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 28, 2016

Prayers of the People: Dusty Lambs, 7th Sunday after Pentecost Yr C

For Sunday, July 3, 2016, 7th Sunday after Pentecost, Year C, Readings: 2 Kings 5:1-14, Ps 30, Galatians 6:(1-6) 7-16, Luke 10:1-11, 16-20


    But his servants approached and said to him, "Father, if the prophet had commanded you to do something difficult, would you not have done it? How much more, when all he said to you was, 'Wash and be clean'?  So he went down and immersed himself seven times in the Jordan, according to the word of the man of God; his flesh was restored like the flesh of a young boy, and he was clean. [2 Kings 5:1-14]

      Do not be deceived; God is not mocked, for you reap whatever you sow...if you sow to the Spirit, you will reap eternal life...let us not grow weary in doing what is right...So then, whenever we have an opportunity, let us work for the good of all, and especially for those of the family of faith. [Galatians 6:7, 8b-9a, 10]

        [The Lord] said to them, "The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few...Go on  your way. See, I am sending you out like lambs into the midst of wolves...Whatever house you enter, first say, 'Peace to this house!' And if anyone...shares in peace, your peace will rest on that person; but if not it will return to you...But whenever you enter a town and they do not welcome you...say, 'Even the dust of your town that clings to our feet, we wipe off in protest against  you.' [Luke 10:2a, 3, 5-7, 10-11a]

       The world is a fearsome place. Far away and close to home there is turmoil, anger, mistrust, and violence. Political agenda spirals seemingly out of control in the failing attempt to exert more long-term control over local power and personal wealth and prestige. Misinformation, disinformation, and deliberate manipulation fuel the fires of those who act impulsively with nothing more than looping 10 second soundbites, self-aggrandizing opinion and deliberate lies disguised as broadcast journalism, and clever but deceptive tabloid headlines to inform. Wars, extreme weather, other catastrophes destroy life and property daily. In short, there is nothing new happening in the world. We are but sheep in the fields of history and humanity. Yet despite superficial evidence to the contrary we are no worse off than at any other time since the world began. But there are more of us now and we "know" more with the increasing rapidity of the broken "breaking news." It is all happening in our time, not our parents', grandparents', or the annals of past civilizations which raises the level of anxiety that results in chaotic response, ambivalence, or apathy. We all seek to find some level ground to rest upon, to think, to plan, to understand. And the place of busy resting is in Jesus. 
       Paul tells us we reap what we sow and we are not to grow weary in doing what is right. Of course if everyone believes that what they are doing is "right" how can we decide what really is?  Naaman was reminded by servants that he might have agreed to the healing ritual that Elisha prescribed if the activity had been more difficult. Perhaps we, too, feel that living into our faith must be too difficult for us mere mortals so we escape into checklists of giving money and attending church services as doing our duty, fearful of the wolves who will mock us, or worse, and the commitment required if we live the life we are called to live. But let's try, together, in the Family of Faith, to walk the Gospel path, offer Peace to all and accept what returns. Let us shake the dust of complacency from ourselves, as Christ's lambs, and labor in the fields of God. Not a promise of ease in life to be sure, but a sure Promise of eternal life with joy.   
       

LET US, GOD’S PEOPLE, PRAY

Leader:  ~ O Lord our God, arouse and provoke us in heart and in mind to labor in Your fields for the good of all, sow to the Spirit, and reap the plentiful harvest of the Family of Faith.

                                                Lord with Your Favor
RESPONSE:           We will do what is right

~  O Lord our God, spare the lambs of Your pasture from the wolves of unbridled self-interest lurking in governments now, and in those to come, throughout this world, in our own nation, and our local communities. We pray especially for: add your own petitions

                                                Lord with Your Favor
                                    We will do what is right
                                               
~  O Lord our God, lift the spirits of those who have fallen through chronic sickness, poverty, and depression, and lighten the load for all who give support. We now join our voices to pray aloud for those in need… add your own petitions

                                                Lord with Your Favor
                                    We will do what is right
           
~  O Lord our God, shelter all who are in the depths of grief, and infuse a spark of joy that grows into rejoicing, to know the ones we have sent to You are a new creation of life, love, and peace for all eternity.  We pray especially for: add your own petitions

                                                Lord with Your Favor
                                    We will do what is right           

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

                                                Lord with Your Favor
                                    We will do what is right
                       
~ O Lord our God, grant infectious energy and contagious inspiration to those You have appointed to lead us on the path to everlasting life. We pray especially for: add your own petitions

                                                Lord with Your Favor
                                    We will do what is right
                                                                                                        

The Celebrant adds:  God of Benevolence and Strength, impel our desire to shake off the dust of our own complacency, immerse ourselves in the healing elements of prayer, and turn our lives to Your service in the spirit of gentleness. We ask through Jesus, our Teacher, and the Holy Spirit, our Sustainer, who together with You are One God, infinite and eternal. Amen. 




Requests for prayers or meditations for this space or private use may be sent to Leeosophy@gmail.com. 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.

Monday, June 20, 2016

Prayers of the People: Divine Interruptions, 6th Sunday after Pentecost Yr C

For Sunday, June 26, 2016, 6th Sunday after Pentecost, Year C, Readings: 2 Kings 2:1-2, 6-14; Ps 77: 1-2, 11-20; Gal 5:1, 13-25; Luke 9:51-62

   
Dietrich Bonhoeffer, 1906-1945
German, Lutheran Pastor
Author of "The Cost of Discipleship" and other books
Murdered by the Nazis shortly before their surrender
     
Then Elijah took his mantle and rolled it up, and struck the water; the water parted to the one side and to the other, until the two of them crossed on dry ground. When they had crossed, Elijah said to Elisha, "Tell me what I may do for you, before I am taken from you." Elisha said, "Please let me inherit a double share of your spirit." He responded, "You have asked a hard thing..." 
[2 Kings 2:8-10a]

          [T]he whole law is summed up in a single commandment, "You shall love your neighbor as yourself." If, however, you bite and devour one another, take care that you are not consumed by one another. [Galatians 5:15]

        To another  [Jesus] said: "Follow me." But he said, "Lord, first let me go and bury my father." But Jesus said to him, "Let the dead bury their own dead; but as for you, go and proclaim the kingdom of God." [Luke 9:59-60]

          What is the cost of the freedom "you were called to" [Galatians 5:13] by Christ? What is the going rate for discipleship? In terms of earthly self-indulgence, or inconvenience, the cost may be very high indeed. But how do we measure short-term pleasures or the criticism and misunderstandings by others against eternal life and salvation? Of course we're quick to cry and pray when all is going wrong, yet often we're considerably slower in thanksgiving for all things - small and big - that go well. But sometimes there is that little nagging, goading, prodding something that calls you to take a second look at a person in need, give extra change to someone in the grocery line, or (with a heavy sigh), go out of your way to help someone. Divine interruption? Perhaps; maybe an unconscious moment of discipleship, loving your neighbor as yourself. The Gifts of the Spirit are available as easily as the works of the flesh. The price is simple and tax free, merely a commitment to be the hands of Christ on earth. In asking for the help to find our own path of least resistance, we'll find that the waters will part. Step across and don't look back. Christ is made our sure foundation, all we need to do is Follow.


LET US, GOD’S PEOPLE, PRAY

Leader:  ~ Living God, we seek You in the time of trouble, and cry aloud for You to hear us. Interrupt our daily plans, thoughts, and actions to remind us to seek You also in the ordinary and mundane, in joy and satisfaction as well as in sorrow, fear, or frustration. Bestow an extra measure of Your Spirit upon us and keep us from measuring the cost of discipleship in anything other than the promise of everlasting salvation.

                                                 Holy and Giving Lord
RESPONSE:         Help us to walk in Your Ways

~ Living God, fill us with the wisdom and the courage to care, stand, and speak on behalf of those who have no voice, no justice, and no hope before the governments and dictatorships in this world, this nation, and this community. We pray especially for: add your own petitions

Holy and Giving Lord
Help us to walk in Your Ways                                       

~  Living God, relieve the anguish of those in constant pain or the grip of depression and bolster the energies of those who provide care and support. We now join our voices to pray aloud for those in need… add your own petitions

Holy and Giving Lord
Help us to walk in Your Ways                                                   

~  Living God, attend all hearts who are in the depths of mourning as You lift the souls of those, beloved on earth, to the light of new life in Your everlasting Presence. We pray especially for: add your own petitions

Holy and Giving Lord
Help us to walk in Your Ways                                       
                       
~ Living God, we pause in this moment to offer You our other heartfelt intentions and petitions, aloud or silently… add your own petitions

Holy and Giving Lord
Help us to walk in Your Ways                                                               

~ Living God, enhance and enlighten the faith of all who are called as today’s prophets in Your church, that they may continue to encourage and guide our pilgrimage in this life. We pray especially for: add your own petitions

Holy and Giving Lord
Help us to walk in Your Ways                                       
                                                                                                        
The Celebrant adds: O God our Fortress and our Strength, as You constantly part the waters of the sea of our resistance, rouse us from complacency and self-indulgence, to cross over to wholly accept and live by the Fruit of the Spirit, looking only forward to the fullness of Your Kingdom.  We ask through Jesus, our Redeemer Christ, and the Holy Spirit, our Revealer of Truth, who together with You are One God, now and forever.  Amen.






Requests for prayers or meditations for this space or private use may be sent to Leeosophy@gmail.com. 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.

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Meditation Moments: The Great Litany adapted for Orlando





              There are already and soon will be more millions of words to be read, listened to, absorbed, rejected, or accepted about the tragic and sorrow-filled events in Orlando that will revisit and, as it should, reawaken the pain and fearfulness from the events of Sandy Hook, Charleston, Boston, Virginia Tech, etc., etc., etc., in the 35 mass murders in this country since 2006. Each time the numbers seem to grow exponentially. I have no useful words that I can add and yet I was asked to provide a short litany and closing collect for this moment that will help us gather our prayers communally in a service at my home parish. Here is what I prepared, adapting the format, style, and some of the language from The Great Litany in our Book of Common Prayer [page 148]. This Litany is generally used at the beginning of Lent. You can find the full original text of it at http://www.bcponline.org/  What follows is my adaptation in hopes that it gives our hearts some of the words our minds cannot find.


        Peace be with you and especially with those suffering such unimaginable loss...

 For Orlando and too many other times and people:


O God, Creator of heaven and earth,
Have mercy upon us.

O God, Redeemer of the world,
Have mercy upon us.

O God, Sanctifier of the faithful,
Have mercy upon us.

O holy, blessed, and glorious Trinity, one God,
Have mercy upon us.

From all hardness of heart, and contempt of your Word and commandment by thought, word, or deed,
Good Lord, deliver us.

From all terror, oppression, violence, and murder, and from dying suddenly and unprepared,
Good Lord, deliver us.

That it may please you to bring into the way of truth all such as have grievously erred, are deceived, and whose hearts and minds are shackled by maniacal rage and evil intent,
We beseech you to hear us, good Lord.

That it may please you so to rule the hearts of all in authority, that they may do justice, and love mercy, and walk and speak in the ways of truth,
We beseech you to hear us, good Lord.

That it may please you to make wars, those far away and those close to home, to cease in all the world; to give to all nations and communities unity, peace, and concord; and to bestow freedom upon all peoples,
We beseech you to hear us, good Lord.

That it may please you to preserve all who are in danger by reason of their sexual orientation, color of their skin, ethnicity, religion, gender, or any other difference from ourselves,
We beseech you to hear us, good Lord.

That it may please you to preserve, and provide for, young children and orphans, the widowed, and all whose homes are broken or torn by the strife and pain of blind hatred, racism, sexism, and all other -isms.
We beseech you to hear us, good Lord.

That it may please you to give us true repentance; to forgive us all our sins, negligences, and ignorances; and to endue us with the grace of your Holy Spirit to amend our lives according to your holy Word,
We beseech you to hear us, good Lord.

That it may please you to forgive our enemies, persecutors, and terrorists, and to turn their hearts, and our own, to forgiveness, compassion, and love,
We beseech you to hear us, good Lord.

That it may please you to grant to all the faithful departed eternal life and peace, especially:

—Edward Sotomayor Jr.
—Stanley Almodovar III
—Luis Omar Ocasio-Capo
—Juan Ramon Guerroro
—Eric Ivan Ortiz-Rivera
— Peter O. Gonzalez-Cruz
— Luis S. Vielma
— Kimberly Morris
—Eddie Jamoldroy Justice
—Darryl Roman Burt II
—Deonka Deidra Drayton
—Alejandro Barrios Martinez
—Anthony Luis Laureanodisla
—Jean Carlos Mendez Perez
—Franky Jimmy Dejesus Velazquez
- Amanda Alvear
- Martin Benitez Torres
- Luis Daniel Wilson-Leon
- Mercedez Marisol Flores
- Xavier Emmanuel Serrano Rosado
- Gilberto Ramon Silva Menendez
- Simon Adrian Carrillo Fernandez
- Oscar A Aracena-Montero
- Enrique L. Rios, Jr.
- Miguel Angel Honorato
- Javier Jorge-Reyes
- Joel Rayon Paniagua
- Jason Benjamin Josaphat
- Cory James Connell
- Juan P. Rivera Velazquez
- Luis Daniel Conde
- Shane Evan Tomlinson
- Juan Chevez-Martinez
- Jerald Arthur Wright
- Leroy Valentin Fernandez
- Tevin Eugene Crosby

And for all whose names are not yet known to us. Grant a miracle of comfort and peace to those who love them,
We beseech you to hear us, good Lord.

O Christ, hear us.
O Christ, hear us.

O God, our Refuge and our Strength, in the face of fearsome foes, seething intolerance, and the tempests of tragedy, in suffering and in joy, let us remember to always turn first to you with our faith strong and our hearts wide open. We ask with heavy hearts through your Son Jesus, our Savior and the Holy Spirit our Comforter, who together with You are One Holy and Eternal God from before the beginning until beyond the end. Amen.


Adapted from the BCP Great Litany by Christina Brennan Lee



Requests for prayers or meditations for this space or private use may be sent to Leeosophy@gmail.com. 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.

Monday, June 13, 2016

Prayers of the People: When Swine Flew, 5th Sunday after Pentecost Yr C

For Sunday, June 19, 2016, 5th Sunday after Pentecost, Year C, Readings: 1 Kings 19:1-4 (5-7), 8-15a; Ps 42, Galatians 3:23-29, Luke 8:26-39


As the deer longs for the water-brooks,
   so my soul longs for you, O God.
My soul is athirst for God, athirst for the living God;
when shall I come to appear before the   
   presence of God?
My tears have been my food day and night,
   while all day long they say to me,
"Where now is your God?" ...
I will say to the God of my strength,
"Why have you forgotten me?
and why do I go heavily while the enemy  
   oppresses me?"
While my bones are being broken,
   my enemies mock me to my face.
All day long they mock me
   and say to me, "Where now is your God?
Why are you so full of heaviness, O my soul? 
   and why are you so disquieted within me?
Put your trust in God;
   for I will yet give thanks to him,
who is the help of my countenance, and my
    God. [Ps 42: 1-3, 11-15]

       There is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male and female, for all of you are one in Christ Jesus. And if you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham's offspring, heirs according to the promise. [Galatians 3:28-29]

        Now there on the hillside a large herd of swine was feeding; and the demons begged Jesus to let them enter these. So he gave them permission. Then the demons came out of the man and entered the swine, and the herd rushed down the steep bank into the lake and was drowned. 
[Luke 8:32-33]

      Why is there never a herd of scape-pigs around when you need one? Well, of course the politicians can always find them and it's easy to jump to the closest group of "THEM" to blame for whatever demon(s) have surfaced, especially in the aftermath of an horrific tragedy such as in Orlando. Of course if Jesus were to cast the demons into the swine today, he would be overwhelmed with the backlash from bacon addicts. 
        How fascinating and fortuitous - to me, at least - that the psalm appointed for today gives voice to so much angst, frustration, fear, and anger. The psalmist is in lament, depressed, mocked, and yet for all his despairing he is still speaking to God, in memory of a time when God felt closer. He also speaks in hope as if feeling and knowing, somehow, that the time will come again when he will give God thanks. 
        Paul reminds us that we are all one in Christ, and still and also children of Abraham. Jesus tells the man freed of demons, at the end of this week's Gospel, Return to your home, and declare how much God has done for you. Quite a contrast to the psalmist's Why have you [God] forgotten me? How, indeed, do we declare how much God has done for us in the midst of what has been done to so many in our midst? Let us take the time to breathe, clinging to hope and to each other. We are marked as Christ's own in Baptism, either through water or desire. Let us be still and listen for God in the sound of sheer silence [1 Kings 19:12b] of our souls, believing in the power of God to guide us through until we can at last give thanks to him, who is the help of [our] countenance, and [our] God

LET US, GOD’S PEOPLE, PRAY

Leader:  ~ Most High God, Creator of All Humankind, teach us, again, to seek the quiet in the midst of the noise of life, that we may listen and hear You speak to our souls in the sound of sheer silence.

                                                    O Lord of Loving-Kindness
RESPONSE:             Help us to put our trust in You 

~ Most High God, Creator of All Humankind, grant us strength to stand before the rulers and regimes on this Earth, in our nation, and in our local region, for the people of Your hand whose tears have been their only food, and whose thirst will be quenched only by justice, mercy, and peace. We pray especially for: add your own petitions

                                                O Lord of Loving-Kindness
                                                Help us to put our trust in You                         

~ Most High God, Creator of All Humankind, shelter the hearts and minds and bodies of those tormented by the demons of chronic pain, addictions, or mental illness, and sustain the love and patience of all who give them care. We now join our voices to pray aloud for those in need… add your own petitions

                                                O Lord of Loving-Kindness
                                                Help us to put our trust in You             

~ Most High God, Creator of All Humankind, ease the burden of bereavement, as the heirs of Your eternal Promise now awaken to the bliss of life ever after in the peace of Christ. We pray especially for: the Dead, the Injured and the Grief-Stricken in Orlando, for the heart- and mind-release of all who are shackled by rage and hate, and for all who turn to acts of evil. We also pray for: add your own petitions

                                                O Lord of Loving-Kindness
                                                Help us to put our trust in You 
                       
~ Most High God, Creator of All Humankind, we pause in this moment to offer You our other heartfelt intentions and petitions, aloud or silently… add your own petitions

                                                O Lord of Loving-Kindness
                                                Help us to put our trust in You 
                       
~ Most High God, Creator of All Humankind, we raise up before You all who have been chosen to lead us in Your church, who baptize us as Christ’s own forever, and declare to us all that You, our God, have done. We pray especially for: add your own petitions

                                                O Lord of Loving-Kindness
                                                Help us to put our trust in You 


The Celebrant adds:  Lord God of our Life and our Strength, deliver us from fear, anger, and the desire for vengeance in the face of terrible tragedy. Guide us to the path of Your peace within us, filled with faith and compassion. We ask through Jesus, our teacher of Love in Action, and the Holy Spirit, the Spark that ignites our Souls, who together with You are One God forever and ever.  Amen.





Requests for prayers or meditations for this space or private use may be sent to Leeosophy@gmail.com. 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.


Monday, June 6, 2016

Prayers of the People: Goes Around Comes Around, 4th Sunday after Pentecost Yr C

For Sunday, June 12, 2016, 4th Sunday after Pentecost, Year C, Readings: 1 Kings 21:1-10 (11-14), 15-21a; Galatians 2:15-21, Luke 7:36-8:3

         [Elijah] answered, "I have found you. Because you have sold yourself to do what is evil in the sight of the Lord, I will bring disaster on you." [1 Kings 21: 21a]

         Give ear to my words, O Lord...for I make my prayer to you. [Ps 5: 1a, 2b]

        [A]nd it is no longer I who live, but it is Christ who lives in me. The life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.
[Galatians 2:20]

          But the one to whom little is forgiven, loves little. [Luke 7:47b]

        In the readings for this Sunday we move from abject cruelty to absolute compassion. Ahab and Jezebel are the personification of evil-doing and corrupt power. The Prophet Elijah speaks God's words in saying that disaster will be brought to bear on them for their deeds and what happens next in the books of 1st and 2nd Kings are compelling narratives of the stuff that films are made of. And yet let us not, in our ritual re-tellings of ancient stories, absently relegate such tales to the distant past of far away places. We cannot, and must not, deny the harsh and devastating realities that continue in the world of today that are close to home and all over the globe.
        In the Gospel reading we may well wonder, was Jesus set up for controversy by Simon, the Pharisee? Perhaps, yet he was true to himself and his teachings. His words to Simon are stark and difficult reminders to us of how we are to live our lives: But the one to whom little is forgiven, loves little. As he further tells the woman who anointed his feet, Your faith has saved you; go in peace [Luke 7:50], so Paul tells us that by our own faith we are saved. I must ask myself: Am I at peace? How do I forgive? Often we must first forgive ourselves and then forget to project our unease with own sin onto others. Another pressing question comes: How are we to live the Gospel? We know and teach our children the "Golden Rule" - Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. But this lesson of Jesus speaks to me of what some call the "Platinum Rule" - Do unto others AS THEY WOULD HAVE YOU do unto them. 
       For love to be more, more love must be given. Archbishop Desmond Tutu says, "I don't preach a social gospel; I preach the Gospel, period. The Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ is concerned for the whole person. When people were hungry, Jesus didn't say, 'Now is that political or social?' He said, 'I feed you.' Because the good news to a hungry person is bread." 

       What goes around comes around.




LET US, GOD’S PEOPLE, PRAY

Leader:  ~ God of Mercy, help us to seek the Christ within ourselves, to keep our faith conscious and quick in forgiveness, always remembering how we ourselves are forgiven by You.

                                                     Holy and Righteous Lord
RESPONSE:             We make our prayers to You

~ God of Mercy, in a world, a country, and a community too often beset by fear, rage, and apathy all fueled by political expedience, grant us the courage to pursue truth in our current leaders as well as in those who would lead, expect justice, and err on the side of clemency and peace. We pray especially for: add your own petitions

                                                Holy and Righteous Lord
                                                We make our prayers to You

~ God of Mercy, caress the souls of the many who struggle with incessant pain of body, mind, or spirit, and refresh the energy of all who give care and support. We now join our voices to pray aloud for those in need… add your own petitions

                                                Holy and Righteous Lord
                                                We make our prayers to You

~ God of Mercy, whisper in the hearts of the sorrowful so they may know that the light of Your glory is upon all who now live again in everlasting joy and peace. We pray especially for: add your own petitions

                                                Holy and Righteous Lord
                                                We make our prayers to You

~ God of Mercy, as we pause in this moment to offer You our other heartfelt intentions and petitions aloud or silently, let us also give thanksgiving, praise, and prayers for all new graduates, that their new life journey heartening satisfaction, soul-filling success, and a deepening faith in You. add your own petitions

                                                Holy and Righteous Lord
                                                We make our prayers to You

~ God of Mercy, we give You great thanks for the faith-filled life in this congregation, for all who went before us, all who are here, and all who are yet to come, and for the blessings received from those who bring us Your Word and Sacraments as we move forward together in You. We pray especially for: add your own petitions

                                                Holy and Righteous Lord
                                                We make our prayers to You
                                                                                                        

The Celebrant adds:  Most Gracious God, revive and awaken us to the wonders of Your compassion and love, and fill our earthly lives with the sanctuary of Your divine peace. We ask through Jesus, our Christ and Savior, and the Holy Spirit, our Wisdom and Sustainer, who together with You are One God, infinite and eternal.  Amen.




Requests for prayers or meditations for this space or private use may be sent to Leeosophy@gmail.com. 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.

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Prayers of the People: On the Brink, 3rd Sunday after Pentecost

For Sunday, June 5, 2016, 3rd Sunday after Pentecost, Year C, Readings: 1 Kings 17:8-16 (17-24), Ps 146, Galatians 1:11-24, Luke 7:11-17

       [Elijah] called to her and said, "Bring me a little water...bring me a morsel of bread...But she said, "As the Lord your God lives, I have nothing baked, only a handful of meal in a jar, and a little oil in a jug...that I may...prepare it for myself and my son, that we may eat it and die."...After this the son...became ill; his illness was so severe that there was no breath left in him....[Elijah] ...cried out to the Lord, "O Lord my God, let this child's life come into him again." The Lord listened to the voice of Elijah; the life of the child came into him again...So the woman said to Elijah, "Now I know you are a man of God, and that the word of the Lord in your mouth is truth." [1 Kings 17:10b, 11b, 17a, 21b, 22, 24]

        Praise the Lord, O my soul! Happy are they who have the God of Jacob for their help! Whose hope is in the Lord their God; Who made the heaven and earth, the seas, and all that is in them; who keeps his promise forever... [Psalm 146: 1a, 4-5]

        ...God, who had set me apart before I was born and called me through his grace, was pleased to reveal his Son to me, so that I might proclaim it among the Gentiles...I went away at once into Arabia...and I was still unknown by sight to the churches of Judea...they only heard it said, "The one who formerly was persecuting us is now proclaiming the faith he once tried to destroy." And they glorified God because of me. [Galatians 1: 15-16, 17b, 22-23]

        As [Jesus] approached the gate of the town, a man who had died was being carried out. He was his mother's only son, and she was a widow...When the Lord saw her, he had compassion for her and said to her, "Do not weep."...And he said, "Young man, I say to you, rise!" The dead man sat up and began to speak, and Jesus gave him to his mother...they glorified God... [Luke 7:12-13, 14b-15, 16b]

        Despair, deprivation, and frustration appear to be the main thrust of the readings this week as well as, in two of them, miraculous remedies. 
        Widows on the brink of disaster are rescued and their sons restored to life. In those times (and in many places still), widows could not inherit, certainly couldn't have a paying occupation ("nice" ones, anyway), and without extended family, were left to die with their children. Elijah was sent to the widow of Zarephath in the midst of a famine so she couldn't even find a grain of wheat in the fields and was preparing for death. In Nain, Jesus knew that widow's plight immediately and had compassion for her. Paul, not likely hungry or in fear of death at that point, is sounding very frustrated and defensive as he tries to remind the church in Galatia that he truly is an Apostle, designated by God in personal revelation. I can almost see and hear him, arms in the air, voice pitched a bit higher, "People, I heard this from God directly and other churches believed me!!"
        The Psalmist, feeling good about life in this doxology [a hymn or expression of praise to God], reminds us to keep praising God and hang on to the belief that God will care for the hungry, the oppressed, the orphan and widow and in so writing we are also reminded of life's trials in this list of desperation that many experience.  
       While it may be easier to be a bit cynical - look at all the people today who are starving and living in the terror of war, poverty, and disease, where are their miracle rescues? - let's take another look. WE are the miracle-workers. Even in the midst of our own darkest hours. We are called to be the compassion of Christ - as Paul was called to bring the revelation of Christ and build churches on that Foundation. Our God is not passive but acting in us through Jesus and the Holy Spirit. We may not be able to raise the dead, feed all the hungry, and stop all war. Yet we can make a difference in our corner of the earth by seeing those made invisible by their lack of status in a status-seeking culture. It is not enough to feel compassion, sympathy, or empathy, we are called to act. WE, together, can be as God acting through us to care for the displaced, the starving, those made vulnerable and defenseless by a variety of circumstances and, yes, even those who have made indefensible choices in their lives. As Buddhist monk and peace activist Thich Nhat Hanh says, Compassion is a verb. 
        We who merely think we believe in God are on the brink of discovering that acting on faith, in faith, and through faith, is God's purpose. Not always an easy path to be sure, but filled with the depths of satisfaction, fulfillment, and the joy that is far deeper than mere surface pleasure. Jump in! The work is hard, the aggravations are many, the cycle never ends, and life has never been more complete, gratifying, hopeful, and faith-filled.


LET US, GOD’S PEOPLE, PRAY

Leader:  ~ God of Hope and Compassion, teach our souls to praise You with our trust, humility, and faith-filled action on behalf of all Your people.

O Lord of Heaven and Earth
RESPONSE:           May our lives reflect Your grace      

~ God of Hope and Compassion, help us to bring the eyes of Christ to all who govern on this Planet, in all countries, and in our own community. Grant them the willingness to see, acknowledge, and provide peace and support for the invisible, the vulnerable, and the defenseless. We pray especially for: add your own petitions

                                                O Lord of Heaven and Earth
                                                May our lives reflect Your grace

~ God of Hope and Compassion, grant respite and healing to all who are on the brink of despair and deprivation from chronic illness, depression, or fearful life circumstance, and lift the hearts and energies of those who provide their care. We now join our voices to pray aloud for those in need… add your own petitions

                                                O Lord of Heaven and Earth
                                                May our lives reflect Your grace

~ God of Hope and Compassion, carry the sorrow of those who grieve while all who have risen in glory, enter new life in Your eternal glory. We pray especially for: add your own petitions

                                                O Lord of Heaven and Earth
                                                May our lives reflect Your grace

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

                                                O Lord of Heaven and Earth
                                                May our lives reflect Your grace

~ God of Hope and Compassion, we lift our prayers in thanksgiving and celebration for the ministry of all Bishops, Priests, and Deacons, who bless us with their presence and prayers. Grant them each special grace on this day for their dedicated service to You on behalf of us all. We also pray especially for: add your own petitions

                                                O Lord of Heaven and Earth
                                                May our lives reflect Your grace
                                                                                                        

The Celebrant adds:  O God of Justice, Truth, and Promise, turn us from the fleeting allure of earthly distractions, that we may hear and act on Your continuous call, to be a revelation of You for all who we meet and serve in this life.  We ask through Jesus, our Redeemer, and the Holy Spirit, our Sanctifier, who together with You reign as One God, forever and ever. Amen.




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