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, July 24, 2017

Prayers of the People: Great Mustard, Bad Fish 8th Sunday after Pentecost '17 Yr A

For Sunday, July 30, 2017, 8th Sunday after Pentecost, Year A, Readings: Genesis 29:15-28, Psalm 105:1-11, 45b; Romans 8:26-39, 
Matthew 13:31-33, 44-52
       When morning came, there was Leah! So Jacob said to Laban, 'What is this you have done to me? I served you for Rachel, didn't I? Why have you deceived me?' [Gen 29:25 NIV]

       Give thanks to the Lord and call upon his Name; make known his deeds among the peoples...let the hearts of those who seek the Lord rejoice. Search for the Lord and his strength... [Psalm 105: 3-4a NRSV]

       If God is for us, who is against us?...Who will separate us from the love of Christ?...neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, not things present, nor things to come...will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. [Romans 8:31b, 38 NRSV]

        Jesus [said]: " The Kingdom of Heaven is like a mustard seed...like yeast...like treasure hidden in a field...[and] like [a pearl] of great value...[and] like a net that...caught every fish...when it was full, they...put the good into the baskets but threw out the bad. [Matthew 13:31, 33, 44, 45, 48-49 NIV]

      A continuing family drama this week: The deceiver is deceived. But to Jacob’s good credit (he often needs all he can get), he chose to work hard and faithfully to win the hand of lovely Rachel, and, even though it was a bait and switch scheme by Laban (did Jacob understand the irony of sibling substitution?), he also honored his commitment to work an additional seven years after two weddings in two weeks. In using imperfect people to show us to ourselves, we also see that we, like Jacob, are still counted among all those that God loves, regardless of our flaws.
       Jesus lets loose quite a barrage of parables to further explain the kingdom of God in everyday illustrations for that time and some in our own. There is something for everyone to do whether we are planting tiny mustard seeds to grow into large trees for nesting birds and human food, mixing yeast with flour to expand the dough of life, finding buried treasure in the field of an everyday experience, or discovering a pearl so perfect that we choose to sell all we own to buy it. And there are times when we must allow ourselves to be caught like fish in a net, and the goal of that moment – and every other – is to be sorted into the baskets with the good fish rather than thrown out with the bad.
        One message here is that there is no perfection in humanity but in choosing well, our smallest efforts can grow and yield a large return. We must remember that God is always present and search for the Lord and his strength, as the Psalmist tells us, and sometimes that requires some digging. Paul tells us that to be separated from the love of God through Jesus, even with all of our faults, is nearly impossible. After all, If God is for us, who can be against us? Only ourselves! And the choice to be separated would have to be our own.
       The Spirit of God, if we open ourselves in faith, is the yeast that expands our understanding, our relationship, and the willingness to seek God’s purpose in all that we do. The love of Christ is what blends us all, as Christ’s own, together, and God gathers the yield of all the harvest. Some days in God’s Creation are better than others yet God is the constant that draws us. All we have to do is decide: Which part of the harvest do we choose to be – great mustard or bad fish?


Leader:  ~ O God of Strength and Presence, we receive the smallest seeds, the yeast that gives rise, and the hidden treasures of everyday life, which are only a few of the markers of Your bountiful love. Guide us to seek and discover the many ordinary and miraculous ways that Your Creation fills our souls beyond measure when we open ourselves in faith.

                                                Spirit of God                                    
RESPONSE:             Help us in our weakness

~ O God of Strength and Presence, excite the willingness of the political leaders of our Planet, our Nation, and our Community to provide life’s basic necessities for Your neediest people, ethical and practical legislation for all those they govern, and globally beneficial partnerships across the Earth. We pray especially for: add your own petitions

                                                Spirit of God
                                                Help us in our weakness
~ O God of Strength and Presence, ease the burden of illness, injury, or despair for those who suffer, and bring relief to those who give them care. We now join our voices to pray aloud for those in need… add your own petitions

                                                Spirit of God
                                                Help us in our weakness
~ O God of Strength and Presence, we hold closely in our hearts all who have traveled to the end of their human experience, now shining in the radiance of Your glorious light, peacefully and joyously nesting in Your heavenly tree of eternal life. We pray especially for: add your own petitions 
                                                Spirit of God
                                                Help us in our weakness

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

                                                Spirit of God
                                                Help us in our weakness
~ O God of Strength and Presence, bestow the gift of grace-filled respite for all who are called to lead us in Your church. Let us pray, worship, and work together for all that is good, according to Your purpose, and out of our love for You. We pray especially for: add your own petitions
                                                Spirit of God
                                                Help us in our weakness

The Celebrant adds:  O Lord, our God, as You are always for us, nothing can separate us from the enduring love of Christ but ourselves. Catch us in Your ample net and draw us out of the troubled waters of our own making, that we may find our way into the good basket of Your Kingdom of Heaven. We ask through Jesus, our Hope and our Savior, and the Holy Spirit, our Advocate and Counselor, who together with You are our One God, forever and ever. Amen.

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