Readings and Prayer “For the Nation”
Lord God Almighty, you have made all the peoples of the earth for your glory, to serve you in freedom and in peace: Give to the people of our country a zeal for justice and the strength of forbearance, that we may use our liberty in accordance with your gracious will; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
1 Clap your hands, all you peoples; *
shout to God with a cry of joy.
2 For the LORD Most High is to be feared; *
he is the great King over all the earth.
3 He subdues the peoples under us, *
and the nations under our feet.
4 He chooses our inheritance for us, *
the pride of Jacob whom he loves.
5 God has gone up with a shout, *
the LORD with the sound of the ram’s-horn.
6 Sing praises to God, sing praises; *
sing praises to our King, sing praises.
7 For God is King of all the earth; *
sing praises with all your skill.
8 God reigns over the nations; *
God sits upon his holy throne.
9 The nobles of the peoples have gathered together *
with the people of the God of Abraham.
10 The rulers of the earth belong to God, *
and he is highly exalted.
On that day this song will be sung in the land of Judah: We have a strong city; he sets up victory like walls and bulwarks. Open the gates, so that the righteous nation that keeps faith may enter in. Those of steadfast mind you keep in peace— in peace because they trust in you. Trust in the Lord forever, for in the Lord God you have an everlasting rock.
For he has brought low the inhabitants of the height; the lofty city he lays low. He lays it low to the ground, casts it to the dust. The foot tramples it, the feet of the poor, the steps of the needy. The way of the righteous is level; O Just One, you make smooth the path of the righteous. In the path of your judgments, O Lord, we wait for you; your name and your renown are the soul’s desire.
Let every person be subject to the governing authorities; for there is no authority except from God, and those authorities that exist have been instituted by God. Therefore whoever resists authority resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment. For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad. Do you wish to have no fear of the authority? Then do what is good, and you will receive its approval; for it is God’s servant for your good. But if you do what is wrong, you should be afraid, for the authority does not bear the sword in vain! It is the servant of God to execute wrath on the wrongdoer. Therefore one must be subject, not only because of wrath but also because of conscience. For the same reason you also pay taxes, for the authorities are God’s servants, busy with this very thing.
Pay to all what is due them—taxes to whom taxes are due, revenue to whom revenue is due, respect to whom respect is due, honor to whom honor is due. Owe no one anything, except to love one another; for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law. The commandments, “You shall not commit adultery; You shall not murder; You shall not steal; You shall not covet”; and any other commandment, are summed up in this word, “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore, love is the fulfilling of the law.
Then they sent to him some Pharisees and some Herodians to trap him in what he said. And they came and said to him, “Teacher, we know that you are sincere, and show deference to no one; for you do not regard people with partiality, but teach the way of God in accordance with truth. Is it lawful to pay taxes to the emperor, or not? Should we pay them, or should we not?” But knowing their hypocrisy, he said to them, “Why are you putting me to the test? Bring me a denarius and let me see it.” And they brought one. Then he said to them, “Whose head is this, and whose title?” They answered, “The emperor’s.” Jesus said to them, “Give to the emperor the things that are the emperor’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” And they were utterly amazed at him.
Readings and Prayer for Independence Day, July 4
Lord God Almighty, in whose Name the founders of this country won liberty for themselves and for us, and lit the torch of freedom for nations then unborn: Grant that we and all the people of this land may have grace to maintain our liberties in righteousness and peace; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
1 I will exalt you, O God my King, *
and bless your Name for ever and ever.
2 Every day will I bless you *
and praise your Name for ever and ever.
3 Great is the LORD and greatly to be praised; *
there is no end to his greatness.
4 One generation shall praise your works to another *
and shall declare your power.
5 I will ponder the glorious splendor of your majesty *
and all your marvelous works.
6 They shall speak of the might of your wondrous acts, *
and I will tell of your greatness.
7 They shall publish the remembrance of your great goodness; *
they shall sing of your righteous deeds.
8 The LORD is gracious and full of compassion, *
to anger and of great kindness.
9 The LORD is loving to everyone *
and his compassion is over all his works.
10 All your works praise you, O LORD*
and your faithful servants bless you.
11 They make known the glory of your kingdom *
and speak of your power;
12 That the peoples may know of your power *
and the glorious splendor of your kingdom.
13 Your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom; *
your dominion endures throughout all ages.
14 The LORD is faithful in all his words *
and merciful in all his deeds.
15 The LORD upholds all those who fall; *
he lifts up those who are bowed down.
16 The eyes of all wait upon you, O LORD, *
and you give them their food in due season.
17 You open wide your hand *
and satisfy the needs of every living creature.
18 The LORD is righteous in all his ways *
and loving in all his works.
19 The LORD is near to those who call upon him, *
to all who call upon him faithfully.
20 He fulfills the desire of those who fear him; *
he hears their cry and helps them.
21 The LORD preserves all those who love him, *
but he destroys all the wicked.
22 My mouth shall speak the praise of the LORD; *
let all flesh bless his holy Name for ever and ever.
For the Lord your God is God of gods and Lord of lords, the great God, mighty and awesome, who is not partial and takes no bribe, who executes justice for the orphan and the widow, and who loves the strangers, providing them food and clothing. You shall also love the stranger, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt. You shall fear the Lord your God; him alone you shall worship; to him you shall hold fast, and by his name you shall swear. He is your praise; he is your God, who has done for you these great and awesome things that your own eyes have seen.
By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to set out for a place that he was to receive as an inheritance; and he set out, not knowing where he was going. By faith he stayed for a time in the land he had been promised, as in a foreign land, living in tents, as did Isaac and Jacob, who were heirs with him of the same promise. For he looked forward to the city that has foundations, whose architect and builder is God. By faith he received power of procreation, even though he was too old—and Sarah herself was barren—because he considered him faithful who had promised. Therefore from one person, and this one as good as dead, descendants were born, “as many as the stars of heaven and as the innumerable grains of sand by the seashore.” All of these died in faith without having received the promises, but from a distance they saw and greeted them. They confessed that they were strangers and foreigners on the earth, for people who speak in this way make it clear that they are seeking a homeland. If they had been thinking of the land that they had left behind, they would have had opportunity to return. But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God; indeed, he has prepared a city for them.
“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be children of your Father in heaven; for he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the righteous and on the unrighteous. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet only your brothers and sisters, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.