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, June 27, 2017

Prayers of the People: Expensive Free Gift, 4th Sunday after Pentecost '17 Yr A

For Sunday, July 2, 2017, 4th Sunday after Pentecost, Year A, Readings: Genesis 22:1-14, Psalm 13, Romans 6:12-23, Matthew 10:40-42

      God tested Abraham..."Take your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering..."When they came to that place...Abraham...took the knife to kill his son. But the angel of the Lord...said, "Do not lay your hand on the boy...for now I know that you fear God..." 
[Genesis 22:1a, 2a,9a, 10-11a, 12]

      Look upon me and answer me, O Lord my God, give life to my eyes, lest I sleep in death...But I put my trust in your mercy; my heart is joyful because of your saving help...I will praise the Name of the Lord Most High. [Psalm 13: 3, 5, 6b]

      ...present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life...as instruments of righteousness. For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but grace...now that you have been freed from sin...the advantage you get is sanctification...For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. [Romans 6:13b, 14, 22-23]

      Jesus said, "Whoever welcomes you welcomes me, and whoever welcomes me welcomes the one who sent me." [Matthew 10:40]

       My first thought when this reading from Genesis appears is of Abraham. Did he simply say to Sarah, "I'm taking Isaac away for a few days," and was he wondering how he would explain returning without the boy? Was he worried, anxious, or profoundly trusting in God and willingly "obedient?" My second thought is always about Sarah - did she know about this plan before or after? Given her actions to rid Abraham of Ishmael and clear the path for Isaac, we can only imagine the scene if the sacrifice had taken place. This universally known story of Abraham's [almost] sacrifice of Isaac as a test of obedience to God is pretty terrifying on its face. It is related to one of four others that seminary professor and author, Phyllis Trible, discusses in her book Texts of Terror. Uncountable millions of words by nearly as many writers have been written attempting to explain it. Who of us, upon hearing this, hasn't wondered and worried if this is what it means to "obey" God? But we must keep the intervention in mind - the sacrifice was more about Abraham's willingness to do God's bidding and that was all God required. 
        It's easy and scary, to get caught up in the language of fear, especially in these volatile times, but each of this week's readings reinforces God's steadfast love. Yes, physical harm may come from a variety of other sources and we can allow ourselves to be paralyzed by fear of what may or may not happen to ourselves and those we love. Yet we are continually reminded in Scripture that come what may, we are filled with God’s grace. Our "life" here, when we accept being freed from sin, welcoming and caring for others in Christ’s name, is to be a preparation for the free gift of God in eternal life in Christ.
       Free gift? Well, it is free choice and, at the very least, the promise of eternity seems well worth the sometimes expensive price of obedience and hospitality. It still doesn’t sound so easy and as I try and fail but keep starting over, I will always be looking and hoping for that rescue angel to reach me.

LET US, GOD’S PEOPLE, PRAY

Leader:  ~ God of Righteousness and Grace, awaken the spark You created within us, that we may seek the heart of Abraham in accepting rather than fearing each test of faith in this life, trusting in Your mercy and Your saving help.

                                                O Lord, our God                                            
RESPONSE:             O Christ, our Salvation

~ God of Righteousness and Grace, endow the leaders of this world, our country, and our community with extra grace and strength of character to discern and act upon Your will and wisdom in all that they do for Your people. We pray especially for: add your own petitions

                                                O Lord, our God
                                                O Christ, our Salvation
                                               
~ God of Righteousness and Grace, restore hope and health to those who struggle with serious illness, addiction recovery, and depression, and feed the energy of all who give support. We now join our voices to pray aloud for those in need… add your own petitions

                                                O Lord, our God
                                                O Christ, our Salvation
           
~ God of Righteousness and Grace, to Your mercy we lift up all who have exchanged this earthly life to flourish in the splendid peace of eternity with You. We pray especially for: add your own petitions 

                                                O Lord, our God
                                                O Christ, our Salvation

~ God of Righteousness and Grace, 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
                                                O Christ, our Salvation
           
~ God of Righteousness and Grace, we give you thanks for those chosen to help us navigate the time and tides of this human experience. Grant them physical and spiritual refreshment to preach Your Word, encourage our understanding, and connect us to You in our everyday living. We pray especially for: add your own petitions

                                                O Lord, our God
                                                O Christ, our Salvation
                                                                                                        
The Celebrant adds:  O Lord Most High, save us from the fear of our times of trial, and give light to our eyes to see the path to eternal life freed from sin, being sanctified through Christ. We ask through Jesus, our Messiah, and Redeemer, and the Holy Spirit, Your Sacred Breath within us.  Amen.

        



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