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, July 18, 2017

Prayers of the People: We have met the Enemy... 7th Sunday after Pentecost, '17 Yr A

For Sunday, July 23, 2017, 7th Sunday after Pentecost, Year A, Readings: Genesis 28:10-19a, Psalm 139:1-11, 22-23; Romans 8:12-25, 
Matthew 13:24-30, 36-43

      And the Lord stood beside him and said, "...Know that I am with you and will keep you wherever you go...for I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you." Then Jacob woke from his sleep and said, "Surely the Lord is in this place - and I did not know it!" ... He called that place Beth-El. 
[Genesis 28:13a, 15-16, 19a]

      Lord, you have searched me out and known me; you know my sitting down and my rising up; you discern my thoughts from afar. You trace my journeys and my resting-places and are acquainted with all my ways...Look well whether there be any wickedness in me and lead me in the way that is everlasting. [Psalm 139:1-2, 23]

When we cry, "Abba! Father!" is is that very Spirit bearing witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then...heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ...But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience." [Romans 8:15b-17a, 25]

            [Jesus] answered, "The one who sows the good seed is the Son of Man; the field is the world, and the good seed are the children of the kingdom; the weeds are the children of the evil one, and the enemy who sowed them is the devil; the harvest is the end of the age, and the reapers are the angels...The Son of Man will send his angels, and they will collect...all causes of sin and all evildoers, and...throw them into the furnace...Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father. [Matthew 13:37-42a, 43a]

        "Pogo" was a daily American newspaper comic strip by Walt Kelly that ran from 1948 to 1975. Set in the Okefenokee Swamp in the deep south, it used animal characters that portrayed human characteristics, and often mixed comedy with social and political satire. On the second Earth Day, in 1971, Pogo the possum is trudging through the swamp with his friend, Porkypine. In this two panel rendering, the characters bemoan the state of the swamp with the overwhelming amount of rubbish that has been dumped in it, and Pogo utters a now iconic phrase that captures us all too well: We have met the enemy, and he is us.
        We are often, in so many ways, our own worst enemies. Jacob is frequently a victim of his own schemes (learned at his mother's knee) as he, in this case, runs away from his angry twin, Esau, never to see his mother again. Even the sometimes daunting, sometimes comforting verses of Psalm 139, belie a part of our less than honorable human nature that appears in the verses we usually leave out of our liturgical readings - see verses 15-18 for those days when a harsh cathartic venting feels necessary! Paul speaks to our inward groaning and mortal struggles to avoid the deeds of the body as he exhorts us to hope for what we do not see as then we wait for it with patience.
         But it is this parable of Jesus, often known as the wheat and the tares [noxious weeds that resemble the wheat sprouts], that offers us a lesson in prudent personal agronomy. It takes an experienced farmer/gardener to know the difference between seedlings that grow into the desired plants and those that produce invasive, destructive weeds. The Master of this field wisely leaves well enough alone as at maturity, the reapers will have no difficulty in distinguishing the wheat from the weeds. While the Master of this story blames an enemy for the deliberate seeding of tares in his field, we can look to ourselves for the crop of noxious weeds we produce. Each time we point a finger in hate - however self-righteous and correct we believe we are - and each time we judge and belittle those we believe to be the enemy of our personal agenda, and every time we decide who is an undesirable useless plant growing where it isn't wanted, and especially, when we believe we know who God will - or should - burn, we sow another seed of soul-destroying rubbish in our own spiritual ground reducing it to an unholy swamp. The message is pretty clear - and always difficult - it's not our job to reap the harvest and separate the weeds from the wheat. We are called to be the good seeds - the children of the kingdom - to be fruitful and nourish the fields of the Lord. In growing strong in Christ together, we will crowd out temptation, resist and lessen the impact of the weeds in God's Creation. The true and fertile seeds of the Spirit are ready to sprout. When we meet the enemy again, let her/him not be us.


Leader:  ~ Abba! God! You have traced our journeys from the womb and know well our hearts and thoughts. Keep us from the causes of sin to labor with patience in Your fields, as joint heirs with Christ to a fruitful harvest, in Your Kingdom of life everlasting.
RESPONSE:             Spirit of Hope
                                    Lead us together

~ Abba! God! Kindle the light of mercy within the hearts and souls of all who serve the governments of our world, our country, and our community. Grant them courage to clear the choking tendrils of injustice, greed, and war from the lives of all Your people. We pray especially for: add your own petitions

                                                Spirit of Hope
                                                Lead us together
~ Abba! God! Relieve the pain and despair from those who suffer with illness, injury, or addiction, and sustain the strength of those who give support. We now join our voices to pray aloud for those in need… add your own petitions

                                                Spirit of Hope
                                                Lead us together
~ Abba! God! We lift up and release those we love into Your joyous welcome, to shine like the sun in Your Eternal Kingdom. We pray especially for: add your own petitions 

                                                Spirit of Hope
                                                Lead us together

~ Abba! God! We pause in this moment to offer You our other heartfelt intentions and petitions, aloud or silently… add your own petitions

                                                Spirit of Hope
                                                Lead us together
~ Abba! God! We commend to You, with gratitude, those who have committed their lives to us in Your service. Bless, inspire, and uphold them as they work with us in Your Creation and guide us always toward You. We pray especially for: add your own petitions

                                                Spirit of Hope
                                                Lead us together

The Celebrant adds: O God of Promise and Glory, sow in us a longing to take the wings of each morning to search and know our own hearts, clear the weeds of sin and doubt, and to prosper our spiritual ground as the Beth-El we each are called to be. We ask through Jesus, our Strength and our Redeemer, and the Holy Spirit, our Wisdom and Comfort, who together with You reign as One God, now and forever. Amen.

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