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, September 11, 2017

Prayers of the People: AS I Forgive Others 15th Sunday after Pentecost '17 Yr A

For Sunday, September 17, 2017, 15th Sunday after Pentecost, Year A, Readings: Exodus 14:19-31, Psalm 114, Romans 14:1-12, 
Matthew 18:21-35

       The LORD drove the sea back by a strong east wind all night, and turned the sea into dry land; and the waters were divided...the Israelites walked on dry ground through the sea, the waters forming a wall for them on their right and on their left. [Exodus 14:21b, 29]

     Tremble, O earth, at the presence of the Lord...Who turned the hard rock into a pool of water and flint-stone into a flowing spring. [Psalm 114:7, 8]

     Welcome those who are weak in faith, but not for the purpose of quarreling over opinions...Who are you to pass judgment on...[another]? It is before their own lord that they stand or fall. And they will be upheld, for the Lord is able to make them stand. [Romans 14:1, 4]

     Peter came and said to Jesus, "...how often should I forgive? As many as seven times?" Jesus said to him, "Not seven times, but, I tell you, seventy-seven times...'[The lord of the slave said] Should you not have mercy of your fellow slave, as I had mercy on you?'...So my heavenly Father will also do to every one of you, if you do not forgive your brother or sister from your heart." [Matthew 18:21-22, 33, 35]

    Jesus tells Peter that seventy-seven times we are to forgive, or, as in an older perhaps more familiar translation, seventy times seven.  Sometimes forgiving 
once feels beyond my capacity but I sure can snap to judgment in a nano-second. 
I do know that my instant judgment of another often has more to do with a projection of what I don't like about myself, specifically the uncomfortable awareness of my own sins. When I push myself to move beyond denial and engage in thoughtful, prayerful reflection of who I am and how I react, I remember the saying, If God forgives you, who are you not to forgive yourself?! And when I dig deeper, I discover that forgiveness received and given isn't a mere slap-dash-high-five-good-to-go. It requires a significant, deliberate, conscious change in me without requiring the same of others. Some days - some minutes! - are easier than others to live up to the challenge of self-changing. But when I purposely accept the forgiveness of God and make a sincere intentional pledge and employ much effort to be better and do better, I experience a lifting of my spirit, a freedom, and a strengthening of my faith. 
      When I feel forgiven, it is easier to extend forgiveness, understanding, and compassion to others. When judgment and cynicism wane, the work of faith, hope, and love becomes more instinctual though not always less difficult. It is a continuous process filled with detours, back-tracking, failure, and persistence in starting again. Paul reminds us that we are each accountable to God. Perhaps a sticky note that says accountable on the dashboard of my car will help me to remember, in one of those moments, that it is God's favorable judgment I seek. I also need frequent reminders that it is my responsibility to live as a disciple of Christ, with honor. After all, as Paul asks, who am I to judge another?
      Jesus is uncomfortably clear that God will forgive us AS we forgive others. Oh how simply difficult. Okay then, it's a new day, the long road is before us, and, we are never alone. Let us follow the wisdom of Moses, Paul, and Jesus, and walk always toward God's dry and holy ground with mercy, compassion, and forgiveness for others in our hearts.

LET US, GOD’S PEOPLE, PRAY

Leader:  ~ Holy God, Pillar of our Universe, liberate us from the slavery of judgment and anger, keep us mindful of our accountability to You and always aware that You forgive us as sincerely and grace-fully as we forgive all others.

                                                LORD of Mercy
RESPONSE:            Grant us the true heart to forgive

~ Holy God, Pillar of our Universe, in these difficult times, energize us to press the urgency of informed decision-making and rational response to crises upon the leaders of our Planet, our Nation, and our local Community. We pray especially for: add your own petitions

                                                LORD of Mercy
                                                Grant us the true heart to forgive
                                               
~ Holy God, Pillar of our Universe, part the waves of illness, pain, and despair for all whose hope is sinking; and lift the spirits of those who provide support.  We now join our voices to pray aloud for those in need… add your own petitions

                                                LORD of Mercy
                                                Grant us the true heart to forgive
           
~ Holy God, Pillar of our Universe, our souls are comforted by the heavenly embrace and infinite peace of our loved ones who now live again in You. We pray especially for:  add your own petitions

                                                LORD of Mercy
                                                Grant us the true heart to forgive

~ Holy God, Pillar of our Universe, we pause in this moment to offer You our other heartfelt thanksgivings, intercessions, petitions, and memorials, aloud or silently… 

                                                LORD of Mercy
                                                Grant us the true heart to forgive
           
~ Holy God, Pillar of our Universe, bestow an unlimited capacity for the energy of joy to our Brothers and Sisters anointed and entrusted to guide us by Your Word and Wisdom in worship, in prayer, and in ministry. We pray especially for: add your own petitions

                                                LORD of Mercy
                                                Grant us the true heart to forgive
                                                                                                        
The Celebrant adds: O God of Wind and Water, our Light in the Darkness, quicken our faith in Your Presence, and impose upon us the character and courage to seek Your dry ground of mercy and compassion for all. We ask always through the blessings of Your Son Jesus, our Christ, and Your most Holy Spirit, our Counselor, who are together with You, One God, now and forever.  Amen.









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