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, November 12, 2018

Prayers of the People: Our Roles as Stewards ~ 6th Sunday in the Season of Creation '18 Yr B

For Sunday, November 18, 2018, 6th Sunday in the Season of Creation, Readings: Deuteronomy 26:1a, 2, 4, 8-11; Psalm 116:10-17, 
Bishop John E. Hines*, Matthew 7:7-11

       So now I bring the first of the fruit of the ground, that you, O Lord, have given me…set it down before the Lord your God and bow before the Lord…[Deuteronomy 26:10]

      How shall I repay the Lord for all the good things he has done for me? [Psalm 116:10]

      For the essential question is not, “How shall the Episcopal Church grow?” - but rather, “How can the Episcopal Church be faithful?” For that is the heritage worth sacrificing for - worth passing on to our children and grandchildren. God forbid that they should come to a time and place unashamed of the Gospel, but ashamed of us. [Former Presiding Bishop John Hines] 
     Ask, and it will be given you; search, and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened for you. [Matthew 7:7]

       Any of us who attend church regularly and considers her- or himself as a “member” or a “parishioner” or a “congregant” has heard and understands what is meant by Stewardship. Inside the church much is needed in support of the staff, the worship, the physical plant, and all the elements of church (small “c”) that we Episcopals call time, talent, and treasure. Outside the walls the needs are greater in all manner of ways. All of us, each of us in our many ways are called by Our Lord to give of our selves, significantly, from what God has given us. Money, or treasure, of course, is what we hear as foremost on the list of needs and wants for inside and outside.
We also hear of Stewardship as an element to church growth. Bishop Hines wrote that while he would rejoice at a multitude of conversions, his hope was for a witnessing community of unquestioned integrity. Further, he says (to imagined groans from the Finance Chair and others), that the essential question is not, ‘How can the Episcopal [insert other denomination or faith community here] Church grow?’ but rather, ‘How can the Episcopal [other] Church be faithful?’ He tells us that if we want our heritage passed on to younger generations they should come to a time and place unashamed of the Gospel [emphasis added]. We do not want them ashamed of us for creating an exclusive place only for wielding power and influence and losing our way to Christ. 
The Rev. Eric Law, in his book Holy Currencies: 6 Blessings for Sustainable Missional Ministries, shows us a different way to think about the flow of currencies in our lives. Within the usual offerings of time, talent, and treasure is contained a breadth and depth of re-imagining and discovering our personal gifts for ministry that take us well beyond the scope of a seasonal directive (or harangue, in some cases). Stewardship - Missional Ministry - is not merely a specific program for a specific time of year, but rather it is a way of life
As John Wesley said, "Not, how much money will I give to God, but how much of God's money will I keep for myself?" And that equation works equally well with the other two elements of the stewardship trio: time and talent. I don't know what tomorrow will bring for my community, my country, or this world, but I will pray without ceasing for the faith, the energy, and mindset to be a continuously generous person, to be the Church [capital "C"] as a Christian in the world with many stewarding roles. A faith community builds us up and sends us out and needs our support in every way. The CHURCH is not inside a building, it is in whatever I and we do together, to be true, faithful witnesses as part of the Body of Christ by every thought, word, and action. It's no easy task but Jesus tells us to Ask, Search, Knock ~ Christ will answer and Christ IS the answer, our Steward in Chief. Just A.S.K.


Leader:  ~ O Lord our God, awaken us to the bounty of Your Creation that we may be grateful stewards of the sacred trust You have given us in the miracle of this earth and its treasures. Grant us the humility and humanity to value and celebrate all of our sisters and brothers in difference and in disagreement, with esteem and dignity, with love and generosity for all.

                                                    O God of Power and Wonder           
RESPONSE:                 Let us grow in faith and witness

~ O Lord our God, we offer our prayers for all who lead this World, this Country, and this Community by election, fiat, or inheritance. Inscribe their souls with a yearning for unquestionable integrity, global and local peace, and justice tempered with mercy for all the people in their charge. We pray especially for: add your own petitions

                                                       O God of Power and Wonder
                                                       Let us grow in faith and witness

~ O Lord our God, nestle the aching, the fearful, and the desperate in Your loving embrace, and revitalize all who support their needs. We now join our voices to pray aloud for those in need…add your own petitions

                                                       O God of Power and Wonder
                                                       Let us grow in faith and witness

~ O Lord our God, grant us a foretaste of the joy and glory of Your Heavenly Kingdom as the gates open wide to receive our beloved who now live in the newness of Christ forevermore. We pray especially for: add your own petitions

                                                       O God of Power and Wonder
                                                       Let us grow in faith and witness

~  O Lord 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 God of Power and Wonder
                                                       Let us grow in faith and witness
~ O Lord our God, quicken the spirits of those called and ordained to speak Your Words and celebrate Your Sacraments, inspiring us all to live lives of holy and selfless intention in this earthly life. We pray especially for: add your own petitions

                                                       O God of Power and Wonder
                                                       Let us grow in faith and witness

The Celebrant adds: Loving, Patient God, grant us unashamed confidence in the Gospel to take on the mantle of servanthood in Your Name by the giving of our time, our abilities, and our support of others. We ask for guidance to repay all we have been given, to search for our designated purpose to fulfill our vows, and the willingness to knock on the door of Eternal life through our sacrifice of Thanksgiving. We beseech You our Redeemer Christ, our Counselor Spirit, and our Creator Lord, who together are One God, now and through all Eternity. Amen.

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