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.

Tuesday, February 5, 2019

Prayers of the People: Long Haulin' ~ 5th Sunday after the Epiphany '19 Yr C

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For Sunday, February 10, 2019, 5th Sunday after the Epiphany, Year C, Readings: Isaiah 6:1-8, (9-13); Psalm 138, 1 Corinthians 15:1-11, 
Luke 5:1-11

   One of the seraphs…holding a live coal…touched my mouth with it and said, “...your guilt has departed and your sin is blotted out.” Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send…” And I said, “Here I am, send me!” [Isaiah 6:6-8]

      All the kings of the earth will praise you, O Lord, when they have heard the words of your mouth. They will sing of the ways of the Lord…The Lord will make good his purpose for me…O Lord, your love endures for ever… 
[Psalm 138: 5, 6a, 9a]

      I would remind you…of the good news that I proclaimed to you…by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace toward me has not been in vain. [1 Corinthians 15:1a, 10a]

      …[Jesus] said to Simon, “Put out in the deep water and let down your nets for a catch.” …they caught so many fish that their nets were beginning to break…when Simon Peter saw it, he fell down at Jesus’ knees saying, “Go away from me, Lord, for I am a sinful man!”…Then Jesus said to Simon, “Do not be afraid; from now on you will be catching people.”…they left everything and followed him. [Luke 5:4b, 6b, 8, 10b, 11b]

       In religious circles – as well as secular – we often hear and/or use the word call as, for example, “I/She/He/They are called to ordained ministry, working with homeless shelters, political activism, or medical training, etc. In the lessons and the Gospel, and to some extent in the Psalm appointed for this week we are hearing the language that expresses a calling. The dictionary defines calling in this context as, 1: a strong inner impulse toward a particular course of action especially when accompanied by conviction of divine influence; and, 2: the vocation or profession in which one customarily engages.
      We also use the word commission when one has been more formally launched into her or his chosen path. And that is defined as, 1: an instruction, command, or duty given to a person or group of people; and, 2: a group of people officially charged with a particular function.
      People may be “called” without being further commissioned for a variety of reasons such as ignoring or declining the call. A commission, doesn’t necessarily require a “call” in that it may simply be a matter of accepting a job as a means to an end and being instructed in its parameters. You can decline a call, you can quit a job, but that divine spark, that still small voice within that nags and niggles will continue to make itself known whether or not you accept. When a sense of a divine call is then allowed to bubble up, one may then be commissioned to engage with it all the way throughout the entirety of one’s life, in many and various and surprising ways.
       Isaiah engages us immediately with his vision that places him in the presence of the Divine. In the Lord’s presence, Isaiah declares that he is unworthy as a man of unclean lips. The description that Isaiah then gives when the seraph touches his mouth with a burning coal makes me want to put ice on my lips! Seraph is the highest order of angels and that informs us that this encounter is clearly significant. The angel tells him that now his guilt has been sent away and his sin is blotted out. God speaks asking “Whom shall I send?” Isaiah answers, “Here I am, send me.” He then clearly accepts the commission of the Lord who tells him all that he must do. When Isaiah asks, How long, O Lord?, the answer is stark. It is a very long time indeed.
       For the Psalmist, the call is accepted within his heart and all the kings of the earth will be commissioned when they hear God’s words, and “sing of the ways of the Lord.” Presumably, this will be enough for the kings to reign accordingly.
        Paul’s call was abrupt and startling when we read it in Acts 9 and it is Ananias who is then called to commission him on behalf of Jesus. In this letter to the Corinthians, Paul reminds us of his own feelings of unworthiness when he tells us that Jesus also appeared to him as he had to many others. Paul, feeling especially unfit as a persecutor in his former life, now speaks of his sense and earnestness of mission in his words, But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace toward me has not been in vain…I worked harder…though it was not I, but the grace of God that is with me.
       And then we come to our favorite fishermen. Jesus calls them to go to the deeper water with their nets. You can almost hear the sigh of Simon, who, weary after a full night of fishing with no yield, says, “…if you say so, I will…” Simon has perhaps felt the call and although he is still uncertain, he follows an instinct and does as Jesus says. In a parallel to Isaiah and Paul, Simon stunned by the overly abundant haul of fish, and realizing the reason, spontaneously tells Jesus to go away from him because he is a sinful man. The initial commissioning for Simon who becomes Peter, and for all those with him comes with the words of Jesus, Do not be afraid; from now on you will be catching people. And they all accepted by leaving everything to follow him and embark on an unexpected new life. They are given the Great Commission by Jesus after the Resurrection [Matthew 28:19-20] which fills the rest of their lives.
       Isaiah, the Psalmist, Paul, Peter and those who became disciples/Apostles, were in it to win it for God, for Jesus, for the abundant catch of people, for whatever came to them and at them for the length of their lives. They acknowledged, accepted, and obeyed the call. We, too, are what we are by God’s creation. Now all we have to do is acknowledge that we are each called by God to discern and accept the commission through the words of the Gospel, then work it every day so that God’s grace within us is not ever in vain. The Good News in Christ is that we are in this together, for the long haul.


Leader:  ~ O Lord Most High, cajole us to delve into the depths of our faith, that we may be captured in the net of Christ and the bounty of Your grace toward us may never be in vain.

                                                O God of Grace         
RESPONSE:             Your Love endures forever

~ O Lord Most High, open the ears of all who wield the power of government across this planet, in our country, and within our community, that they may hear Your Word and give You praise by moving according to Your ways. Guide them to make good Your purpose for the emancipation of all Your people from injustice, intolerance, and incessant injury. We pray especially for: add your own petitions

                                                O God of Grace
                                                Your Love endures forever

~ O Lord Most High, bind the wounds and heal the hearts of all who suffer in body, mind, or spirit and give strength to those who give them care. We now join our voices to pray aloud for those in need…add your own petitions

                                                O God of Grace
                                                Your Love endures forever

~ O Lord Most High, brighten the shadows for all who are bereaved, as those who have stepped from the constrains of this life, now delight in the glory and radiance of new and unending life in Christ. We pray especially for: add your own petitions

                                                O God of Grace
                                                Your Love endures forever

~  O Lord Most High, 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 Grace
                                                Your Love endures forever
~ O Lord Most High, renew and empower those who welcome us to the sacred feast at Your table and proclaim the Good News of Christ’s Gospel, that together we may know and experience Your blessings and abiding love. We pray especially for: add your own petitions

                                                O God of Grace
                                                Your Love endures forever

The Celebrant adds: O Holy Lord of Hosts, so immerse us in the confidence of Your love that we feel our guilt depart and we stand in Your strength with the courage to say, “Send me.” Diminish our fear of the deep as we set our sails for Christ and bring others along to our glorious destination. We ask through Jesus, Fisher of Souls; and the Holy Spirit, our Navigator; who together with You are One God in Glory, now and forever more.  Amen.

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