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.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Prayers of the People: Persist with Love, 7th Sunday after Epiphany Yr A '17

For Sunday, February 19, 2017, 7th Sunday after Epiphany, Year A, Readings: Leviticus 19:1-2,9-18, Psalm 119:33-40, 1 Cor 3:10-11,16-23, Matthew 5:38-48


       Speak to all the congregation... and say to them: You shall be holy for I the Lord your God am holy...You shall not take vengeance or bear a grudge...but you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the Lord. [Leviticus 19:1-2, 10, 18]

      Incline my heart to your decrees and not to unjust gain. Turn my eyes from watching what is worthless. [Psalm 119:36-37]

      
Do you not know that you are God's temple and that God's spirit dwells within you? ... God's temple is holy, and you are that temple.  [1 Corinthians 3:16, 17b]

   
   Jesus said, "You have heard that it was said, 'An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.' But I say to you...if anyone strikes you on the right cheek, turn the other also...You have heard it said, 'You shall love your neighbor and hate you enemy.' But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you...for if you love those who love you, what reward do you have?"  [Matthew 5:38, 39b, 43-44, 46]


      We come now to another segment of the Sermon on the Mount. Going far beyond the familiar Beatitudes, Jesus had much more to say in his gathering in the Galilee. This week Jesus reinterprets the Ten Commandments, not in opposition, but rather, by expansion. This is his new teaching that outlines our path to salvation. In expanding God’s own statement in Leviticus 19:18 to love your neighbor as yourself, we are commanded to care for God's people - “them” and “us”.  We are to love them, and by extension our selves, by not stealing, defrauding, reviling, slandering, hating, or taking vengeance, and so on. Love those who love us, but mostly love those who don't - our enemies, our persecutors, the evildoers. Turn the other cheek? Oh sure, and we’ll likely get slapped again! [for more on the context of what to do with your cheek and why clink on the link: Walter Wink on Turning the Other Cheek] 
      It seems that there is almost as much satisfaction in retaliation as there is in love, perhaps even more in current society when violent reaction by physical and/or social media smack-down is instantaneous and frequently viscious. How are we supposed to love everyone and not respond in kind to a disagreement, a threat, or a despicable action? Of course, loving is never free of pain or difficulty. However, we aren’t called to like our neighbors, or agree with every thought or opinion. Who in your life that you truly love – child, parent, spouse, friend – do you always like?
      American Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen, writing in his book Life of Christ in 1958, speaks to our present times when he said: Why turn the other cheek? Because hate multiplies like a seed… And Gandhi said, An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind. But the practical question remains, how do we love people we don't like and who don't like us? Perhaps we can start by at least accepting the concept if only because it’s what Jesus is telling us to do, and then work up to trying it. Paul reminds us that we each are God's Temple, that means so are they. It's a very tough sell, especially in these times of instant gratification by whatever means possible. But, if we only ever fight back, we dig in, and we never move out of the hole we dig deeper and deeper for ourselves and the world around us. It does not mean that we unequivocally accept all difficult or dangerous behavior passively. So, we MUST pray.....without ceasing….. and work, together, with and for each other on ways to respond as CHRISTians.
       This week's assignment: Love our neighbors as ourselves, turn our eyes from what is worthless, remember that we and those "others" are God's Temple; oh, and don't forget to turn the other cheek when slapped. Pray for the courage to persist with love in responding thoughtfully, positively, pro-actively, and practically, rather than react in haste, hate, and impulse.  Easy, right? Not. At. All.

LET US, GOD’S PEOPLE, PRAY

Leader:  ~ Holy LORD, our God, You exhort us to love our neighbors, as if they were ourselves, with every action of our lives. Expand our willingness to see each other, and ourselves, as the living Temples of Your Spirit and Grace, by following the path of Your Commandments.

                                       O Christ, our Sure Foundation                                 
RESPONSE:             Incline our hearts to Your Teaching

~ Holy LORD, our God, infuse the marrow of every leader and member of government throughout our World, our Country, and our Community, with the ethical intent to do justice, to have mercy, and to govern with compassion, working together according to Your Way. We pray especially for: add your own petitions

                                                O Christ, our Sure Foundation
                                                Incline our hearts to Your Teaching
                                               
~ Holy LORD, our God, ease the distress for those who are sick, injured, or afraid, and for those who selflessly aid and comfort them.  We now join our voices to pray aloud for those in need… add your own petitions

                                                O Christ, our Sure Foundation
                                                Incline our hearts to Your Teaching
           
~ Holy LORD, our God, soften the grief for all who are bereft, as Your glorious gates receive our beloved, now joyfully alive again with You for all eternity. We pray especially for: add your own petitions 

                                                O Christ, our Sure Foundation
                                                Incline our hearts to Your Teaching

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

                                                O Christ, our Sure Foundation
                                                Incline our hearts to Your Teaching
           
~ Holy LORD, our God, we ask Your blessings on those who lead us in Your Church, that they may be revitalized and enlivened, as they enlighten us with the ways to turn, not merely the other cheek, but our entire being toward You. We pray especially for: add your own petitions

                                                O Christ, our Sure Foundation
                                                Incline our hearts to Your Teaching
                                                                                                        

The Celebrant adds:  O God of Grace and Glory, be ever constant in Your presence and keep us ever faithful to our souls’ Foundation. Guide us toward having the charity of heart and the strength of character to be as giving of our love as we are eager to receive it. We ask this in the name of Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, One God, now and forever. Amen.


    



    




All compositions remain the property of the owner of this blog but may be used with attribution as long as they are not sold or charged for in any way. For more information or comments, contact: Leeosophy@gmail.com