A moment of contemplation for yourself or on behalf of others on everything from the life-altering to the mundane.


Prayer: A conversation with The Higher Other who lives within each of us. An invitation to vent, to re-think, to ask, and to rest.

Monday, August 17, 2015

Prayers of the People: Pilgriming Progress, 13th Sunday after Pentecost

for Sunday, August 23, 2015,1 3th Sunday after Pentecost,Year B, Readings: 1 Kings 8:[1,6,10-11], 22-30, 41-43; Ps 84, Eph 6:10-20, John 6:56-69

Psalm 84:4 [5]
        Happy are the people whose strength is in you! Whose hearts are set on the pilgrims' way. [Ps 84:4]

        Pray in the Spirit at all times in every prayer and supplication. [Ephesians 6:18a]

        Jesus said, "Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood abide in me, and I in them..." When many of his disciples heard it, they said, "This teaching is difficult; who can accept it?"...[But Jesus said to them] "It is the spirit that gives life; the flesh is useless. The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life." [John 6:56, 60, 63]

        This week we come to the end of the seemingly endless discourses of Jesus telling his followers to "eat my body and drink my blood." This paschal mystery is difficult to comprehend and many of those who were following Jesus in his time walked away because of it. But many stayed and struggled and today we each reconcile ourselves to this idea in various ways. Some Christians believe in Transubstantiation at the time of the consecration, that the bread and wine on the altar become, mysteriously and mystically, the True and Actual Body and Blood of Christ. Others accept the consecration as metaphor, or, symbolic representation. Some denominations have no "communion" service at all but rely solely on preaching the Word.
       For me, there is a direction to be gleaned from this week's readings. Solomon welcomes the Ark of the Covenant from its many travels into the Temple in Jerusalem. The Psalmist speaks over and over about dwelling in the House and Courts of God and says hearts are happy when sent on the pilgrim's way. Paul exhorts us to shield ourselves from all that could turn us away and to continue to pray in the Spirit at all times. And, finally in the Gospel of John, Jesus asks the Twelve if they wish to also turn away and Peter says, "Lord, to whom can we go? You have the words of eternal life. We have come to believe and know that you are the Holy One of God."  From those times to our times, we are still seeking to understand, to strengthen our faith, to travel the path to God in our own way and with each other. We struggle with questions and doubts and confidence in our faith. We are pilgrims.
       The Oxford dictionary defines pilgrim as: a person who journeys to a sacred place for religious reasons and offers the synonyms: worshiper, devotee, believer, traveler, wayfarer. It isn't important to physically travel, we can make progress as a pilgrim in our spiritual journeys wherever we are. But just as in travel, sometimes there are delays and detours, but eventually, the destination is reached. Prayer, perseverance, desire, and longing to be part of God's household is all it takes ... but it is easier if we go together. As the old hymn from John Bunyan concludes:
 


Since, Lord, Thou dost defend us with Thy Spirit,
We know at the end, shall life inherit.
Then fancies flee away! I'll fear not what men say,
I'll labor night and day to be a pilgrim.


To listen to an unusual rendering of the hymn click this link:
Steve Parsons, "To Be a Pilgrim"

LET US, GOD’S PEOPLE, PRAY

Leader:  ~ Holy God, our Sun and our Shield, when we are in Communion with Your Son and each other, the Spirit fills us with Your Power and Truth, and Christ abides in us as we do in Him. Help us on our pilgrim way to pray in the Spirit at all times, for all reasons, for all of Your people.

LORD, God of Hosts
RESPONSE:   Strengthen our faith to put our trust in You  

~ Holy God, our Sun and our Shield, move our feet and grant us courage to proclaim Your Gospel of peace and justice to all who hold authority over the governments of this world, of this nation, and of our community. Let us each walk with the integrity that we expect and demand of our leaders. We pray especially for: add your own petitions

LORD, God of Hosts
Strengthen our faith to put our trust in You

~ Holy God, our Sun and our Shield, breathe new life into the spirits of those who are weighed down by earthly illness, desperate life circumstance, or affliction of soul, and lift the hearts of those who give them care. We now join our voices to pray aloud for those in need…add your own petitions

LORD, God of Hosts
Strengthen our faith to put our trust in You

~ Holy God, our Sun and our Shield, ease the sorrows of those struggling with grief with the comfort of knowing that those we love and have sent on to You, now transcend all earthly woes, and live forever in Your Grace and Glory. We pray especially for: add your own petitions

LORD, God of Hosts
Strengthen our faith to put our trust in You

~ Holy God, our Sun and our Shield, we pause in this moment to offer You our other heartfelt intentions and petitions, aloud or silently…

LORD, God of Hosts
Strengthen our faith to put our trust in You

~ Holy God, our Sun and our Shield, You have gifted us with disciples that did not turn away, but who give their lives guiding us to hear the words and eat the bread of eternal life. Let us join together in constant praise of You as we journey toward the threshold of Your House. We pray especially for: add your own petitions

LORD, God of Hosts
Strengthen our faith to put our trust in You


The Celebrant Adds: Eternal and Living God, draw us together to stand firm in faith, resisting the wiles of temptation, desiring and seeking to live forever in You, rejoicing beyond all time. We ask through Christ Jesus, the Holy One, and the Holy and Life-Giving Spirit, who together with You, reign as One God, now and forever. Amen.


    






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