strength to overcome the temptations

 ChristTempted / John Ritto Penniman / Wikimedia Commons
 
We thank you, Father, for those days in the desert when, 
    through prayer and fasting, 
    Jesus discovered your will for his life 
    and overcame the temptations of the Evil One.
Help us, during these days of Lent, 
    to come close to you and to listen to your voice.  
Give us strength to overcome the temptations 
    to please ourselves and live life without you.
Teach us your way.  For Jesus’ sake.
 
 
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Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, left the Jordan and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness,  where for forty days he was tempted by the devil. He ate nothing during those days, and at the end of them he was hungry.
 

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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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We prepare to welcome Christ Jesus, Messiah

Rainbow in Bethelehem by Ami Tesler on Unsplash  
 
In this season of expectation
We prepare to welcome Christ Jesus, Messiah
Into the bustle of our lives
and the hard to find moments of solitude
We prepare to welcome Christ Jesus, Messiah
Into our homes and situations
along with friends and families
We prepare to welcome Christ Jesus, Messiah
Into our hearts, and those often hidden parts of our lives
We prepare to welcome Christ Jesus, Messiah
For beneath the surface of your story
is an inescapable fact
You entered this world
as vulnerable as any one of us
in order to nail that vulnerability to the cross.
Our fears, our insecurities and our sins
all that can separate us from God
exchanged by your Grace for Love.
We cannot comprehend the reasoning
only marvel that Salvation comes to us
through a baby born in a stable,
and reaches out to a world in need.

In this season of anticipation
We prepare to welcome Christ Jesus, Messiah
 
John Birch, Methodist Lay Preacher and worship leader in Wales
 
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As it is written in the book of the words of Isaiah the prophet,

“The voice of one crying in the wilderness:
‘Prepare the way of the Lord,
    make his paths straight.
Every valley shall be filled,
    and every mountain and hill shall be made low,
  and the crooked shall become straight,
    and the rough places shall become level ways,
  and all flesh shall see the salvation of God.’”

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Teach us how to pray

LYNN Ministries
O Savior of the world, teach us how to pray for those who are lost
    in desolations of darkness
    without knowledge of the mercy that is yourself.
We remember the innocent victims of war 
    and all the agony they suffer,
    those who are greatly afraid, 
    those who have been overwhelmed by torment of mind or body.
Save us from the cowardice that would turn us away 
    from the thought of these things,
    from the indifference that would pass them by.
Give us penitence for the evil in ourselves 
    which has added to the darkness of the world,
    and if there be any small thing we can do to lighten any misery,
    show us what it is and help us to do it.
Teach us how to pray with the compassion that is not afraid to suffer
    with those who suffer 
        and if need be, 
        to enter darkness with them.
O Everlasting Mercy, who once in time came from the height of heaven
    down to the depth of our need,
    come again in power to forgive us and renew us and set us on fire,
    that through the labors and prayers of broken-hearted sinners
    your mercy may banish the darkness and bring new life upon the earth.
 
Elizabeth Goudge, 1900-1984, English novelist
 
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When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, 
    because they were harassed and helpless, 
    like sheep without a shepherd. 
Then he said to his disciples, 
    “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; 
      therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest 
      to send out laborers into his harvest.”
 

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unite me with Yourself

image / pikrepo
If only I possessed grace, good Jesus, to be utterly at one with you!
Amidst all the variety of worldly things around me, Lord,
    the only thing I crave is unity with you.
You are all my soul needs.
Unite, dear friend of my heart, this unique little soul of mine
    to your perfect goodness.
You are all mine; when shall I be yours?
Lord Jesus. my beloved, be the magnet of my heart;
    clasp, press, unite me forever to your sacred heart.
You have made me for yourself;
    make me one with you.
Absorb this tiny drop of life 
    into the ocean of goodness from whence it came.
 
Francis of Sales, 1567 – 1622, Counter-Reformation Bishop of Geneva
 
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But he who is joined to the Lord becomes one spirit with him.

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representing our compassionate Savior

Christ in the Garden of Gethsemane / Robert Walter Weir / CC0

 

Man of sorrows, acquainted with grief,
we pray for our brothers and sisters who mourn.
 
We pray for each one who feels the keen grief that death can bring,
    You have told us that death is not the end of life,
    that beyond the grave is the resurrection,
    yet you wept at the side of a grave,
    you understand our grief.
    Strengthen those who mourn.
 
We pray for our brothers and sisters
    who are shut off from the rest of society
    by their color or their accent.
    If we are part of their trouble,
    help us to correct what lies in our power to correct.
 
We pray for each one who is in pain
    because of sickness or injury.
    You knew pain so deep and intense
    that you thought the heavenly Father had forgotten you.
    Be the light for those who are in the valley of the shadows.
 
Compassionate Savior,
    you have called us to represent you
    in compassion with your brothers and sisters who mourn.
    You have done your part;
    help us to do ours.
 
Andrew W Blackwood Jr, 1882-1966, Presbyterian pastor and professor
 
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He was despised and rejected by mankind,
    a man of suffering, and familiar with pain.
Like one from whom people hide their faces
    he was despised, and we held him in low esteem.

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draw me into your friendship

image / Lawrence OP / flickr
Lord Jesus, from the start
You invite ordinary people to come to where you live.
When they come, you welcome them
and call them to labor and rejoice with you.
You are the most beautiful among men,
and I hardly believe you want me for your friend.
You are powerful, Lord.
Draw me more and more into your friendship
and lead me along the way you took with friends.
 
Joseph Tetlow, SJ, retreat director and author
 
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The next day John was there again with two of his disciples. When he saw Jesus passing by, he said, “Look, the Lamb of God!”
When the two disciples heard him say this, they followed Jesus. Turning around, Jesus saw them following and asked, “What do you want?”
They said, “Rabbi” (which means “Teacher”), “where are you staying?”
“Come,” he replied, “and you will see.”
So they went and saw where he was staying, and they spent that day with him. It was about four in the afternoon.

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Our dwelling places

My dwelling places are many, Lord:
   my house or apartment, my dorm or condo;
   my neighborhood, parish and local community;
   where I work, where I study, where I pray;
      my dwelling places are many….

First of all, I thank you, Lord,
   not only for so many dwelling places in my day
but for the gift at each day’s end of a door
   to a place, to a room with a roof overhead,
      the place I call home, 
   whether large and spacious or small and cramped,
       a place to lay down my head at night and rest…
 
My dwelling may not be a castle, Lord,
   but how many in need would deem it a palace
for its locks and safety, its light and warmth, a fridge with food, 
   a shower and toilet, a bed and a pillow, an address for mail,
for it’s being a place to return to each night
   for being a place to call home…

I thank you for my dwelling place, Lord:
   let me not take it for granted
      and keep me generously mindful
         of those who have no place they might call home…

And how lovely is your dwelling place,   
   O Lord of hosts…

Your dwelling is the universe and all the heavens
   – and beyond the heavens, Lord…

Your dwelling has no roof, no walls,
   no beginning and no end…

The beauty of your dwelling’s beyond anything
   my mind might conceive or my dreams imagine
and yet – your dwelling place is with me and in me…

You who cannot be confined,
   you choose to dwell within my soul
      and make your home within my heart…

You, whom all creation can’t contain,
   you enter my humble quarters,
      the spare, simple chambers of my heart,
   and there, in Spirit, make yourself at home…

And, Lord, as you can see,
   I’m seldom ready for company,
      for receiving any guests at all,
         let alone, you, the greatest guest of all…

So, please forgive me,
   (indeed, forgive me, Lord!)
for my house is not in order, not yet or ever ready
   to be a place where you might dwell
      a place you might call home…

And yet, you come, you enter and you stay
   and you don’t leave, you don’t go away,
      you remain within me, always,
and in making my heart your home
   you make of your heart a home for me…

Amen.

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