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 17, 2018

Prayers of the People: Peace by Piece 9th Sunday after Pentecost '18 Yr B

For Sunday, July 22, 2018,  9th Sunday after Pentecost, Year B, Readings: 2 Samuel 7:1-14a, Psalm 89:20-37, Ephesians 2:11-22, 
Mark 6:30-34, 53-56
     Thus says the Lord: Are you the one to build me a house to live in? …Wherever I have moved about among all the people of Israel, did I ever speak a word with any of the tribal leaders of Israel, whom I commanded to shepherd my people Israel, saying, “Why have you not built me a house of cedar?” [2 Samuel 7:5, 7]

     My faithfulness and love shall be with him, and he shall be victorious through my Name…He will say to me, “You are my Father, my God, and the rock of my salvation. [Psalm 89:24, 26] 

      ...[In] Christ Jesus...is our peace...he has made both groups into one and has broken down the dividing wall...thus making peace, and might reconcile both groups to God in one body...you are citizens with the saints and also members of the household of God, built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the cornerstone. In him the whole structure is joined...you also are built together spiritually into a dwelling place for God.  
[Eph 2:13a-14,16a,19-21a,22]

      As he went ashore, he saw a great crowd; and he had compassion for them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd; and he began to teach them many things…they laid the sick in the marketplace, and begged him that they might touch even the fringe of his cloak; and all who touched it were healed.  [Mark 6:34, 56b]

     The last time these readings were appointed, a mere three years ago, we were reeling from the shooting deaths at the Mother Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, South Carolina. Remember that? So much happens so quickly that yesterday’s horrors are replaced by today’s. Little did we know the magnitude and numbers of events ahead with death and destruction, from human hands and natural disaster, locally and around the world. Our psyches are overloaded with tragic and hate-filled images and a barrage of voices with words that incite, frighten, or depress us. And every day we unite ourselves defensively with one group only to alienate ourselves from another, because, as always, we know that “we” are correct in our opinions and reactions and “they” are not.
     How do we take it all in; how do we fix it; how do we reconcile with “them?” What steps might make genuine, helpful, hopeful progress, with and for each other, in our very brief human life?  Every day we are challenged and every day we have to start within ourselves to consciously decide how we will face the tests and tasks ahead.
     The words of Paul are a starting point: For [Jesus] is our peace…he has…broken down the dividing wall between us, that is, the hostility between us… for through him both of us have access in one Spirit to the Father [Ephesians 2:14, 18].  Will this fix all the nastiness in the world, prevent disasters, or change anyone else’s mind? Certainly not on any grand scale. But every act of kindness, even just a smile, is a gesture that heals.
     In the opening reading appointed for today, David wanted to build God a house but God said, not so fast. God never asked for a house but was clear that when God wanted one, the builder would come from David yet after him. Paul tells us that together spiritually, we are God’s dwelling place.
     Accepting the peace of Christ within calms my soul, my heart, and my mind. It helps me to project the peace of Christ on the outside, at least until I forget and then remember to begin again. I can’t change anyone but me. I can seek and find sabbath time, joy, and love as constructive energy to counter and redirect the forces of anger, pain, and suffering. I can offer at least a moment of reconciliation and light in a tunnel of despair, but it can be hard going alone.
     Jesus is the foundation of our spiritual household. In Him there is no "them." Each of us are one connecting piece that joins the whole structure and strengthens the peace among us and beyond. Together, in this one small pocket of this difficult world, we can make a house into a peace-filled home that is truly a dwelling place for God.            
As the hymn says:            Christ is made the sure foundation,
Christ the head and cornerstone,
chosen of the Lord, and precious,
binding all the Church in one;
holy Zion's help for ever,
and her confidence alone.
[Hymn 518, The Hymnal 1982]


Leader:  ~ God of Faithfulness and Love, break down the walls that divide us, and strengthen the faith we need to reconcile ourselves to each other and to You, as one body. Let us walk together as the heart and hands and feet of  Jesus, our Cornerstone in the foundation of Your eternal Household.

                                                       Lord of Peace and Compassion
RESPONSE:                  You are the Rock of our Salvation

~ God of Faithfulness and Love, illuminate the path and endow our spirits with the talent and capacity to enlighten all who hold authority in our World, in our Country, and in our Community. Unite us in our quest to stand firm in the peace of Christ, and acquaint these and other leaders with all Your saving ways. We pray especially for: add your own petitions

                                                       Lord of Peace and Compassion
                                                       You are the Rock of our Salvation
~ God of Faithfulness and Love, embrace the desperate and downtrodden, heal the sick, and energize all who give comfort and care.  We now join our voices to pray aloud for those in need…add your own petitions

                                                       Lord of Peace and Compassion
                                                       You are the Rock of our Salvation

~ God of Faithfulness and Love, to You we commend these beloved, already citizens with the saints, who now have risen to live again in the glory and light of the Kingdom that never ends. We pray especially for: add your own petitions

                                                       Lord of Peace and Compassion
                                                       You are the Rock of our Salvation

~ God of Faithfulness and Love, 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 Peace and Compassion
                                                       You are the Rock of our Salvation
~ God of Faithfulness and Love, we lift our prayers in gratitude for all who are anointed in Your service as they lead us, teach us, and heal our souls, while journeying with us to life eternal in You. We pray especially for: add your own petitions

                                                       Lord of Peace and Compassion
                                                       You are the Rock of our Salvation

The Celebrant adds:  Lord God of Hosts, nourish our souls as we seek to open ourselves as conduits of grace to all we meet, joining together as the whole structure of Your holy temple, a spiritual dwelling place for You and for all You have created. We ask through the Hope of Christ Jesus, and the Sacred Breath of the Holy Spirit, who together with You reign as One God, now, forever, and always.  Amen.

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