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 27, 2018

Prayers of the People: Soul-full Love Songs ~ 15th Sunday after Pentecost '18 Yr B

For Sunday, September 2, 2018, 15th Sunday after Pentecost, Year B, Readings: Song of Solomon 2:8-13, Psalm 45:1-2, 7-10; James 1:17-27, 
Mark 7:1-8, 14-15, 21-23

    The voice of my beloved! Look,...there he stands behind our wall, gazing in at the windows, looking through the lattice. [Song of Solomon 2:8a, 9b]

    My heart is stirring with a noble song...God, your God, has anointed you with the oil of gladness, above your fellows. [Psalm 45:1a, 8]

    Every generous act of giving, with every perfect gift, is from above...let everyone be quick to listen, slow to speak, slow to anger; for your anger does not produce God's righteousness...be doers of the word, and not merely hearers...care for orphans and widows in their distress...keep...unstained by the world. [James 1:17a, 19b-20, 22a, 27b]

    "Isaiah prophesied rightly about you hypocrites...You abandon the commandment of God and hold to human tradition"...For it is from within, from the human heart, that evil intentions come... [Mark 7:6a, 8,21a]

     The language of the Hebrew Testament readings this week is rich, provocative, and even sensual. The Song of Solomon is clearly a magnificent and moving love poem, and the Psalm carries the romance along enticing our senses with imagining the fragrances of myrrh, aloes, and cassia and idyllic sounds of the music of strings from ivory palaces. [Ps 45:9]  It may be easy to enter into the reverie and be transported into a dreamlike state by the magical quality of the intimacy created by these words.  
     Long ago and far away, a priest I knew (considered highly radical for the time and especially place) held Mass on Sunday evenings on an Army base in the shadow of Pike’s Peak in Colorado, where I lived as a young Army spouse. The memories are still vivid so many years later, and in particular, of him using recorded contemporary music in the service, specifically love songs, saying that even these can be the language of expressing our love to and for God. And so it goes for the Song of Solomon and the lyrics of this Psalm. Our Beloved, our God, who longs for us, and stands behind our wall…gazing inlooking through to see our hearts, asking us to Arise...and come away.
        The writer of James tells us that it is through God's generous act of giving that we are brought to birth by the word of truth and are directed to be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to anger...we are to be doers of the word, and not merely hearers [James 1:17a, 18a, 19, 22a]. But, as always, it is Jesus who, in quoting Isaiah, speaks bluntly to the Pharisees who make human tradition and precepts into idolatrous doctrine, as they abandon the commandments of God. He tells the rest of us by way of addressing "the crowd" that it is from within, from the human heart, that evil intentions come... [Mark 7:14]  
       This Gospel jolts me into awareness that my commitment to God has become shallow and I hearken back to Psalm 51, verses 2 and 10 in particular: Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin...Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me. 
        In our own time and "religious practice" when the "tradition" and ritual are the ends rather than the means to holiness, when purpose and origin are lost or forgotten, when the "why" of it is no longer considered, we have lost the integrity and intention of the worship of God, especially in daily living. We have ceased to be conscious, and have become merely hearers, not doers of God’s Word. We are desensitized, sterilized, and removed from receiving and giving the deep, abiding love of God, the God who gazes through our personal windows into our souls.    
       We are given these extraordinary words of love this week to deepen our relationship with God who anoints us with the oil of gladness. James reminds us that our God-given purpose is to act on behalf of those in distress, and to keep ourselves unstained by the world. Committing again to God's commandments, let us welcome with meekness the implanted word that will save our souls as it goes straight to our hearts, wherein lies the voice of our Beloved. In accepting and returning the lyrics of love from, to, in, and through God, we gladly become the doers of God's Word, grace filled and soul-full.  


Leader:  ~ O God, our God, stir our hearts with urgent generosity to be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slower to anger. Instill in us the perfect gifts to live as doers of Your word and truth, caring for all in distress, and remaining unstained by this world.

                                                     O Lord, Most Beloved                                                        
RESPONSE:                 Keep us free of evil intent

~ O God, our God, grant all who govern Your people anywhere in this Earthly realm, purity of motive and principled determination to stay free of hypocrisy, and be eager for justice and mercy. We pray especially for: add your own petitions

                                                       O Lord, Most Beloved
                                                       Keep us free of evil intent                                                      

~ O God, our God, release from pain those who suffer through illness, depression, or addiction, and give strength to all who provide for their daily needs. We now join our voices to pray aloud for those in need… add your own petitions

                                                       O Lord, Most Beloved
                                                       Keep us free of evil intent

~ O God, our God, soothe the wounds of those who grieve, as Heaven is alive with noble song, an eternal festival of joy with those we love. We pray especially for: add your own petitions

                                                       O Lord, Most Beloved
                                                       Keep us free of evil intent

~ O God, our God, 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, Most Beloved
                                                       Keep us free of evil intent
~ O God, our God, quicken the spirits of all who bring us Your Word and Sacraments, that together we may move from the idolatry of mere human tradition to the honoring of Your commandments with each action of our lives. We pray especially for: add your own petitions

                                                       O Lord, Most Beloved
                                                       Keep us free of evil intent

The Celebrant adds:  Holy and Righteous God, as we are anointed by Your Oil of Gladness, fortify our resolve to cleanse our own hearts, to think, pray, speak, and act only through Your implanted Word, that holds the power to save our souls. We ask through the perfection of Jesus, our Christ and the wisdom of the Holy Spirit, who together with You, reign as One God, now and forever. Amen.

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