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- 2 Kings
by Joseph Parker
Almighty God, with thee is light and in thee is no darkness at all. Thou hast called upon us to be children of the light, and to walk in the day and not in the night, that we may show forth the glory of thy word and the meaning of thy kingdom. May we answer that great call in thine own strength; then shall men know that we are reflecting Christ's glory, and are not shining in a light of our own creation. We bless thee for thy word, the entrance of which giveth light. It is a lamp unto our feet, and a light unto our path; it shineth afar over our whole life, so that there is no dark place in all the days of man, if so be he put his trust in the living God, and walk only according to the living word. Thou hast set around us circumstances designed to teach us. Thou dost call upon us to read the book of providence, to turn over its pages carefully, and to consult all its records patiently and with an understanding mind. Thou hast also written round about us the wonderful writing of nature a marvellous revelation, so grand, yet so simple; so infinite, yet in every detail of it intelligible and representative of such care and wisdom and love. Then thou hast written thy book which is addressed to our souls the book of inspiration, the living Bible, the marvellous speech of God's own wisdom. Surely we shall read some of these writings of thine the great providence, the splendid nature, the vital book. May we be found diligent students of one of these at least; then we shall proceed unto the other: for they are all connected, and belong to one another, and lead up to one another, and complete one another: may we begin where we can only begin reverently, thoughtfully, and hopefully and thus in due time may we become men of God thoroughly instructed in all good works, armed at every point against the tempter, having the Holy One dwelling in our hearts and making us holy, turning our whole life into a sacrifice, and setting before us a luring and welcoming destiny. Meanwhile, we need so much guidance and comfort and sympathy, for the way is dark, and the day is as nothing. Oh how rough is the path sometimes, and how dangerous! We hear voices in the wind which we interpret into threatening or cruelty or some kind of alarm, and we shrink back and are dismayed because there is no more strength in us. Sometimes we go out to seek water, and there is none, and our tongue faileth for thirst. Now we say, To-day will be the beginning of liberty; and, lo, it does but lengthen our chain and add to the weight which we are carrying. We need to be comforted, upheld, sustained, directed. How many angels do we need to minister unto us would we be heirs of salvation! one to answer the great argument; another to dispel the frowning, sullen doubt; another to sing to us in the nighttime of our heartlessness: but are not all thine angels ministering spirits, sent forth to minister, living to serve, and ordered by thee to nourish and cherish thy Church? We pray thee to be with us thyself Father, Son, and Holy Ghost; three in one, one in three. We feel our need of this tri-unity, for we ourselves are three in one a great mystery of being: now full of pain and sorrow, and now almost angels for brightness and joy. Pardon our sin. Only God can forgive sin: but the blood of Jesus Christ thy Son was shed for sinners, and that blood availeth still. May we know the meaning of its application, may we feel its gracious virtue, and when the enemy would tell us that pardon is impossible, may we be told in our own consciousness to answer that he was a deceiver from the beginning. Help all men who need special favour. Sometimes they are all but in despair; sometimes the hand is half put out towards the poison or the steel: they say they cannot bear the pain and darkness any longer: they are mad with agony. O thou who didst make that marvellous instrument the human constitution, thou who knowest all its fashioning, all its limits, all its desires' and passions, its susceptibilities, do thou undertake thyself cases which are beyond our strength and help. The Lord hear us at all times; specially when we beg for light and wisdom and forgiveness. Amen.
the Week of Proper 21 / Ordinary 26