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, August 6, 2018

Prayers of the People: Peaceful Sunset? ~ 12th Sunday after Pentecost, '18 Yr B

For Sunday, August 12, 2018, 12th Sunday after Pentecost, Year B, Readings: 2 Samuel 18:5-9, 15, 31-33; Psalm 130, Ephesians 4:25-5:2, 
John 6:35, 41-51 
       The king was deeply moved, and went up to the chamber over the gate, and wept; and as he went, he said, "O my son Absalom, my son, my son Absalom! Would I had died instead of you, O Absalom, my son, my son!" [2 Sam 18:33]

        If you, Lord, were to note what is done amiss, O Lord, who could stand? For there is forgiveness with you…I wait for the Lord; my soul waits for him; in his word is my hope…for with the Lord, there is mercy; with him there is plenteous redemption... 
[Psalm 130: 2-3a, 4, 6b-7a]

Be angry but do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger...Put away from you all bitterness and wrath and anger and wrangling and slander, together with all malice, and be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ has forgiven you. [Ephesians 4:26, 31-32]

   Jesus said, "I am the bread of life.” Whoever comes to me will never be hungry, and whoever believes in my will never be thirsty…Very truly, I tell you, whoever believes has eternal life…This is the bread of life that comes down from heaven so that one may eat of it and not die. I am the living bread that came down from heaven. Whoever eats of this bread will live forever... [John 6:35, 47-48, 50-51a] 

      Forgiveness and hope, for me, are the over-arching themes of this week's readings. Without filling in the many and nearly salacious details of earlier chapters, we begin with yet another small piece of David's tangled story that violently ends the lust, intrigue, and betrayal by his sons Amnon and Absalom.  Although there is barely a taste of it over a few weeks of the Sunday lectionary, the life of David takes us from triumph to tragedy, with power and love amidst anger and hatred, revenge, and grief. As the sun sets on this dynamic and dramatic kingship, forgiveness is the repeating core element of God's relationship with David, and with us ~ God forgives David; David forgives Absalom; and God forgives us all. A key ingredient is, as with each of us, that while God saw all of David's deeds and misdeeds, God continued to love him and yet there was no escape from punishment and pain for this very human king.
      The Psalmist gives voice to the anguish of the depths yet holds on to the hope of God's word, that for those who follow, there is plenteous redemption.
     How about this news: not just a wedding shower plaque or a meme on Facebook, it was Paul who gave us that familiar phrase don't let the sun go down on your anger. Though he does give us permission to be angry ~ whew, because it's hard not to be at times ~ we are not given license to sin because of it, and we are strongly admonished to put away the by-products of anger ~ bitterness, wrath, and malice. It's not easy to be tenderhearted and
forgiving when someone has broken your trust and your heart. Yet again we see that God, through Christ, forgives them and us. And as someone else wisely said, if God forgives, who am I not to? 
      In our "real time" of now, it is easier than ever to be goaded into explosive anger by political, religious, and nearly any other subject when there are vicious, reactionary, or merely polarizing opinions voiced on any media outlet you can name. My God-given life is 'way too short to feed the frenzy and be frenzied by the feed. I want to change my anger into positive energy and direct it toward solutions to genuine problems rather than to just add more unproductive trash talk. Jesus tells us no fewer than six times in this Gospel reading, that he is our salvation, our bread of eternal life ~ do we hear it, do we know it, do we believe it yet? Through him, by God, we are forgiven everything, if we only just believe. Then faith will truly change our lives.
      Forgiving is hard and may appear to be unrewarding work. But forgiveness does not mean that I or the other have to give up disagreement or even some true and righteous anger. Forgiveness doesn't mean that the issue has changed from wrong to right and no relevant punishment is due. Wanting justice is surely part of the act of forgiveness yet may not be apparent; however, in the act of forgiveness, mercy is paramount.  As the Prayer of St. Francis says, "It is in pardoning that we are pardoned." Pastor Max Lucado said beautifully, "Forgiveness is unlocking the door to set someone free and realizing you were the prisoner!" Forgiveness is a work in progress. My own satisfaction in forgiving will be in believing that I am also forgiven and thereby have tasted the Bread of Life and freed myself from the useless prison of an angry heart. And so let the sunset always be peaceful as a new day in Christ will soon dawn in this world and the next.


Leader:  ~ Lord of Mercy, grant us the patience to overturn our own bitterness, wrangling, and self-serving wrath, even if only in thought, and to know our own sin more quickly than another’s. Guide our hearts to be kind and forgiving, to live in love, and to believe in and feed on the Bread of Life.

   God of Plenteous Redemption
RESPONSE:    Let us forgive as we are forgiven          

~ Lord of Mercy, fill us with Your Truth to speak peace-filled words that give grace to those who hear. Let us join together to turn righteous anger into positive energy for the work of Christ across this Planet, this Country, and this Community. We pray especially for: add your own petitions

                                                       God of Plenteous Redemption
                                                       Let us forgive as we are forgiven

~ Lord of Mercy, whisper Your word of hope to all who wait and struggle in body, mind, or soul, and calm the hearts of all who give them care. We now join our voices to pray aloud for those in need…add your own petitions

                                                       God of Plenteous Redemption
                                                       Let us forgive as we are forgiven

~ Lord of Mercy, instill in all who grieve, deep peace of heart, in knowing that their loved ones now joyfully feast at the glorious banquet of eternal life. We pray especially for: add your own petitions

                                                       God of Plenteous Redemption
                                                       Let us forgive as we are forgiven

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

                                                       God of Plenteous Redemption
                                                       Let us forgive as we are forgiven
~ Lord of Mercy, enrich the souls of those entrusted with our spiritual growth through our worship, study, and prayer, that brings us unity in Christ as members of one another. We pray especially for: add your own petitions

                                                       God of Plenteous Redemption
                                                       Let us forgive as we are forgiven

The Celebrant adds: Eternal God of Hope, energize our faith and excite our souls that whenever this life brings anger, grief, or distraction from You, we do not fall into sin but seek to live and act as the living legacy of salvation through Christ. We ask through Jesus, our sacred Bread of Life, and the Holy Spirit by whom we are Sealed for Redemption, who together with You are One God, for ever and ever.  Amen.

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