give us the light of reconciliation

Chapel Of Reconciliation, Michael McLaughlin Photography, CC BY-SA 4.0, Wikimedia Commons
 
Lord, God our Father, 
through Jesus Christ, your Son, 
in the power of your Holy Spirit, 
    give light to our eyes, that we may see your light, 
    the brightly shining light of reconciliation! 
For this is the greatest sickness, 
    when one cannot see the light, even during the day.
Free us from this sickness, 
    us and all Christians who celebrate Easter either well or poorly,
    the entire human community, both near and far,
    who are again and again being confused and endangered anew!
 
Bless what comes to pass in this church and in other churches 
    and communities that are now still separated from us,
    that it may be a testimony to your name, your kingdom, and your will!
Reign also over all the various concerns of the government authorities,
    administrations, and courts here and all over the world!
Strengthen the teachers in consideration of their high task 
    for the growing generation;
  the people who write newspapers,
    conscious of their grave responsibility for public opinion that they influence;
  the doctors and nurses,
    for genuine attentiveness to the needs of those who are in their care!
Substitute your comfort, your counsel, and your help 
    for all that would accuse the many lonely, poor, sick and confused among us!
And let your mercy be apparent and powerful to all who are here in this house,
    along with their families!
We place ourselves and all that we lack and that the world requires
    in your hands.
 
Our hope is on you.  We trust in you.
You have never let your people be put to shame,
    whenever they earnestly called on you.
What you have begun,
    you will surely finish. Amen.
 
Karl Barth, 1886 – 1968, Swiss Reformed theologian
 
______________________________
 
 
 
From now on, therefore, we regard no one according to the flesh. 
Even though we once regarded Christ according to the flesh, 
    we regard him thus no longer. 
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. 
The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. 
All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself 
    and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; 
  that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, 
    not counting their trespasses against them, 
    and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation.

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Let me be like the Calm Sea

photo from Pxhere
 
Lord, I saw the sea attacking the rocks, sombre and raging.
From afar the waves gained momentum.
High and proud, they leapt, jostling one another 
    to be the first to strike.
When the white foam drew back, leaving the rock clear,
    they gathered themselves together to rush forward again.
 
The other day I saw the sea, calm and serene.
The waves came from afar, creeping, not to draw attention.
Quietly holding hands, they slipped noiselessly
    and stretched at full length on the sand,
    to touch the shore with the tips of their beautiful soft fingers.
The sea gently caressed them,
    and they generously returned streams of light.
 
Lord, grant that I may avoid useless quarrels 
    that tire and wound without achieving results.
Keep me from these angry outbursts that draw attention
    but leave one uselessly weakened.
Keep me from wanting always to outstrip others in my conceit,
    crushing those in my way.
Wipe from my face the look of dark, dominating anger.
 
Rather, Lord, grant that I may live my days calmly and fully,
    as the sea slowly covers the whole shore.
Make me humble like the sea, as silently and gently, 
    it spreads out unnoticed.
May I wait for my brothers and match my pace to theirs,
    that I may move upward with them.
Grant me the triumphant perseverance of the waters.
May each of my retreats turn into an advance.
Give my face the light of clear waters.
Give my soul the whiteness of foam.
Illumine my life that it may sing like sunbeams
    on the surface of the sea.
But above all, Lord, may I not keep this light for myself,
    and may all those who come near me return home 
    eager to bathe in your eternal grace.
 
Michel Quoist,1918 – 1997, French Catholic priest and writer
 
_________________________
 
 
A fool gives full vent to his spirit,
    but a wise man quietly holds it back.

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Shine brightly, star of God

image / Stern von Betlehem / wikimedia commons
 
Shine brightly,
star of God,
and guide our wandering world
to where a prince of Peace is born.
 
Where children wish upon a star
or wise men scan the universe in hope
let your bright beams
surround their dreams
and guide their hesitating feet
to where a miracle is born.
 
Enable each of us
to make a New Year’s journey
leaving behind the prejudices and fears
of yester-year,
embracing a fresh openness
by which we welcome all world pilgrims
whose journeys end in worship and humility.
 
Be a sign today
of mercy and of love
like a rainbow in spring
or the bright summer sun,
and show us how our lives
can include the forgotten and forlorn,
    the grieving and the hurt.
 
And we will offer
to our God
now seen and touched in straw-filled bad 
the best gifts in the world:
our joy, our grief, our life.
 
David Jenkins, minister in the United Reformed Church UK
 
____________________________
 
 
When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy.

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prepare us to receive your gift

Adoration of the Shepherds / Gerard van Honthorst / Wikimedia
 
Lord, may you now let us this year once more approach the light, celebration, and joy of Christmas Day that brings us face to face with the greatest thing there is: your love, with which you so loved the world that you gave your only Son, so that all of us may believe in him and therefore not be lost, but may have eternal life.
 
What could we possibly bring and give to you? So much darkness in our human relationships and in our own hearts! So many confused thoughts, so much coldness and defiance, so much carelessness and hatred! So much over which you cannot rejoice, that separates us from one another and certainly cannot help us! So much that runs directly against the message of Christmas!
 
What should you possibly do with such gifts? And what are you to do with such people as we all are? But all of this is precisely what you want to receive from us and take from us at Christmas – the whole pile of rubbish and ourselves, just as we are – in order to give us in return Jesus, our Savior, and in him a new heaven and a new earth, new hearts and a new desire, new clarity and a new hope for us and for all people.
 
Be among us once again, on this final Sunday before the celebration, as we together prepare to receive him as your gift!  Make it so that we may rightly speak, hear, and pray, in proper, thankful amazement about everything that you have in mind for all of us, that you have already decided regarding all of us, and that you have already done for all of us! Amen
 
Karl Barth, 1886 – 1968, Swiss Reformed theologian
____________________________
 
 
For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.  For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.

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Send your Word, O Lord

Church of the Light / Bergmann, CC BY-SA 3.0 / Wikimedia Commons
 
Send your Word, O Lord, like the rain,
Falling down upon the earth.
Send your Word.
We seek your endless grace,
With souls that hunger and thirst,
Sorrow and agonize.
We would all be lost in the dark
Without your guiding light.
 
Send your Word, O Lord, like the wind,
Blowing down upon the earth.
Send your Word.
We seek your wondrous power,
Pureness that rejects all sins,
Though they persist and cling.
Bring us to complete victory;
Set us free indeed.
 
Send your Word, O Lord, like the dew,
Coming gently upon the hills.
Send your Word.
We seek your endless love.
For life that suffers in strife
With adversaries and hurts,
Send your healing power of love;
We long for your new world.
 
Yasushige Imakoha, translated by Nobuaki Hanaoka, Japan
 
__________________________
 
 
As the rain and the snow
    come down from heaven,
and do not return to it
    without watering the earth
and making it bud and flourish,
    so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater,
so is my word that goes out from my mouth:
    It will not return to me empty,
but will accomplish what I desire
    and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.
You will go out in joy
    and be led forth in peace;
the mountains and hills
    will burst into song before you,
and all the trees of the field
    will clap their hands.
Instead of the thornbush will grow the juniper,
    and instead of briers the myrtle will grow.
This will be for the Lord’s renown,
    for an everlasting sign,
    that will endure forever.”

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increase our hope in your promises

image / pixabay
 
Merciful Lord, the comforter and teacher of your faithful people,
  increase in your church the desires which you have given,
  and confirm the hearts of those who hope in you
  by enabling them to understand the depth of your promises,
    that all your adopted children
    may even now behold, with eyes of faith,
    and patiently wait for,
    the light which as yet you do not openly manifest;
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
 
St. Ambrose, c.339-397, Bishop of Milan
 
____________________
 
 
His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature, having escaped the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.

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to live these days with you

                                  Photo by Elijah Hiett on Unsplash                          
 
Surrounded by good powers, faithful and still,
wonderfully protected and comforted –
in this way I want to live these days with you
and go with you into a new year.
 
The old year still wants to torment our hearts;
the heavy burdens of evil days still hold us down.
O Lord, give our frightened souls
the salvation for which you created us.
 
And if you hand us the heavy cup, the bitter one,
of sorrow, filled to the highest brim,
then we take it thankfully, without trembling,
from your good and loving hand.
 
Yet if you want to give us joy once again
in this world and its sun’s bright light,
then we want to remember what has passed,
and then our life belongs fully to you.
 
Today, let the candles glow warm and bright
that you brought into our darkness,
and if it can be, bring us together again!
We know your light shines in the night.
 
When now the profound stillness spreads round us,
let us hear that full sound of the world
that widens invisibly all around us,
the high hymn of praise of all your children.
 
Wonderfully secured by good powers,
we confidently await what may come.
God is with us in the evening and the morning,
and most certainly in each new day.
 
Dietrich Bonhoeffer, 1906 – 1945, German Lutheran theologian and martyr
 
_______________________
 
 
 
Teach us to realize the brevity of life,
    so that we may grow in wisdom.
O Lord, come back to us!
    How long will you delay?
    Take pity on your servants!
Satisfy us each morning with your unfailing love,
    so we may sing for joy to the end of our lives.
Give us gladness in proportion to our former misery!
    Replace the evil years with good.
Let us, your servants, see you work again;
    let our children see your glory.

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December Solstice

 photo by Michael Niessl on Unsplash  
 
it is solstice night
it is the death of darkness

for an age
light has been slipping away
but now
no further

it shall return

and in the hearing of the darkness
the light says:
arise
shine
for your light has come

the promise frees itself from the frost
and long nights

there is an awakening
and in the hearing of the darkness
the light says:
the people who have walked in darkness
have seen a great light

the day now
shrunken yet
is filled with hope
and begins to stretch
pushing at the edges of darkness
scraping it away
with hope of new life

and in the hearing of the darkness
the light says:
for unto you a child is born
unto you a son is given

this is a darkness greater than any night
and the light more than the day

right in the heart of the deeper, human darkness
a manger is ready
as the age of brightness returns

the advent promise
has found a place
to chase the darkness
and make room for the light
 
Roddy Hamilton, Scottish Pastor
 
________________
 
 
In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. 
The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.

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prayer at the shortest day

Photo by Kristopher Roller on Unsplash  
 
From the rising of the midwinter sun to its setting.
    scatter the darkness with the light of your love, O shining One.
Make me short on mean thoughts,
    long on offering words of comfort.
Make me short on being driven,
    long on paying attention.
Make me short on focusing only on my own,
    long on looking beyond.
Make me short on obsessive lists,
    long on spontaneous acts of kindness.
Make me short on mindless activity,
    long on time to reflect.
Make me short on tradition as habit,
    long on re-discovery and re-owning.
Make me short on rushing and tiring,
    long on walking and wondering.
Make me short on false festive jollity,
    long on stilling and rooted joy.
Make me short on guilt,
    long on being merciful to myself.
Make me short on being overwhelmed,
    long on peaceableness as I set forth this day.
 
Tess Ward, Retreat leader and writing in the UK
 
_________________________
 
 
But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; 
    then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, 
    full of mercy and good fruit, 
    impartial and sincere. 
Peacemakers who sow in peace reap a harvest of righteousness.

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Come, Lord Jesus

Photo by Tim Umphreys on Unsplash  
 
Lord Jesus,
Master of both the light and the darkness,
    send Your Holy Spirit upon our preparations for Christmas.
We who have so much to do seek quiet spaces to hear
    Your voice each day.
We who are anxious over many things look forward to
    Your coming among us.
We who are blessed in so many ways long for
    the complete joy of Your kingdom.
We whose hearts are heavy seek
    the joy of Your presence.
We are Your people, walking in darkness,
    yet seeking the light.
To You we say, ‘Come Lord Jesus!”
Amen
 
Joel Mason
 
__________________________
 
 
He who testifies to these things says, 
    “Surely I am coming soon.” 
Amen. Come, Lord Jesus!
 

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