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, November 13, 2017

Prayers of the People: Our Role as Stewards, 6th Sunday in the Season of Creation '17

For Sunday, November 19, 2017, Sixth Sunday in the Season of Creation, Readings: Deuteronomy 26:1a, 2, 4, 8-11; 
Psalm 116:10-17, Bishop John E. Hines*, Matthew 7:7-11
             An explanation of the Season of Creation can be found here:  
We use Biblical and other readings that pertain to the specific theme of each of the 7 weeks of the Season. Alternate readings used will follow the prayers.

Week 6's Theme is: Our Role as Stewards

      When you have come into the land that the Lord your God is giving you as an inheritance to possess, you shall take some of the first of all the fruit of the ground...and you shall put it in a basket...You shall...bow down before the Lord your God... Then you...shall celebrate with all the bounty that the Lord your God has given to you and to your house. 
[Deuteronomy 26:1a, 2a, 10b, 11b]

     How shall I repay the Lord for all the good things he has done for me? ...I will fulfill my vows to the Lord in the presence of all his people...I Lord I am your servant... [Psalm 116:10, 12, 14a]

     I hope for a witnessing community of unquestioned integrity...For the essential question is not, 'How shall the...Church grow?' but rather, 'How can the...Church be faithful?' For that is the heritage...worth passing on to our children and grandchildren. [Presiding Bishop John E. Hines*]

     Ask, and it will be given you; search, and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened for you. For everyone who asks receives, and everyone who searches finds, and for everyone who knocks, the door will be opened. [Matthew 7:7-8]

       It's TRUE, my grandmother always said so but I didn't believe it until I learned from experience: The days may be long, but the years are short. Time passes so swiftly now that we hardly have time to catch our breath before it's suddenly summer, then autumn, then Christmas, then another year going and coming. So much that we planned to accomplish in a given time period lies unfinished or even un-started. And some of us, younger and older, have confronted our own mortality this year, or that of those we love, in many and unexpected ways. It is time to take a moment and reflect upon what we have, and what we do, and how we connect them to our claim to faith in God.
      As mentioned in recent weeks, the overarching theme of this year's Season of Creation is Environmental Justice. I think we sometimes only think of environment as grass, oceans, water and air quality and the like. In reality all of Creation is our environment. A dictionary definition of environment is: 1 - the aggregate of surrounding things, conditions, or influences; surroundings; milieu; 2 - Ecology: the air, water, minerals, organisms, and all other external factors surrounding and affecting a given organism at any time; and 3 - the social and cultural forces that shape the life of a person or a population. [dictionary.com] Therefore everything we do, or do not do, impacts the entire complex of Creation/Environment, justly or unjustly. It seems to follow then, that all we do out of true faith in God is environmental justice in action.
      When strengthened and multiplied in a welcoming and spiritually-centered church community, faith with many hands will accomplish more together than separately. We are each called to unite in fostering the mission and ministry of Christ as we are able. Let us give to God by giving to our church in ways that extend the work of God today, tomorrow, and as the foundation and inspiration for those who come later. Let us look at each other and see ourselves as a community of faith and remember, even when we are apart from one another, we are still a part of the whole Body of Christ. 
Let us be a witnessing community of unquestioned integrity* that keeps from worrying over temporal issues and gives generously in thanksgiving for the continuing presence of God now and for the future. Let us celebrate all the bounty of the Lord and ask for guidance to bring justice to every part of God's Creation, search for the wisdom to keep us on track, and knock on God's holy door, humble of heart, as Faithful Stewards of all facets of Creation.


Leader:  ~ Loving, Generous Creator, today we celebrate together, in wonder and with praise, the full bounty of life You have given to each of us. Let us offer in thanksgiving, the useful skills we have or are willing to learn, our time in prayer and meaningful service each and every day, and a conscious, regular, and intentional gift of funds or other resources as we are able, to expand the mission and ministry of Christ’s Community of Faith.

                                                O Lord our God                                 
RESPONSE:             We pledge to be Your faithful stewards

~ Loving, Generous Creator, we strive to be faithful to Your call and live unstained by the externals of this world. We must also stand up to require the unequivocal integrity of the political leaders of this Planet, this Country, and this Community, and expect them to fulfill their duty to prosper Your Creation for everyone. We pray especially for: add your own petitions

                                                O Lord our God
                                                We pledge to be Your faithful stewards
~ Loving, Generous Creator, renew the strength and hope of those who are suffering in body, mind, or spirit, and give rest to all who minister to their needs. We now join our voices to pray aloud for those in need… add your own petitions

                                                O Lord our God
                                                We pledge to be Your faithful stewards
~ Loving, Generous Creator, it soothes our hearts to know that those who have left us here, are joyously welcomed into the glory of Your heaven, exulting in new life for all eternity. We pray especially for: add your own petitions  

                                                O Lord our God
                                                We pledge to be Your faithful stewards

~ Loving, Generous Creator, we pause in this moment to offer You our other heartfelt thanksgivings, intercessions, petitions, and memorials, aloud or silently… add your own petitions

                                                O Lord our God
                                                We pledge to be Your faithful stewards
~ Loving, Generous Creator, for the faithful Shepherds of Your Church, who keep us on a spiritual track in daily life, and guide us in living the mission of Christ on earth, we give You great and unending thanks. We pray especially for: add your own petitions

                                                O Lord our God
                                                We pledge to be Your faithful stewards

The Celebrant adds:  O God Most High, awaken our souls to know that to search for Your presence in our every waking moment, is to knock on the holy door of eternity, opened to us by Your love. Let us demonstrate our faithfulness by paying forward, to continue the mission of Christ within this community of faith, that will spread beyond and into the whole of Creation. We ask through the love of Jesus, our Redeemer Christ, and for the Wisdom of the Holy Spirit, who together with You are One God, now and forever. AMEN.

*Reading #2: A READING FROM PRESIDING BISHOP JOHN E. HINES:   What I hope for has little to do with growth in communicant strength, though I would rejoice at a multitude of conversions possessing integrity. This has little to do with bigger budgets, nothing to do with maintaining a respected place with the carriage-trade clientele of our society. I hope for a witnessing community of unquestioned integrity. It may - in the future, this Church of ours - be an even smaller Church because of its witness; less powerful, and less influential - as a secular society gauges power and influence. For the essential question is not, “How shall the Episcopal Church grow?” - but rather, “How can the Episcopal Church be faithful?” For that is the heritage worth sacrificing for - worth passing on to our children and grandchildren. God forbid that they should come to a time and place unashamed of the Gospel, but ashamed of us.             
        ~ Kenneth Kesselus, John E. Hines, from Farewell Sermon in Granite on Fire, Episcopal Theological Seminary of the Southwest, Austin, 1995. 
                                             Bishop Hines served as the 22nd Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church from 1965-1973

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