against the threat of malignant powers

Nebuchadnezzar, William Blake, Wikimedia Commons CC-BY-NC-ND 3.0
 
Lord, we pray this day mindful of the sorry confusion of our world. 
Look with mercy upon this generation of your children
    so steeped in misery of their own contriving, 
    so far strayed from your ways 
    and so blinded by passions. 
We pray for the victims of tyranny, 
    that they may resist oppression with courage. 
We pray for wicked and cruel men, 
    whose arrogance reveals to us 
    what the sin of our own hearts is like 
    when it has conceived and brought forth its final fruit.

We pray for ourselves who live in peace and quietness, 
    that we may not regard our good fortune as proof of our virtue, 
    or rest content to have our ease 
    at the price of other men’s sorrow and tribulation.

We pray for all who have some vision of your will, 
    despite the confusions and betrayals of human sin, 
  that they may humbly and resolutely plan for and fashion 
    the foundations of a just peace between men, 
    even while they seek to preserve what is fair and just among us 
    against the threat of malignant powers.
 
Reinhold Niebuhr, 1892-1971, American theologian and professor
The Complete Book of Christian Prayer
 
__________________________
 
 
“That same hour the judgment was fulfilled, 
    and Nebuchadnezzar was driven from human society.
 He ate grass like a cow, and he was drenched with the dew of heaven. 
He lived this way until his hair was as long as eagles’ feathers 
    and his nails were like birds’ claws.
 
“After this time had passed, I, Nebuchadnezzar, looked up to heaven. 
My sanity returned, and I praised and worshiped the Most High 
    and honored the one who lives forever.

His rule is everlasting,
    and his kingdom is eternal.
All the people of the earth
    are nothing compared to him.
He does as he pleases
    among the angels of heaven
    and among the people of the earth.
No one can stop him or say to him,
    ‘What do you mean by doing these things?’

“When my sanity returned to me, so did my honor and glory and kingdom. 
My advisers and nobles sought me out, 
    and I was restored as head of my kingdom, 
    with even greater honor than before.

“Now I, Nebuchadnezzar, praise and glorify and honor the King of heaven. 
All his acts are just and true, and he is able to humble the proud.”

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O Come Emmanuel

Image from Art4TheGlryOfGod by Sharon under Creative Commons license

 

Our world carries the scars of the way we live, Jesus;
    the preferential treatment given
        to the few who are wealthy and powerful and famous
        leaves the rest ignored and neglected;
    the desperate quest for more
        leaves all of us feeling less, enjoying less;
    the self-protective aggression we embrace to feel safe
        leaves us and others wounded and frightened;
    the apathetic disregard for the suffering, the grieving, the dying   
        leaves us disconnected from our own humanity,
        from our ability to feel and to care.

 

We need our world turned upside down, Jesus;
   We need our self-importance and self-sufficiency to be undermined;
   We need a new way of being that is built on a whole new set of

   values:
        Humble the powerful
            and exalt the humble, we pray;
        Fill the hungry with good things,
            and keep the satisfied from taking even more;
        Give us the wisdom to let a Child lead us
            into a world of justice and love;
            into the joy of sacrifice and service and simplicity.
 
O come, Emmanuel, and ransom your captive people.
Amen.
 
John van de Laar,  South African Methodist worship minster
 
___________________
 
 
A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse;
    from his roots a Branch will bear fruit.
The Spirit of the Lord will rest on him—
    the Spirit of wisdom and of understanding,
    the Spirit of counsel and of might,
    the Spirit of the knowledge and fear of the Lord—
and he will delight in the fear of the Lord.

 

He will not judge by what he sees with his eyes,
    or decide by what he hears with his ears;
 but with righteousness he will judge the needy,
    with justice he will give decisions for the poor of the earth.
He will strike the earth with the rod of his mouth;
    with the breath of his lips he will slay the wicked.
Righteousness will be his belt
    and faithfulness the sash around his waist.

The wolf will live with the lamb,
    the leopard will lie down with the goat,
 the calf and the lion and the yearling[a] together;
    and a little child will lead them.
The cow will feed with the bear,
    their young will lie down together,
    and the lion will eat straw like the ox.
The infant will play near the cobra’s den,
    and the young child will put its hand into the viper’s nest.
They will neither harm nor destroy
    on all my holy mountain,
 for the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the Lord
    as the waters cover the sea.

 
 
 
 

have mercy on me, O God

image / Graham C99 from London, UK, CC BY 2.0 / Wikimedia Commons
 
O Lord our God, how excellent is your name in all the World!
Your glorious majesty is excellent, but that brings me nothing;
    your justice is excellent, but that brings me nothing.
It is your mercy that must do me good,
    and therefore your other excellencies I adore,
    but this I invocate.
To invoke your justice, I dare not;
    your glory, I cannot,
    but your mercy, I both dare and can.
 
For why should I not dare, when fear gives me boldness?
How should I not be able when weakness gives me strength?
Why should I not dare, when you invite me to it?
How should I not be able when you draw me to it?
 
Do you invite me, and I shall not come?
Do you draw me, and I shall draw back?
Can there be a patron so powerful as you?
Can there be a beggar so dejected as myself?
 
Whom, then, is it more fit to ask for mercy than you, O God,
    who are the God of mercy?
And for whom is it more fit to ask for mercy than for me
    who am a creature of misery?
 
Richard Baxter, 1615 – 1691, English Puritan
 
_________________________
 
 
Have mercy on me, O God,
    according to your unfailing love;
  according to your great compassion
    blot out my transgressions.
Wash away all my iniquity
    and cleanse me from my sin.

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What can I say to you, my God?

Holy Trinity, Lawrence OP, CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
 
What can I say to you, my God?
 
Shall I collect together all the words
    that praise your holy Name?
 
Shall I give you all the names of this world
    —you, the Unnameable?
 
Shall I call you
    “God of my life,
    meaning of my existence,
    hallowing of my acts,
    my journey’s end,
    bitterness of my bitter hours,
    home of my loneliness,
    you my most treasured happiness”?

Shall I say:
    “Creator, Sustainer, Pardoner,
    Near One, Distant One, Incomprehensible One,
    God both of flowers and stars,
    God of the gentle wind and of terrible battles,
    Wisdom, Power, Loyalty, and Truthfulness,
    Eternity and Infinity, you the All-merciful,
    you the Just One,
    you  – Love itself?”
 
Karl Rahner, 1904 – 1984, German Jesuit Priest
 
__________________________
 
 
Then Moses said to God, 
“If I come to the people of Israel and say to them, 
    ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you,’ 
and they ask me, ‘What is his name?’ 
what shall I say to them?
 

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building a people of power

mosaic / music4life / pixabay
 
God the Holy Spirit
Like a Mother, you have brought forth
And in your infinite power
You are building a people of power.
You have continued to sustain us in our daily struggles.
In the midst of much exploitation and injustice,
    cause us not to be silent.
Like you did to the timid and fearful disciples
    give us the boldness to proclaim your righteousness and justice.
 
May you cause us to unite in making your truth known and experienced.
May your fire from heaven
    consume our greed and self-centeredness
    so that all we have may be held in common.
Spirit of truth and power, we are not afraid
    of being misunderstood
    as being out of our mind
As this was done by your early disciples.
 
complied by Claudio Carvalhaes, professor of worship in New York City
 
_____________________
 
 
On the day of Pentecost all the believers were meeting together in one place.  
Suddenly, there was a sound from heaven like the roaring of a mighty windstorm, 
    and it filled the house where they were sitting.  
Then, what looked like flames or tongues of fire appeared 
    and settled on each of them.
 And everyone present was filled with the Holy Spirit 
    and began speaking in other languages, 
    as the Holy Spirit gave them this ability.

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let me practice pure religion

Photo by Ben Hershey on Unsplash
 
Father, I have seen the commands of Scripture
    to care deeply about the plight of the oppressed.
I am often moved emotionally 
    when oppression is before me.
I am often filled with good intentions about what I could do
    to help those who are oppressed.
Yet I seldom act.
I seldom visit the orphans and the widows.
I seldom speak against the systematic oppression in our world.
Sometimes I don’t act because I’m too consumed 
    with the details of my life.
Sometimes I don’t act because I don’t want to complicate my life.
But today please strip away all my excuses,
    and let me practice pure religion:
    by visiting the afflicted and comforting them,
    by working to stop injustice,
    and by keeping myself from loving this world too much to act or pray.
 
Kurt Bjorklund, 1968- , American Minister and author of
Prayers for Today A Yearlong Journey of Devotional Prayer
 
______________________________
 
 
Religion that is pure and undefiled before God the Father is this: 
    to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, 
    and to keep oneself unstained from the world.
 
 

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Ain’t gonna let nobody turn us around

civil rights march / GPA Photo Archive / flickr / CC BY-NC 2.0
 
Almighty God, Thou has called us to walk for freedom, 
    even as Thou did the Children of Israel.  
We pray, dear God, as we go through a wilderness of State Troopers 
    that Thou will hold our hand.  
We pray, dear God, as we must go through the Valley of the Shadow of Death, 
    that Thou will go with us and strengthen us for the task.  
Keep us strong.  
Keep us calm.  
Help us to love our enemy.  
And above all, keep the fires of freedom burning in our hearts, 
    so that no matter what happens, 
    ain’t gonna let nobody turn us around.
Because Thou, dear God, has set us into this place.
Thou has sent us to fight, not just for ourselves,
    but to fight for this nation 
    so that democracy might exist here for the whole world.
Keep this vision in our hearts,
    and may we one day wake up and find the state of Alabama,
    where all men might vote, 
    where all children might get a decent education,
    where every man and woman might find a decent job
        according to his or her abilities,
    and where every man and woman 
        might be able to live together as brothers and sisters
    and violence and bloodshed and hatred and prejudice
         shall be no more.
In Jesus’ name we pray, Amen.
 
Martin Luther King, Jr. 1929 -1968, American pastor and civil rights activist
 
_________________________
 

Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
    for they shall be satisfied.

 

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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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transforming lives for your glory

image / pixabay
 
Creator God, our heavenly Father,
your Son was a carpenter in Nazareth:
we pray for all those who labor
in our factories and shops.
Grant them wisdom and honesty, strength and skill,
to provide for themselves
and for the needs of our country.
Look with compassion on the landless poor,
the unemployed and homeless,
the orphans and the hungry,
and grant us your power to work towards justice
in transforming their lives for your glory;
through the risen Lord Jesus Christ,
who had nowhere to lay his head.
 
prayer from Kenya
 
___________________________
 
 
Give justice to the weak and the fatherless;
    maintain the right of the afflicted and the destitute.
Rescue the weak and the needy;
    deliver them from the hand of the wicked.
They have neither knowledge nor understanding,
    they walk about in darkness;
    all the foundations of the earth are shaken.

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go with me in a new exodus

Saint Peter Liberated from Prison / The Metropolitan Museum of Art / CC0
 
O God of fire and freedom,
deliver me from my bondage
    to what can be counted
and go with me in a new exodus
    toward what counts,
but can only be measured
    in bread shared
        and swords become plowshares;
    in bodies healed
        and minds liberated;
    in songs sung
        and justice done;
    in laughter in the night
        and joy in the morning;
    in love through all seasons
        and great gladness of heart;
    in all people coming together
        and a kingdom coming in glory;
    in your name being praised
        and my becoming an alleluia,
through Jesus Christ our Lord.
 
Ted Loder, born 1930, American Methodist minister
 
_________________________
 
 
I sought the Lord, and he answered me
    and delivered me from all my fears.
Those who look to him are radiant,
    and their faces shall never be ashamed.
This poor man cried, and the Lord heard him
    and saved him out of all his troubles.

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