O wondrous power of the cross!

Bonnat Crucifixion Detailsdalry / Flickr / CC BY-NC 2.0
 
O wondrous power of the cross!
O unspeakable glory of the passion 
    which became the Lord’s tribunal, the world’s judgment, 
    and the power of the Crucified!
From Your cross You draw all things to Yourself, O Lord!
When You stretched out Your hands to an unbelieving people that mocked You,
    the whole world was finally brought to confess Your majesty. . . .
In this way type gave way to truth, prophecy to revelation,
    the ancient law to the gospel.
You drew all things to Yourself, Lord, 
    so that what previously was performed 
         in the one temple of the Jews in mystic signs
    is now celebrated everywhere by holy men
         in every country in revealing rites. . . .
Your cross is the font of all blessings, the source of all graces,
    and through it the believers receive strength in return for weakness,
    glory in return for shame, life in return for death.
 
Pope Leo the Great, c.400-461, influenced the Chalcedonian Creed and Attila the Hun
 
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So he delivered him over to them to be crucified.  So they took Jesus, and he went out, bearing his own cross, to the place called The Place of a Skull, which in Aramaic is called Golgotha. There they crucified him, and with him two others, one on either side, and Jesus between them. Pilate also wrote an inscription and put it on the cross. It read, “Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews.”

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prayer for our leaders

Image by Myriams-Fotos from Pixabay   
 
Lord God, in our prayers for our country
we remember especially the men and women 
who powerfully influence the life of society:
    those who fashion our politics,
    those who frame and administer our laws,
    those who mold public opinion through various forms of media,
    those who write what many read.
May all such recognize their responsibility to you and to the nation, 
    that people may be influenced for what is good, not evil;
    for what is true, not false;
for the glory of your name,
 
Frank Colquhoun,1909-1997, evangelical priest and author, Church of England
 
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Behold, a king will reign in righteousness,
    and princes will rule in justice.
Each will be like a hiding place from the wind,
    a shelter from the storm,
  like streams of water in a dry place,
    like the shade of a great rock in a weary land.
Then the eyes of those who see will not be closed,
    and the ears of those who hear will give attention.
The heart of the hasty will understand and know,
    and the tongue of the stammerers will hasten to speak distinctly.
The fool will no more be called noble,
    nor the scoundrel said to be honorable.
For the fool speaks folly,
    and his heart is busy with iniquity,
  to practice ungodliness,
    to utter error concerning the Lord,
  to leave the craving of the hungry unsatisfied,
    and to deprive the thirsty of drink.
As for the scoundrel—his devices are evil;
    he plans wicked schemes
  to ruin the poor with lying words,
    even when the plea of the needy is right.
But he who is noble plans noble things,
    and on noble things he stands.

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Lord, we lament the state of our nation

 image by Billy Hathorn, CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons
 
Lord, we lament the state of our nation.

Lord, we lament the divisions between us as people in our nation that we cannot seem to resolve.

Lord, we lament the pain, confusion, hatred, and violence that seems to reign in our personal and national life.

Lord, we lament the lack of leadership in our government that has in many ways led to the state of affairs in which we now find ourselves.

Lord, we lament the darkness in our own hearts that contributes to this situation.

Lord, we pray for those who perpetrated the attacks on the Capitol, and the broader attacks on our democracy, to be brought to justice and ultimately to repentance.

Lord, we pray for truth to reign in our national conversations and our communities, as well as in our church.

Lord we pray for President Trump, during the final days of his administration, that he will fulfill his duties responsibly.

Lord, we pray for President-elect Biden, that he will have wisdom as he prepares to assume office on January 20.

Lord, we pray for all our elected officials in the Senate and House of Representatives to be led by Your grace and wisdom, whether they want to be or not.

Lord, we pray for protection of our nation from any adversaries who would seek to harm us during this perilous transitional period.

Lord, we remember that “our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms” (Ephesians 6:12), so we pray that You would protect us from all spiritual evil that seeks to bring devastation upon us.

Lord, we pray for healing of relationships between Americans who are deeply divided by partisanship, that they will seek to resolve their differences peacefully and cooperate where possible for the common good.

Lord, we pray for protection of those in other countries suffering persecution, who have seen the United States as a model of democracy, who may now be endangered as dictators are emboldened to commit further abuses.

Lord, we pray for all who follow the Prince of Peace, that we will humble ourselves before God and allow the light of Christ to shine through us into our dark and broken world.

And Lord, we pray for our own church that we might stand in Your truth, be filled with Your grace, live as one through Christ, and might boldly walk forward as witnesses to You and Your Kingdom, individually and corporately.

All this we pray through Jesus Christ, who with You and the Holy Spirit, are one God, both now and forever. Amen.
 
Matt Erickson, pastor serving in Milwaukee, WI, blogging at Renovate
 
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If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.
 
 

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prayer for mercy against lying

 image / GDJ / Pixabay
 
Almighty and eternal God, you see how your saints are so few and indeed how rarely and infrequently they seek or promote your honor.  And now, as unfortunately you can see, in churches and worldly governments as well as in common life there is a great sense of  discord and dissension.  Thus, dear Lord, we ask you that you would mercifully turn away, or, even as a father, temper our well-deserved punishments and leave us a true seed, so that we would not become like Sodom and Gomorrah.  
 
Send faithful workers into your vineyard who do not speak of useless matters and made-up fables, who are not hypocrites, who are not proud, arrogant and lazy and self-assured.  Ensure that they teach from unity of heart and that they are united in you; grant them humble hearts.  
 
O Lord God, it is dearly needed! Bring your help, so that we would be consoled and taught rightly and remain in our Christian walk and life, that we would not be a stumbling block for others nor would we continue in sins against conscience.  Protect us from sluggish people who do not observe your Word; sustain us by your Word which is pure, perfect and clear.  Grant us endurance in suffering and crossbearing and rule us with your Holy Spirit, so that we would not fall into error and vice but instead would be and remain your dwelling and temple.  Amen
 
Nikolaus Selnecker, 1530 – 1592, German Protestant Reformer
 
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Save, O Lord, for the godly one is gone;
    for the faithful have vanished from among the children of man.
Everyone utters lies to his neighbor;
    with flattering lips and a double heart they speak.

May the Lord cut off all flattering lips,
    the tongue that makes great boasts,
 those who say, “With our tongue we will prevail,
    our lips are with us; who is master over us?”

“Because the poor are plundered, because the needy groan,
    I will now arise,” says the Lord;
    “I will place him in the safety for which he longs.”

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be our guiding star

 image / pixy
 
God of all time,
who makes all things new,
we bring before you the year now ending.
For life full and good,
for opportunities recognized and taken,
for love known and shared,
we thank you.
 
Where we have fallen short,
forgive us.
When we worry over what is past,
free us.
 
As we begin again
and take our first steps into the future,
where nothing is safe and certain,
except you,
we ask for the courage of the wise men
who simply went and followed a star.
We ask for their wisdom,
in choosing to pursue the deepest truth,
not knowing where they would be led.
 
In the year to come, God of all time,
be our help and company.
Hold our hands as we journey onwards
and may your dream of shalom,
where all will be at peace,
be our guiding star.
 
Francis Brienen, United Reformed Church, UK
 
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After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, 
Magi from the east came to Jerusalem and asked, 
    “Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? 
    We saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.”

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Cusp of midnight

 imagegamagapix / pixabay
 
What Mary wants now
God says soon

What Joseph needs now
God says not long

What the peacemakers seek now
God says hold your breath a little longer

What the hungry long for now
God says hush but a moment

What the poor yearn for now
God says, wait a little more

What the lonely hunger for now
God says shortly

What the forgotten thirst for now
God says presently

What the world aches for now
God says soon and very soon

Time is moving towards incarnation
justice is slipping into skin
peace is labouring
truth is taking human shape
this night
this hour
this moment
soon
 
Roddy Hamilton, Scottish Pastor
 
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And Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the town of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, to be registered with Mary, his betrothed, who was with child.  And while they were there, the time came for her to give birth.

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your Son, born of a virgin

image / pixabay

 

O Holy God of Promise,
    we so often place our trust in the things we can see,
    and touch, and easily believe.
But you did not ask us to believe what is easy,
    you have asked us to believe what is true!
Forgive us, Holy One, when we doubt the ways you work.
Forgive us when we find it hard to believe an ancient story.
Forgive us when we question how you chose to enter the world,
    born as one of us.
Forgive our lack of faith and belief
    in ways which seem so impossible to believe.
Help us to look in faith, open our belief, and set aside our doubts
    that you sent your Son, born of a virgin –
        the one who has come to set us all free.
We offer these prayers in the name of your Son,
Emmanuel, God with us.  
Amen.

Jan Brook, Presbyterian Pastor serving in Kansas
re-worship.blogspot
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In the sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee, to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. The angel went to her and said, “Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.”

Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be. But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary; you have found favor with God. You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over Jacob’s descendants forever; his kingdom will never end.”

“How will this be,” Mary asked the angel, “since I am a virgin?”

The angel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come on you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called[a] the Son of God. Even Elizabeth your relative is going to have a child in her old age, and she who was said to be unable to conceive is in her sixth month. For no word from God will ever fail.”

“I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered. “May your word to me be fulfilled.” Then the angel left her.
 

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Prayer for Election Time

Photo by Element5 Digital on Unsplash  

Heavenly Father
source of all truth and wisdom, 
who knows and loves the whole creation,
watch over our nation at election time:
that truth may prevail over distortion,
wisdom triumph over recklessness
and the concerns of every person be heard.

Lord Jesus,
who chose the way of the cross in the Garden of Gethsemane,
help us to turn our backs on self interest
and to support policies that sustain the poor, 
the vulnerable and the frightened people of this world.

Holy Spirit,
who brought understanding
among myriad peoples and languages at Pentecost,
give to all your people a passion for peace
and inspire us to work for unity and cooperation throughout the world 
and in our political life together.

Lord, we give thanks for the privileges and responsibilities 
of living in a democratic society.
Give us wisdom to play our part at election time,
that through the exercise of each vote, 
your Kingdom may come closer.

Protect us from the sins of despair and cynicism, 
guard us against the idols of false utopias 
and strengthen us to make politics a noble calling 
that serves the common good of all.
We ask this in the name of Jesus Christ Our Lord.
Amen.
 
Unboxed Worship, Box Hill Baptist Church, Australia
 
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First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way.

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