READINGS – JANUARY 20TH

FIRST LESSON                                                                                                 Exodus 3:7-12
Lector         A reading from the Book of Exodus.
 
The Lord said to Moses, "I have observed the misery of my people who are in Egypt; I have heard their cry on account of their taskmasters. Indeed, I know their sufferings, and I have come down to deliver them from the Egyptians, and to bring them up out of that land to a good and broad land, a land flowing with milk and honey, to the country of the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Amorites, the Perizzites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites. The cry of the Israelites has now come to me; I have also seen how the Egyptians oppress them. So come, I will send you to Pharaoh to bring my people, the Israelites, out of Egypt." But Moses said to God, "Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh, and bring the Israelites out of Egypt?" He said, "I will be with you; and this shall be the sign for you that it is I who sent you: when you have brought the people out of Egypt, you shall worship God on this mountain."
 
SECOND LESSON                                                                                           Ephesians 6:10-20
Lector        A reading from the Letter of Saint Paul to the Ephesians.
 
Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his power. Put on the whole armour of God, so that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For our struggle is not against enemies of blood and flesh, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers of this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armour of God, so that you may be able to withstand on that evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm. Stand therefore, and fasten the belt of truth around your waist, and put on the breastplate of righteousness. As shoes for your feet put on whatever will make you ready to proclaim the gospel of peace.  With all of these, take the shield of faith, with which you will be able to quench all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. Pray in the Spirit at all times in every prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert and always persevere in supplication for all the saints. Pray also for me, so that when I speak, a message may be given to me to make known with boldness the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I may declare it boldly, as I must speak.
 
PRAYERS OF THE PEOPLE*
O God, help us as individuals and as a world to truly hear Jesus’ words: "Seek ye first the Kingdom of God and God's justice and all these other things shall be added unto you."  Let these words ring in our ears and take root in our hearts.

O God, we thank you that you have inspired the hearts of men and women in all nations and in all cultures. We may call you different names yet you are the One God.  Grant that we will follow you and become so committed to your way that we establish in this world a brother and sisterhood of peace.

O God, give us strength of body to continue to strive for justice, freedom and peace for all your children.  Give us strength to remain nonviolent, even in the face of our fears.

O God, may all who suffer oppression in this world reject the self-defeating method of retaliatory violence and choose the method that seeks to redeem.  Remove all bitterness from our hearts and give us the strength and courage to face the challenges that come our way.

O God, we thank you for the lives of great saints and prophets of our past, who now see you face to face, and who have shown us that we can stand up amid the problems, difficulties and trials of life and persevere.  Grant that, encouraged by their example, we will continue with faith and determination, so that we will be able to make a creative contribution to this world.

     [Here other intercessions may be offered.]

O God, make us willing to do your will, come what may. Increase the number of persons of good will and moral sensitivity. Give us renewed confidence in nonviolence and the way of love as taught by your Son, our Savior, Jesus Christ. Amen.

*These prayers and the Confession that follows are adapted from the actual prayers of  the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.