Vocation

How clear is our vocation, Lord, when once we heed Your call:

To live according to Your Word and daily learn, refreshed, restored,

That You are Lord of all and will not let us fall.

But if, forgetful, we should find Your yoke is hard to bear;

If worldly pressures fray the mind, and love itself cannot unwind

Its tangled skein of care;  our inward life repair.

We marvel how Your saints become in hindrances more sure;

Whose joyful virtues put to shame the casual way we wear Your name

And by our faults obscure Your pow’r to cleanse and cure.

In what You give us, Lord, to do, together or alone,

In old routines or ventures new, may we not cease to look to You,

The cross You hung upon– all You endeavored done.

~Fred Pratt Green, 1903-2000

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30

Lord, may we indeed look to You in these troubled times to see the depth of Your love for us as shown to us by the Cross. There You gave Your life for us as You bore the wrath of Your Father who turned His face from You when all He could see was mankind’s sins obscuring His beloved Son. The Holy forsaking the unholy mess that was You. And now, You come alongside us in our times of trouble and shoulder our griefs and our burdens willingly, faithfully, lovingly. Thank You, Lord Jesus. May Your strength be ours. May Your light be light in us and keep us ever faithful to You! In Your name we pray, Amen.

Prodigal Love

Art by Aaron and Alan Hicks

“In love he predestined us for adoption to himself as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight.” Ephesians 1:5-8

Prodigal love is lavish love. It is love freely and seemingly recklessly given. Today’s gospel lesson told of the reckless, seeming wastefully spent love of a father on a son who who had squandered the inheritance he received from his father and had returned broke and broken. The father’s prodigal love cared not what looked appropriate as he ran to wrap his son in his embrace and welcome him home. Robing him in fine clothes, feeding him a feast, and serenading him with celebratory song–all fit for a prince, not a wayward son. Such was the father’s prodigal love.

Such is the love of God for me…and for you. It is the same prodigal love. God the Father did not spare His beloved Son. That is why Jesus came to earth–to give his life, freely, recklessly, without reserve. His life for ours. On the Cross He wore our sins so that we might be robed in His righteousness. He comes running to find us wherever we are and to fold us into His embrace. He tells us He has prepared a home in Heaven for all who believe in Him, who return to Him and accept His prodigal love.

“For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”

“If we confess our sins, God who is faithful and just will forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

“Come to me all you who are weary and burdened…I will give you rest.”

“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him will never perish but have everlasting life.” John 3:16

We may be prodigals, but we have an even greater Prodigal Father!

Hope

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Hope of the world, Thou Christ of great compassion;  speak to our fearful hearts by conflict rent.  Save us, Thy people, from consuming passion, Who by our own false hope and aims are spent.

Hope of the world, God’s gift from highest heaven, bringing to hungry souls the bread of life, still let thy Spirit unto us be given to heal earth’s wounds and end our bitter strife.

Hope of the world, afoot on dusty highways, showing to wand’ring souls the path of light, walk Thou beside us lest the tempting byways lure us away from Thee to endless night.

Hope of the world, who by thy cross didst save us from death and dark despair, from sin and guilt, we render back the love thy mercy gave us; take thou our lives and use them as thou wilt.

Hope of the world, O Christ, o’er death victorious, who by this sign didst conquer grief and pain, we would be faithful to thy Gospel glorious.  Thou art our Lord!  Thou dost forever reign

~ Hymn by Georia Harkness, 1891-1974

Lord God, Heavenly Father, thank you for giving us Hope through your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.  In His name we pray, Amen.

 

 

Awake!

Awake O sleeper, rise from death, and Christ shall give you light;  So learn His love, its length and breadth, its fullness, depth and height.

To us on earth He came to bring from sin and  fear release, to give the Spirit’s unity, the very bond of peace.

Then walk in love as Christ has loved, Who died that He might save;  with kind and gentle hearts forgive as God in Christ forgave.

For us Christ lived, for us He died, and conquered in the strife;  awake, arise, go forth in faith, and Christ shall give you life.  ~ hymn by F. B. Tucker

“Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil.  Therefore do not be foolish but understand what the will of the Lord is.”  Ephesians 5:15-16

Lord God, as we anticipate celebrating Independence Day in America may we remember the greater freedom won for us through Jesus Christ on the Cross.  We are both citizens of heaven and earth so we thank you for the gift of freedoms allowed to us under the Constitution.  Bless all the lawmakers and lawkeepers of this land that we might live in peace.  In Jesus’ name we pray, Amen.

Let Us Ever Walk With Jesus

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Let us ever walk with Jesus, follow His example pure, through a world that would deceive us and to sin our spirits lure.  Onward in His footsteps treading, pilgrims here, our home above, full of faith and hope and love, let us do the Father’s bidding.  Faithful Lord, with me abide;  I shall follow where You guide.

Let us suffer here with Jesus and with patience bear our cross.  Joy will follow all our sadness;  where He is, there is no loss.  Though today we sow no laughter, we shall reap celestial joy;  all discomforts that annoy shall give way to mirth and hereafter.  Jesus, here I share Your woe;  help me there Your joy to know.

Let us gladly die with Jesus.  Since by His death He conquered death, He will free us from destruction, give to us immortal breath.  Let us mortify all passion that would lead us into sin;  and the grave that shuts us in shall but prove the gate to heaven.  Jesus, here with You I die, there to live with You on high.

Let us also live with Jesus.  He has risen from the dead that to life we may awaken.  Jesus You are now our head.  We are Your own living members; where You live, there we shall be in Your presence constantly, living there with You forever.  Jesus, let me faithful be, life eternal grant to me.     ~Sigismund von Birken, hymnwriter

“Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children.  And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave Himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.”  Ephesians 5:1-2

Almighty God, Your Son willingly endured the agony and shame of the cross for our redemption.  Grant us courage to take up our cross daily and follow Him wherever He leads; through the same Jesus Christ, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.  Amen.   

(collect for Proper 17, Series A, LSB)

Beloved

Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.   Ephesians 5:1-2

Lord God, I wake to a new day.  By your grace and mercy and power enable me to walk–to conduct my life–as Jesus, your beloved Son, walked.  He looked to You and You alone for His marching orders.  He even said that what people saw Him doing was what He saw You doing–loving, forgiving, healing, being merciful.  All that Jesus did was pleasing to You.  The greatest, most pleasing act, was His sacrificial death on the cross.  And it pleased You to raise Him from the dead.  May Your Word and Your plans dwell in me richly this day so that my life may be a pleasing aroma wafting up to You.  In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen.

Alas

suzie galagher

Photo by suzie gallagher

Alas! And did my Savior bleed, and did my sovereign die?  Would He devote that sacred head for such a worm as I?

Was it for crimes that I had done He groaned upon the tree?  Amazing pity, grace unknown, and love beyond degree!

Well might the sun in darkness hide and shut his glories in when God, the mighty maker, died for His own creatures’ sin.

Thus might I hide my blushing face while His dear cross appears, dissolve my heart in thankfulness, and melt mine eyes to tears.

But drops of grief can ne’er repay the debt of love I owe; here, Lord, I give myself away: ‘Tis all that I can do.

Hymn Text by Isaac Watts, 1674-1748

“For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross.” Colossians 1:19-20

 

Refuge

Kyle Wright cross

Image by Kyle Wright

Jesus, refuge of the weary, blest Redeemer whom we love, fountain in life’s desert dreary, Savior from the world above:  Often have Your eyes, offended, gazed upon the sinner’s fall; yet upon the cross extended, You have borne the pain of all.

Do we pass that cross unheeding, breathing no repentant vow, though we see You wounded, bleeding, see Your thorn encircled brow?  Yet Your sinless death has brought us life eternal, peace and rest; only what Your grace has taught us calms the sinner’s deep distress.

Jesus, may our hearts be burning with more fervent love for You; may our eyes be ever turning to behold Your cross anew till in glory, parted never from the blessed Savior’s side, graven in our hearts forever, dwell the cross, the Crucified.

Hymn text by Girolamo Savonarola, 1452-98

“For I will satisfy the weary soul, and every languishing soul I will replenish.”  Jeremiah 31:25

 

Jesus, Refuge of the Weary

 

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Photo by Laura Jostes

Jesus, refuge of the weary, blest Redeemer whom we love, Fountain in life’s desert dreary, Savior from the world above;  Often have Your eye, offended, gazed upon the sinner’s fall;  Yet upon the cross extended, You have borne the pain of all.

Do we pass that cross unheeding, breathing no repentant vow, though we see You wounded bleeding, see Your thorn-encrircled brow?  Yet Your sinless death has brought us life eternal, peace and rest;  only what Your grace has taught us calms the sinner’s deep distress.

Jesus, may our hearts be burning with more fervent love for you; may our eyes be ever turning to behold Your cross anew till in glory, parted never from the blessed Savior’s side, graven in our hearts forever, dwell the cross, the Crucified.

Hymn text by Girolamo Savonarola, 1452-98

Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me.  Cast me not away from your presence, and take not your Holy Spirit from me.  Restore to me the joy of your salvation and uphold me with a willing spirit.”  Psalm 51:10-12

Red White Blue

Flag Yvonne Harrison

Photo by Yvonne Harrison

Country lost in red white and blue

Too many walking in shades of gray to notice colors bright

Beckoning eyes to see beyond hatred

And prejudice

To see in those around them

those whom God has created.

Country lost in red white and blue

Desperately seeking peace

In the promises of men

Who stand before them

As answers to empty pockets and empty souls.

Country lost in red white and blue

Look to the One

Who alone provides for sparrows as well as kings.

Whose Wisdom reaches down from Heaven

Whose love and mercy never end.

Country lost in red white and blue

See the Cross where the Savior bled

And appeared abandoned by one and all.

The weak resignation

Belied the power wherein

The Son of God battled with sin and death and the evil one

And won

Freedom for the red white and blue

For all who believe that “greater is He who is within us

Than he who is in the world.”

Our God reigns

No matter the color of the flag

No matter the left or the right

No matter whether you believe or not

Our God reigns

And will keep the world spinning until

He comes again.

L.J.

“His delight is not in the strength of the horse,
    nor his pleasure in the legs of a man,
 but the Lord takes pleasure in those who fear him,
    in those who hope in his steadfast love.”

Psalm 147:10-11