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Eternal God, Creator of the universe,  there is no God but you.  We stand in awe and gratitude at your persistent love for each and all of your children...

Prayer

 

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.

Thank you for the many ways we affirm your presence and purpose,

thank you for the freedom to do so.

Forgive our violation of your creation.

Forgive our violence toward each other.

We stand in awe and gratitude at your persistent love for each and all of your children:

Christian, Jew, Muslim, as well as those with other faiths.

Grant to all our leaders attributes of the strong:

mutual respect in word and deed, restraint in the exercise of power,

and the will for peace with justice, for all.

Eternal God, creator of the universe, there is no God but you. Amen.

(Pilgrim Prayer, 8)

 

♪          The Blessing (Lebanon)       

 

Responsive Psalm 72: 1 – 7, 10 – 14    

 

Give the king your justice, O God, and your righteousness to a king’s son.
May he judge your people with righteousness, and your poor with justice.

 

May the mountains yield prosperity for the people, and the hills, in righteousness.
May he defend the cause of the poor of the people,
    give deliverance to the needy,
and crush the oppressor.

 

May he live while the sun endures, and as long as the moon, throughout all generations.
May he be like rain that falls on the mown grass, like showers that water the earth.

 

In his days may righteousness flourish and peace abound, until the moon is no more.

May the kings of Tarshish and of the isles render him tribute,
may the kings of Sheba and Seba
bring gifts.

 

May all kings fall down before him, all nations give him service.

For he delivers the needy when they call, the poor and those who have no helper.
 

He has pity on the weak and the needy, and saves the lives of the needy.
From oppression and violence he redeems their life;
    and precious is their blood in his sight.

 

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: Matthew 2: 1 – 12

 

1In the time of King Herod, after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem, asking, “Where is the child who has been born king of the Jews? For we observed his star at its rising, and have come to pay him homage.” When King Herod heard this, he was frightened, and all Jerusalem with him; and calling together all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Messiah was to be born. They told him, “In Bethlehem of Judea; for so it has been written by the prophet:

‘And you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah,
    are by no means least among the rulers of Judah;
for from you shall come a ruler
    who is to shepherd my people Israel.’”

Then Herod secretly called for the wise men and learned from them the exact time when the star had appeared. Then he sent them to Bethlehem, saying, “Go and search diligently for the child; and when you have found him, bring me word so that I may also go and pay him homage.” When they had heard the king, they set out; and there, ahead of them, went the star that they had seen at its rising, until it stopped over the place where the child was. 10 When they saw that the star had stopped, they were overwhelmed with joy. 11 On entering the house, they saw the child with Mary his mother; and they knelt down and paid him homage. Then, opening their treasure chests, they offered him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. 12 And having been warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they left for their own country by another road.

 

The Word of the Lord.

Thanks be to God.

 

Reflection question: As we begin this new year, we continue to be engaged in the pilgrimage of justice and peace. Reflecting on the journey so far, especially considering the pathway that our courses might have taken last year, can we discern “another road” that the Holy Spirit may be leading us to take this year as we continue the pilgrimage?  

 

Prayer of Intercession

 

Gracious God, as we pray for the churches and people of Egypt, Israel and The Occupied Palestinian Territories, Jordan and Lebanon, we see many ministries of education and discipleship, evangelism and outreach, mercy and justice, reconciliation and peace-making; we see many young leaders rising in the ashes of these times, it is clear, O God, that you support those who hunger and thirst for such righteousness.

Lord, we praise you and ask for your mercy.  

 

Lord we come into your presence with adoration and thanksgiving. We see how some have stayed in their places, how your remnant has stood by you, and preached your word, how they praised your name, and were empowered by your Spirit to do the same, every Sunday, week by week. So from them, we know you still have plans for your Church in this war-torn place.

Lord, we praise you and ask for your mercy.

 

We see burned churches rebuilt dialogue between denominations, young people sacrificially serving the poor, faithfully visiting those sick and imprisoned, courageously bringing the light of truth to their school-friends and team-mates. We know that your Spirit is being poured out on them and their enemies. 

Lord, we praise you and ask for your mercy.

 

We see evidence of faith on fire: blinded eyes see, new and old believers are strengthened, immigrants to other lands plant seeds of faith in new contexts among peoples who never knew you before. We know you are behind it.

Lord, we praise you and ask for your mercy.

 

O God, our God, ever faithful and true, we acknowledge you, and we stand in awe. O Lord, our Lord, who in times past and present revealed your love to your people, we see you in the peoples of the Middle East, and we bring you praise.

Lord, we praise you and ask for your mercy.

 

Keep our eyes open, we pray, build their faith and ours, for you are worthy of our worship. Let us see you, Father, let us see you more, Beloved Son, and let us grow in strength, Holy Spirit. This we ask, in your Name, Amen.

Lord, we praise you and ask for your mercy.

(Pilgrim Prayer, 8 – 9)

 

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.