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, August 19, 2019

Prayers of the People: Getting in Shape ~ 11th Sunday after Pentecost '19 Yr C

For Sunday, August 25, 2019 ~ 11th Sunday after Pentecost, Year C, Readings: Isaiah 58:9b-14, Psalm 103:1-8, 
Hebrews 12:18-29, Luke 13:10-17

     If you remove the yoke from among you, the pointing of the finger, the speaking of evil, if you offer food to the hungry and satisfy the needs of the afflicted, then your light shall rise in the darkness and your gloom be like noonday. The Lord will guide you continually, and satisfy your needs in parched places… [Isaiah 58:9b-11a]

    Bless the Lord, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless his holy name…The Lord is full of compassion and mercy, slow to anger and of great kindness. [Psalm 103:1, 8]

   Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us give thanks, by which we offer to God an acceptable worship with reverence and awe, for indeed our God is a consuming fire. [Hebrews 12:28-29]

 And just then there appeared a woman with a spirit that had crippled her for eighteen years. She was bent over and was quite unable to stand up straight. When Jesus saw her, he called her over and said, "Woman, you are set free from your ailment." When he laid hands on her, immediately she stood up and began praising God. But the leader of the synagogue [was] indignant because Jesus had cured on the Sabbath... [Luke 13: 11-14a]

     In this hopeful and refreshing passage, Isaiah tells us of God’s care when we refrain from the pointing of the finger and the speaking of evil, and turn to offer food to the hungry and attend to all other good and necessary deeds. The prophet tells us that the Lord will guide us continually…in parched places ~ a comforting phrase to me as in these times, our lives are being scorched by more than the heat of climate change.  
      The Psalmist calls upon our souls to Bless the Lord...who is full of compassion and mercy, slow to anger and of great kindness. Such familiar words to many of us, and a reminder that we are to emulate compassion, mercy, and kindness, and especially to be slow to anger. Perhaps keeping these words in our sight, as a prayer or a mantra, will allow our souls to shape all that we say and do, once our souls, and all that is within us, are in better faith-filled and spiritual shape.
      Luke brings us a significant teaching moment with Jesus curing a woman on the Sabbath in the synagogue creating quite the firestorm. Yes, we Christians basically know what "Sabbath" means even IF we give it a loose interpretation and a nano-second of practice, but for faithful practicing Jews - especially the Orthodox - then and now, Sabbath is not optional. It is a God-mandate, a requirement given as one of the Ten Commandments, a rich spiritual experience, beyond and within formal worship, filled with meaningful rituals and prayer. Rabbis study the Law regarding Sabbath for their entire lives to understand every nuance, dispensation, and imperative to guide their congregations in observance. We Christians could do with a reboot of some understanding and the regular practice of Sabbath time, especially given all the available distractions of temporal living - really, can you put down the phone for an hour once a week to be with God? 
     It is difficult for us as non-Jews, to understand why that moment in Jesus' ministry was such a big deal. Basically, he is pointing to the question: is it more important to follow The [man-made] Rules and "the way it has always been done - the way we do things here” when those local “ traditions” exclude some of God's children? Or perhaps the question really is: when do such rules support and enhance our relationship with God, and when do they become idolatry and soul-damaging? And then there's the part about hypocrites.
         Paul warns us, "Yet once more..." that God can and will easily remove what can be shaken so that what cannot be shaken may remain...we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken and our acceptable worship with reverence and awe is what God truly requires. Oh there are a thousand ideas of what "acceptable worship is." For me I must constantly work on changing the shape of my spiritual practice, beyond attending the Sunday service. I know that I can vastly improve the inclusion of more witness of my faith through how I live, think, and act, and especially, with more genuine and regularly scheduled Sabbath observance, not for mere leisure. It's past time to be more in touch with what really is reverence and the experience of the awe of God's Presence. It's also time to evaluate how I decide on those acceptable exceptions in avoiding Sabbath. What shape are you getting in?  

Leader:  ~ O Lord of Compassion and Mercy, stand us straight up in Your sight and reshape the direction of our lives. Free us from the yoke of earthly attachments that does damage to our souls, and set our daily course for the Kingdom that cannot be shaken.

                                                       Gracious, Loving God                                              
RESPONSE:                 May our souls bless You always

~ O Lord of Compassion and Mercy, deliver us from any and all leaders who speak evil, oppress others, and only serve their own interests. Guide us to support and join with all who give food to the hungry, satisfy the needs of the afflicted, and brings Your light into our World, our Nation, and our Communities. We pray especially for: add your own petitions

                                                       Gracious, Loving God
                                                       May our souls bless You always

~ O Lord of Compassion and Mercy, heal the ailments of all who suffer in body and spirit, and release all hearts crippled by anger and hate into the peace of Your great kindness. We now join our voices to pray aloud for those in need… add your own petitions

                                                       Gracious, Loving God
                                                       May our souls bless You always

~ O Lord of Compassion and Mercy, may those who mourn be comforted by the festal gathering of innumerable angels for the glorious entry of our loved ones into Your Heavenly City. We pray especially for:: add your own petitions 
                                                       Gracious, Loving God
                                                       May our souls bless You always

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

                                                       Gracious, Loving God
                                                       May our souls bless You always
~ O Lord of Compassion and Mercy, we offer blessings and thanksgivings for all Deacons, Priests, and Bishops for their humanity, guidance, and devotion to Your work in this World. We pray especially for: add your own petitions

                                                       Gracious, Loving God
                                                       May our souls bless You always

The Celebrant adds:  Holy and Living God, burnish, brighten, and fill us with Your holy fire, to shine within us and transform our thoughts, words, and actions into continual, awe-filled, living worship. We ask through Jesus, the Mediator of the New Covenant; and the Holy Spirit, our Divine Sanctifier; who together with You, reign as One God, now and forever. Amen. 

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