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, October 28, 2019

Prayers of the People: Climb and Seek ~ 21st Sunday after Pentecost Yr C '19

For Sunday, November 3, 2019 ~ 21st Sunday after Pentecost, Year C, Readings: Isaiah 1:10-18, Psalm 32:1-8, 
2 Thessalonians 1:1-4,11-12; Luke 19:1-10

      ...cease to do evil, learn to do good; seek justice, rescue the oppressed, defend the orphan, plead for the widow.  [Isaiah 1:16b-17]

  You are a hiding place for me; you preserve me from trouble, you surround me with glad cries of deliverance. [Psalm 32:7]

We must always give thanks to God for you...because your faith is growing abundantly, and the love of every one of you for one another is increasing. [2 Thessalonians 1:3b]

      Then Jesus said to him, "Today salvation has come to this house, because he too is a son of Abraham. For the Son of Man came to seek out and to save the lost." [Luke 19:9-10]

     As we explore the collection of readings this week I find a theme of forgiveness. And we begin with quite a lambasting of those in Sodom and Gomorrah. Again. God is quite explicit through Isaiah as to what they are NOT to do. For example, those burnt and blood “sacrifices” are not on God’s happy list, but then follows quite clear instructions on what they are to do to be in God’s forgiving graces.
     The Psalmist reminds us that we are happiest when we are forgiven, and calms us by telling us that in time of trouble we are delivered. As we read Paul’s great accolades to the church in Thessalonica, we are given yet more ways to understand what it is we are to do in this life through love by and for others and by steadfastness of faith, especially through difficult times.  
      How easy it is to let go of the reminder in The Lord’s Prayer when we ask God very clearly to forgive us AS we forgive others? Perhaps the words are so familiar and routine the impact of what we are saying is lost. It is time to pay more attention.
      Forgiveness is for those who have lost their way toward God whether they are aware of being lost or not. Forgiveness is what we hope for when we know that we have sinned and feel unworthy. We are called to forgive others more quickly than we hope for God to forgive us. That is, for me, the lesson in Zacchaeus. Did Zacchaeus think he was lost as he climbed the tree?
      When I read the story of Zacchaeus, I admit that I usually wonder: what was Mrs. Zacchaeus thinking? Did she give him that look - you know the one: seriously, THIS guy for dinner, and he invited himself? I'm sure she already knew what the neighbors were thinking being less than the popular couple on the block because of her husband's job. Yet here is Jesus calling Zacchaeus out of the tree - to the grumbling chorus of nay-sayers and finger-pointers - and telling him Salvation has come to this house...the Son of Man came to seek out to save the lost.  How about those grumblers, did they think they were lost? Did those in Sodom and Gomorrah thing they were off the edge again? It's much easier for me to point to another as lost, wrong, sinful, etc., without accepting when I am. Yet in those lost moments, I want some kind of magic fix-it, right away!
      And then again I read the words of the Psalmist saying that God is a hiding place who will preserve me from trouble. For some reason it calls to mind a plaque in my great-grandmother’s hushed Victorian-styled parlor visible through the oak pocket doors: Christ is the Unseen Guest, the Silent Listener to every conversation and it is no longer remembered as a scary shadow from childhood, but that Christ, is my Companion in every moment of the highs, the lows, and the ordinary moments of life. If I continue to remember that, then I will be more able to be that better person I want to be, less likely to point fingers, and instinctively work on behalf of others before myself. If I remember, I will have fewer conversations I wouldn't want Jesus to hear. If I remember, I might realize that I can work to grow my own faith through seeing Christ in others first, and to love even the unlovable - including my sometimes sense of myself - remember that part of the Great Commandment to love your neighbor AS [if they were] yourself?  I must remember to ask for help in forgiving others in the way I ask for myself.
      When we judge another and don’t forgive we also build resentment within ourselves, especially if someone like that Zacchaeus is somehow, we grumble, exalted above us. Nelson Mandela said: Resentment is like drinking poison hoping it will kill your enemies.
      God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit are within us all, always. We need only to remember to reach out in prayer not merely in times of trouble but through all we do in each breath-moment of life. In forgiving others we rid ourselves of the poison of resentment, we free ourselves and another, allowing more love to flow through us to all we meet. NOT so easy, but with one breath at a time all improvement is possible. In prayer, Jesus may be Unseen, but he's always there, silently listening, ready to save us whenever we are lost, even when we're up a tree.


Leader:  ~ LORD of Hope and Promise, as You know us better than we know ourselves, guide us to seek and recognize You in others, to find You living deep within us, and to learn to rescue, defend, and plead with more fervor for others than for ourselves. 

                                                  Forgiving God
RESPONSE:             Preserve us from trouble

~ LORD of Hope and Promise, renew us each day to persevere in prayer as we take action to kindle morality in the Leaders of all governments across Your Creation. Instruct us all in the ways of Christ’s peace, that together we may find the path where peace will grow and spread beyond all barriers and borders. We pray especially for: add your own petitions

                                                Forgiving God
                                                Preserve us from trouble

~ LORD of Hope and Promise, lay Your healing hand upon those weary of pain or anguish in this life, and hold fast to those who offer caring help. We now join our voices to pray aloud for those in need… add your own petitions
                                                Forgiving God
                                                Preserve us from trouble
~ LORD of Hope and Promise, lighten the darkness for the grieving, as our loved ones return Home to the eternal splendor and glory of new life in Christ. We pray especially for: add your own petitions

                                                Forgiving God
                                                Preserve us from trouble

~ LORD of Hope and Promise, we pause in this moment to offer You our other heartfelt intentions and petitions, aloud or silently… add your own petitions

                                                Forgiving God
                                                Preserve us from trouble
~ LORD of Hope and Promise, refresh the courage and confidence of those anointed to call us to Your Holy Table, that our worship may be true, faithful, and pleasing to You. We pray especially for: add your own petitions

                                                Forgiving God
                                                Preserve us from trouble

The Celebrant adds:  Lord of Creation, Salvation, and Wisdom, grow our faith abundantly and increase our ability to love one another as we are loved by You. Grant us the grace to embody Your Presence and to serve the world together in Your name. We ask through Jesus our Redeemer Christ; and the Holy Spirit, our Wisdom Guide; who together with You are One God, now and forever.  Amen.

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