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Posts Tagged ‘truth’

God of hope,
you promise peace and joy and unfailing love.

We wait for you, Lord,
our souls wait
with deep yearning
for you to act
to bring hope to lives
that are caught in despair,
to make peace in cities
wounded by so much violence,
to move us toward joy and love.

You are more patient with us
than we are with you, Lord.
You work in our hearts
and our minds
and our spirits,
changing us in deep places
so we become the place
where your hope and peace and joy and love
can come to birth.

Give us grace
to slow down enough
to pay attention
to the work you are doing in us
and among us.

Give us grace
to face the hard truths
that make a way
for your transforming power
and healing presence.

Give us grace
to yield to you.

We pray in the name of Jesus
who has set us on this Way of Life.

Amen.

 

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A prayer based on Luke 7:36 – 8:3

Great is your faithfulness, O Lord, our Saviour,
Faithful in loving us
Faithful in finding us when we lose our way
Faithful in forgiving us
and healing us
and bringing us home to you.

Great is your faithfulness, Lord,
and we are grateful.

There are times when each moment
shines with your grace and your goodness;
we know ourselves bathed in your holy care
and our hearts sing out your praise.

There are times when we struggle
to keep going
and you shepherd us,
holding us with a love
that does not let us go,
feeding our souls
with your presence,
speaking your truth
that gives us strength and courage
for one more step,
and we gasp out our
‘thank you’, ‘thank you’, ‘thank you’.

But there are also times when we
barge through our lives
oblivious to your presence,
your gifts,
your call;
unaware of all we have received
from your abundant love.

Speak to us today:
speak the words that
draw us back to you;
words that recall all you have done;
words that deepen and renew
our love for you.

We open our and our minds
to your Spirit’s work,
for you are the one
whose broken body
and poured out life
are the food and drink
we need.

Amen.

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You summon us

Lord Jesus,
by the power of your Holy Spirit,
you have gone into our villages and cities
summoning us to follow you;
gathering us into your new community of love.

We are following
even though we do not fully understand your Way.
We still look for glory in all the wrong places.
We still compete for positions of power.
We still ignore the people you want to include.

Have mercy on us.
Summon us over and over again
into your presence.

There, open our eyes to your strange, life-giving truth
You have welcomed us and
made us your own.
This is grace
that draws us beyond our fears
and failures
and doubts.

Give us freedom and courage
to follow you on your Way,
wherever you may lead,
knowing that we travel
only deeper into your love and grace.

 

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You draw us into the light of your presence, O Lord.
You speak your Word
and we learn to see the world through your eyes.

All week, we hear other voices —
voices that measure people’s worth
by how much they have accomplished;
or by how much they own;
or by how they fit into an agenda or system.

We are glad for your summons
but we come with vision that has been distorted
and hearts that have been bruised
and desires that have been turned away from your truth.

We look to you now
and to your promises
to re-define us again;
to re-vision us again;
to re-measure us again
according to your great love and mercy.

We wait — open, empty, at risk.
Speak your cleansing, renewing, re-defining Word into our lives.

Then, grant us words to witness to your healing truth and light
wherever your grace sends us.
We pray in the name of Jesus
who sees us truly
and loves us still.

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We come into your presence with
hungry hearts
and thirsty spirits
and tattered souls.

You offer us truth that sets us free:
we did not make ourselves;
we do not keep ourselves;
we cannot save ourselves.

You offer us truth that sets us free:
we are wonderfully made in your image;
we are safely kept in your care;
nothing in all creation can take us beyond
your steadfast love and faithfulness.

So, we reach out to you.
We lay before you the concerns that bind our hearts.

Enfold us with your healing power;
pull us deeper and deeper into your transforming power;
nurture and nourish our souls till they shine with your love
and bless all whose lives we touch.

We ask in the name of Jesus,
your Way, your Truth, your Life.

Amen.

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Draw me in

Life-giving God,
God of blessing and of joy,
you have come among us in Jesus of Nazareth
to draw us into the wide, expansive world
of your grace and love.

Long before we are aware of it,
your Holy Spirit is moving in us and through us,
Pulling us out of ourselves,
setting us in relationships
where we can learn the lessons of love.

Search my heart and mind.
Show me the ways
I resist your work.
Open me to the work of your Spirit,
tearing down that which diminishes Life;
building up that which makes me more fully
the person you have created me to be.

Set your holy truth within me
that I may live in the world
aware of your love,
open to your transforming grace,
dancing in your light.

I pray in the name of Jesus,
who is the the Way, the Truth, the Life.

Amen.

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A sermon based on Luke 3: 51-22 for Baptism of our Lord Sunday

If someone were to ask you, “Who is Jesus?”, what would you say?

Is he an interesting human being or is he the Son of God?

Is he a great spiritual leader among the world’s other spiritual leaders or is he Lord of lords and King of kings, Very God of Very God?

Is he the person in the picture on a wall from your childhood or is he your Lord and Master and saviour?

Is he someone you have bet your life on?

When we try to say who Jesus is, we tend to use titles, names, and ideas. When the gospels try to tell us who Jesus is, they tell us stories. In those stories, it is never completely obvious who Jesus is. Different interpretations are always possible. Who he is is always open to debate.

We think we have trouble knowing who Jesus is because we know so much. Modern science tells us how the world works — what is possible and what is not possible. It teaches us to be sceptical about the claims that Jesus healed a leper or fed 5000 people with five loaves and two fish. Besides, we are in contact with people from other faiths who worship other gods. What do you do with someone who claims, “I am the Way, the Truth and the Life; no one comes to the Father but through me.”

We think we have trouble with Jesus because we know so much more than the people of Jesus’ time. “No,” say the gospels, “Jesus’ identity has always been contested. It has always been uncertain.” A few people believed that he was the Saviour of the world. Most thought he was crazy and wanted him dead.

A few people said, “This is God in the flesh, living among us full of grace and truth.” Most people thought he was an arrogant trouble-maker who ought to be silenced.

Even those who followed him — his friends and companions — were not always sure what to make of him. Mostly, they just caught glimpses that left them awestruck and wanting more.

The gospel writers do not just give us titles for Jesus. They do not give us definitions or explanations. They tell us stories. Stories, it seems are a much better vehicle for telling the truth about who this Jew from Nazareth is. Stories are deeper and more complex than definitions, just like Jesus is.

One story all four gospels tell is the story of John the Baptist. They all tell that story at the very beginning of Jesus’ adult ministry. If you want to know who Jesus is, you have to get past John first.

John is always out in the wilderness, in the desert. The wilderness is a place where survival is at risk. There are not a lot of resources easily available for you to live. When the gospels tell you that John is in the wilderness, they are not speaking about geography as much as they are doing theology. They are saying that you probably won’t really figure out who Jesus is until life takes you to a wilderness place. There is something about Jesus that is simply not compelling to people who are comfortable with the way things are. People who are at ease in the world do not seem to find him of much interest.

You don’t really start getting to know who Jesus is until you get news from the doctor that shatters your comfortably settled world and you find your life turned upside down.

You don’t really start wrestling with this Saviour until you realize that there is a dark and dangerous wilderness in the middle of a quiet city where innocent people can be kidnapped and killed.

You don’t work too hard at figuring out who Jesus is until your church is two thirds empty Sunday after Sunday and all the programmes and solutions you try don’t work to turn things around and you start wondering whether or not your church is going to survive.

That’s when you really start having to have an answer to the question, “Who is Jesus?”

The gospels take you deeper into your wilderness and introduce you to Jesus’ cousin, John the Baptizer. John the Baptizer was a wild, eccentric character. He was preaching out in the wilderness, saying out loud what everybody knows: “Things aren’t working anymore, folks. The economy isn’t working and there is no easy fix. We’ve messed up creation with our greed and carelessness and now floods and storms and earthquakes are shaking up our world. Relationships are broken — between individuals and between communities and between nations. If we keep heading in the direction we are heading, we shall just encounter more troubles. It is time to turn around. It is time to head into a different direction.”

The crowds loved it. They go worked up and started thinking, “Maybe he is the one. Maybe he will be able to lead us out of the mess we are in. Maybe he will be able to fix what is wrong.”

John says, “Not me. I am not your Saviour. I am just here to point you to the one who is your Saviour. He is mightier than I am. His power is so great that I am not worthy even to be his slave. When he shows up, then things will really change. He will tell truth so scorching that every feeble excuse you make, every lie you have been telling yourself, will burn up and blow away. The words he speaks will expose your idolatries. He will shake your world and disrupt all the complacent defences you are putting up against God. That’s who Jesus is.”

Then there comes the best line in the whole story: “So, with many other exhortations, John proclaimed the good news to the people.” Does John’s speech sound like ‘good news’ to you?

Not everybody wants a Jesus as powerful as what John describes. Herod didn’t want as much truth as even John told and Herod put him in prison. Within three years, he would do the same and worse to Jesus.

It is a curious way to introduce us to Jesus, don’t you think? If I were going to introduce you to Jesus I would tell you that Jesus is a steady anchor when everything else in your life is in chaos and turmoil.

I would tell you that Jesus, the living Christ, can be your sure and steadfast friend when life takes you to the depths of loneliness.

I would tell you that the resurrected Christ is God’s promise that even our dead ends won’t stop God’s good and loving purposes.

But, I am not the one telling the story here. The gospel writers are. They are people who bet their lives on this Jesus and they begin by telling you that Jesus will tell you the truth about your life so powerfully that he will knock your socks off. It is a curious way to introduce us to Jesus, unless this Jesus really is God’s beloved Son, with whom God is well-pleased. It is a curious way to introduce us to Jesus unless Jesus really is the one upon whom the Holy Spirit rests and the truth he tells is the truth that will give you life in all its fullness. The truth he tells is truth that heals your brokenness and sets you free from the fears that bind you. The truth he tells gives us God’s glory and power and love.

If that is the truth, perhaps then, the real question is not “Who is Jesus?” Perhaps the real question is, “Will you let him near?”

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