I pray for the children

Photo by Andrae Ricketts on Unsplash
 
This morning, Lord, I’m praying for many people,
    just a day after Dobbs v. Jackson…
 
I’m praying for those 
    disappointed and angry,
who believe their rights have been trampled and crushed:
    their choice and autonomy wrenched from their grasp…
 
And I’m praying for those 
    now claiming a victory,
who believe that justice has finally prevailed:
    the right to life, refreshed and reclaimed…
 
I pray for our country, 
    torn apart and embittered,
where the battle for rights will continue to rage,
    dividing our nation, body and soul…
 
I pray for the Church 
    to preach with compassion
the gospel of life as the wisdom for choosing
    what’s loving and true, what’s generous and good…
 
And I pray for the Church 
    to faithfully serve
with shelter, support, understanding and help
     people and life in all shapes and all forms…
 
And last, but not least, Lord, 
I pray for the children conceived every day:
    planned or unplanned, welcome or not,
    impaired or healthy, ill-timed or convenient,
        each one made in your image divine,
        each one named by your love and your grace,
        each one, your own, entrusted to us…
 
Many to pray for, many to hold
    in our arms, in our care, in our love.
Help us to welcome the gift of new life
    with its challenges, burdens and blessings, 
        with the strength and help of your grace…
 
Amen.
 
Fr. Austin Fleming, Roman Catholic Priest serving near Boston, MA  
Concord Pastor
 
______________________________
 
 
And the word of the Lord came to Zechariah, saying, 
“Thus says the Lord of hosts, 
Render true judgments, show kindness and mercy to one another, 
do not oppress the widow, the fatherless, the sojourner, or the poor, 
and let none of you devise evil against another in your heart.”

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Make me always busy in your service

Les femmes saintes, James Tissot, via Wikimedia Commons
 
Lord, I make you a present of myself.
    I do not know what to do with myself.
So let me make this exchange:
    I will place myself entirely in your hands,
    if you will cover my ugliness with your beauty,
    and tame my unruliness with your love.
Put out the flames of false passion in my heart,
    since these flames destroy all that is true within me.
Make me always busy in your service.
Lord, I want no special signs from you,
    nor am I looking for intense emotions in response to your love.
I would rather be free of all emotion,
    than to run the danger of falling victim once again to false passion.
Let my love for you be naked, without any emotional clothing.

St Catherine of Genoa, 1447-1510, Italian Catholic mystic
 
___________________________
 
 
Soon afterward Jesus began a tour of the nearby towns and villages, 
preaching and announcing the Good News about the Kingdom of God. 
He took his twelve disciples with him, 
along with some women who had been cured of evil spirits and diseases. 
Among them were Mary Magdalene, from whom he had cast out seven demons; 
Joanna, the wife of Chuza, Herod’s business manager; Susanna; and many others 
who were contributing from their own resources to support Jesus and his disciples.

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What can I say to you, my God?

Holy Trinity, Lawrence OP, CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
 
What can I say to you, my God?
 
Shall I collect together all the words
    that praise your holy Name?
 
Shall I give you all the names of this world
    —you, the Unnameable?
 
Shall I call you
    “God of my life,
    meaning of my existence,
    hallowing of my acts,
    my journey’s end,
    bitterness of my bitter hours,
    home of my loneliness,
    you my most treasured happiness”?

Shall I say:
    “Creator, Sustainer, Pardoner,
    Near One, Distant One, Incomprehensible One,
    God both of flowers and stars,
    God of the gentle wind and of terrible battles,
    Wisdom, Power, Loyalty, and Truthfulness,
    Eternity and Infinity, you the All-merciful,
    you the Just One,
    you  – Love itself?”
 
Karl Rahner, 1904 – 1984, German Jesuit Priest
 
__________________________
 
 
Then Moses said to God, 
“If I come to the people of Israel and say to them, 
    ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you,’ 
and they ask me, ‘What is his name?’ 
what shall I say to them?
 

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let me reflect your love

image / James Tissot / Wikimedia Commons
 
Thank you, dear Lord, for your love and care for me
    evidenced in so many ways.
Thank you for pardoning the sins I have committed this day;
    thank you for the opportunities to show love well used this day;
    thank you also for sins avoided on account  of your guidance and restraint.
Let it be my single ambition, my God, to honor you 
    in every thought, word, and deed;
    and make me bold to invite all people around me to honor and love you as well.
Your love toward me is so patient, so tender, 
    even when I provoke you with my disobedience.
Give me such an appreciation of your love for me
    that I show the same patient and tender love to my neighbor,
    especially when he or she opposed me.
Sit us within me a zeal to do all in my power,
    whether in prayer or deed, 
    to promote the safety and happiness of my neighbor;
    make me active to comfort and relieve all those whom you entrust to my care
    by bringing me into contact with them.
Lord, help me to be peaceful rather than argumentative;
    help me to be quick to forget an injury and be reconciled to my neighbor,
    mindful of how many times you have forgiven my provocations.
After your own example, make me glad to give good in return for evil,
    and thus share in the triumph of your love.
In all my dealings with my fellow human beings,
    let me reflect your love, your generous spirit,
    your desire to do good both to the just and the unjust.
You have so valued each person that you sent your Son for each and every one.
Implant, therefore, such a compassion in my heart for people.
    that I will eagerly seek out how I may win them to your love.
 
David A. de Silva, Methodist professor
 
_____________________
 
 
We know how much God loves us, and we have put our trust in his love.
God is love, and all who live in love live in God, and God lives in them.

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Come, Lord, enter my heart

image / pixabay / public domain
 
Come, Lord, enter my heart,
    you who are crucified, who have died, who love,
    who are faithful, truthful, patient, and humble,
    you who have taken upon yourself a slow and toilsome life
    in a single corner of the world,
    denied by those who are your friends,
    betrayed by them, subjected to the law,
    made the plaything of politics right from the very first,
    a refugee child, a carpenter’s son, a creature who found
    only barrenness and futility as a result of his labors,
    a man who loved and who found no love in response,
    you who were too exalted for those about you to understand,
    you who were left desolate,
    who were brought to the point of feeling yourself forsaken by God,
    you who sacrificed all,
    who commend yourself into the hands of your Father,
    you who cry, “My God, my Father, why have you forsaken me?”
 
I will receive you as you are,
    make you the innermost law of my life,
    take you as at once the burden and the strength of my life.
 
When I receive you I accept my everyday just as it is.
I do not need to have any lofty feelings in my heart to recount to you.
I can lay my everyday before you just as it is,
    for I receive it from you yourself,
    the everyday and its inward light,
    the everyday and its meaning,
    the everyday and the power to endure it,
    the sheer familiarity of it,
    which becomes the dimmedness of your eternal life.
 
Karl Rahner, 1904 – 1984, German Jesuit theologian
 
_______________________________
 
 
And this is eternal life, 
    that they know you the only true God, 
    and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.

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to find our constant inspiration in you

image / picryl
 
Servant Jesus,
    what love you showed to your disciples
        and what humility in your service.
    You are the Life of life, Son of God,
        yet you stooped down
        to take off the grimy sandals
        and to wash their dusty feet.
    With loving care you dried them with the towel
        make them fresh and cool.
    Since you, our Lord and Savior,
        did such lowly service for us,
        ought we not humbly to serve others also?
Lord God,
    it is not easy to walk in your way
        when we seek peace among the nations.
    We find there are many who hate peace
        and prefer to seek the victory in war.
    Even amongst our neighbors and friends
        are those who want to prepare for war.
    I am for peace;
        but when I speak, they are for war.
    In my distress I call to you, O Lord;
    give me the courage and the faith
        to speak for peace.
Spirit of God,
    you call your people to patient endurance
        that we might not fail in time of testing,
        that we might not grow weary in well-doing.
        that we should not abandon our first love.
    Help us to find our constant inspiration in you
        that the lamp may be kept burning
            as we witness by your grace.
 
John Johansen-Berg, 1935- , English Minister
 
_______________________________
 
 
When he had washed their feet and put on his outer garments and resumed his place, he said to them, “Do you understand what I have done to you? You call me Teacher and Lord, and you are right, for so I am. If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have given you an example, that you also should do just as I have done to you.  Truly, truly, I say to you, a servant is not greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him.  If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them.

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Do you weep over my city?

Donegall Street, Belfast / Albert Bridge / Wikimedia Commons
 
This is my city, Lord:
I’ve flown over it,
driven around it,
walked through it,
and I love it.
Its concrete chasms, its quiet parks,
its massive buildings and its tiny houses,
its suburbs rich and poor.
But most of all, Lord, its people…
My city, Lord. Your city.
Remember, Lord, there was one city
over which you stood and wept.
Do you weep over this city?
With its hunger, its greed, its cruelty?
Its foolishness and heartbreak?
Lord, I believe you do.
 
prayer used over Belfast, Northern Ireland
from A Procession of Prayers, edited by John Carden
 
_____________________________
 
 
And when he drew near and saw the city, he wept over it, saying, 
“Would that you, even you, had known on this day 
    the things that make for peace! 
But now they are hidden from your eyes.”

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let me practice pure religion

Photo by Ben Hershey on Unsplash
 
Father, I have seen the commands of Scripture
    to care deeply about the plight of the oppressed.
I am often moved emotionally 
    when oppression is before me.
I am often filled with good intentions about what I could do
    to help those who are oppressed.
Yet I seldom act.
I seldom visit the orphans and the widows.
I seldom speak against the systematic oppression in our world.
Sometimes I don’t act because I’m too consumed 
    with the details of my life.
Sometimes I don’t act because I don’t want to complicate my life.
But today please strip away all my excuses,
    and let me practice pure religion:
    by visiting the afflicted and comforting them,
    by working to stop injustice,
    and by keeping myself from loving this world too much to act or pray.
 
Kurt Bjorklund, 1968- , American Minister and author of
Prayers for Today A Yearlong Journey of Devotional Prayer
 
______________________________
 
 
Religion that is pure and undefiled before God the Father is this: 
    to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, 
    and to keep oneself unstained from the world.
 
 

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Ain’t gonna let nobody turn us around

civil rights march / GPA Photo Archive / flickr / CC BY-NC 2.0
 
Almighty God, Thou has called us to walk for freedom, 
    even as Thou did the Children of Israel.  
We pray, dear God, as we go through a wilderness of State Troopers 
    that Thou will hold our hand.  
We pray, dear God, as we must go through the Valley of the Shadow of Death, 
    that Thou will go with us and strengthen us for the task.  
Keep us strong.  
Keep us calm.  
Help us to love our enemy.  
And above all, keep the fires of freedom burning in our hearts, 
    so that no matter what happens, 
    ain’t gonna let nobody turn us around.
Because Thou, dear God, has set us into this place.
Thou has sent us to fight, not just for ourselves,
    but to fight for this nation 
    so that democracy might exist here for the whole world.
Keep this vision in our hearts,
    and may we one day wake up and find the state of Alabama,
    where all men might vote, 
    where all children might get a decent education,
    where every man and woman might find a decent job
        according to his or her abilities,
    and where every man and woman 
        might be able to live together as brothers and sisters
    and violence and bloodshed and hatred and prejudice
         shall be no more.
In Jesus’ name we pray, Amen.
 
Martin Luther King, Jr. 1929 -1968, American pastor and civil rights activist
 
_________________________
 

Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
    for they shall be satisfied.

 

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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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