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.

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Prayers of the People: All Bent out of Shape, 14th Sunday after Pentecost Yr C

For Sunday, August 21, 2016, 14th Sunday after Pentecost, Year C, Readings: Jeremiah 1:4-10, Ps 71:1-6, Hebrews 12:18-29, Luke 13:10-17


          Before I formed you in the womb I knew you... [Jeremiah 1:4-10]

        In you, O Lord, have I taken refuge...Deliver me and set me free...Be my strong rock...you are my crag and my stronghold...For you are my hope...my confidence since I was young. [Psalm 71:1a, 2a, 3, 5]

        Therefore since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us give thanks, by which we offer to God an acceptable worship with reverence and awe, for indeed our God is a consuming fire. [Hebrews 12:28-29]

        And just then there appeared a woman with a spirit that had crippled her for eighteen years. She was bent over and was quite unable to stand up straight. When Jesus saw her, he called her over and said, "Woman, you are set free from your ailment." When he laid hands on her, immediately she stood up and began praising God. But the leader of the synagogue [was] indignant because Jesus had cured on the Sabbath...[Luke 13: 11-14a]

      Jesus cured a woman on the Sabbath in the synagogue and created a firestorm. Yes, we Christians basically know what "Sabbath" means even if we give it a loose interpretation and practice, but for Jews - especially the Orthodox - then and now, Sabbath is not optional. It is a God-mandate, a requirement given as one of the Ten Commandments, a rich spiritual experience, beyond and within formal worship, filled with meaningful rituals and prayer. Rabbis to this day study the Law regarding Sabbath for their entire lives to understand every nuance, dispensation, and imperative to guide their congregations in strict observance. 
       It is more than difficult for us as non-Jews in this time to understand why that moment in Jesus' ministry was such a big deal - well, that is, unless we encounter the indignance of a parishioner or 3 who are all bent out of shape by updating the language of THE Prayer Book, or who don't want a sermon that is too filled with "God" and suggestions for more Christian activities and behaviors, complain that the service is too long and turn up their noses at the homeless, addicted, and poor, who also want a place at The Table. Is it more important to follow the Rules and "the way it has always been done, the way we do things here" when the Tradition excludes some of God's children? Or perhaps the question really is: when do the rules support and enhance our relationship with God, who formed us in the womb, and when do they become idolatry? And the follow-up might be: when do I choose NOT to follow the rules and why? 
         Paul warns us, "Yet once more..." that God can and will easily remove what can be shaken so that what cannot be shaken may remain...we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken and our acceptable worship with reverence and awe is what God truly requires. Oh there are, no doubt, a thousand ideas of what "acceptable worship is." My best guess, for me, is that I must change the shape of my practice to include more witness of my faith through how I live, think, and act, and especially, more genuine Sabbath observance - not for leisure, but rather to get more in touch with reverence and awe. What shape are you in?  

LET US, GOD’S PEOPLE, PRAY

Leader:  ~ O God of All, our Stronghold and our Rock, stand us straight up in Your sight, and reshape the direction of our lives. Free us from the bondage of earthly attachments, and set our daily course for the Kingdom that cannot be shaken.

                                             Saving Lord
RESPONSE:         Our hope, our confidence, our refuge

~ O God of All, our Stronghold and our Rock, deliver us from the clutches of evildoers and oppressors, and bestow blessings upon the builders and planters of honorable, trustworthy nations and communities. We pray especially for: add your own petitions

                                                Saving Lord
                                                Our hope, our confidence, our refuge
                                               
~ O God of All, our Stronghold and our Rock, return to health all who are afflicted in body, soul, or life, and revive the spirits of those who tend to their comfort. We now join our voices to pray aloud for those in need… add your own petitions

                                                Saving Lord
                                                Our hope, our confidence, our refuge
           
~ O God of All, our Stronghold and our Rock, gather the festive chorus of innumerable angels for the glorious return of those we love, who now rise to life in the vibrance of Your Heavenly City. We pray especially for: add your own petitions

                                                Saving Lord
                                                Our hope, our confidence, our refuge

~ O God of All, our Stronghold and our Rock, we pause in this moment to offer You our other heartfelt intentions and petitions, aloud or silently… add your own petitions

                                                Saving Lord
                                                Our hope, our confidence, our refuge
           
~ O God of All, our Stronghold and our Rock, we give You thanksgiving for the vocations of all Deacons, Priests, and Bishops, for their humanity, guidance, and devotion to Your work. We pray especially for: add your own petitions

                                                Saving Lord
                                                Our hope, our confidence, our refuge
                                                                                                        
The Celebrant adds: Lord God Almighty, burnish our souls in the fires of this temporal life that You, who formed us in our mothers’ wombs, will shine within us and transform our thoughts, words, and actions into continual, awe-filled, living worship. We ask through Jesus, the Mediator of the New Covenant, and the Holy Spirit, our Divine Sanctifier, who together with You, reign as One God, now and forever. Amen.




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