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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Compassionate heart of Jesus

The Crucifixion 1360’s / Metropolitan Museum of Art / Public Domain
 
Compassionate heart of Jesus, have mercy on me.
Even before I offended you, my Redeemer, I did not deserve
    the great graces you have given me.
You created me, gave me so many inspirations 
    and all totally undeserved on my part.
But having offended you, not only did I not deserve your favors,
    I certainly deserved to be abandoned by you for all eternity.
But you, in your great mercy, have waited for me
    and preserved my life even when I was at enmity with you.
Your mercy allowed me to see my misery and you called me to conversion;
    you gave me sorrow for my sins and a desire to love you.
Now, I hope that, with your grace,
    I am in your friendship once again.
 
Alphonsus Liquori, 1696-1787, Italian Catholic bishop and theologian
 
____________________
 
 
You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through him! For if, while we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life!

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Pentecost prayer

Pentecost mosaic / Pete Unseth, CC BY-SA 4.0 / Wikimedia Commons
 
Holy Spirit, almighty God,
  proceeding from the Father and the Son;
Jesus the eternal Son, our Redeemer,
  has promised that you will kindle in us the true knowledge and love of God.
Stir up in our hearts, we pray true fear, true faith,
  that we may acknowledge the mercy
  which the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ hast promised
  unto us for his sake.
Be our comforter in all difficulties and dangers,
  and kindle divine love in our hearts,
  so that by true obedience,
  we may offer perpetual praise to you
  and to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,
  and to his blessed Son, our Saviour and Redeemer.
Amen.

Philipp Melanchthon, 1497 – 1560, German reformer with Martin Luther
 
________________________
 
 
But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, 
    will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.
 

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that all mothers may bear your love

Photo by Andrae Ricketts on Unsplash
 
O God, the mother of all living beings,
    the creator of the universe and the giver of all good things.
We thank you for our home on earth 
    and for the joy of living.
By your divine wisdom you have made mothers 
    the bearers of new life on earth.
As we worship, O Lord, call to our minds 
    the magnificent and gracious gifts that you have bestowed upon mothers.
We thank you for their love, their forbearance, 
    their patience and their unselfishness.
And we pray that all mothers may be bearers 
    of the love that you have so graciously shared 
    in the gift of your Son, Jesus Christ, for our salvation.
Amen.
 
Thomas Kilgore, Jr., 1913-1988, pastor and human rights advocate
    
_______________________
 
 
She opens her mouth with wisdom,
    and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue.
She looks well to the ways of her household
    and does not eat the bread of idleness.
Her children rise up and call her blessed;
    her husband also, and he praises her:
 

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Let me be free

Photo by Vaishakh pillai on Unsplash

Jesus Christ, the beginning and the end, 
    the resurrection and the life, 
    the perfect man who gave His life for sinners, 
    I worship you, I adore you, I sing aloud your name. 
I am one of those whom you saved, whom you set free, 
    when you died on the cross. 
You redeemed me from the slavery of sin. 
And yet I cannot escape the overpowering sense 
    that I am still a wretched sinner, 
    that my every action is worthless or evil. 
I am like the dry sand of a desert thirsting for water.
I am like a criminal languishing in prison. 
 
Good people try to help me, and I pray that you will reward them; 
    but their goodness does nothing to assuage my sense of wickedness. 
Patient people try to teach me your ways; 
    but I am so stubborn that I cannot learn. 
Humble people seek to serve me; 
    but in my pride I cannot truly appreciate their services. 
Lift the burden of wickedness; break down my stubbornness; root out my pride. 
Let me receive your life-giving love. 
Let me be free.
 
Fulbert of Chartres, c.970-1028, bishop of the Cathedral of Chartres, France
 
__________________________
 
 
And since we have a great High Priest who rules over God’s house, 
    let us go right into the presence of God 
    with sincere hearts fully trusting him. 
For our guilty consciences have been sprinkled with Christ’s blood to make us clean, 
    and our bodies have been washed with pure water.

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sharing in your death

imageMikhail Nesterov Public domain / Wikimedia Commons
 
My Lord and God, I know that I cannot share in your resurrection 
    without also sharing in your death.  
Strengthen me to take up my cross and deny myself daily; 
    that I may crucify the drives within me that lure me away from loving you 
        and loving my neighbor as I ought.  
Silence the voices within me calling me 
    to self-indulgence, to self-service, and to self-advancement, 
 and let me hear only the voice of your Spirit 
    leading me into the ways of love, peace, and obedience.
 
I belong to you, Lord Jesus, 
    for you bought me at the price of your own blood.
Help me to live the rest of my life in this body for you,
    and not for my own desires or pleasures.
Make me a new creature who does your will.
 
David A. de Silva, Methodist professor
 
_____________________
 
 
Then he said to the crowd, “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must give up your own way, take up your cross daily, and follow me. If you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for my sake, you will save it.

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the new commandment

Jesus washing Peter’s feet by Sieger Koder / Jim Forest Flickr / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
 
Jesus, you gave us the new command to love each other 
    just as you loved your disciples.
We are eager to imitate you in loving our brothers and sisters, but like Peter,
    our efforts are often more words and good intentions 
        than action and sacrifice..
We want to offer ourselves fully in friendship
    but when the relationship becomes costly we disengage.
We want to reach out to those different from ourselves
    but tend to stay within our safe routines.
And when relationships lead to hurt or betrayal 
    we withdraw to protect ourselves
    and fail to keep your commandment.
You know this about us.
You know that we are weak and made of dust.
 
Oh, pour out an extra measure of faith upon us!
Strengthen us with the supernatural ability to love just as you loved.
Enable us to present ourselves as living sacrifices in our relationships.
 
But more than that, bless our flawed, timid expressions
    and communicate them through your Holy Spirit,
    so that those who we begin to love, 
    know that, in fact, they are loved 
    completely
    by you
just as you loved your disciples, and us, unto the end.
 
EM
______________________
 
 
It was just before the Passover Festival. 
Jesus knew that the hour had come for him to leave this world and go to the Father. 
Having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end.
 
A new command I give you: Love one another. 
As I have loved you, so you must love one another.
 

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embraced by your unwavering love

Photo by Alfonso Scarpa on Unsplash
 
Dear Lord, today I thought of the words of Vincent van Gogh:
“It is true there is an ebb and flow, but the sea remains the sea.”

You are the sea. Although I experience many ups and downs in my emotions and often feel great shifts and changes in my inner life, you remain the same. Your sameness is not the sameness of a rock, but the sameness of a faithful lover. Out of your love I came to life; by your love I am sustained; and to your love I am always called back. There are days of sadness and days of joy; there are feelings of guilt and feelings of gratitude; there are moments of failure and moments of success; but all of them are embraced by your unwavering love.

My only real temptation is to doubt in your love, to think of myself as beyond the reach of your love, to remove myself from the healing radiance of your love. To do these things is to move into the darkness of despair.

O Lord, sea of love and goodness, let me not fear too much the storms and winds of my daily life, and let me know that there is ebb and flow but that the sea remains the sea. Amen.

Henri J.M. Nouwen, 1932 – 1996, Dutch-born Catholic priest and author 
 
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Psalm 65:5-8

By awesome deeds you answer us with righteousness,
    O God of our salvation,
 the hope of all the ends of the earth
    and of the farthest seas;
 the one who by his strength established the mountains,
    being girded with might;
 who stills the roaring of the seas,
    the roaring of their waves,
    the tumult of the peoples,
 so that those who dwell at the ends of the earth 
    are in awe at your signs.
You make the going out of the morning and the evening 
    to shout for joy.

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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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You understand me, Lord

Psalm 139 Rijksdienst voor het Cultureel Erfgoed / CC BY-SA 4.0
 
Lord,
you understand me,
you know my every thought,
my brain is not a mystery to you.
Enter into my mind, Lord,
guide and direct my thoughts.
Be before me when I speak,
be beside me when I act,
be within me when I listen,
that I might possess
the wisdom born of love,
for you are love,
the love which understands
everything.
 
Frank Topping, 1937-, English minister and author
 
___________________________
 
 
O Lord, you have searched me and known me!
You know when I sit down and when I rise up;
    you discern my thoughts from afar.
You search out my path and my lying down
    and are acquainted with all my ways.
Even before a word is on my tongue,
    behold, O Lord, you know it altogether.
You hem me in, behind and before,
    and lay your hand upon me.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me;
    it is high; I cannot attain it.
 

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