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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meek in your kingdom

Zechariah / www.LumoProject.com
 
O Lord, Catch us up, like Zechariah,
    in the whirl of your holy history.
We seem to be but particles in the wind;
    but you declare each of us to be a holy person,
    spokes in the great wheel 
        of your covenant-loving of the world.
Let us be meek in your kingdom, but not abject;
    humble, not self-pitiful;
    obedient, not obsequious; 
    servants, not servile;
    childlike, not childish;
yours in love and willingness,
  and then our smallness shall be your greatness indeed.
Amen.
 
Walter Wangerin, Jr., American writer and research professor
 
_____________________________
 
 
In the time of Herod king of Judea there was a priest named Zechariah, who belonged to the priestly division of Abijah; his wife Elizabeth was also a descendant of Aaron. Both of them were righteous in the sight of God, observing all the Lord’s commands and decrees blamelessly. But they were childless because Elizabeth was not able to conceive, and they were both very old.

Once when Zechariah’s division was on duty and he was serving as priest before God, he was chosen by lot, according to the custom of the priesthood, to go into the temple of the Lord and burn incense. And when the time for the burning of incense came, all the assembled worshipers were praying outside.

Then an angel of the Lord appeared to him, standing at the right side of the altar of incense. When Zechariah saw him, he was startled and was gripped with fear. But the angel said to him: “Do not be afraid, Zechariah; your prayer has been heard. Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you are to call him John. He will be a joy and delight to you, and many will rejoice because of his birth, for he will be great in the sight of the Lord. He is never to take wine or other fermented drink, and he will be filled with the Holy Spirit even before he is born.  He will bring back many of the people of Israel to the Lord their God.  And he will go on before the Lord, in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the parents to their children and the disobedient to the wisdom of the righteous—to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.”
 

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diligent submission and obedience

image Joseph and Mary traveling the Bethlehem
 
We look to the example of Joseph and Mary 
    who responded to the decree of Caesar Augustus to be taxed,
    obediently placing themselves in subjection under him.
You are our sovereign Lord, the true Augustus Caesar, 
    the one whose kingdom increases and has the power to bless us.
May we diligently come to the place where we can truly pray:
 
“O my God, you only are my Creator and Lord!  
I cast myself down to be entirely subject to your holy will,
    with all that is within me or pertains to me.
Here is my heart, my soul, my body, my spirit.
Here is all I have and am; 
    I cast it all down and offer it as a sacrifice to you, O Lord,
    to make it genuinely submissive to you.
If before now I have resigned this to the world, 
    or if now I have walked according to my own will, oh, not any more, 
    for from now on all that I am is to be subject to your will.
Renew this decision day by day more and more,
    and make me willing and able to follow you in all things, and to be obedient.”
 
Jakob Denner, 1659-1746, German Mennonite pastor and author
 
____________________
 
 
In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. (This was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria.) And everyone went to their own town to register.

So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child.
 

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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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