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 19, 2019

Prayers of the People: Love: The Do's and Don'ts ~ 7th Sunday after the Epiphany Yr C '19

For Sunday, February 24, 2019, 7th Sunday after the Epiphany, Yr C, Readings: Genesis 45:3-11, 15; Psalm 37:1-12, 41-42; 
1 Corinthians 15:35-38, 42-50; Luke 6:27-38

       Then Joseph said to his brothers…do not be distressed , or angry with yourselves, because you sold me here…And he kissed all his brothers and wept upon them… [Genesis 45:5a, 15]

               Commit your way to the Lord and put your trust in him…Do not fret…over the one who prospers…Refrain from anger, leave rage alone…the Lord…is their stronghold…because they seek refuge in him. [Psalm 37:5a, 8a, 9a, 41b, 42b]

              So it is with the resurrection of the dead…What is sown…is sown in dishonor…it is raised in glory. It is sown in weakness, it is raised in power. It is sown a physical body, it is raised a spiritual body. [1 Corinthians 15:42a, 43-44a]

           Jesus said, “…Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you. If anyone strikes you on the cheek, offer the other also…Do to others as you would have them do to you…for the measure you give will be the measure you get back.” [Luke 6:27-29a, 31, 38b]

        On the face of the readings, the theme is pretty simple: Do this, don’t do that. Do to others as you would have them do to youdo not judge, and you will not be judged; do not condemn, and you will not be condemnedsays Jesus*, and all we have to do is love the unlovable, forgive the unforgivable. Sure, we’ve heard it all before. Not so easy to practice, at least in my life.
        The beginning point for this week’s lesson is Joseph forgiving his brothers. It is quite a dramatic story especially if you know all that happened before [Genesis 37, 39-50]. Joseph is the youngest, the favorite and best-loved of his father, the tattle-taler, the dreamer of grandiose dreams, an all-around annoying little brother which caused the older brothers to successfully plot to be rid of him. It is a compelling story of the stuff of novels and Broadway musicals. But perhaps in the abstract we only consider it as a nice piece of holy fiction that doesn’t have much impact on our life and times. But what if I was Joseph…
        A priest friend recounted a TV interview he saw with a man who had committed his life to working with young offenders. The man’s son had just been murdered by such a person and the interviewer asked if he had forgiven the murderer. He said that he had forgiven him because the killer was just the kind of young person he was trying to help. Is that within or beyond my capacity to do, especially if that was my child? I seriously wonder as I question my faith and my commitment.
          It isn’t that Jesus is promoting a dismissal of appropriate blame and its consequences. Rather, as we simply do not and will not know what transpires between God and the one who offended, we cannot, should not, must not assume the final verdict of God who knows what changes of heart and soul occur. It’s God’s job, not mine, is to sort out the truly wicked evildoers and the truly righteous and faithful, and all in-between, and to judge, punish/reward accordingly. Isn’t that what we want for ourselves? Earthly legal systems do what they must and should; in the Earthly realm of Christ, we are charged with loving and forgiving anyway.
         Yet before we can approach attempting this difficult kind of love and forgiveness, we have to do some internal, self-directed work to believe –  and accept – that God truly loves and forgives us, you, me. That is the hardest work of all.
graphic by Christina Brennan Lee
         In real time, when we let go of judgment, or at least begin to want to reduce and redirect it, we can find that receiving and accepting God’s love helps us first, to love and forgive ourselves, and then, to love and forgive others, as we are forgiven by God. The more we are able to love, the more we are able to forgive, and the more we forgive, the more we love and so on. It isn't meant to be a solitary practice and struggle, it is to be a part of life in a faith community, that by sharing the difficulties and rewards, we grow in the strength and courage to push on.
       The short version for all of this is to always remember that what I give out in this life is what I’ll get back in the next. Remember the Lord’s Prayer? Spend some time with it this week to read what it says, beyond the familiar syllables in recitation, especially…forgive us our trespasses/sins, AS we forgive those who trespass/sin against us. Hear what it is we are truly asking for! And, of course, Do this, Don’t do that, click here: https://www.songfacts.com/lyrics/five-man-electrical-band/signs

*Jesus also said this week: If anyone strikes you on the cheek, offer the other also. Do take a look at: Walter Wink on Turn the Other Cheek  Walter Wink, [1935-2012] was a theologian and Professor Emeritus of Biblical Interpretation at Auburn Theological Seminary in New York City. His easily-read article explains much more about this in a useful and slightly more humanly satisfying context. As Gandhi taught, "The first principle of nonviolent action is that of noncooperation with everything humiliating." 


Leader:  ~ O God, our Stronghold and our Refuge, grant us the courage and the strength of faith to trust in, and accept as true, Your all-encompassing love for ourselves. Release us from judgment and anger that we may grant the same mercy and compassion to all others as we receive from You.

                                                       O Lord, Most High       
RESPONSE:                  Urge our hearts to love and forgive

~ O God, our Stronghold and our Refuge, impel the hearts, minds, and souls of all who govern across every location on this Earth, to act always with the highest ethical, moral, and spiritual intent for those they lead. We pray especially for: add your own petitions

                                                       O Lord, Most High       
                                                       Urge our hearts to love and forgive

~ O God, our Stronghold and our Refuge, ease the distress for those who are poor in health, in spirit, or in the basic needs of life, and for those who selflessly aid and comfort them. We now join our voices to pray aloud for those in need… add your own petitions

                                                       O Lord, Most High       
                                                       Urge our hearts to love and forgive

~ O God, our Stronghold and our Refuge, soften the grief for all who are bereft, as our beloved, raised to new life in glory and joy, are now with You for all eternity. We pray especially for... add your own petitions

                                                       O Lord, Most High       
                                                       Urge our hearts to love and forgive

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

                                                       O Lord, Most High       
                                                       Urge our hearts to love and forgive
~ O God, our Stronghold and our Refuge, grant extra blessings for those who lead us in Your Church, as they inspire and encourage us by Your Word and Sacraments, to take delight in and commit our ways and our lives entirely to You. We pray especially for: add your own petitions

                                                       O Lord, Most High       
                                                       Urge our hearts to love and forgive

The Celebrant adds: Merciful, Benevolent God, relieve us of distress, frustration, and rage over the wickedness of others, and leave that judgment to You. Heighten our desire to be as generous with our love and forgiveness in this life, as You have promised to return to us in the next. We ask through Jesus, our Risen Christ; and the Holy Spirit, the Breath of our Souls; who together with You, are God Almighty, now and forever.  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