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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Great God Almighty, We Are Free at Last!

 Martin Luther King, 1964 / Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain
 
God grant that right here in America and all over the world,
    we will choose the high way:
a way in which men will live together as brothers.
A way in which the nations of the world will beat their swords into plowshares,
    and their spears into pruning hooks.
A way in which every man will respect 
    the dignity and worth of all human personality.
A way in which every nation will allow justice to flow down like waters,
    and righteousness like a mighty stream.
A way in which men will do justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with God.
A way in which men will be able to stand up, 
    and in the midst of oppression, in the midst of darkness and agony,
    they will be able to stand there and love their enemies,
        bless those persons that curse them,
        pray for those individuals that despitefully use them.
And this is the way that will bring us once more into that society
    which we think of as the brotherhood of man.
This will be that day when white people, colored people,
    whether they are brown or whether they are yellow  or whether they are black,
    will join together and stretch out with their arms and be able to cry out:
“Free at last! Free at last! Great God Almighty, we are free at last!”
 
Martin Luther King, Jr. 1929 -1968, American pastor and civil rights activist
 
_____________________________
 
 
And a highway will be there;
    it will be called the Way of Holiness;
    it will be for those who walk on that Way.
The unclean will not journey on it;
    wicked fools will not go about on it.
No lion will be there,
    nor any ravenous beast;
    they will not be found there.
But only the redeemed will walk there,
    and those the Lord has rescued will return.
They will enter Zion with singing;
    everlasting joy will crown their heads.
Gladness and joy will overtake them,
    and sorrow and sighing will flee away.

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Cusp of midnight

 imagegamagapix / pixabay
 
What Mary wants now
God says soon

What Joseph needs now
God says not long

What the peacemakers seek now
God says hold your breath a little longer

What the hungry long for now
God says hush but a moment

What the poor yearn for now
God says, wait a little more

What the lonely hunger for now
God says shortly

What the forgotten thirst for now
God says presently

What the world aches for now
God says soon and very soon

Time is moving towards incarnation
justice is slipping into skin
peace is labouring
truth is taking human shape
this night
this hour
this moment
soon
 
Roddy Hamilton, Scottish Pastor
 
____________________
 
 
And Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the town of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, to be registered with Mary, his betrothed, who was with child.  And while they were there, the time came for her to give birth.

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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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Praise to God our King

Jesus Christ enthroned / by Ted  / CC BY-NC 2.0
Before I call others to praise you, 
    my spirit will kneel down to honor you.  
Make me today a choir 
    with many songs and heavenly strings that praise you.
Before I explain the futility of human salvation, 
    I bow down to worship you.  
Before I knock at the doors of the strong, 
    I bend down to seek you.
Before I start unpacking my worries, 
    I sing and thank you.
 
You are the one who brings forth justice to the oppressed, feeds the poor, and releases the prisoners.  You freed the oppressed Joseph and Jeremiah from jail. In the lion’s pit, you were with Daniel, and you released Peter from chains.  Rhoda shared the good news that the Lord answers the prayers of the godly ones.  You freed your people from the chains of oppression, just as the prophets foretold.
 
You opened the eyes of the blind, and my own eyes have seen the glory of heaven.  How many eyes have been bound by moral darkness?  But with your light, they can see heavenly glories.  You have straightened the bent ones and have relieved our worries.  You have searched for the marginalized and taken care of the widows, the orphans, and the strangers.  
 
O Lord, rule over my country, and let the evil of the enemy end!
 
Yohanna Katanacho, 1967 – , Palestinian Israeli evangelical theologian
 
_________________________
 
 
Praise the Lord.
Praise the Lord, my soul.
I will praise the Lord all my life;
    I will sing praise to my God as long as I live.
Do not put your trust in princes,
    in human beings, who cannot save.
When their spirit departs, they return to the ground;
    on that very day their plans come to nothing.
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.
The Lord watches over the foreigner
    and sustains the fatherless and the widow,
    but he frustrates the ways of the wicked.
The Lord reigns forever,
    your God, O Zion, for all generations.
Praise the Lord.

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Give them their daily bread

image / needpix

Lord, when we say ‘Give us today our daily bread,’
  may we remember our brothers and sisters
  who live below the poverty line
  and pray, ‘Give them today their daily bread.’
Give us the wisdom and courage to challenge the policies and structures
  which make the poor even poorer,
  while we have more than enough.
Grant us such deep compassion that we will not rest
  while surplus food rots in one part of the world,
  and families starve in another;
for your love’s sake. Continue reading

That face, Lord, haunts me

George Floyd / Wikimedia Commons

That face, Lord, has haunted me all evening.
It is a living reproach,
A prolonged cry that reaches me in my quietude.
 
That face is alive, Lord, yet men’s sins have struck it;
He was defenceless and exposed to their blows.
 
They came from all over;
Destitution came,
The shanty,
The dilapidated bed,
The foul air,
Smoke,
Alcohol, 
Hunger,
The hospital,
The sanatorium.
 
Work – crushing, humiliating,
Unemployment,
The depression, 
War.
 
Frenzied dances,
Revolting songs,
Demoralizing films,
Languorous music,
Unclean and deceitful kisses.
 
The struggle to live,
Rebellion,
Brawls,
Cries,
Blows,
Hate.
 
They came from everywhere,
Men with their horrid selfishness, their dreadful faces,
    their great dirty fingers,
    their broken nails,
    their fetid breath.
They hastened here from the ends of the earth,
    from the bounds of time.
And slowly, one after another,
Or suddenly, all together, like brutes,
They struck,
    whipped
    lashed,
    wrought,
    moulded,
    hammered,
    engraved,
    sculptured.
And here at last is this face, this poor face;
It took forty six years to fashion it,
It took hundreds of centuries to produce it.
Ecce homo : behold the man.
 
Here is this poor face of a man, like an open book,
The book of the miseries and sins on men;
    the book of
        selfishness,
        conceit,
        cowardice;
    the book of
        greed,
        lust,
        abdications,
        compromises.
 
Here it is like a mournful protest,
    like a cry of revolt,
    but also like a heart-rending call,
For behind this ridiculous, grimacing face,
Behind those uneasy eyes,
Is a light
A flame,
A tragic supplication,
The infinite desire of a soul to live above its mud.
 
Lord, that face haunts me, it frightens me, it condemns me;
For with everyone else, I have made it, or allowed it to be made!
And I realize, Lord, that this man is my brother, and yours.
 
What have we done with a member of your family?
 
I fear your judgement, Lord.
It seems to me that at the end of time all the faces of my brothers,
    and especially those of my town, my district, my work, 
    will be lined up before me,
And in your merciless light I shall recognize in these faces
    the lines that I have cut,
    the mouth that I have twisted,
    the eyes that I have darkened,
    the neck that I have crushed,
    and those whose light I have extinguished.
They will come, those that I have known
    and those that I have not known,
    those of my time and all those that have followed,
    fashioned by the workshop of the world.
And I shall stand still, terrified, silent.
It is then, O Lord, that you will say to me
     . . . it was I . . .

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