“Come, Thou long-expected Jesus, born to set Thy people free…”
—-Charles Wesley, 1744
Preparation for worship
Sit in a relaxed position. Take a slow, deep breath (or 2 or 3 or as many as needed) until you feel your body, mind, and soul begin to relax and rest in the Spirit. Take time to reflect as you move through this time of worship…
Opening Sentences Matthew 3:3
A voice cries out in the wilderness:
Prepare the way of the Lord!
Prayer Walter Brueggemann, Abingdon Press, 2008
You are the God who has set us
in families and clans and tribes,
in communities and finally in cities.
We give you thanks this day that you are
Lord of this city and all cities.
We pray for this city today,
and for Jerusalem and
a thousand other cities.
In all our cities this day
there will be crime and sharp moneymaking
and compassion and forgiveness, and generosity,
and regulations about justice and injustice.
Be our God this day, and prosper our city.
We pray in the name of the one who wept over the city.
Hymn of the Day
Shalom, by Dan Forrest, performed by the Symphony of Northwest Arkansas and the Bentonville High School Chamber Choir. Listen and Pray.
Reading of the Day Isaiah 11:1-10
1 A shoot shall come out from the stump of Jesse,
and a branch shall grow out of his roots.
2 The spirit of the Lord shall rest on him,
the spirit of wisdom and understanding,
the spirit of counsel and might,
the spirit of knowledge and the fear of the Lord.
3 His delight shall be in the fear of the Lord.
He shall not judge by what his eyes see,
or decide by what his ears hear;
4 but with righteousness he shall judge the poor,
and decide with equity for the meek of the earth;
he shall strike the earth with the rod of his mouth,
and with the breath of his lips he shall kill the wicked.
5 Righteousness shall be the belt around his waist,
and faithfulness the belt around his loins.
6 The wolf shall live with the lamb,
the leopard shall lie down with the kid,
the calf and the lion and the fatling together,
and a little child shall lead them.
7 The cow and the bear shall graze,
their young shall lie down together;
and the lion shall eat straw like the ox.
8 The nursing child shall play over the hole of the asp,
and the weaned child shall put its hand on the adder’s den.
9 They will not hurt or destroy
on all my holy mountain;
for the earth will be full of the knowledge of the Lord
as the waters cover the sea.
10 On that day the root of Jesse shall stand as a signal to the peoples; the nations shall inquire of him, and his dwelling shall be glorious.
Prayers for self and others
Please pray today for those who are being affected by COVID-19 and by its side effects in our world. Pray for the thousands who are still being diagnosed positive in the U.S. each day, for Becky’s sister’s coworker Denie and her husband; for Cindy and Eddye Stelchek; for Susan Smith’s brother-in-law John, who is still hospitalized with the virus. As we hear of more friends who are directly affected, or who are working in high risk places, we will list them here. Pray today for the families of the 282,000 people who have died of this virus. Use this time to lift your joys, concerns, and hopes to God.
May starlight guide your steps towards this place of wonder
May angels sing their news as you travel to the manger
May promise fill these days as we watch at the edge of birth
and may faith tell you, Emmanuel will be with us soon, in human skin. Amen.
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Becky Downs, pastor of John Knox, started writing daily prayers for the congregation at the beginning of the COVID pandemic, to encourage the congregation in their faith during their time of separation from each other. The daily prayers were posted throughout the year. You might want to choose one a day to read, and modify the specific prayers for self and others to fit your life today.