City

Isaiah 62:11-12
“They will be called the Holy People, the Redeemed of the Lord; and you will be called Sought After, the City No Longer Deserted.”

Matthew 21:9-10
“The crowds that went ahead of him and those that followed shouted, ‘Hosanna to the Son of David!  Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!  Hosanna in the highest!’  When Jesus entered Jerusalem, the whole city was stirred, and asked, ‘Who is this?’”

Revelation 21:2-3a
“I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband.  And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, ‘Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them.”

Holy One, the loveliness of heaven is your dwelling place, and yet you take up residence with us.

When you enter the lives we have allowed to fall into self-serving ruin, you restore the crumbling foundations we have built.  You inhabit the neglected places and reverse our desolation.

cityMay we open wide the gates of our hearts to you and pave the way with Hosannas.  Come and be the architect of a new beauty in us so that the outcast finds shelter and the stranger a home.

This we ask in the name of Jesus, who sought after us and was exiled to a death in the barrens to welcome us into the city of salvation.

Listen to ‘Hide Thou Me’ by Central Avenue Church

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At the Feet

Ruth 3:7-9
“When Boaz had finished eating and drinking and was in good spirits, he went over to lie down at the far end of the grain pile.  Ruth approached quietly, uncovered his feet and lay down.  In the middle of the night something startled the man, and he turned and discovered a woman lying at his feet.  ‘Who are you?’ he asked.  ‘I am your servant Ruth,’ she said.  ‘Spread the corner of your garment over me, since you are a kinsman-redeemer.’”

Luke 10:38-39
“As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him.  She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said.”

Isaiah 60:13, 16b
“The glory of Lebanon will come to you, the pine, the fir and the cypress together, to adorn the place of my sanctuary; and I will glorify the place of my feet…Then you will know that I, the Lord am your Savior, your Redeemer, the Mighty One of Jacob.”

Great Kinsman-Redeemer, you are wise and eternally loving.

You have absorbed the cost of protecting us.  You shelter us, speak to us and undeservedly honour us.

at the feetDraw us to sit expectantly at your feet, Lord, that we might linger long on your words and be eager to obey.  Cover us with your garment of grace and may our humble hearts bring you delight.

Thank you that Jesus was willing to pay the redemption price for us—servants purchased out of poverty at the cost of the Master’s life.  From our place at his wounded feet we ask these things in his name.

Listen to ‘Jesus, Cast a Look on Me’ by Red Mountain Music

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Lifted

Jeremiah 38:6-7a, 11-13a
“So they took Jeremiah and put him into the cistern…They lowered Jeremiah by ropes into the cistern; it had no water in it, only mud, and Jeremiah sank down into the mud.  But Ebed-Melech, a Cushite, an official in the royal palace, heard that they had put Jeremiah into the cistern…So Ebed-Melech took the men with him and went to a room under the treasury in the palace.  He took some old rags and worn-out clothes from there and let them down with ropes to Jeremiah in the cistern.  [He] said to Jeremiah, ‘Put these old rags and worn-out clothes under your arms to pad the ropes.’  Jeremiah did so, and they pulled him up with the ropes and lifted him out of the cistern.”

Luke 10:33-34
“But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him.  He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine.  Then he put the man on his own donkey, took him to an inn and took care of him.”

Psalm 40:1-2
“I waited patiently for the Lord; he turned to me and heard my cry.  He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand.”

Merciful God, you look upon the disasters that have befallen us with deep compassion.

liftedAs we sink into the mud of despair, you hear our cry.  With acts of gentle love you tend to our wounds and lift us from the place where we have been abandoned.

Soften our hearts for the plight of the foreigner and the neighbour, so that as we have been mercifully rescued we might also stop to revive the downcast.  Teach us to bind their bruises with healing hands.

Thank you for the love shown to us by your Son Jesus Christ, who willingly entered the pit so that we might be lifted high and set firmly upon the Rock.

Listen to ‘He Lifted Me‘ by Jim Spencer Music

 

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Prisoners of Hope

Genesis 39:20b-23
“But while Joseph was there in the prison, the Lord was with him; he showed him kindness and granted him favour in the eyes of the prison warden.  So the warden put Joseph in charge of all those held in the prison, and he was made responsible for all that was done there.  The warden paid no attention to anything under Joseph’s care, because the Lord was with Joseph and gave him success in whatever he did.”

Zechariah 9:12
“Return to your fortress, O prisoners of hope; even now I announce that I will restore twice as much to you.”

Acts 28:17a, 20b
“When [the leaders of the Jews] had assembled, Paul said to them, ‘My brothers, although I have done nothing against our people…It is because of the hope of Israel that I am bound with this chain.’”

Eternal God, the expanse of the heavens speak of your delight in freedom.

prisoner hopeThough you cannot be contained, you bend low to free our hearts when we are imprisoned by circumstances.  You unlock hope when we have been sentenced to despair.

Fix our eyes upon Christ instead of our chains.  Let us rejoice in the knowledge that we are bound to you in love more tightly than any earthly fetter, and may others be released by the power of our joy.

This we ask in the name of Jesus, who served our sentence for us, that we might walk in life and liberty.

Listen to ‘O Christ What Burdens Bowed Thy Head’ by Amanda Greene

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Cords

Hosea 11:1-2a, 4a
“When Israel was a child, I loved him, and out of Egypt I called my son.  But the more I called Israel, the further they went from me…I led them with cords of human kindness, with ties of love…”

John 2:14-15
“In the temple courts [Jesus] found men selling cattle, sheep and doves, and others sitting at tables exchanging money.  So he made a whip out of cords, and drove all from the temple area…”

Hebrews 12:5b-6
“My son, do not make light of the Lord’s discipline, and do not lose heart when he rebukes you, because the Lord disciplines those he loves, and he punishes everyone he accepts as a son.”

Righteous Father, you hold the highest authority and we place ourselves under your command.

You have loved us like cherished children, but we are wayward and ungrateful.  We have rejected your gentle leading, but your wisdom and mercy will not allow us to wander far.

cordsForgive us for our crooked ways and help us to accept the unwelcome cords of discipline.  Remind our downcast hearts that your corrective striking is for our protection, coaxing us into saving obedience.

We are humbled that you gave up your precious Son Jesus to fall beneath the punishing lash in our place, that we might be bound to you forever.

Listen to ‘Heal Me for Thy Mercy’s Sake’ by Darby Hughes

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Carrying

Genesis 22:6-8
“Abraham took the wood for the burnt offering and placed it on his son Isaac, and he himself carried the fire and the knife.  As the two of them went on together, Isaac spoke up and said to his father Abraham, ‘Father?’  ‘Yes, my son?’ Abraham replied.  ‘The fire and the wood are here,’ Isaac said, ‘but where is the lamb for the burnt offering?’  Abraham answered, ‘God himself will provide the lamb for the burnt offering, my son.’  And the two of them went on together.”

John 19:16-17
“Finally Pilate handed him over to them to be crucified.  So the soldiers took charge of Jesus.  Carrying his own cross, he went out to the place of the Skull…”

Luke 9:23-24
“Then [Jesus] said to them all: ‘Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me.  For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will save it.’”

Father of the Nations, you are a God who sees how your children stumble under the load of sin.

carrying (2)Though we are weary and our souls chafed raw, in your mercy you provided a load-bearer for us.  The splinters of sorrow pierced his innocent back and he took upon himself the death we were destined for.

In gratitude may we lay down our self-pleasing lives and take up the burdens of those that share our path, easing them only in your strength.

We ask this in the name of our substitute sacrifice, Jesus Christ, who walked under the weight of the crucifixion wood to be offered up for our salvation.

Listen to ‘Go to Dark Gethsemane’ featuring Sandra McCracken

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Branches

Ezekiel 17:22-23a
“This is what the Sovereign Lord says:  I myself will take a shoot from the very top of a cedar and plant it; I will break off a tender sprig from its topmost shoots and plant it on a high and lofty mountain.  On the mountain heights of Israel I will plant it; it will produce branches and bear fruit and become a splendid cedar.”

John 15:1a, 4
“I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener…Remain in me, and I will remain in you.  No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine.  Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.”

Isaiah 11:1-3
“A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse; from his roots a Branch will bear fruit.  The Spirit of the Lord will rest on him—the Spirit of wisdom and of understanding, the Spirit of counsel and of power, the Spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the Lord—and he will delight in the fear of the Lord.”

Giver of life, all green and growing things flourish as they reach for you.

branchesYou are the splendid cedar and the true vine.  We draw all sustenance from you, and would wither but for our grafting into a greater host.

Plant us and prune us into branches reverent to the Gardener.  May we be rooted in wisdom, nourished by your Spirit and produce fruit in keeping with our source.

This we ask for the sake of Jesus, the true tree of life, who was cut off from glory and nailed to a tree of death so that we might remain forever grounded in you.

Listen to ‘Vineyard’ by Strahan

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