    in every thought, word, and deed;
    and make me bold to invite all people around me to honor and love you as well.
Your love toward me is so patient, so tender, 
    even when I provoke you with my disobedience.
Give me such an appreciation of your love for me
    that I show the same patient and tender love to my neighbor,
    especially when he or she opposed me.
Sit us within me a zeal to do all in my power,
    whether in prayer or deed, 
    to promote the safety and happiness of my neighbor;
    make me active to comfort and relieve all those whom you entrust to my care
    by bringing me into contact with them.
Lord, help me to be peaceful rather than argumentative;
    help me to be quick to forget an injury and be reconciled to my neighbor,
    mindful of how many times you have forgiven my provocations.
After your own example, make me glad to give good in return for evil,
    and thus share in the triumph of your love.
In all my dealings with my fellow human beings,
    let me reflect your love, your generous spirit,
    your desire to do good both to the just and the unjust.
You have so valued each person that you sent your Son for each and every one.
Implant, therefore, such a compassion in my heart for people.
    that I will eagerly seek out how I may win them to your love.
 
David A. de Silva, Methodist professor
 
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We know how much God loves us, and we have put our trust in his love.
God is love, and all who live in love live in God, and God lives in them.

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as we follow you down the Road to Calvary

Old Jerusalem Ramparts / Utilisateur:Djampa, CC BY-SA 4.0 / Wikimedia Commons
 
O Christ, as we walk through the land that you loved,
    in the country where you lived and taught,
    grant us the grace and wisdom to see clearly
          and understand deeply
    that all you suffered was for the sake of redeeming humanity.
Through your life, death, and resurrection,
    you have made it possible for us to have life,
    and have it more abundantly.

O Christ, as we follow you down the Road to Calvary,
   Guide us to become active participants, not curious bystanders.
O Christ, as we stand with the mourners at the Cross,
   Give us the love that can forgive those who trespass against us.
O Christ, as we witness the new life given to us
        through your Resurrection,
   Empower us with faith to act and spread the Good News.

Palestinian women of Jerusalem 
Prayers Encircling the World

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Luke 23:26-27

As the soldiers led him away, they seized Simon from Cyrene, 
    who was on his way in from the country, 
    and put the cross on him and made him carry it behind Jesus. 
A large number of people followed him, 
    including women who mourned and wailed for him.

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Come, Lord, enter my heart

image / pixabay / public domain
 
Come, Lord, enter my heart,
    you who are crucified, who have died, who love,
    who are faithful, truthful, patient, and humble,
    you who have taken upon yourself a slow and toilsome life
    in a single corner of the world,
    denied by those who are your friends,
    betrayed by them, subjected to the law,
    made the plaything of politics right from the very first,
    a refugee child, a carpenter’s son, a creature who found
    only barrenness and futility as a result of his labors,
    a man who loved and who found no love in response,
    you who were too exalted for those about you to understand,
    you who were left desolate,
    who were brought to the point of feeling yourself forsaken by God,
    you who sacrificed all,
    who commend yourself into the hands of your Father,
    you who cry, “My God, my Father, why have you forsaken me?”
 
I will receive you as you are,
    make you the innermost law of my life,
    take you as at once the burden and the strength of my life.
 
When I receive you I accept my everyday just as it is.
I do not need to have any lofty feelings in my heart to recount to you.
I can lay my everyday before you just as it is,
    for I receive it from you yourself,
    the everyday and its inward light,
    the everyday and its meaning,
    the everyday and the power to endure it,
    the sheer familiarity of it,
    which becomes the dimmedness of your eternal life.
 
Karl Rahner, 1904 – 1984, German Jesuit theologian
 
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And this is eternal life, 
    that they know you the only true God, 
    and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.

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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
 
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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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O Jesus, crucified, have mercy upon me

image / Luca Giarelli, CC BY-SA 4.0 / Wikimedia Commons
 
O Jesus, poor and abject, unknown and despised,
    have mercy upon me, and let me not be ashamed to follow thee.
O Jesus, hated, calumniated, and persecuted,
    have mercy upon me, and make me content to be as my master.
O Jesus, blasphemed, accused, and wrongfully condemned,
    have mercy upon me, and teach me to endure the contradiction of sinners.
O Jesus, clothed with a habit of reproach and shame,
    have mercy upon me, and let me not seek my own glory.
O Jesus, insulted mocked, and spit upon,
    have mercy upon me, and let me not faint in the fiery trial.
O Jesus, crowned with thorns and hailed in derision;
O Jesus, burdened with our sins and the curses of the people;
O Jesus, affronted, outraged, buffeted,
    overwhelmed with injuries, griefs and humiliations;
O Jesus, hanging on the accursed tree, bowing the head, giving up the ghost,
    have mercy upon me,
    and conform my whole soul to thy holy, humble, suffering Spirit.
 
John Wesley, 1703-1791, English churchman and founder of Methodism
 
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It was now about the sixth hour,
    and there was darkness over the whole land until the ninth hour, 
    while the sun’s light failed. 
And the curtain of the temple was torn in two.
Then Jesus, calling out with a loud voice, said,
    “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit!” 
And having said this he breathed his last.

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Be Thou My Vision

image / Donatas Dabravolskas / CC BY-SA 4.0 / Wikimedia Commons
 
Be Thou my Vision, O Lord of my heart;
Naught be all else to me, save that Thou art.
Thou my best Thought, by day or by night,
Waking or sleeping, Thy presence my light.

Be Thou my Wisdom, and Thou my true Word;
I ever with Thee and Thou with me, Lord;
Thou my great Father, I Thy true son;
Thou in me dwelling, and I with Thee one.

Be Thou my battle Shield, Sword for the fight;
Be Thou my Dignity, Thou my Delight;
Thou my soul’s Shelter, Thou my high Tower:
Raise Thou me heavenward, O Power of my power.

Riches I heed not, nor man’s empty praise,
Thou mine Inheritance, now and always:
Thou and Thou only, first in my heart,
High King of Heaven, my Treasure Thou art.

High King of Heaven, my victory won,
May I reach Heaven’s joys, O bright Heav’n’s Sun!
Heart of my own heart, whatever befall,
Still be my Vision, O Ruler of all.
 
Dallán Forgaillc. 560 – 640,  translated by Eleanor Hull 1912
 
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I saw in the night visions,
and behold, with the clouds of heaven
    there came one like a son of man,
and he came to the Ancient of Days
    and was presented before him.
And to him was given dominion
    and glory and a kingdom,
that all peoples, nations, and languages
    should serve him;
his dominion is an everlasting dominion,
    which shall not pass away,
and his kingdom one
    that shall not be destroyed.

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the birth

image
 
When waves of pain contort Mary’s body
her face is cramped and pale
Her eyes scuttle apart like crabs
The waves pull, recede again
 
and attack more violently
She clings to the wagon wheel,
grits her teeth, and her screams
terrify the beasts in the stable
 
Joseph, pacing nervously,
stumbles and falls
At last, seated, he strokes her back,
grasps her hand; his strength flows into her
 
Then a tremendous power moves within Mary
Like the sun emerging from a mountain ravine
the infant’s head appears slowly, deliberately
Joseph grips it in both hands
 
Now the baby’s cry flies out, rends the night
Joseph’s doubts dissolve
On the straw bed
Mary peacefully shuts her eyes
 
Yorifumi Yaguchi, born 1935, Japanese Mennonite poet and pastor
 
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And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.

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