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, September 17, 2018

Prayers of the People: Measure Up! ~ 18th Sunday after Pentecost Yr B '18

For Sunday, September 23, 2018, 18th Sunday after Pentecost, Year B, Readings: Proverbs 31:20-31, Psalm 1, James 3:13-4:3; 7-8a; 
Mark 9:30-37

          She opens her mouth with wisdom, and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue. [Proverbs 31:26]

          For the LORD knows the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked is doomed. [Ps 1:6]

          But if you have bitter envy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not be boastful and false to the truth...But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy...And a harvest of righteousness is sown in peace for those who make peace. [James 3:14, 17-18]

        ...for [Jesus] was teaching his disciples, saying to them, "The Son of Man is to be betrayed into human hands, and they will kill him, and three days after being killed, he will rise again." But they did not understand what he was saying and were afraid to ask him...Then they came to Capernaum; and...on the way they had argued with one another who was the greatest. [Jesus]...said to them, "Whoever wants to be first must be last of all and servant of all." Then he...said to them, "Whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me, and whoever welcomes me welcomes not me but the one who sent me." [Mark 9:31-32, 33a, 34b, 35b, 37]

       The measure of an ideal spouse in our Proverbs reading makes for a compelling and overwhelming portrait of perfection. While attempting to achieve the level of greatness implied, in purely human terms, some allowances might be made for those falling a bit short of the mark as described. The Psalmist compares the actions that make for the happy righteous and the doomed wicked, reminding us that the Lord knows both. And James charts the course of attitudes and behaviors reflecting earthly and inwardly unmet cravings against those who find their path in the wisdom, peace, and gentleness from above. But Jesus is working to prepare the disciples, again, for all that is to come, and, again, they do not understand.
      As the writer of Mark tells us, the chosen disciples were those closest and most committed to Jesus. Yet, close as they were, they were still afraid to ask Jesus to explain what he meant about being betrayed and killed and rising from the dead. But, on the way to Capernaum, they were arguing with each other about which one of themselves was the greatest of them all. Perhaps they were confused about and so ignored the hard truth Jesus was giving because it was too difficult to digest and discuss. 
      In a culture, such as ours in the west, that teaches that one must strive to thrive through success, achievement, wealth, power, and position, it is exceedingly difficult to avoid the traps of envy, ambition, conflict, distrust, and so on. Fear of asking questions is also prevalent ~ one learns early in school to be fearful of being labeled stupid if one asks a seemingly dumb question. Surely one only wants to ask the "right questions" and not give too much information away to those with whom one competes. Perhaps each of the disciples were worried that they would ask the wrong question and fail a test of sorts. Or perhaps they were unable to determine the right question. James references that as well by telling us that if we didn’t get what we asked for, it was because we asked wrongly. 
      The Psalmist and the writer of James also bring being righteous into our instruction. It is one of those words we hear often from the Bible readings ~ we can guess by its sound that it means to be "right" with God and in truth it does mean that, to lead a life that is pleasing to God, someone whose actions God [who knows] would find to be justified and ethical. We are told very specifically what happens to those who sit in the seats of the scornful [Ps 1:1] and are boastful and false to the truth [James 3:14b]. And now Jesus gives the disciples, and us, the terms of a righteous life: Be last not first, a servant of all, and those who welcome in the name of Jesus will be welcoming God into their midst, thereby drawing themselves near to God who will in turn draw nearer to them. As followers of Jesus we are to commit to selfless service, especially among those who make no return; humility in shedding all trace of inward and outward aspiration to greatness; and we must submit ourselves to God. The height and breadth and depth of all that is required is nearly as staggering as the portrait in Proverbs at first glance. But, the disciples were together in the best and worst of times as we are in our communities of faith, working together, learning to understand, committing and submitting ourselves to Christ for the life of our eternal souls. How will we measure up? As we draw near to God, God will draw nearer to thee and me.


Leader:  ~ God Almighty, refresh our souls to keep us from envy and selfish ambition, able to resist earthly temptation, and willing to yield our hearts and minds to Your Divine Wisdom.   

                                                    Knowing Lord                                                       
RESPONSE:                 Draw us near to You

~ God Almighty, embolden us to stand together in Christ’s name as we strive to ensure ethical and principled, just and merciful governing by the leaders of our World, our Nation, and our Community. We pray especially for: add your own petitions

                                                       Knowing Lord
                                                       Draw us near to You

~ God Almighty, grant hope to all who suffer in body, mind, or spirit, and energy to all who give them care. We now join our voices to pray aloud for those in need…add your own petitions

                                                       Knowing Lord
                                                       Draw us near to You

~ God Almighty, shine Your perfect light into the darkness of grief, as You gather those newly departed from this life, into the gleaming expanse of eternal life with You. We pray especially for: add your own petitions

                                                       Knowing Lord
                                                       Draw us near to You

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

                                                       Knowing Lord
                                                       Draw us near to You
~ God Almighty, quicken the minds and lighten the steps of all who share Your wisdom with us and delight with us in Your law, as together we sow the seeds that bear the good fruit for a harvest of righteousness and peace. We pray especially for: add your own petitions

                                                       Knowing Lord
                                                       Draw us near to You
The Celebrant adds: O Lord our God, release us from the grip of mortal pride and temporal lures to be Christ’s selfless, humble, and welcoming servants of all. Let us seek to do the work You have given us to do, not for our own greatness, but the greatness of Your Eternal Kingdom. We ask through the glory and sacrifice of our Savior, Jesus, and the wise counsel of the Spirit Most Holy, who together with You, are One, boundless, and eternal God, forever and ever. Amen.    

All compositions remain the property of the owner of this blog but may be used with attribution as long as they are not sold or charged for in any way. For more information or comments, contact: Leeosophy@gmail.com

No comments:

Post a Comment