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, May 28, 2018

Prayers of the People: Listen for the Grain Drops ~ 2nd Sunday after Pentecost '18 Yr B

For Sunday, June 3, 2018, 2nd Sunday after Pentecost, Year B, Readings: 1 Samuel 3:1-10 (11-20), Psalm 139: 1-5, 12-17; 2 Corinthians 4:5-12, 
Mark 2:23-3:6

      Then Eli perceived that the Lord was calling the boy. Therefore Eli said to Samuel, "Go lie down; and if he calls you, you shall say, 'Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening.'" [1 Samuel 3:8b-9]

       Lord, you have searched me out and known me...you discern my thoughts from afar...You trace my journeys and my resting places and are acquainted with all my ways. Indeed, there is not a word on my lips, but you O Lord, know it altogether...For you yourself created my inmost parts; you knit me together in my mother's womb.
[Psalm 139:1a,b; 2-3, 12]

       For it is the God who said, "Let light shine out of darkness," who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ...For while we live, we are always being given up to death for Jesus' sake, so that the life of Jesus made be made visible in our mortal flesh. [2 Corinthians 4:6, 11]

       One Sabbath Jesus and his disciples were going through the grain fields; and as they made their way his disciples began to pluck heads of grain. The Pharisees said to him, "Look, why are they doing what is not lawful on the Sabbath?"...Then [Jesus] said to them, "The sabbath was made for humankind, and not humankind for the sabbath..." [Mark 2:23-24, 27] 

       Psalm 139 is my favorite Psalm of all, well, most of it. In the verses appointed for this Sunday, we celebrate "the mystery of human personhood" as Biblical Scholar Walter Bruggemann has called it. We have left aside, for the moment, the parts that take our personhood to another part of our mortal being, the very human desire for vengeance. But we will leave our Smite-ing God for another day and think about the God who calls us. 
       Samuel hears and is confused. Was it a BOOMING GOD VOICE or a still small voice as he was lying in readiness for sleep? We don't know but it causes me to wonder, if, when, how has God's Voice come to me unrecognized and therefore unattended. But Eli had the perfect solution, if Samuel hears - or thinks he hears - God calling, simply say, Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening. After all, the Psalm is very clear about what the Lord knows about us as we were knitted together in our mother's womb. And when life is feeling especially dark, and the uncertainty of God's voice and presence is large, Paul reminds us that it is God who said, "Let light shine out of darkness"...the light of the glory of God in the face of Jesus... 
       Our fragile human existence, our life ~ this treasure in clay jars ~ is intended to receive and give that light, that we can know within and others can see from the outside, that Jesus is visible in all that we do in our lives, which takes me back to the Psalm. God has searched us out, knows our ways, our thoughts, and the words on our lips ~ almost frightening on one level, yet comfortable on another. Who else but with God are we totally ourselves, with nothing to hide, and, if we relax into it, say in Sabbath time, nothing to fear? But are we listening?
       Jesus seems prepared and defiant when questioned by the Pharisees about the disciples plucking grain on the Sabbath. The incidents recounted in Mark don't reach the level of vengeance, but it is notable that it says Jesus looked around at them with anger; he was grieved at their hardness of heart..." when questioning the Pharisaic enforcers, perhaps sarcastically, about whether it is lawful to do good or to do harm on the sabbath. Jesus told them earlier that the law was made for humans not humans for the law and was absolutely intentional in his flagrant healing of the man with the withered hand. There is a very deep message to hear if we are listening. Religious and secular laws can reflect the values and commitment of individuals and communities for a just and fair society. But taken to an extreme they can also be used against individuals and communities through technicalities that defy the spirit or intent of the law as it was instituted. God instituted Sabbath for human rest. If someone was unable to gather enough food the day before, should they be expected to go hungry for the sake of the letter of the law, or be denied healing? Jesus didn't think so. But listen for all the grain drops that fall and realize that as they pile up, and we fear disturbing the heap, we may become desensitized to the true needs of others. Let us release ourselves, through Sabbath rest, from hardness of heart and fear of the heartless. Let light shine out of darkness...Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening.

Leader:  ~ God of Glory and Greatness, You created and know us in all our ways, our thoughts, and our words. Grant us the desire and intention to seek and then listen to Your Voice when it comes. Guide our path to use the lives You have given us, in humble and grateful service through the message of Christ Jesus.  

                                               Creator Lord, Light in the Darkness
RESPONSE:             Shine in and through us

~ Most High and Holy God, while some may seek power to establish their own earthly kingdoms, keep us mindful of the eternal life in Christ that is beyond mere mortal flesh. Free all victims of iniquity and blasphemy and let us work to extend the knowledge of grace, justice, mercy, and tolerance to all who govern the peoples of this World, this Nation, and this Community. We pray especially for: add your own petitions

                                                Creator Lord, Light in the Darkness
                                                Shine in and through us       
~ Most High and Holy God, strengthen those who are weakened by the pain of illness or despair, and give new energy to all who give them comfort. We now join our voices to pray aloud for those in need… add your own petitions 

                                                Creator Lord, Light in the Darkness
                                                Shine in and through us
~ Most High and Holy God, in gratitude for the earthly time, we commend to You those who have now entered new life through the Heavenly Gate of divine joy and everlasting peace. We pray especially for: add your own petitions  

                                                Creator Lord, Light in the Darkness
                                                Shine in and through us

~ Most High and Holy God, we pause in this moment to offer You our other heartfelt thanksgivings, intercessions, petitions, and memorials, aloud or silently… add your own petitions

                                                Creator Lord, Light in the Darkness
                                                Shine in and through us
~ Most High and Holy God, enhance the gifts of those chosen to lead us in Your Church, so that through their example, inspiration, and discipleship, we each and our community of faith, will grow in spirit and in grace with the life of Christ made visible within us. We pray especially for: add your own petitions

                                                Creator Lord, Light in the Darkness
                                                Shine in and through us

The Celebrant adds: Lord of All, Seen and Unseen, while in the fragility of human life ~ our treasure in clay jars ~ let us seek the physical and spiritual shelter of Sabbath as necessary and holy time. May we rest often in Your goodness and mercy to strengthen body and soul, yet not to the exclusion of the true needs of others. We ask through Jesus, Son of Man, and the blessings of the Holy Spirit, who together with You, reign as One God, now and throughout eternity. Amen.

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