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, 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.


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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