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 24, 2020

Prayers of the People: Stumbling Blocks ~ 13th Sunday after Pentecost '20 Yr A

For Sunday, August 30, 2020, Readings: Exodus 3:1-15, Psalm 105:1-6, 23-26, 45c; Romans 12:9-21, Matthew 16:21-28

        Moses...came to Horeb, the mountain of God. There the angel of the LORD appeared to him in a flame of fire out of a bush...the bush was blazing but not consumed...God called to him..."Moses, Moses!" And he said, "Here I am." Then he said, "Come no closer...for the place on which you are standing is holy ground." [Exodus 3:1b-2, 4b-5]

            Glory in his holy Name; let the hearts of those who seek the Lord rejoice. [Psalm 105:3]

          Let love be genuine; hate what is evil, hold fast to what is good;...outdo one another in showing honor...never avenge yourselves...for it is written, "Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord."...overcome evil with good. [Romans 12:9, 10b, 19, 21b]

          Jesus began to show his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem...and be killed and on the third day be raised. And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him saying, "God forbid it, Lord! This must never happen to you." But he turned and said to Peter, "Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; for you are setting your mind not on divine things but on human things." [Matthew 16:21a,b-23]

          From out of the flaming bush, God called Moses to lead the Israelites out from the torture and horrors of their existence as slaves in the ancient world. Moses, probably still trying to grasp that God is speaking to him from a burning shrub, gives a most human response, "Who am I" to do this unimaginable task? Moses had just been minding the sheep in his everyday, ordinary life and suddenly he's called to save a nation - reluctance is the mildest emotion I would have felt! Of course this is a great story worthy of the many dramatic renderings in films and other media that it has inspired. And perhaps because of the magnitude of this command, the primary message seems obscured.
      The world of today is not so far away in attitude from the times of Moses. Around the world and in each of our own countries, as many of us go through our days just minding our sheep, there are ever-growing outbursts of racial and ethnic hatred, senseless mass killings, and unchecked and imposed power grabs creating enslavement through poverty, robust greed, oppression, suppression, proactive and reactive violence ~ all elements that have never left the human realm.
       But God, through Moses, reminds us that, however reluctant, we are each called to step up to Holy Ground and find our own ways to save nations, if only by one sheep at a time.
      It is much easier to wander in the wilderness of apathy or cling to the false gods of power and profit as if to save us from ourselves and each other. But last week Paul reminded us of our individual gifts that work in concert with the gifts of others so that we are one body, with many members, charged to live in and through Christ. This week, Paul, gives us a rapid-fire list of how to begin to be the Living Sacrifice that Jesus calls us to be:  Let love be genuine, hate evil, hold fast to good, love one another, outdo, don't lag, rejoice, be patient, persevere, contribute, extend, bless, rejoice, weep, live, associate, and don't claim to be wiser than you are, etc., etc., etc. 
      I'm nearly exhausted at the thought of it all yet Jesus reminds us that all that has been done will be repaid in kind by God. If we only Follow him, Jesus says, not setting our minds on human things but on the divine, we will gain the life we were created to live. We must take care to suspend our natural impulse to argue with Jesus out of doubt, fear, or unwillingness that turns us into stumbling blocks obstructing the path of others. We must come back from hiding behind the devilish desires for human treasure and move to the front of the line, as did Peter, seeking to overcome evil with good. One day, one small act, one prayer at a time leading to another and another and another...opens the Way forward.


Leader:  ~ Glorious Creator, Your Sacred Fire sanctifies our faith, transforms our souls, and guides us to find our footing on holy ground in this earthly life. Help us to continually seek Your Strength and Your Face, that we may not be consumed by human things, but set our minds on all that is divine. 

                                              Constant and Forever God                                                  
RESPONSE:                         Grant us Your Strength 

~ Glorious Creator, enflame Your Spirit within us to persist and prevail upon the leaders of this Country, this Community, and this World, to reject repaying evil with evil, to hold fast to what is good, legislating only for the honor, dignity, and humanity for all Your people everywhere. We pray especially for:add your own petitions

Constant and Forever God 
Grant us Your Strength 

~ Glorious Creator, grant us wisdom as listening ears and helping hands to care for those with physical or mental illness or desperate life circumstance, and for those who struggle to meet those needs. We now join our hearts together to pray for those in need… add your own petitions

Constant and Forever God 
Grant us Your Strength 

~ Glorious Creator, may our hearts know the joy that celebrates all who have now risen into the Splendor of Eternity, free of misery and tears. We pray especially for: add your own petitions 

Constant and Forever God 
Grant us Your Strength 

~  Glorious Creator, we pause in this moment to offer You our other heartfelt thanksgivings, intercessions, petitions, and memorials… add your own petitions

Constant and Forever God 
Grant us Your Strength 

~ Glorious Creator, enhance and extend your enduring grace and faith-filled energy for those among us who are anointed to take on Your mantle of ministry on our behalf. We pray especially for:add your own petitions

Constant and Forever God 
Grant us Your Strength 

The Celebrant adds: O God of Yesterday, Today, and Forever, release us from desire for the superficial milk and honey of this life, the spiritual stumbling blocks of faith. Ignite our passion toFollow, not obstruct, the Way of Christ toward our Salvation. We ask in the name of Jesus, Son of Man, and the Holy Spirit, our Divine Fervor, who reign together with You as One, Living, and Eternal God. Amen. 

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