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
 
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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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only you can teach me to pray

image / Conniemod, CC BY-SA 3.0 / Wikimedia Commons
 
Listen, O Lord, to my prayers.  
Listen to my desire to be with you, to dwell in your house, 
    and to let my whole being be filled with your presence.
But none of this is possible without you.
When you are not the one who fills me, 
    I am soon filled with endless thoughts and concerns
    that divide me and tear me away from you.
Even thoughts about you, good spiritual thoughts,
    can be little more than distractions,
    when you are not their author.
O Lord, thinking about you, 
    being fascinated with theological ideas and discussions,
    being excited about histories of Christian spirituality
    and stimulated by thoughts and ideas about prayer and meditation,
    all of this can be as much an expression of greed
        as the unruly desire for food, possessions, or power.
Every day I see again that only you can teach me to pray,
    only you can set my heart at rest,
    only you can let me dwell in your presence.
No book, no idea, no concept or theory will ever bring me close to you
    unless you yourself are the one who lets these instruments 
    become the way to you.
But, Lord, let me at least remain open to your initiative;
    let me wait patiently and attentively for that hour
    when you will come and break through 
        all the walls I have erected.
Teach me, O Lord, to pray. Amen.
 
Henri J.M. Nouwen, 1932 – 1996, Dutch-born Catholic priest and author
 
_________________________________
 
 
And rising very early in the morning, while it was still dark, 
he departed and went out to a desolate place, and there he prayed.
 

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May we encounter You today

image / Harold Copping / Wikimedia Commons
 
Loving God, our faithful father, you who created us in your image and likeness, and are willing to meet with us here, as market vendors, barbers, mothers and fathers.
 
We confess that in our sweat and toil, we often forget your presence.  In our struggles and weariness and frustration we are often lukewarm.  Forgive us.
 
Tabernacle with us.
We need you now more than ever.  Drained of strength and energy we come, that we might be re-energized and filled.
 
So come Lord. Come as the wind, blow your breath gently over us, blow the dust off our lives. Come as the fire, burn out all the hate and anger we feel towards those who oppress us and treat us unfairly.  Come as the water, wash the dirt of poverty off our stalls, the marketplace, and our lives.
 
Come as the dove – settle all matters concerning us.  Let peace reign.
 
May we encounter you today.  Ignite our hearts to worship and serve you.  Take your place and rule and reign in Jesus’s name as we leave our struggle at the foot of the cross and liberate us to worship you. Amen.
 
complied by Claudio Carvalhaes, professor of worship in New York City
 
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You have said, “Seek my face.”
My heart says to you,
    “Your face, Lord, do I seek.

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Be Thou My Vision

image / Donatas Dabravolskas / CC BY-SA 4.0 / Wikimedia Commons
 
Be Thou my Vision, O Lord of my heart;
Naught be all else to me, save that Thou art.
Thou my best Thought, by day or by night,
Waking or sleeping, Thy presence my light.

Be Thou my Wisdom, and Thou my true Word;
I ever with Thee and Thou with me, Lord;
Thou my great Father, I Thy true son;
Thou in me dwelling, and I with Thee one.

Be Thou my battle Shield, Sword for the fight;
Be Thou my Dignity, Thou my Delight;
Thou my soul’s Shelter, Thou my high Tower:
Raise Thou me heavenward, O Power of my power.

Riches I heed not, nor man’s empty praise,
Thou mine Inheritance, now and always:
Thou and Thou only, first in my heart,
High King of Heaven, my Treasure Thou art.

High King of Heaven, my victory won,
May I reach Heaven’s joys, O bright Heav’n’s Sun!
Heart of my own heart, whatever befall,
Still be my Vision, O Ruler of all.
 
Dallán Forgaillc. 560 – 640,  translated by Eleanor Hull 1912
 
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I saw in the night visions,
and behold, with the clouds of heaven
    there came one like a son of man,
and he came to the Ancient of Days
    and was presented before him.
And to him was given dominion
    and glory and a kingdom,
that all peoples, nations, and languages
    should serve him;
his dominion is an everlasting dominion,
    which shall not pass away,
and his kingdom one
    that shall not be destroyed.

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Let hope be my hunch, Lord

 Rubem Alves
Lord, I’m so easily weighed down
by my struggles, my burdens
and the harsh realities of daily life…

Sometimes, I think I’ll lose hope in you
    in tomorrow,
    in others,
    and in myself
so I need you to help me trust,
to help me hope
that the peace I imagine,
the peace I pray for,
the peace you promise
is stronger and greater
than any of my problems…
 
Let hope be my hunch, Lord:
    that my future’s not limited
        by my present trials;
    that the troubles of the moment
        won’t have the last word;
    that my burdens are truly
        a prelude to joy…
 
Give me hope
    in the midst of suffering, Lord:
I know that’s the path of your love,
    I know it’s the way to peace…

Help me see, Lord,
how my troubles prepare me today
    for your coming, the advent of peace,
for the gift of your presence,
    the harvest of hope,
        my hunch proved right by your grace…
 
Protect me, Lord, while I’m awake
and watch over me while I asleep
that awake, I might keep watch with you
and asleep, rest in your peace…
Amen.
 
Fr. Austin Fleming, Roman Catholic Priest serving near Boston, MA  
Concord Pastor
 
______________________________
 
 
I wait for the Lord, my whole being waits,
    and in his word I put my hope.

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Eye of God, look not away

Photo by Timothy Eberly on Unsplash
 
All-Seeing One,
above me, around me, within me,
Be my seeing as I read these sacred words.
Look down upon me
Look out from within me
Look all around me
See through my eyes
Hear through my ears
Feel through my heart
Touch me where I need to be touched;
    and when my heart is touched,
    give me the grace to lay down this Holy Book
    and ask significant questions:
Why has my heart been touched?
How am I to be changed through this touch?
All-Seeing One,
I need to change
I need to look a little more like You
May these sacred words change and transform me.
Then I can meet You face to face
    without dying
    because I’ve finally died enough.
To die is to be healed a little more each death,
    until that final death
    when I’ll be healed forever.
It will be a healing that will last.
Your Words are healing
    although they bring about my death.
 
Macrina Wiederkehr, 1939-2020, Benedictine sister and spiritual director
 
_____________________________
 
 
For the word of God is alive and active.
Sharper than any double-edged sword,
    it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow;
    it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.
Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight.
Everything is uncovered and laid bare
    before the eyes of him to whom we must give account.
 

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I want to stop running

image / pxfuel
 
Eternal God, you are a song amid silence,
    a voice out of quietness,
    a light out of darkness,
    a Presence in the emptiness,
    a coming out of the void.
You are all of these things and more.
You are mystery that encompasses meaning,
    meaning that penetrates mystery.
You are God,
    I am man.
I strut and brag.
I put down my fellows
    and bluster out assortments of my achievements.
And then something happens:
    I wonder who I am,
        and if I matter.
Night falls,
    I am alone in the dark and afraid.
Someone dies,
    I feel so powerless.
A child is born,
    I feel touched by the miracle of new life.
At such moments I pause . . .
    to listen for a song amid the silence,
    a voice out of stillness,
    to look for a light out of darkness.
I want to feel a Presence in the emptiness.
I find myself reaching for a hand. 
 
Oftentimes, the feeling passes quickly,
    and I am on the run again:
        success to achieve,
        money to make.
O Lord, you have to catch me on the run
    most of the time.
I am too busy to stop,
    too important to pause for contemplation.
I hold up too big a section of the sky
    to sit down and meditate.
But even on the run,
    an occasional flicker of doubt assails me,
And I suspect I may not be as important 
        to the world
     as I think I am.
Jesus said each of us is important to you.
It is as if every hair of our heads were numbered.
How can that be?
But in the hope that is is so,
I would stop running,
        stop shouting,
    and be myself.
 
Let me be still now.
Let me be calm.
Let me rest upon the faith that you are, God,
    and I need not be afraid. Amen.
 
Kenneth G. Phifer, Presbyterian minister and author
 
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Come, behold the works of the Lord,
    how he has brought desolations on the earth.
He makes wars cease to the end of the earth;
    he breaks the bow and shatters the spear;
    he burns the chariots with fire.
“Be still, and know that I am God.
    I will be exalted among the nations,
    I will be exalted in the earth!”

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send us, come with us, empower us

Great Commission icon / Ted / Flickr / CC BY-SA 2.0

 

God the Sender, send us.
God the Sent, come with us.
God the Strengthener of those who go, empower us,
    that we may go with you
    and find those who will call you
Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
 
Welsh prayer
 
__________________________
 
 
And Jesus came and said to them, 
“All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 
Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, 
    baptizing them 
    in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit”

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from solitude to communion

 The Walk to Emmaus / Ilyas Basim Khuri Bazzi Rahib/ CC BY-SA 3.0 / Wikimedia Commons
 
Lord Jesus,
you alone can reveal to us
the riches of God’s solitude
in the communion of persons.
 
Alone in the desert
and alone in Gethsemane,
alone on your cross,
between men who were alone on theirs,
you assumed everyone’s solitude
within yourself
so that everyone might commune
with God.
 
O God of encounters,
may each of us 
in his desert
detect a sign of your presence.
With you,
may each of us be
for his brothers
a travelling companion
in the fellowship of the Father
and the Spirit.
 
Lord Jesus, 
by taking part
in your death and resurrection,
we pass from solitude to communion.
 
Pierre Talec, 1933- 2016, French priest and author
 
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So they approached the village where they were going. 
He acted as though he wanted to go farther, but they urged him, 
“Stay with us, because it is getting toward evening and the day is almost done.” 
So he went in to stay with them.

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Lament in Times of Sorrow

Image by S. Hermann & F. Richter from Pixabay 

God, we call out to you!
From the depths of our hearts, we cry,
“Lord, hear our prayer!”

We are consumed by grief.
The events of the past few days have overwhelmed us—
it’s hard to sleep,
it’s hard to eat,
it’s even hard to pray.

Where are you, God?

Deep down, we know that you love us—
we’ve experienced your mercy and your faithfulness in the past,
and it has sustained us through many difficult times.
We refuse to believe that you have deserted us,
or that you are unaware of the pain that we’re feeling.
And so we turn to you again,
longing for your presence,
looking for your comfort and peace.

Surround us with your unfailing love.
Remind us that you alone are God,
and that you hold us in the palm of your hand.
Give us courage and strength to face the days ahead,
and strengthen us in the knowledge that we do not face them alone.

In the name of Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord, we pray.

Amen.

 

Christine Longhurst, Worship Professor, Canadian Mennonite University

 re-worship.blogspot.com

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Psalm 77:1-2

I cried out to God for help;
    I cried out to God to hear me.
When I was in distress, I sought the Lord;
    at night I stretched out untiring hands,
    and I would not be comforted. Continue reading