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 24, 2018

Prayers of the People: SALT and Pepper ~ 19th Sunday after Pentecost '18 Yr B

For Sunday, September 30, 2018, 19th Sunday after Pentecost, Year B, Readings: Esther 7:1-6, 9-10, 9:20-22; Psalm 124, James 5:13-20, 
Mark 9:38-50

        …as the month that had been turned for them from sorrow into gladness and from mourning into a holiday; ...they should make them days of feasting and gladness, days for sending gifts of food to one another and presents for the poor. [Esther 9:22b]
        Our help is in the name of the Lord, the maker of heaven and earth. [Ps 124:8]
        The prayer of faith will save the sick, and the Lord will raise them up; and anyone who has sins will be forgiven...pray for one another so that you may be healed…if anyone…wanders from the truth and is brought back by another…whoever brings back a sinner…will save the sinner’s soul from death… [James 5:13-15, 19-20]
        For everyone will be salted with fire. Salt is good; but if salt has lost its saltiness, how can you season it? Have salt in yourselves, and be at peace with one another. [Mark 9:49-50]

                  Esther is a wonderfully romantic story - one of my favorites growing up. It was the first and one of the few books of the Bible I ever read all the way through until I was an adult. There are fascinating and significant historical and theological differences between its Jewish/Hebrew origins, which forms the basis for the very lively feast of Purim, and the later more serious Greek/Christian translations with which we are most familiar. Some later additions to the Book of Esther are found among the books of the Apocrypha [ah-pock-rif-ah] in many Christian Bibles, although some protestant denominations/editions do not publish or use any part of the Apocrypha. While not considered much more than interesting reading, these additional books and pieces give insight into their times. These writings are not considered to have the weight of Scripture but to dismiss them altogether is to miss what Martin Luther called: useful and good for reading. To learn more about the books of the Apocrypha click here:  The Apocrypha  
         The Psalm appointed for this week is, for me, the link from the Esther passage to the Epistle of James and the Gospel of Mark, as it tells us Our help is in the name of the Lord. Escape, rescue, and faith are present in one way or another in all four readings. There are often occasions when the combination of readings seems to have no discernible link at all. Regardless, the Preacher can choose which to use for a sermon (usually, but not always, the Gospel in the Anglican/Episcopal traditions). I know I'm not the only one who, on occasion, wonders what the collaborators on our Revised Common Lectionary (RCL)were thinking when they put some of these together! 
          There is much to be said about how the RCL and its Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox counterparts came to be and are used, but I offer you the opportunity to explore that information for yourself. Generally, it is up to the lead clergy of a given parish/congregation to decide what the track of readings from the RCL will be used. In this week, there was a choice between Esther and verses from the 11th chapter of Numbers (cranky desert-bound Israelites arguing with Moses, again, and cranky Moses arguing with God, who of course fixed things, for the moment). My rector chose Esther.
           All of the readings for the daily and Sunday lectionaries, individually, give us much food for thought, study, discussion, and personal growth. And this Sunday is, of course, no exception.
           Whether suffering or cheerful or sinning, James reminds us of the power of the prayer of faith for ourselves and for others. If someone we know wanders from the truth and is brought back by another then the other has saved the wanderer’s soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins. Let’s work on that together ~ if I or you are wandering, let’s pledge to bring each other back!
             Jesus tells the disciples not to worry about someone “else” doing good things in Jesus’ name ~ for Whoever is not against us is for us. Nor are we to worry about stumbling ~ get rid of whatever part of us is causing us to stumble into sin for we are better off without it in God’s Kingdom. Jesus tells them and us that we are seasoned well for the work we are called to do in his name; as he said it, we are salted with fire. But as with literal salt, its essence can slip away, become stale, no longer enhancing the flavor of the food. So we must have salt within us, in its many sizes, shapes, colors and flavors, as are we all, and be at peace with one another to feed the flock of Christ. Let us then be generous with our salt as we are fired up to Serve. Act. Love. Teach. And, from James, let us pepper each other and the world we live in with constant unending prayer, in and of faith, for ourselves and for others.


Leader:  ~ Lord of Power and Mercy, keep us mindful of how often we use Your Name in ways great, small, indifferent, irreverent, and in vain. Open us to feel the depth and energy of Your presence always, and especially when we pray in faith for others and ourselves.

 God of All Creation                     
RESPONSE:    Our help is in Your Name        

~ Lord of Power and Mercy, in a world seething with devastating natural disasters, growing anger, violence, and fear, guide us to seek and support leaders with integrity and compassion on this Earth, in our Nation, and in our Communities. Guide them to influence the most positive course in the ways of justice and peace everywhere. We pray especially for: add your own petitions

                                         God of All Creation
                                         Our Help is in Your Name

~ Lord of Power and Mercy, infuse all hope into those longing for release from sickness, injury, or the struggles of life, and give comfort from the prayers we lift together. We now join our voices to pray aloud for those in need…add your own petitions

                                         God of All Creation
                                         Our Help is in Your Name

~ Lord of Power and Mercy, turn sorrow for those who mourn into the sweetness of memory, as the endless days of feasting and gladness begin for those You now receive into glory of Eternal Life. We pray especially for: add your own petitions

                                         God of All Creation
                                         Our Help is in Your Name

~  Lord of Power and 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 All Creation
                                         Our Help is in Your Name
~ Lord of Power and Mercy, we give You great thanks for those who have been chosen and have accepted the challenge of leading us in Your church. Bless them for praying with us and for us, and for guiding our spiritual journey in Your service, through our unique and local ministries and beyond. We pray especially for: add your own petitions

                                         God of All Creation
                                         Our Help is in Your Name

The Celebrant adds: O God our Strength and our Salvation, salt our souls with the fire of Christ’s love, that we may live and act through the power of Your Name, bringing each other back from wandering afar of our faith into sin. We ask through Jesus, our Teacher and Redeemer; and through the Holy Spirit, Channel of Your Grace; who together with You, are One God, forever and ever. Amen.

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