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Eternal God, Creator of the universe, there is no God but you.  Great and wonderful are your works, wondrous are your ways.  Thank you for the many splendored variety of your creation...

Prayer

 

Gracious God,

seeing the faithful still standing, Arab Christians echoing the sincerity and hopes of ages past, evidence of the deep roots of the saints still present and alive, we know that you will have your way.

Lord, we praise you!

 

Seeing the thousands of new believers, who despite all the rebukes, the suffering, the dispersion, still stand and share their faith, multiplying their numbers because of the living power in them, we are in awe of what you are doing.

Lord, we praise you! Amen

(Pilgrim Prayer, 8)

♪ Song  

 

Responsive Psalm 147: 12 - 20   

 

Praise the Lord, O Jerusalem! Praise your God, O Zion!
For he strengthens the bars of your gates; he blesses your children within you.

He grants peace within your borders; he fills you with the finest of wheat.
He sends out his command to the earth; his word runs swiftly.

He gives snow like wool; he scatters frost like ashes.
He hurls down hail like crumbs—who can stand before his cold?

He sends out his word, and melts them; he makes his wind blow, and the waters flow.
He declares his word to Jacob, his statutes and ordinances to Israel.

He has not dealt thus with any other nation; they do not know his ordinances.
Praise the Lord!

 

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit;

As it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be, world without end, Amen.

 

Scripture Reading: John 1: 1 – 18

1In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being. What has come into being in him was life, and the life was the light of all people. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it.

There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. He came as a witness to testify to the light, so that all might believe through him. He himself was not the light, but he came to testify to the light. The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world.

10 He was in the world, and the world came into being through him; yet the world did not know him. 11 He came to what was his own, and his own people did not accept him. 12 But to all who received him, who believed in his name, he gave power to become children of God, 13 who were born, not of blood or of the will of the flesh or of the will of man, but of God.

14 And the Word became flesh and lived among us, and we have seen his glory, the glory as of a father’s only son, full of grace and truth. 15 (John testified to him and cried out, “This was he of whom I said, ‘He who comes after me ranks ahead of me because he was before me.’”) 16 From his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace. 17 The law indeed was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. 18 No one has ever seen God. It is God the only Son, who is close to the Father’s heart, who has made him known.

 

The Word of the Lord.

Thanks be to God.

 

Reflection

 

Prayer of Intercession

 

O Lord, you came to us to demolish barriers between people, to establish peace, to unite hearts and to create the new “human being” who does not know enmity but only love. Look at us, who live on this land that you, yourself, sanctified. You made it a land of encounter and reconciliation. But we still live separated by walls, though we believe that you love us all, with the same love for all.

Have mercy upon us, O Lord, and hear our prayers.

 

O God, the walls still exist, high walls, not for protection but for isolation, separation, ignorance, discrimination and killing. silent walls creating strife and driving love away. O Lord, your children are fighting. Change their hearts. Re-direct the expense of building walls toward building community and love among your children.

Have mercy upon us, O Lord, and hear our prayers.

 

They say: They are satisfied and content. But we say, we are besieged and our life a big prison. They say: they are afraid. But we say: There is anxiety in our hearts and confusion in our speech. They say: They do not want to know anything about what lies on the other side of the wall. But we say: We are all your children born to love and be loved.

Have mercy upon us, O Lord, and hear our prayers.

 

We believe that your hour for peace and justice will come. We are patient; but fill our patience with your love and grant us the strength to do what you want us to do. O Lord, fill our hearts with your divine security and power, so that fear will disappear, and souls meet in you, walls falling down becoming bridges that join your children together.

Have mercy upon us, O Lord, and hear our prayers.

 

O God, you created us in your image capable of love, as you yourself are love, capable of peace and justice, as you, yourself, are peace and justice. But we refuse to be human, loving, peaceful, just. This obstinate refusal, you alone can change. With the cross that triumphed over nonexistence and death, re-create our humanity, re-instill love.

Have mercy upon us, O Lord, and hear our prayers.

 

Heal us of our paralysis, our inabilities. You are our Creator and Father. You are the “lover of all human beings” despite all their sins. O God, on this land there is a major sin: one people is oppressing another people; your children are oppressing your children. Grant that all of us see your image: in ourselves, created by you, able to love as you love us, and in the other, also able to love, both of us in your image, capable of loving, building justice and peace with the power of your love. Until when, O Lord? Look down from the highest and see.

Have mercy, O Lord, have mercy.

(Pilgrim Prayer, 6 – 7)

 

With the words that Jesus taught us, let us now pray together in the language of our hearts – 

 

Our Father…

 

Benediction

 

May the God of hope fill us with all joy and all peace in faith, so that we may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. In the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. Amen.