Shepherd’s Song

1 Samuel 16:23
“Whenever the spirit from God came upon Saul, David would take his harp and play.  Then relief would come to Saul; he would feel better, and the evil spirit would leave him.”

Mark 14:26-27
“When they had sung a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives.  ‘You will all fall away,’ Jesus told them, ‘for it is written: ‘I will strike the shepherd and the sheep will be scattered.’’”

1 John 3:16a, 19-20a
“This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us…This then is how we know that we belong to the truth, and how we set our hearts at rest in his presence whenever our hearts condemn us.”

Lord God, you compose melodies of salvation in heaven that reverberate to the earth below.

harpWhen we were plagued by a sense of our own unworthiness, you sent a Shepherd who took the curse for us.  He began the night of his great battle by singing a hymn with friends.

In despair, help us to remember that his song has been sung over us.  Soothe our anxieties in the knowledge that our imperfect spirits can now find harmony with your perfect Spirit, and let us rejoice with rested hearts.

This we ask in the name of the Good Shepherd, Jesus, who was stricken in body for the redemption of our conscience-stricken souls.

Listen to ‘You Restore My Soul’ by Rob and Rachel Badman

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Genesis 46:2-4a
“And God spoke to Israel in a vision at night and said, ‘Jacob, Jacob!’  ‘Here I am,’ he replied.  ‘I am God, the God of your father,’ he said.  ‘Do not be afraid to go down to Egypt, for I will make you into a great nation there.  I will go down to Egypt with you, and I will surely bring you back again.’”

Matthew 2:13-14a
“When they had gone, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream.  ‘Get up,’ he said, ‘take the child and his mother and escape to Egypt.  Stay there until I tell you, for Herod is going to search for the child to kill him.’  So he got up, took the child and his mother during the night and left for Egypt…”

Psalm 143:8-10
“Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love, for I have put my trust in you.  Show me the way I should go, for to you I lift up my soul.  Rescue me from my enemies, O Lord, for I hide myself in you.  Teach me to do your will, for you are my God; may your good Spirit lead me on level ground.”

Faithful Father, you never change and yet we cannot predict your ways.

When we are afraid, our escape lies in obedience to your leading, though you direct us down unfamiliar paths.  We find rescue when we are alone but for you.

egypt2Call us clearly when our settled lives become unsafe.  Even down the strange roads of a foreign place may we trust in the goodness of your will.

Thank you that, through Christ, the Spirit speaks and guides us to a land of safety for our souls.

Listen to ‘Lead Us Back’ by Sojourn

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Gifts of Light

Psalm 119:129-130
“Your statutes are wonderful; therefore I obey them.  The unfolding of your word gives light; it gives understanding to the simple.”

James 1:17
“Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.”

John 1:9
“The true light that gives light to everyone was coming into the world.”

Lord of heaven and earth, you reveal yourself in each sun-drenched day and every star-studded night.

Your gifts reflect the nature of the giver.  When understanding dawns or courage shines, we recognize the illuminating hand of the Spirit.

gifts of lightSpeak your word over us and let us receive rays of your goodness.  Wrap each perfect gift in light, allowing us to feel the warm love of our Father.

In the name of Jesus Christ we ask this, who was the true light given for us when we were bound to pay the darkness.

Listen to ‘Fairest Lord Jesus’ by Songs of Grace

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Jonah 4:1-4, 11
“But Jonah was greatly displeased and became angry.  He prayed to the Lord, ‘O Lord, is this not what I said when I was still at home?  That is why I was so quick to flee to Tarshish.  I knew that you are a gracious and compassionate God, slow to anger and abounding in love, a God who relents from sending calamity.  Now, O Lord, take away my life, for it is better for me to die than to live.’  But the Lord replied, ‘Have you any right to be angry?…Ninevah has more than a hundred and twenty thousand people…should I not be concerned about that great city?’”

Luke 15:28-32
“The older brother became angry and refused to go in.  So his father went out and pleaded with him.  But he answered his father, ‘Look!  All these years I’ve been slaving for you and never disobeyed your orders.  Yet you never gave me even a young goat so I could celebrate with my friends.  But when this son of yours who has squandered your property with prostitutes comes home, you kill the fattened calf for him!’  ‘My son,’ the father said, ‘…we had to celebrate and be glad, because this brother of yours was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’”

Hosea 6:6
“For I desire mercy, not sacrifice, and acknowledgement of God rather than burnt offerings.”

Heavenly Father, your love for the lost burns with a heat more intense than your anger.

unmercifulTo jealously preserve our self-righteousness, we lash out at your compassion.  Yet this greater insult inspires your better grace.

Teach us the discipline of mercy.  Nudge us in our sullen isolation until we join the celebration joyfully welcoming our sisters and brothers home.

This we pray for the sake of Christ, who bore your righteous anger for our unmerciful hearts.

Listen to ‘Thy Mercy My God’ featuring Sandra McCracken

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Exodus 3:4-5
“When the Lord saw that he had gone over to look, God called to him from within the bush, ‘Moses!  Moses!’  And Moses said, ‘Here I am.’  ‘Do not come any closer,’ God said.  ‘Take off your sandals, for the place where you are standing is holy ground.’”

John 1:26-27
“‘I baptize with water,’ John replied, ‘but among you stands one you do not know.  He is the one who comes after me, the thongs of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie.’”

John 13:3-6, 8b
“Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under his power, and that he had come from God and was returning to God; so he got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist.  After that, he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around him.  He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, ‘Lord, are you going to wash my feet?’  Jesus replied…‘Unless I wash you, you have no part with me.’

Great I AM, beneath your feet lie the lands of earth and the vast expanse of heaven.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIn ignorance we touch holy gifts with unworthy hands.  We tread through sacred territories with apathy in place of awe.

In your mercy, bend and untie the straps we find knotted with the dust of the world.  Remove for us the sandals that walk carelessly on hallowed ground and make us clean.

We pray this in the name of the Servant we have been made worthy to serve, Jesus our Lord.

Listen to ‘Jesus the Very Thought of Thee’ by New Covenant Worship Collective

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1 Chronicles 22:2
“So David gave orders to assemble the aliens living in Israel, and from among them he appointed stonecutters to prepare dressed stone for building the house of God.”

Ephesians 2:19-22
“Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and aliens, but fellow citizens with God’s people and members of God’s household, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone.  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.”

Isaiah 28:16
“So this is what the Sovereign Lord says, ‘See, I lay a stone in Zion, a tested stone, a precious cornerstone for a sure foundation; the one who trusts will never be dismayed.”

Great King, you have designed a palace of people in which to dwell.

cornerstoneChrist is the stone chiselled by obedience and placed as our certain foundation.  In him slaves become sons, and foreigners, family.

Build us into a beautiful home for your Spirit.  May we be hewn by your loving hand so that we conform to the perfect lines of our Saviour.

We pray this in his precious name; the cornerstone cut and laid deep in the earth for us to rest upon.

Listen to ‘In Christ Alone’ by Matthew Smith

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Isaiah 41:19-20
“I will put in the desert the cedar and the acacia, the myrtle and the olive.  I will set pines in the wasteland, the fir and the cypress together, so that people may see and know, may consider and understand, that the hand of the Lord has done this, that the Holy One of Israel has created it.”

Matthew 13:31-32
“[Jesus] told them another parable:  ‘The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed, which a man took and planted in his field.  Though it is the smallest of all your seeds, yet when it grows, it is the largest of garden plants and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and perch in its branches.’”

Isaiah 61:3b
“They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of his splendour.”

Creator God, thank you for the gift of a green earth as a symbol of the life found in you.

treesFrom unnoticed beginnings faith’s forest takes root.  In the cedar-scented shade of a place once barren, we discern the strong and beautiful growth of your kingdom.

Plant us as seeds capable of reaching towering heights.  Though diverse, may we each flourish to provide sheltering boughs for the tender ones in our care.

In the name of Christ we pray, who reversed the power of the tree of despair to give us the splendour of the tree of life.

Listen to ‘Evergreen‘ by Sojourn

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