Lead us out of this conflict

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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;
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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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