Almighty God, you know that we have no power in ourselves to help ourselves: Keep us both outwardly in our bodies and inwardly in our souls, that we may be defended from all adversities which may happen to the body, and from all evil thoughts which may assault and hurt the soul; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
Indeed, some are last who will be first and some are first who will be last. This is the verse that directly precedes today’s gospel passage. It comes at the end of a series of parables all having to do with repentance. This may help us to understand what Jesus is getting at in his reply to the Pharisees who, supposedly with compassion, want him to know that Herod wants him dead. But as we consider what’s contained in today’s gospel lesson, let’s step back and recall…
Almighty God, whose blessed Son was led by the Spirit to be tempted by Satan: Come quickly to help us who are assaulted by many temptations; and, as you know the weaknesses of each of us, let each one find you mighty to save; through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.
Almighty and everlasting God, you hate nothing you have made and forgive the sins of all who are penitent: Create and make in us new and contrite hearts, that we, worthily lamenting our sins and acknowledging our wretchedness, may obtain of you, the God of all mercy, perfect remission and forgiveness; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
Almighty and everlasting God, you govern all things both in heaven and on earth: Mercifully hear the supplications of your people, and in our time grant us your peace; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
How does one capture, in words, a life in love with God? That’s a great part of what I love about our faith experience. I like to think of religion as a framework upon which we have relationship with God. And, as in any relationship, how we express ourselves – the words we use and how they shape what we mean – bear the potential for great excitement. Words are vessels of creation. Take our gospel lesson for today.
Almighty God, whose Son our Savior Jesus Christ is the light of the world: Grant that your people, illumined by your Word and Sacraments, may shine with the radiance of Christ’s glory, that he may be known, worshipped, and obeyed to the ends of the earth; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who with you and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns, one God, now and for ever. Amen.
The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia Volume 1 tells us that, “Water is the element naturally used for cleansing the body, and its symbolical use entered into almost every cult, and into none more completely than the Jewish, whose ceremonial washings were proverbial.” The Dead Sea Scrolls also depict different kinds of baptism ritual as something practiced by much of Jewry. To this day in Judaism…
O God, who wonderfully created, and yet more wonderfully restored, the dignity of human nature: Grant that we may share the divine life of him who humbled himself to share our humanity, your Son Jesus Christ; who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
O God, you have caused this holy night to shine with the brightness of the true Light: Grant that we, who have known the mystery of that Light on earth, may also enjoy him perfectly in heaven; where with you and the Holy Spirit he lives and reigns, one God, in glory everlasting. Amen.