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, June 28, 2021

Prayers of the People: Stand Up, Step Out, and Shake Off ~ 6th Sunday after Pentecost '21 Yr B

For Sunday, July 4, 2021, Readings: Ezekiel 2:1-5, Psalm 123, 2 Corinthians 12:2-10, Mark 6:1-13

The Lord said to me, “O mortal, stand up on your feet and I and I will speak to you. [Ezekiel 2:1]

To you I lift up my eyes…as the eyes of servants look to the hand of their masters, so our eyes look to the Lord our God until he show us his mercy… [Psalm 123:1a, 2a, 3]

 I know a person in Christ who… heard things…that no mortal is permitted to repeat…to keep me from being too elated, a thorn was given me in the flesh…I appealed to the Lord…but he said, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power in made perfect in weakness”… Therefore I am content with weaknesses, insults…for the sake of Christ; for whenever I am weak, then I am strong. [2 Corinthians 12:2, 4b, 7b, 8a, 9a, 10]

 Then Jesus said to [the disciples], "Prophets are not without honor, except in their hometown, and among their own kin, and in their own house"... He said to [the disciples] …if any place will not welcome you and they refuse to you, as you leave shake off the dust that is on your feet as a testimony against them.” [Mark 6:4,10a, 11]

         In our times, as throughout history, powerful/charismatic leaders attract some ardent followers who want to stay very close, follow every move, and idolize. Such absolute devotion by others can easily skew one's initial humility and original intent. Some who claim power and authority become more interested in the adulation and adoration than in the responsibilities of genuine leadership. They cultivate and bask in the unfettered loyalty of some, while deliberately oppressing and persecuting others who aren't so easily beguiled.  
     Staying modest and humble in the face of eager and constant admirers is difficult for the most sainted of humans. Ezekiel, as priest and designated prophet, likely understood his position of dependence and insignificance as God orders him to stand up and then God would speak to him. Paul may have recognized a tendency in himself for pride in accomplishment and accepted the thorn as a sacred reminder to be aware of the dangers of holding deep power of persuasion over others. His monologue in this passage almost sounds as if he is reminding himself, as well as the Church at Corinth, in his repetition that he, himself, doesn't know everything but God knows
     As in every life in the public eye, there are always detractors. Jesus was his most human self in his frustration with the hometown reaction he received. He kept moving along, doing what he could, where he could while amazed at the unbelief of those who had known him from childhood. Later, Jesus called the Disciples and sent them off two by two to do God's work, and the command to shake off the dust if not welcomed, was a reminder that earthly time is short to get done what needs to be done. We are also called to keep moving ~ together ~ shaking off the disappointment and the dust of the detractors, stepping out again toward the next opportunity to offer the justice, truth, and welcome of the Gospel. Together, we can also work to keep the thorns of despair, hardship, and calamity from piercing us all the way through. 
    Ezekiel, Paul, and Jesus were all doing the work God had given them to do and, as in every human life, some days were better than others. There are two post-Communion prayers in the US Episcopal Book of Common Prayer and both say that we are "living members" of the Body of Christ. In one, we, the pray-ers, ask God to, "Send us now into the world in peace..." and in the other to "...send us out to do the work you have given us to do..."  
      Let us, then, stand up, step out in faith, shake off the dust of disappointment and the pressure of our thorns, to do the work we have been given to do, for the sake of Christ and in His name.


 Leader:  ~ O Lord our God, stand us on our feet and speak to our souls of Your sufficient grace. Quicken our ability to recognize and endure the thorns in this life for the sake of Christ, whose power dwells within us and gives us strength through our weakness.

                                                            Lord of Mercy and Grace  
                                RESPONSE:  We lift our eyes to You             

~ O Lord our God, You know the hearts and souls of us all, including those who govern in this World, this Country, and this Community. Fill us with ever-increasing fortitude and determination to persist in speaking Your truths of love, justice, and mercy on behalf of the most beleaguered and oppressed near and far. We pray especially for: add your own petitions

                                                            Lord of Mercy and Grace
                                                            We lift our eyes to You                                                                 

~ O Lord our God, restore hope and wholeness to all who struggle with chronic illness, homelessness, or recovery, and infuse their supporters with energy and endurance. We now join our hearts together to pray for those in need… add your own petitions

                                                            Lord of Mercy and Grace
                                                            We lift our eyes to You  

~ O Lord our God, ease the sorrow of all who mourn as those who now live again in You, are filled with joy in the bliss of eternal peace. We pray especially for… add your own petitions

                                                            Lord of Mercy and Grace
                                                            We lift our eyes to You 

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

                                                            Lord of Mercy and Grace
                                                            We lift our eyes to You                     

~ O Lord our God, we give You thanks for all those ordained to guide us on our journey to You. Grant them continuing renewal of faith and confidence in teaching and proclaiming the Good News of Christ. We pray especially for: add your own petitions

                                                            Lord of Mercy and Grace
                                                            We lift our eyes to You 

The Celebrant adds: Almighty Creator, our Eternal God, embolden our willingness to shake off the dust of rejection and mockery when we step out in faith and turn our lives to Christ. Fill us with humility in spirit to be as the footsteps of Jesus on all the paths we travel. We ask through Jesus, our Prophet and Redeemer; and the Holy Spirit, the Breath of God; who together with You reign as One God, now and forever. Amen.

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