Message of Joy

Acts 12:11a, 12-15a, 16
“Then Peter came to himself and said, ‘Now I know without a doubt that the Lord sent his angel and rescued me from Herod’s clutches…’  When this had dawned on him, he went to the house of Mary…where many people had gathered and were praying.  Peter knocked at the outer entrance, and a servant girl named Rhoda came to answer the door.  When she recognized Peter’s voice, she was so overjoyed she ran back without opening it and exclaimed, ‘Peter is at the door!’  ‘You’re out of your mind,’ they told her…But Peter kept on knocking, and when they opened the door and saw him, they were astonished.”

Matthew 28:5-7a, 8
“The angel said to the women, ‘Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified.  He is not here; he has risen, just as he said.  Come and see the place where he lay.  Then go quickly and tell his disciples:  ‘He has risen from the dead…’  So the women hurried away from the tomb, afraid yet filled with joy, and ran to tell his disciples.”

Isaiah 52:7
“How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of those who bring good news, who proclaim peace, who bring good tidings, who proclaim salvation, who say to Zion, ‘Your God reigns!’”

Great Father, you hear our midnight prayers and your salvation comes with the morning.

Kazakh girlThough the miracle is immense, you entrust the message to the humble.  You choose the simple voice of a servant to proclaim your kingdom’s reign.

Prepare us to receive the good news of your presence amongst us.  May we in joyful witness announce your longed-for arrival, even to those most hesitant to hear.

We lift our requests to you in the name of the risen Christ, who brought us the gospel on his pierced and beautiful feet.

Listen to ‘How Marvelous’ by the Andy Needham Band

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Way

2 Samuel 14:1-2a, 4b, 5b-7a, 11b, 13-14
“Joab…knew the king’s heart longed for Absalom.  So Joab…had a wise woman brought…‘Pretend you are in mourning…then go to the king…’…she said, ‘Help me, O king!…I am indeed a widow…I your servant had two sons.  They got into a fight with each other in the field…one struck the other and killed him.  Now the whole clan has risen up against your servant; they say, ‘Hand over the one who struck his brother down, so that we may put him to death for the life of his brother whom he killed…’  ‘As surely as the Lord lives, [David] said, ‘not one hair of your son’s head will fall to the ground.’…The woman said, ‘Why then have you devised a thing like this against the people of God?  When the king says this, does he not convict himself, for the king has not brought back his banished son?  Like water spilled on the ground, which cannot be recovered, so we must die.  But God does not take away life; instead, he devises ways so that a banished person may not remain estranged from him.’”

John 14:6
“Jesus answered, ‘I am the way and the truth and the life.  No one comes to the Father except through me.’”

Habakkuk 3:6b
“His ways are eternal.”

Lord and King, with unlimited capacity and profound wisdom you devise plans of love.

You sketched out a route to restore your guilty children by means of an innocent mediator.  As a living path, Christ offered himself as the way for us to return to you.

wayReceive our gratitude for initiating this most merciful solution.  May we answer wrongdoing by offering creative channels of reconciliation.

Because of your unrelenting hold on us we can ask this in the name of Jesus, your perfect plan and most brilliant way.

Listen to ‘Of the Father’s Love Begotten’ by Ordinary Time

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Thorns

Genesis 3:17-18
“To Adam [God] said, ‘…Cursed is the ground because of you; through painful toil you will eat of it all the days of your life.  It will produce thorns and thistles for you, and you will eat the plants of the field.’”

Genesis 22:13
“Abraham looked up and there in a thicket he saw a ram caught by its horns.  He went over and took the ram and sacrificed it as a burnt offering instead of his son.”

John 19:1-2a
“Then Pilate took Jesus and had him flogged.  The soldiers twisted together a crown of thorns and put it on his head.”

Holy Lord, you have not abandoned our guilty race, but set the price of restitution and provided the payment.

thornUpon his innocent head your Son wore the curse of our sin-soaked ground.  Caught in a thicket of treachery, he sacrificed himself to free us from our fetters.

Open our hearts to the love that bore such a cruel crown.  Remove the thorns that choke our faith and cause you pain.

In Christ’s precious name, the Lamb of God pierced to make us whole, we kneel before you with grateful praise.

Listen to ‘The Cross of Christ’ by Todd Wright

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Sapphires

Exodus 24:9-10
“Moses and Aaron…went up and saw the God of Israel. Under his feet was something like a pavement made of sapphire, clear as the sky itself.”

Isaiah 54:11-12
“O afflicted city, lashed by storms and not comforted, I will build you with stones of turquoise, your foundations with sapphires. I will make your battlements of rubies, your gates of sparkling jewels, and all your walls of precious stones. ”

Ephesians 2:21-22
“In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit.”

Majestic King, your royal city is inlaid with the gems of your glory, and no earthly jewel can compete with your radiance.

In love you reach down and gather up our flinty hearts, transforming our dusty souls into diamonds.  By merciful alchemy you take our worthlessness and make us precious.

sapphires.1May we reflect the grace in our lives by crowning others with love as rich as rubies, compassion as sparkling as sapphires.  Construct a beautiful dwelling for your Spirit through our unity, so that we might see our earthly cities paved with your righteousness.

This we ask in the name of Jesus, who paid the costliest price of all—his very life—to purchase us and make us priceless.

Listen to ‘Arise O God and Shine’  featuring Matthew Smith

 

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Eagle

Deuteronomy 32:10-11
“In a desert land he found him, in a barren and howling waste.  He shielded him and cared for him; he guarded him as the apple of his eye, like an eagle that stirs up its nest and hovers over its young, that spreads its wings to catch them and carries them aloft.”

Ephesians 1:18-20
“I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and his incomparably great power for us who believe.  That power is like the working of his mighty strength, which he exerted in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms…”

Isaiah 40:31a
“…those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength.  They will soar on wings like eagles…”

Almighty God, you cover us with your strong and beautiful wings.

eagleWhen we are helpless, you lift us from the mire to soar the heights.  Our hope is found only in our majestic King of the skies.

Teach us to know the power that renews and resurrects.  May we rest effortlessly, like a circling eagle, on the currents of your grace.

We ask this in the name of Christ; pinioned to free us, brought down to be raised high.

Listen to ‘Spread Thy Wings’ by Red Mountain Music

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Overflowing

Psalm 23:5b-6
“You anoint my head with oil, my cup overflows.  Surely goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.”

Romans 15:13
“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”

Luke 6:38
“Give, and it will be given to you.  A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap.  For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.”

Gracious God, you have blessed us with the infinitely extravagant gift of your friendship.

overflowingYou do not measure your generosity by our small cups.  You pour out peace with a heavy hand, joy splashes and soaks us, hope spills over.

Teach us to love without restraint.  By your Spirit may our unfailing kindness to others exceed all we have received from the hands of our neighbours.

Because of Christ we come to you, who poured himself into the cup of suffering to fill us to overflowing with an abundant life.

Listen to ‘The King of Love’ by High Street Hymns

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Seeds

Mark 4:26-28
“[Jesus] also said, ‘This is what the kingdom of God is like.  A man scatters seed on the ground.  Night and day, whether he sleeps or gets up, the seed sprouts and grows, though he does not know how.  All by itself the soil produces grain—first the stalk, then the head, then the full kernel in the head.  As soon as the grain is ripe, he puts the sickle to it, because the harvest has come.’”

1 Corinthians 3:5b-7
“…the Lord has assigned each to his task.  I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God made it grow.  So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow.”

Isaiah 55:10-11
“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.”

Lord of life, on the third day of creation you adorned the earth with the beauty of spring.

seedsThe fields and gardens obey your word alone, flourishing only at your command.  Your kingdom grows and produces fruit in the mysterious seasons of the Spirit.

Help us plant your word generously and water your work abundantly.  Allow us to trust in your life-giving touch for the harvest.

In the name of Jesus we pray, the seed sown in the dark grave and raised by your power to fill the storehouses of heaven.

Listen to ‘How Vast the Benefits Divine’ by Psalms and Hymns

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