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 17, 2014

Prayers of the People: Being Cheeky, 7th Sunday after Epiphany

Readings for Sunday, February 23, 2014: Lev 19:1-2, 9-18; Ps 119:33-40; 1Cor 3:10-11, 16-23; Mt 5:38-48

Turn the Other Cheek.
And get slapped again?
                Actually, yes, most likely.  That's the way with it, non-violent resistance, that is. And we probably should smile at the same time - sincerely.  Oh sure.
            But Walter Wink, theologian and Professor of Biblical Interpretation at Auburn Theological Seminary in New York City, gives us a useful context.  The very short version is that the usual back handed slap across the face is intended to humiliate. If one turns the left cheek after the first blow, it thwarts the connection.  It reduces the power of the one doing the hitting to dehumanize.  As Gandhi taught, "The first principle of nonviolent action is that of noncooperation with everything humiliating." Wink's easily-read article explains much more about this. Do take a look at:  http://www.cres.org/star/_wink.htm   
          And this week, like last, we are commanded to care for God's people which, by the way, includes ourselves.  Love them and us by not stealing, defrauding, reviling, slandering, hating, or taking vengeance and the like. Love those who love us but mostly those who don't ~ our enemies, our persecutors, the evildoers.   

          Love is such an enriching emotion that ideally brings pleasure, satisfaction, and even fulfillment, whether romantic, filial, parental, or some other kind that brings a heart flutter.  Of course, in reality, love can be painful and difficult. Jesus then gives us this business of loving people we don't like and who don't like us.  How do we do that? Perhaps we can start by at least accepting the concept and then work up to doing it. It's a tough sell, especially in these times of instant gratification by whatever means possible. 
           And then, of course, there's letting go of "An eye for an eye..."  When there is almost as much satisfaction in retaliation as there is in love, in a society when violent reaction by physical or social media smack-down is instantaneous, how are we supposed to love everyone and not respond in kind to a disagreement, a threat or a despicable action?  Pray.....without ceasing. And work on ways to respond thoughtfully rather than react in haste.

Let Us, God’s People, Pray

Leader:    ~ O Holy LORD, our God, as temples of Your most gracious love, You give us the way of Your statutes in Your Commandments.  You tell us what we need to know about how to love and serve You.  But we often slip on the ice of distraction, and care first and only for ourselves and not our neighbors or those in need.

                        Lord Jesus of God, Foundation of our souls
Response: Teach us to long for life in Your way.

~ O Holy LORD, our God, turn the hearts of our elected leaders away from what is worthless in this world and toward us working together to build the world according to Your Way.  We pray especially for:  add your own petitions
                          Lord Jesus of God
                    Teach us to long for life in Your way.

~ O Holy LORD, our God, you exhort us to show love for our neighbors with every action of our lives. Let us begin anew by caring for those who are sick, injured, or afraid, and for those who selflessly aid and comfort them.  We pray especially for: add your own petitions

                          Lord Jesus of God
                    Teach us to long for life in Your way.

~ O Holy LORD, our God, we are bereft of the company of those in our hearts who have gone home to You; but we are soothed with the knowledge that they are with You in Your Holy Temple.  We pray especially for: add your own petitions

                            Lord Jesus of God
                    Teach us to long for life in Your way.

~ O Holy LORD, our God, we ask Your blessings on those who lead us in Your Church.  Revitalize and enliven their sense of Divine Call so that they can show us the way to turn, not just the other cheek, but our whole being toward You.  We pray especially for: add your own petitions

                              Lord Jesus of God
                    Teach us to long for life in Your way.

The Celebrant adds:  O God of All that is Holy, Your servant Paul tells us to choose carefully how we each build on the Foundation that is Christ.  Jesus tells us to always respond in love, to turn the other cheek, and to pray even for those who would not love us in return.  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.

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