Silence and Centering – Pause for 2 minutes of Silence
“Be still, and know that I am God; – Psalm 46:1
O God of shalom,
we have built up walls to protect ourselves from our enemies,
but those walls also shut us off from receiving your love.
Break down those walls.
Help us to see that the way to your heart
is through the reconciliation of our own hearts with our enemies.
Bless them and us, that we may come to grow in love
for each other and for you, through Jesus Christ.
FIRST READING: Psalm 130
From the depths of despair, O Lord,
I call for your help.
2 Hear my cry, O Lord.
Pay attention to my prayer.
3 Lord, if you kept a record of our sins,
who, O Lord, could ever survive?
4 But you offer forgiveness,
that we might learn to fear you.
5 I am counting on the Lord;
yes, I am counting on him.
I have put my hope in his word.
6 I long for the Lord
more than sentries long for the dawn,
yes, more than sentries long for the dawn.
7 O Israel, hope in the Lord;
for with the Lord there is unfailing love.
His redemption overflows.
8 He himself will redeem Israel
from every kind of sin.
SECOND READING: 1 Peter 4:7-19
7 The end of the world is coming soon. Therefore, be earnest and disciplined in your prayers. 8 Most important of all, continue to show deep love for each other, for love covers a multitude of sins. 9 Cheerfully share your home with those who need a meal or a place to stay.
10 God has given each of you a gift from his great variety of spiritual gifts. Use them well to serve one another. 11 Do you have the gift of speaking? Then speak as though God himself were speaking through you. Do you have the gift of helping others? Do it with all the strength and energy that God supplies. Then everything you do will bring glory to God through Jesus Christ. All glory and power to him forever and ever! Amen.
12 Dear friends, don’t be surprised at the fiery trials you are going through, as if something strange were happening to you. 13 Instead, be very glad—for these trials make you partners with Christ in his suffering, so that you will have the wonderful joy of seeing his glory when it is revealed to all the world.
14 If you are insulted because you bear the name of Christ, you will be blessed, for the glorious Spirit of Godrests upon you. 15 If you suffer, however, it must not be for murder, stealing, making trouble, or prying into other people’s affairs. 16 But it is no shame to suffer for being a Christian. Praise God for the privilege of being called by his name! 17 For the time has come for judgment, and it must begin with God’s household. And if judgment begins with us, what terrible fate awaits those who have never obeyed God’s Good News? 18 And also,
“If the righteous are barely saved,
what will happen to godless sinners?”
19 So if you are suffering in a manner that pleases God, keep on doing what is right, and trust your lives to the God who created you, for he will never fail you.
It certainly seems like Peter thought the world would end soon. Christians have always believed in, and hoped for, the Reign of God to be established in fullness on the earth. We can’t predict when this will happen, and we can’t make it happen, but we can work to ensure that God’s Reign is established as fully as possible in our own hearts and lives.
This is what Peter is writing about, and we must make sure that we don’t get distracted by what may look like a prediction of a future end time. How should the people of God’s Realm live? Peter gives a few clear guidelines and characteristics. We should be loving and hospitable. We should use our gifts and resources to serve God and one another. We should endure trouble and persecution with steadfastness and faithfulness.
Remember that Peter was writing to a persecuted church, and so there were lots of ways that their allegiance to God’s Reign was being tested. We may not have our lives threatened on a daily basis, but we also face constant challenges to our allegiance to God’s Reign. That’s why Peter’s words are both comforting and challenging. When we suffer, we are partners with Christ -as long as we’re suffering for Christ and not as a result of our own pride, selfishness or foolishness. But, if we remain faithful to God through our difficulties and trials, Peter assures us that God will never fail us. We always have the sustaining love and the restoring grace of God to carry us through whatever we may face. Where do you need the promise of God’s faithfulness today? Can you embrace it wholeheartedly?
DO: A great way to claim God’s promise of God’s presence and strength is to pray. When we pray for ourselves to stay strong and faithful, just the very act of speaking out our prayers empowers us. When we pray for others, we often grow in compassion for them, and our own struggles shrink in comparison. Then, we are able to be faithful to God’s Reign, and serve others in love more easily and effectively. Try it today.
PRAY: Today, help me to live, O God, with hospitality, service and patient, joyful endurance.
As I listen for your voice, O God, so I become more alert to the signs of your coming.:
Faithful God Hear our Prayer.
For all who suffer, that they may find comfort through their faith, we pray.
For all those who minister to the sick, that they be signs of God’s love we pray.
For doctors, nurses and caregivers, that their actions be done with love we pray.
For Ourselves, that we always believe that God holds us gently we pray.
Gracious Father, we pray for your Church. Fill it with all truth, in all truth with all peace. Where it is corrupt, purify it; where it is in error, direct it; where in anything it is amiss, reform it. Where it is right, strengthen it; where it is in want, provide for it; where it is divided, reunite it; for the sake of Jesus Christ your Son our Savior. Amen.
Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth, as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one. For yours is the kingdom, the power, and the glory forever, Amen.
Look with favor, O God.
On all our needs
And hear our pleas when we cry out to you.
Grant to us, the faith of the centurion,
That we might give you glory
For the mercy and compassion
That lifts us up with your Son, our Lord Jesus Christ,
Who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
One God, for ever and ever Amen!
God, I thank you for all that you helped me accomplish during this day. Thank you for giving me the strength and energy, as well as the focus and ability to do all the things that got done today. Thank you for blessing me with people in my life today who were funny or encouraging or helpful. Thank you for your favor and care for me throughout the day. And now, I thank you for sweet rest throughout the night. Amen.
Conclude with 5 Minutes of Silence
The Our Father (slowly pray this)
Our Father which art in heaven, hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth, as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one. For yours is the kingdom, the power, and the glory forever, Amen.