Rejoice!

Habakkuk 3:17-18
“Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my Savior.”

2 Corinthians 6:4-10
“Rather, as servants of God we commend ourselves in every way: in great endurance; in troubles, hardships and distresses; in beatings imprisonments and riots; in hard work, sleepless nights and hunger; in purity, understanding, patience and kindness; in the Holy Spirit and in sincere love; in truthful speech and in the power of God; with weapons of righteousness in the right hand and in the left; through glory and dishonor, bad report and good report; genuine, yet regarded as impostors; known, yet regarded as unknown; dying, and yet we live on; beaten, and yet not killed; sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; poor, yet making many rich; having nothing, and yet possessing everything.”

Isaiah 65:18-19
“But be glad and rejoice forever in what I will create, for I will create Jerusalem to be a delight and its people a joy.  I will rejoice over Jerusalem and take delight in my people; the sound of weeping and of crying will be heard in it no more.”

Almighty God, a mantle of joy cloaks your immense power.

You call us to live the paradox of contentment in the absence of security.  The courage to fight the season of sorrow comes from the choice to praise.

rejoiceTeach us to use the weapon of hope in discouragement.  Open our eyes to see you vividly, and live rejoicing.

Through Jesus Christ we pray; who, though we fail and frustrate, takes great joy and delight in us.

Listen to ‘Sing, O Heavens! O Earth, Rejoice!’ by Community Presbyterian Church

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Loaves

2 Kings 4:42-43
“A man came…bringing the man of God twenty loaves of barley bread…‘Give it to the people to eat,’ Elisha said.  ‘How can I set this before a hundred men?’ his servant asked.  But Elisha answered, ‘Give it to the people to eat.  For this is what the Lord says: ‘They will eat and have some left over.’’”

 Luke 9:17-19
“They all ate and were satisfied, and the disciples picked up twelve basketfuls of broken pieces that were left over.  Once when Jesus was praying in private and his disciples were with him, he asked them, ‘Who do the crowds say I am?’  They replied, ‘Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, that one of the prophets of long ago has come back to life.’  “But what about you?’ he asked.  ‘Who do you say I am?’  Peter answered, ‘The Christ of God.’”

 John 14:12
“I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing.’”

Three-in-One God, there is great harmony in all the ways you faithfully impart life.

reflectionAs Elisha imitated Christ before his earthly appearance, your Spirit guides us into reflecting our Saviour in the loaves we commit to you, then offer to our neighbours.

Help us see that we are participants in the wonders of your greater story and our effectiveness is contingent upon your mercy.  Safe in humility, use us to accomplish great things for your kingdom.

This we ask in the name of our Messiah and the bread each day broken for us, Jesus Christ.

Listen to ‘Broken Bread’ by Rox Goodyear

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For Good

Genesis 50:18-21
“[Joseph’s] brothers then came and threw themselves down before him. ‘We are your slaves,’ they said.  But Joseph said to them, ‘Don’t be afraid.  Am I in the place of God?  You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.  So then, don’t be afraid.  I will provide for you and your children.’  And he reassured them and spoke kindly to them.”

John 16:6-7
“Because I have said these things, you are filled with grief.  But I tell you the truth:  It is for your good that I am going away.  Unless I go away, the Counselor will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you.”

Romans 8:28
“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”

Omnipotent God, there is no scheme that can surprise you or render you helpless.

Every sting intended to harm us becomes the catalyst for a miracle.  You grasp the strike and deliver a stroke.

for goodStrengthen our faith that you can weave black threads into the pattern of a beautiful tapestry.  In grief remind us, though it is beyond our understanding, that you unfailingly work for our good.

In the name of our Saviour Jesus Christ we pray, who drew from the tragedy of the cross the great legacy of our redemption.

Listen to ‘O My Distrustful Heart’ by Jacob Tilton

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Finger of God

Exodus 31:18
“When the Lord finished speaking to Moses on Mount Sinai, he gave him the two tablets of the Testimony, the tablets of stone inscribed by the finger of God.”

 John 8:4b-6
“‘Teacher, this woman was caught in the act of adultery.  In the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women.  Now what do you say?’…But Jesus bent down and started to write on the ground with his finger.”

 2 Corinthians 3:3
“You show that you are a letter from Christ, the result of our ministry, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts.”

Lord and Judge, your laws have been highest justice for countless generations.

You inscribed wisdom for your people through clear commands.  Though your hand carved stone our hard hearts have failed to yield to your touch.

finger of GodCaught in waywardness as we are, help us to read Christ’s new law—that our guilt has been erased because he has knelt in the dust of this earth.  May the fingerprint of your Spirit mark us as living tablets testifying to your goodness.

This we ask in the name of Jesus Christ, whose hands wrote mercy and bore the nails for us.

Listen to ‘No Sweeter Subject’ by Red Mountain Music

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Roots

Jeremiah 17:7-8
“But blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord, whose confidence is in him.  They will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream.  It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green.  It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit.”

Colossians 2:6-7
“So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.”

Psalm 1:1a, 2-3
“Blessed is the one…whose delight is in the law of the Lord, and who meditates on his law day and night.  That person is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither—whatever they do prospers.”

Heavenly Father, you are the source of wisdom that quenches our deep thirst.

rootsYour word, like a refreshing river, invites the dry land to rejoice in shades of green.  Planted in soil soaked through with Christ, our leaves turn lush and we cannot be shaken.

Let your Spirit flow around us so that we might drink and be nourished.  May our faith develop thick roots, anchoring us to your life-giving stream.

In the name of Jesus we pray, the true Root that feeds every good and perfect fruit.

Listen to ‘You Are My Reason To Sing’ by Ordinary Time

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Scarlet Ropes

Joshua 2:8-9a, 12, 13b-14, 17
“Before the spies lay down for the night, [Rahab] went up on the roof and said to them, ‘…please swear to me by the Lord that you will show kindness to my family because I have shown kindness to you.  Give me a sure sign that you will…save us from death.’  ‘Our lives for your lives!’ the men assured her… ‘This oath you made us swear will not be binding on us unless, when we enter the land, you have tied this scarlet cord in the window through which you let us down…’”

Mark 15:1
“Very early in the morning, the chief priests, with the elders, the teachers of the law and the whole Sanhedrin, reached a decision.  They bound Jesus, led him away and handed him over to Pilate.”

Isaiah 1:18
“‘Come now, let us reason together,’ says the Lord.  ‘Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool.’”

Lord God, your word is the sure promise of a coming salvation.

scarlet ropesWhile we faced death in a scarlet city, you planned a rescue.  The blood-stained ropes lashed round Christ’s wrists bore the taint to make our hearts white as snow.

Help us trust that only the crimson cord will save us.  By obedience to your commands may we demonstrate our hope in you.  Remember us when you come again, O Lord.

Our prayer is lifted in the name of Jesus, the innocent bound to free the guilty.

Listen to ‘Nothing But the Blood by Ish

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Banner

Exodus 17:15-16a
“Moses built an altar and called it The Lord is my Banner.  He said, ‘For hands were lifted up to the throne of the Lord.’”

Isaiah 11:10
“In that day the Root of Jesse will stand as a banner for the peoples; the nations will rally to him, and his place of rest will be glorious.”

Song of Songs 2:4
“He has taken me to the banquet hall, and his banner over me is love.”

Lord of all, your name is written across the vast expanse of the heavens.

bannerYou lead us boldly forward under the colours of your kingdom.  Unfurled by the breath of the Spirit, your banner covers us as a sign of your favour.

Raise high love’s ensign, and draw us to the victory banquet.  Unite all who hope in you under your outstretched hands.

All praise to you for the blood-red flag of Christ, to whom the nations rally for their glorious rest.

Listen to ‘O Great Love’ by the Andy Needham Band

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Circling Choirs

Nehemiah 12:31, 38a, 43b
“I had the leaders of Judah go up on top of the wall.  I also assigned two large choirs to give thanks.  One was to proceed on top of the wall to the right…The second choir proceeded in the opposite direction…The sound of rejoicing in Jerusalem could be heard far away.”

 Revelation 5:11-12
“Then I looked and heard the voice of many angels, numbering thousands upon thousands, and ten thousand times ten thousand.  They encircled the throne and the living creatures and the elders.  In a loud voice they sang: ‘Worthy is the Lamb, who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and praise!’”

 Psalm 59:16
“But I will sing of your strength, in the morning I will sing of your love; for you are my fortress, my refuge in times of trouble.”

Exalted Lord, in musical unity we chorus your glory.

You surround us with love and rejoice over us with singing.  Now we circle your throne and in harmony echo heaven’s melody.

circlingSend our lesser gods outside the walls of our worship, and may you and you only dwell at our centre.  Let us voice a joy so pure that all of creation joins in the choir.

This we ask not for the beauty of our song, but by the worthiness of the Song silenced for a time by his sacrifice, Jesus Christ.

Listen to ‘Crown Him‘ by All Saints Hymns

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Three Days

Jonah 1:13-15, 17
“…the men did their best to row back to land.  But they could not, for the sea grew even wilder than before.  Then they cried to the Lord, ‘O Lord, please do not let us die for taking this man’s life.  Do not hold us accountable for killing an innocent man, for you, O Lord, have done as you pleased.’  Then they took Jonah and threw him overboard, and the raging sea grew calm…But the Lord provided a great fish to swallow Jonah, and Jonah was inside the fish for three days and three nights.”

Mark 8:31
“[Jesus] then began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders, chief priests and teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and after three days rise again.”

1 Corinthians 15:54b-55
“Death has been swallowed up in victory.  Where, O death, is your victory?  Where, O death, is your sting?”

Great Saviour, you followed us into the raging wind and waves of sin.

We cannot be saved by failed prophets or determined sailors, but you point the way to the perfect and acceptable sacrifice. Death devoured your Son for three dark nights before he walked resurrection’s shore.

three daysRemind us when we are in the heart of the sea that we will never sink beyond your reach.  Throw our deep fears overboard to be swallowed by Christ’s victory.

It is in his name that we cry out to you, the truly innocent man who gave his life to calm the sting of the storm.

Listen to ‘Thou Poor, Afflicted, Tempted Soul’ by Red Mountain Music

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Riding

1 Samuel 25:14-15a, 23-24a
“One of the servants told Nabal’s wife Abigail:  ‘David sent messengers from the desert to give our master his greetings, but he hurled insults at them.  Yet these men were very good to us.’…When Abigail saw David, she quickly got off her donkey and bowed down before David with her face to the ground. She fell at his feet and said: ‘My lord, let the blame be on me alone.’”

Matthew 21:4-7
“This took place to fulfill what was spoken through the prophet:…‘See, your king comes to you, gentle and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey.’  The disciples…brought the donkey and the colt, placed their cloaks on them, and Jesus sat on them.”

Hebrews 7:25
“Therefore he is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them.”

King of Kings, you ride a cloak of majesty and reign in perfect justice.

We have repaid you for your gifts with hard-heartedness and pride.  As you approach our borders we hurl insults to drive you from the territory we claim to own.

astrideThough we are callous to grace, you have provided an innocent intercessor for us.  Our arbitrator journeys to the seat of judgement in our place—may we receive the pardoning verdict with great joy.

We ask this in the name of the humble Jesus, who defined his kingship from the back of a simple animal from his lowly birth to his shameful death, and loved us with each step.

Listen to ‘Pass Me Not, O Gentle Savior’ by Red Mountain Music

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