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, June 25, 2019

Prayers of the People: Life, Interrupted ~ 3rd Sunday after Pentecost '19 Yr C

For Sunday, June 20, 2019, 3rd Sunday after Pentecost, Year C, Readings: 1 Kings 19:15-16, 19-21; Psalm 16, Galatians 5:1, 13-25; Luke 9:51-62 
     The Lord said to Elijah…you shall anoint Elisha…as prophet in your place…So he set out from there, and found Elisha, who was plowing…Elijah passed by him and threw his mantle over him…Then [Elisha] set out and followed Elijah… [1 Kings 19:15-16, 19]

     Protect me, O God, for I take refuge in you…my good above all other…my portion and my cup…You will show me the path of life… [Psalm 16:1, 5a, 11a]

     For freedom of Christ has set us free. Stand firm…do not use your freedom for self-indulgence… the whole law is summed up in a single commandment, "You shall love your neighbor as yourself." If, however, you bite and devour one another, take care that you are not consumed by one another…Live by the Spirit… [Galatians 5:1a, 13, 14-16]

     To another [Jesus] said: "Follow me." But he said, "Lord, first let me go and bury my father." But Jesus said to him, "Let the dead bury their own dead; but as for you, go and proclaim the kingdom of God." [Luke 9:59-60]

         Elisha was going about the daily chores, plowing the fields with a yoke of 12 oxen, not a common task for most of us non-farmers. Elijah passed by and threw his mantle over him, the sign of adoption as Elijah’s God-ordered successor. We don’t know how old Elisha was, but he was likely living with his parents as he wished to kiss them goodbye, which Elijah permitted. A contrast from Jesus who tells a disciple asking to bury his father to follow him and not look back. Both lives were interrupted and abruptly changed by the acceptance of a Divine command. As the saying goes, life happens when you’re making other plans.
        The Psalmist is more positive this week praising and feeling more secure and hopeful in God’s presence and guidance. And in Paul’s letter to the Galatians, he reminds us of part of the Great Commandment of Jesus: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. He then says that if you bite and devour one another, take care that you are not consumed by one another, an interesting aside that speaks volumes to us in our own day and time!
         Paul opens this week’s selection by saying that we are called to freedom by Christ, freedom from a yoke of mortal temptation, and to stand firm in that conviction. He lists examples of desires of the flesh and he also lists a contrasting list of the fruits given us by the Holy Spirit, a mantle of guidance and strength. The Fruits of the Spirit are available as easily as the works of the flesh, yet recognizing the Fruits already within us, and accepting and incorporating them into our daily lives, requires conscious and continuous effort to move beyond earthly self-indulgence. Consciousness and effort, then, are the costs of the freedom "you were called to" by Christ, or as Dietrich Bonhoeffer* calls it in his book of the same name, the cost of discipleship.
         Bonhoeffer tells us that, We must be ready to allow ourselves to be interrupted by God. God will be constantly crossing our paths and canceling our plans by sending us people with claims and petitions.
       What is the going rate for discipleship? In terms of avoiding earthly self-indulgence or a scheduling inconvenience, the cost may feel high indeed at first awareness. But how do we measure short-term, mortal pleasures against eternal life and salvation? Developing a regular, consistent, conscious, active spiritual/prayer life and a like-minded community helps to pay the price in ways that will feel more free than being caught in the traps of the flesh. While we may be quick to beg and pray when all is going wrong, we may be considerably slower giving thanks for all things - small and big - that go well; and even, upon reflection, to give thanksgiving for things that went wrong yet led us in a direction we mightn't have found otherwise. But sometimes we are nearly aware of that little nagging, goading, prodding something that calls us to take a second look at a person in need, give extra change to someone in the grocery line, allow that annoying driver to pull into the lane in front of us, or (albeit with a heavy sigh) go out of our way to help someone at the last minute when other plans had been made. Divine interruption? Perhaps, and/or a sudden conscious moment of discipleship in loving your neighbor as yourself.
        The price of eternal freedom is tax free soul transformation, merely a commitment to be the hands, the feet, the voice, the smile, the love of Christ on earth. In asking for the help to find our path of life all we need to do is Follow and live life planning for divine interruptions.

*Dietrich Bonhoeffer (1906-1945) was a German Lutheran theologian and dissident, author of "The Cost of Discipleship" and other books. He was imprisoned and subsequently executed by the Nazis as the regime was collapsing, just one month before their surrender.


Leader: ~ O Lord, our Path of Life, interrupt our daily thoughts and plans to remind us that You are our Good above all other, our Portion and our Cup. Let us seek to follow You in the ordinary and mundane, in the joy and satisfaction as well as in sorrow, fear, or frustration. May we love You enough to see You in all others and to truly love them as we love ourselves.

                                                     Holy God                                                                                            
RESPONSE:                  Our Refuge and our Hope                              

~ O Lord, our Path of Life, renew our strength and courage that we may continue to stand firm and speak on behalf of those who have no voice, no justice, and no freedom before dictatorships and governments in this world, this nation, and this community. We pray especially for: add your own petitions

                                                       Holy God
                                                       Our Refuge and our Hope

~ O Lord, our Path of Life, relieve the anguish of those in physical or emotional pain and bolster the energies of those who provide care and support. We now join our voices to pray aloud for those in need… add your own petitions

                                                       Holy God
                                                       Our Refuge and our Hope

~ O Lord, our Path of Life, attend all hearts who are in the depths of mourning as You lift the souls of those, beloved on earth, to the light of new life in Your everlasting Presence. We pray especially for: add your own petitions

                                                       Holy God
                                                       Our Refuge and our Hope

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

                                                       Holy God
                                                       Our Refuge and our Hope

~ O Lord, our Path of Life, enhance, enrich, and enlighten the faith of all who are called as today’s prophets in Your church, that they may continue to inspire and guide our pilgrimage toward You. We pray especially for: add your own petitions

                                                       Holy God
                                                       Our Refuge and our Hope
The Celebrant adds: Living, Loving God, by Your Eternal Presence rouse us from complacency and self-indulgence to recognize the mantle of Christ already laid upon our shoulders. Open us to wholly accept and live by the Fruit of the Spirit, looking only forward to the fullness of Your Kingdom through all we do on this Earth. We ask through Jesus, our Redeemer Christ, and the Holy Spirit, our Guide in Truth, who together with You are One God, now and forever.  Amen.

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