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, July 19, 2021

Prayers of the People: No Reservations Needed ~ 9th Sunday after Pentecost '21 Yr B

For Sunday, July 25, 2021; Readings: 2 Kings 4:42-44, Psalm 145:10-19, Ephesians 3:14-21, John 6:1-21

     A man came…bringing food from the first fruits to the man of God 20; loaves of barley and fresh ears of grain…Elisha said, ‘Give it to the people’…but his servant said, ‘How can I set this before a hundred people.’ So he repeated, ‘Give it to the people…for thus says the Lord, ‘They shall eat and have some left.’   [2 Kings 4:42, 43, 44]

    The Lord is faithful in all his words and merciful in all his deeds…The Lord is near…to all who call upon him faithfully.  [Psalm 145:14, 19]

            I pray that...you may be strengthened in your inner being with power through his Spirit...that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith...that you may have the power to comprehend...what is the breadth and length and height and depth...[of] the love of Christ...that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.  [Ephesians 3:16-18]

          A large crowd kept following [Jesus]...they sat down, about five thousand in all. Then Jesus took the loaves, and when he had given thanks, he distributed them to those who were seated; so also the fish, as much as they wanted...When evening came, his disciples got into a boat, and started across the sea...It was now dark, and Jesus had not yet come to them. The sea became rough...[and] they saw Jesus walking on the sea and coming near the boat, and they were terrified. But he said to them, "It is I; do not be afraid."  [John 6:2, 10b, 16-20]

     The feeding of the one hundred people with 20 loaves of barley, as ordered by Elisha on the word of God, is of course a connective precursor to our reading in John’s Gospel about the feeding of the 5 thousand with 5 barley loaves and 2 fish. As in the passage from 2 Kings, in John’s account there were leftovers also, this time 12 baskets full. The feeding of multitudes of 100 and 5,000, occur in today’s readings but also, and adding the feedings of 4,000, they are in the following accounts: Matthew 14:13-21 and 15:32-38, Mark 6:34-44 and 8:1-10, Luke 9:10-17. As we think back to each of those moments for the people in that time, how often, in our time, do we connect having more than enough food available to have leftovers, and using the privilege of some in our culture who say I never eat leftovers as we watch TV news reports, and see advertising asking for help for the too many who are hungry?
     Psalm 145 is describing the character of the God of Israel who is faithful in all his words and merciful in all his deeds and that The Lord is near…to all who call upon him faithfully.
     Paul's prayer from prison reminds us, that God has the power to grant us inner strength when we seek God and are rooted and grounded in the love of Christ through faith. Although the faith exhibited by the disciples who followed Jesus wasn't always perfect, as ours is also far from perfection, the people knew by the signs of his actions who Jesus was. The available 2 fish and 5 loaves of bread were all Jesus needed to satisfy the hunger of a large crowd. Imagine how faith in Christ, as the Bread of Life, could satisfy our spiritual hunger and deepest soul needs. And, after all that had happened on that day alone, as Jesus walked across the water to the boat~ he still had to tell the disciples not to be afraid. How many of us are fearful, anxious, and worried even as we proclaim our faith?
     All of us falter or fail in how we live our faith, some fail with ego-moderating, and others with the suppression of various appetites, others just fall away completely. Even Jesus got angry ~ righteously so, perhaps ~ but still... And God is watching, knowing our hearts more than we do at times, and loving us anyway.
     Stop, breathe, and pray, every now and then, to be rooted and grounded in love, to try and understand in some small way what is the breadth and length and height and depth of our Creator's gift of this life and the next. Whether feeding the 5,000 on the mountainside or strolling across the churning Sea of Galilee on foot, God through Jesus and the Holy Spirit, by the power of the work within us is able to accomplish abundantly far more than all we can ask or imagine from the heavens to the universe, on land and at sea. Let us recognize, as the crowds who followed Jesus, our own hunger for the experience of being fed by faith. 
    We, too, seek the spiritual and eternal satisfaction of Christ’s teaching and healing, and especially the comfort in our souls when in the rough seas of life. When we step out together no matter how fearful, we find the courage, the support, and the overflow of strength in our inner being when we are rooted and grounded in Christ’s love. We don’t need reservations for the spiritual sustenance of Jesus, we only need to show up and ask.   
   How about after dinner we take a walk across the lake?


Leader:  ~ Enduring and Everlasting Lord, come near to fortify our inner beings that we may be rooted and grounded in faith, fed by Your limitless love, and treasure the eternal fullness of You in our everyday lives.

                                         Faithful, Merciful God             
               RESPONSE:             Turn our fear into courage

~ Enduring and Everlasting Lord, equip us to transform the minds and hearts of all who govern on this Earth, in our Country, and in our Community. Grant us the energy and determination to release all Your people from bigotry, poverty, and dread. We pray especially for: add your own petitions

                                                       Faithful, Merciful God
                                                       Turn our fear into courage

~ Enduring and Everlasting Lord, give rest and hope to all who suffer from serious illness in body, mind, or spirit, and relief to all who give them care. We now join our voices to pray aloud for those in need…add your own petitions

                                                       Faithful, Merciful God
                                                       Turn our fear into courage

~ Enduring and Everlasting Lord, comfort all who mourn as you lift the precious souls of our loved ones to the bliss and beauty of everlasting life in You. We pray especially for: add your own petitions

                                                       Faithful, Merciful God
                                                       Turn our fear into courage

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

                                                       Faithful, Merciful God
                                                       Turn our fear into courage        

~ Enduring and Everlasting Lord, enrich and enhance the wisdom and vision of all who lead us in Your Church, as together we sail the unpredictable waters of life on our journey to You. We pray especially for: add your own petitions

                                                       Faithful, Merciful God
                                                       Turn our fear into courage         

The Celebrant adds:  Gracious, Loving Lord, endow us with the spiritual insight to know and experience the miraculous breadth, and length, and height, and depth of Your soul nourishing presence in our lives. Grant us the gifts and willingness we need to bring You into the life of this world. We ask through Christ Jesus, our Teacher and Healer; and the Holy Spirit, our Comforter in Affliction; who together with You live and reign as One God now and forever.  Amen.




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