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, February 6, 2017

Prayers of the People: The Garden of Idol Distractions, 6th Sunday after Epiphany Yr A '17

For Sunday, February 12, 2017, 6th Sunday after Epiphany, Year A, Readings: Deuteronomy 30:15-20, Psalm 119:1-8, 1 Cor 3:1-9, Matthew 5:21-37

     If you obey the commandments of the Lord your God...the Lord your God will bless you...But if your heart turns away and you do not hear, but are led astray to bow down to other gods and serve them, I declare to you today that you shall perish...Choose life... [Deuteronomy 30:16-18a, 19b ]

   Happy are they whose way is blameless, who walk in the law of the Lord! Happy are they who observe his decrees and seek him with all their hearts! I will thank you with an unfeigned heart... [Psalm 119:1-2, 7a]

    I could not speak to you as spiritual people, but rather...infants in Christ. Even now you are still not ready, for you are still people of the flesh...So neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but only God gives the growth. The one who plants and the one who waters have a common purpose...For we are God's servants, working together; you are God's field, God's building. [1 Corinthians 3:11b, 2b-3, 7-9]

    So when you are offering your gift at the altar, if you remember that your brother or sister has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go; first be reconciled to your brother or sister, and then come and offer your gift...If your right eye causes you to sin tear it out...and if your right hand causes you to sin, cut if off and throw it away... 
[Matthew 5:23, 29a, 30a]

       CHOICES. For me, the readings are all about the spiritual choices that I decide to make. Moses tells me the basics of the Law of God, the Commandments, and outlines the “if this/then that” actions/consequences. Choose life, Moses urges, obey the Commandments. Otherwise, by turning away and being led astray to serve other gods is to choose to perish. The Psalmist chimes in with how happy they are who observe the Law of the Lord our God.
        Paul lays it out to the Church at Corinth – they weren’t ready to hear what he had to say and he spoke to them as infants in Christ because they were still of the flesh. He also tells them/us that working together in community with a common purpose serves our God. There are planters and waterers in God’s fields and we’re all called in to till, and fertilize, and manage. Yet with all we are to do, only God provides the growth. 
       I wonder, might I still be one of the flesh being led astray and bowing to the gods in a garden of idol distractions - the idolatry of social media, of celebrity, of wealth, of the socially or politically “right” way to be, or being around the “right” kind of people and eschewing "those" kinds of people?
       And in this continuation of the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus furthers the idea of community with a list do’s and don’ts regarding our behaviors with and toward others. For me, the crux of my call to walk in God’s Law is being reconciled to our brothers and sisters and then returning to the altar of God as a gift, an offering of myself.  As we hear Jesus say in Mark’s Gospel, the Greatest Commandment is to love God with all of yourself and love your neighbor as (if she/he were) yourself - if we do all that then we ARE following the Commandments, we ARE living the Law, we are reconciled to God and humanity, and we do Choose Life - eternal life, spiritual nourishment, an open and unfeigned heart
       The clear message of the combined readings that I hear is that God gives us free will to choose the path we take and tells us what results to expect. Take it or leave it. Face the consequences. Be reconciled. Grow up in, with, and for Christ. Return to the Garden of the Lord our God.

LET US, GOD’S PEOPLE, PRAY

Leader:  ~ O God of Mercy and Promise, turn our eyes from the idol distractions of earthly existence, and impart a conscious spiritual hunger to our souls that drives us to walk in Your ways as thankful servants working together.

                                             O Lord, our God                                            
RESPONSE:                     Help us put our trust in You


~ O God of Mercy and Promise, temper the judgment of all who govern in our names throughout this world, this country, and this community, so that all will act faithfully, equitably, and in good conscience, for the well-being of all Your people and Your Creation. We pray especially for: add your own petitions

O Lord, our God
Help us put our trust in You
                                               
~ O God of Mercy and Promise, we ask your blessings on those who are seriously ill, addicted, or life-weary, and for all who serve their needs. We now join our voices to pray aloud for those in need… add your own petitions

O Lord, our God
Help us put our trust in You
           
~ O God of Mercy and Promise, hold close the hearts in sorrow, as we celebrate all who have departed this life for eternity in Your complete love and perfect peace. We pray especially for:  add your own petitions

O Lord, our God
Help us put our trust in You

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

O Lord, our God
Help us put our trust in You
           
~ O God of Mercy and Promise, affirm and encourage our anointed leaders of Your Church. As they guide us toward growth and grace in You, we join together as Your servants, the planters and waterers, in Your sacred fields. We pray especially for: add your own petitions

O Lord, our God
Help us put our trust in You
                                                                                                        
The Celebrant adds: Lord God Almighty, Master of All Creation: Grant us the clarity of spirit to reconcile our hearts with one another even in disagreement, to begin each day with sincere desire to seek and follow Your Will, and to have the wisdom to choose the blessings and abundance of true Life with You, through Jesus Christ our Lord who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, One God, now and through eternity.  Amen.











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