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 3, 2018

Prayers of the People: Transformational Crumbs ~ 16th Sunday after Pentecost '18 Yr B

For Sunday, September 9, 2018, 16th Sunday after Pentecost, Year B, Readings: Proverbs 22:1-2, 8-9, 22-23; Psalm 125, 
James 2:1-10, [11-13], 14-17; Mark 7:24-37

Those who are generous are blessed, for they share their bread with the poor. [Proverbs 22:9]

Show your goodness, O LORD, to those who are good and to those who are true of heart. [Psalm 125:4]

My brothers and sisters, do you with your acts of favoritism really believe in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ…What good is it…if you say you have faith but do not have works? [James 2:1, 14]

"But she answered [Jesus], "Sir, even the dogs under the table eat the children's crumbs." Then he said to her, "For saying that, you may go-- the demon has left your daughter"...Then looking up to heaven, [Jesus] sighed and said to him, "Ephphatha," that is, "Be opened." And immediately his ears were opened, his tongue was released, and he spoke plainly. [Mark 7:28-29, 34-35]

     In the midst of all that is happening in this world at this moment, comes the appointed readings for this week that are filled with instruction, images, warnings, and questions. I'd prefer to escape and think about them another day as some of the Proverbs and Psalm verses contain the harsh tones of the Old Testament God we think we know. Yet there are also vibrant glimpses of the compassion and mercy of our abiding God of Presence, the One who is the maker of us all. 
      We are admonished by the warnings and encouraged by the instructions reminding us that awareness, attentiveness, and good works are keys to how we live into the faith we claim and we ignore them at our eternal peril. In taking easier, even unconscious paths in giving favor to ourselves and only certain others, by not working on behalf of all our brothers and sisters, in following the laws we like and not the ones we don't, our faith slowly falters and dies.
      I'm rarely aware of how unaware of God I am in the rush of the day, the list to be completed, life whipping by at warp speed. Then James asks if I really believe....well, sure, when I'm consciously aware, attentively faithful, and when in church, more or less. I have to think about what I believe, sometimes. Yet at other times I'm absolutely certain but think that I don't have the time - that is, I don't take nearly enough time to do very much about it.
     And then here is Jesus saying, "Ephphatha" - "Be opened." This miraculous phrase gives me a pause, a moment to breathe, a release from the self-imposed binding of mindless selfishness. The writer of James is trying to open us to act on what we say we believe, as faith must be also be accompanied by action. Even the Syrophoenician woman opened herself - in an unexpected way for a woman of her time - to talk back to Jesus in quite the stunning retort. As Jesus was in the middle of his ministry he was becoming well known for his healing and preaching, sought after by his Jewish followers. Being confronted by a non-Jewish (Gentile) woman asking for her child to be healed he told her, in effect, that Jewish people (the "children") should be fed (healed) first as it wasn't fair to throw their food (healing) to the dogs (Gentiles). Was he merely testing her or was he in turn also opened by her candor when she replied, Sir, even the dogs under the table eat the children's crumbs. Jesus replied, For saying that, you may go, as he then healed her child.
      As Jesus healed the man who was deaf and couldn't speak clearly, he also heals us, right now, in this moment. By these words we, too, can be opened to new insight, new consciousness. We were created to live and act in faith, to be as God wants us to be, to reap the harvest of eternal life, to love and treat all our neighbors as if they were our own selves. Let us explore and re-discover our faith that becomes more conscious with every thought, every kindness, and every action centered in ChristIt is true that the promises in Scripture of retribution for evil or an easy life for goodness aren't always seen or heard, yet even the tiniest crumbs of faith paired with good acts and obedience to God's law, will live and thrive and grow. A sentence from one of the post-Communion Prayers in the Anglican/Episcopal Book of Common (BCP) sums it up quite beautifully: Send us now into the world in peace, and grant us strength and courage to love and serve you with gladness and singleness of heart[After Communion BCP page 365]
Leader:  ~ Most Merciful Lord, rouse us from the distractions of our own time, that we may turn crumbs of neglect into seeds of generosity that blossom into love for our neighbors and ourselves. Guide us to fulfill the royal law according to Scripture, and use our work in this earthly life as a reflection of our abiding belief in You.  

                                                    O God of Goodness      
RESPONSE:                 Transform our faith into action

~ Most Merciful Lord, empower our voices to disquiet the satisfaction of those who profit from injustice, and help us turn aside those with crooked ways. Let all who wield power in the halls of government on our Planet, in our Nation, and in our Community, be true of heart, turn their trust to You, and work to ensure the dignity and humanity of all. We pray especially for: add your own petitions

                                                       O God of Goodness
                                                       Transform our faith into action

~ Most Merciful Lord, embrace and heal all who are lost in serious illness or despair, and revive hope in all who give them loving support. We now join our voices to pray aloud for those in need…add your own petitions

                                                       O God of Goodness
                                                       Transform our faith into action

~ Most Merciful Lord, grant peace and comfort to those who grieve in knowing that their beloved has risen into the eternal bliss of life everlasting with You. We pray especially for: add your own petitions

                                                       O God of Goodness
                                                       Transform our faith into action

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

                                                       O God of Goodness
                                                       Transform our faith into action

~ Most Merciful Lord, as we come to the end of one season and the beginning of another, renew and excite our spirits, especially those who Shepherd us on our journey to You. We pray especially for: add your own petitions

                                                       O God of Goodness
                                                       Transform our faith into action

The Celebrant adds:  O God, Maker of us all, open our ears to hear Your Word and release our tongues to speak our faith plainly. Let us seek and honor Your ways in every thought, word, and deed of our daily lives. We ask in the name of Jesus, our Glorious Lord; and the Holy Spirit, the Breath of our Souls; who together with You reign as one God from before all time and for evermore. Amen.

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