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, August 27, 2019

Prayers of the People: Lower is Higher ~ 12th Sunday after Pentecost '19 Yr C

For Sunday, September 1, 2019 ~ 12th Sunday after Pentecost, Year C, Readings: Proverbs 25:6-7, Psalm 112, 
Hebrews 13:1-8, 15-16; Luke 14:1, 7-14

   Do not put yourself forward in the king’s presence or stand in the place of the great; for it is better to be told, “Come up here,” than to be put lower in the presence of a noble. 
[Proverbs 25:6-7]

   Light shines in the darkness for the upright; the righteous are merciful and full of compassion…they put their trust in the Lord. [Psalm 112:4, 7b]

  Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by doing that some have entertained angels without knowing it...Keep  your lives free from the love of money, and be content with what you have...Remember your leaders, those who spoke the word of God to you, consider the outcome of their way of life and imitate their faith. Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow. Through him, then, let us offer a sacrifice of praise to God... [Hebrews 13:2, 5, 7-8, 15]

   But when you are invited, go and sit at the lowest place, so that when your host comes, he may say to you, "Friend, move up higher"...For all who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted." [Luke 14:10-11]

         The basic elements of the readings for this week contain the Gospel of Christ in a nutshell:  Humility. LoveHospitality. These are at once the minimal and the essential requirements for an authentically faithful and faith-filled life. One can be taught how to embrace and internalize these to live and act from within them; yet, confusingly, to actually “have” them is to not be consciously aware of them. We are to, not-so-simply, just “be” and do accordingly. That is contrary to our first-world notions of proof and confidence that we have “arrived” by what we have gathered to ourselves in fulfillment of earthly wants, our worldly status as determined by our place at various tables or events, and our magnanimous gestures to the “less fortunate” among us.
          I place humility first as without genuine humility, we are not able to honestly embrace and live in and through the others. It is also the most difficult to inhabit. Humility can be an ego trap.
          Feeling proud and pleased with a prestigious invitation, having a beautiful home, or wearing the best clothes are not in themselves bad. Rather, as always, it's how we reflect these kinds of acquisitions in our lives. If our attitude, whether conscious or less so, places us above any others, then we have wandered off the path of Christ. We are perfectly justified to be content with what we have as long as we Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have... 
[Hebrews 13:16] and more especially among those who cannot ~ or will not ~ repay us, or even know it is us.
         Humility is a tricky aspect of character. While philanthropy and generosity are good and necessary, we must take care to be sincere and genuine ~ that is, we must keep our egos unaware so that we are not seeking a particularly ego-boosting end by mostly-well-intentioned means. Some of us may have to start small and practice often until the true spirit of it takes hold. Yes, let that car in ahead of you in traffic and don't say or even think those words – so easy to understand, so hard to do  and all while recognizing ~ being aware ~ of what a first-world problem this is. One definition of humility is “lowliness of mind,” that is, it is a heart attitude, not outward demeanor.
       The truly humble don’t know they are and they naturally exude the love which will instinctively manifest in hospitality to others, contentment with what they have, and result in consciously unconscious respect, love, and worship of God in every thought, word, and action. Tough work ahead for those of us who want to be humble and, if we do it right, we won't know we've gotten there. However in the sincerity of this quest we will know we are forever still working on it.
       I’m reminded of a song by Mac Davis, O Lord It’s Hard To Be Humble [link below]. It is really funny but also slightly sobering. We can only do the best we can and try not to judge those who more reflect the song lyrics! In faith and by intentional attention to our own soul-work, we are more able to let mutual love continue without looking for direct evidence of those hidden angels. Jesus doesn't want us to be proud of our humility. It might just be enough to remember that in considering the outcomes of a life in faith, if we are genuinely placing ourselves through humility, love, and hospitality to a Lower place in this life we will be blessed and placed Higher in next. 

click here for Mac Davis:  O Lord It's Hard To Be Humble


Leader:  ~ O Lord, our Constant Helper, open our hearts to let mutual love continue among all of Your people, whether known or unknown to us. Let us not neglect to show hospitality in sharing with, and caring for, all who are poor, imprisoned, or tortured in body or soul.

                                                       O God, Light in our Darkness                                             
RESPONSE:                  We put our trust in You

~ O Lord, our Constant Helper, humble the souls of those who wield international, national, and local power. Guide them to the path of leadership vested in compassion, generosity, and thoughtful justice that frees us all from hatred and violence. We pray especially for: add your own petitions

                                                      O God, Light in our Darkness
                                                       We put our trust in You

~ O Lord, our Constant Helper, refresh the spirits of those laid low by serious illness or critical life circumstance, and lift the energies of all who give support. We now join our voices to pray aloud for those in need… add your own petitions

                                                       O God, Light in our Darkness
                                                       We put our trust in You
~ O Lord, our Constant Helper, dry the tears of the sorrowful with the comfort of knowing that our loved ones are now exalted to a place of honor at Your heavenly eternal feast. We pray especially for… add your own petitions

                                                       O God, Light in our Darkness
                                                       We put our trust in You

~ O Lord, our Constant Helper, 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, Light in our Darkness
                                                       We put our trust in You
~ O Lord, our Constant Helper, we ask Your special blessings upon all who lead us in Your Church, who speak Your word to us, and teach us, by example, to imitate their faith and thoughtfully consider the outcome of our own ways of life. In the name of Jesus, our Christ, who is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow, we pray especially for: add your own petitions

                                                       O God, Light in our Darkness
                                                       We put our trust in You

The Celebrant adds: O Lord, our God, inspire us to choose a lower place at Your holy table than the place we offer to others, that in humility we may entertain angels unaware. May Your name always be the fruit of our lips and each facet of our lives reflect a continual sacrifice of praise to You. We ask through Christ our Present and Eternal Savior; and the Holy Spirit, the Sacred Breath of Heaven, who together with You are One God, from before the beginning to beyond the end.  Amen. 

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