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, June 18, 2018

Prayers of the People: Stilling ~ 5th Sunday after Pentecost '18 Yr B

For Sunday, June 24, 2018, 5th Sunday after Pentecost, Year B, Readings: 1 Samuel 17:(1a, 4-11, 19-23), 32-49; Psalm 9:9-20, 
2 Corinthians 6:6-13, Mark 4:35-41

        David said, "The Lord, who saved me from the paw of the lion and from the paw of the bear, will save me from the hand of this Philistine. [1 Samuel 17:37]

       The Lord will be a refuge for the oppressed…he will not forget the cry of the afflicted…The ungodly have fallen into the pit they dug, and in the snare they set is their own foot caught…the wicked are trapped in the works of their own hands…Rise up, O Lord, let not the ungodly have the upper hand…Put fear upon them, O Lord; let the ungodly know they are but mortal. [Psalm 9:9a, 12b, 15, 16b, 20]

      As we work together with Christ, we urge you not to accept the grace of God in vain…as servants of God we have commended ourselves in every way: through great endurance…hardships, calamities…kindness, holiness of spirit…in honor and dishonor, in ill repute and good repute. [2 Corinthians 6:1, 4, 6, 8]

     A great windstorm arose, and the waves beat into the boat, so that the boat was already being swamped. But he was…asleep…and they woke him up and said to him, “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?” He woke up and rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, “Peace! Be Still!” Then the wind ceased, and there was a dead calm. He said to them, “Why are you afraid? Have you no faith?” [Mark 4:37-40]

       David and Goliath - who doesn't know this story, at least from the standpoint of "little guy prevails over very much bigger guy." While we - in the Judeo-Christian culture - know it from the Hebrew [Old] Testament, the story is also found in Islam's Qu'ran. This is the undoubtedly quintessential historical/scriptural/universally significant/underdog-victory tale to which we can all relate. And from which I draw much hope despite my severe lack of skills in hurling stones. Yet David was completely confident that he would prevail, with God's help.
       I will also confess, to experiencing some cathartic venting within the verses of this week's appointed Psalm. I was struck recently when I, having recently seen him in person, picked up Old Testament Scholar Walter Bruggemann's Book "The Prophetic Imagination" again for the first time in many years. In the first sentence of the Preface for this book in 1978, he says, "The time may be right in the church for serious consideration of prophecy as a crucial element in ministry." He includes David in the prophetic class and here we are, 40 years later, and now is yet another right time! I take comfort and relief in this particular Psalm in this particular week.
       Contrasting David's confidence, in Mark's Gospel, the Disciples are terrified of the storm on the water. But wait, aren't most of them experienced fishermen? That must have been one whale of a storm to frighten them so much and you can almost hear the translation of Jesus's words to them in today's terms as "Seriously, you woke me for this? Where is your faith?" And, of course, Jesus tells the waves and winds, Be Still!
       And what does this all mean for my life? Do I step up like David and face the Philistine giant, or cower like the Disciples? Am I faith-strong or faith-weak? It depends on the day and the fear; especially in these current days of not only fear but raging anger and strong division in this country and across the world. But Paul urges the Corinthians not to accept the grace of God in vain.  That sentence also jumped out at me. No complacency, no cowering, whatever the hardships, calamities...sleepless nights...kindness, holiness of spirit... there is work to be done in the fields of faith-filled living. But it is difficult and often thankless work in this earth-bound, high-tech, materialistic, us vs. them, temporary life. Keeping my faith in God through Christ and the Holy Spirit conscious and active takes great effort most times. But, it also means that I may surprise myself with my own strength, resilience, and capacity, to face the fearsome foes and woes in life, especially the ones I create for myself. I can also shine as the brightest of suns when the greatest joy arrives. And yet even in the most ordinary of times with daily frustrations, or the stormiest with anger and fear all around, mostly what I need is some time to be still and quiet the winds and waves within myself. And then a step forward and another, in faith, in hope, in genuine love, truthful speech, and the power of God. 
[2 Cor 6:6b-7a] Then some more breathing, quiet, stilling. Repeat.


Leader:  ~ O God, our Refuge and our Strength, in the face of fearsome foes, grant us the courage to brace against, and still, the winds of evil and the waves of emotional, physical, and spiritual damage engulfing so many of Your people, especially the children. Remind us often that You never forsake those who seek Your trust.

                                                     Lord of Justice and Peace
RESPONSE:                  Still our fear; Arouse our faith     

~ O God, our Refuge and our Strength, infuse our minds and hearts with the skills of Your servant David, that we may challenge the leaders of Earthly, National, and Local governments to aim for and successfully defeat the giant adversaries of discrimination, injustice, and physical danger for all Your people. We pray especially for: add your own petitions

                                                       Lord of Justice and peace
                                                       Still our fear; Arouse our faith     
~ O God, our Refuge and our Strength, restore health and give comfort to those who suffer in body, mind, or spirit, and give patience to those who tend their needs. We now join our voices to pray aloud for those in need…add your own petitions

                                                       Lord of Justice and peace
                                                       Still our fear; Arouse our faith
~ O God, our Refuge and our Strength, lighten the burden for all who grieve, as You embrace those newly arrived, to dwell with You in the glory of everlasting life and peace. We pray especially for: add your own petitions

                                                       Lord of Justice and peace
                                                       Still our fear; Arouse our faith

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

                                                       Lord of Justice and peace
                                                       Still our fear; Arouse our faith
~ O God, our Refuge and our Strength, provide our ordained Shepherds with extra measures of endurance, conviction, and serenity of soul, to guide and join with us in ministry through whatever joys, hardships, calamities, kindnesses, and holiness of spirit we discover in service to Your Will. We pray especially for: add your own petitions

                                                       Lord of Justice and peace
                                                       Still our fear; Arouse our faith
The Celebrant adds:  Most Loving God, help us to fully accept Your grace as true and humble servants in the wildest of storms and the most ordinary moments of this life. Fill us with faith enough to quell the angry tempests within ourselves and with each other, that we may see through another’s eyes and learn to walk together, if differently, to Your Eternal Shore. We ask through Jesus, our Peace and our Salvation, and the Holy Spirit, our Wisdom Guide, who with together with You, are One God for all of time eternalAmen.

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