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, September 27, 2021

Prayers of the People: Between the Daylight and the Dark ~ 19th Sunday after Pentecost '21 Yr B

For Sunday, October 3, 2021; Readings: Genesis 2:18-24, Psalm 8, Hebrews 1:1-4; 2:5-12; Mark 10:2-16

    The Lord God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper as his partner…the rib that he had taken from the man he made into a woman…Then the man said, “This at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh…” [Genesis 2:18, 22a, 23a)

   O Lord our Governor, how exalted is your name in all the world! Out of the mouths of infants and children your majesty is praised above the heavens. [Psalm 8:1-2]

     [Jesus] is the reflection of God’s glory and the exact imprint of God’s very being, and he sustains all things by his powerful word.  [Hebrews 1:3a]

   “Let the little children come to me; do not stop them; for it is to such as these that the kingdom of God belongs. Truly I tell you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will never enter it.”  [Mark 10:14-15]

     This week’s readings begin with part of the second story of Creation in book of Genesis. Here, God is seeking to create a fitting partner for the original human. There is an interesting piece of interpretation that happens here that has a tremendous effect on how “we” understand. Without a Ph.D program’s worth of work, the basics are that in the Hebrew Bible, the word adam is often gender-inclusive and in the case of referring to a particular person, scholars still debate whether the word is androgynous or male. Context plays an important part in how the stories are told. Modern Hebrew has about 30,000-35,000 words. Biblical Hebrew and Biblical Greek have far fewer. Modern English, however, has over a million words by many estimates so it’s much easier for translators, interpreters, and editors to choose what words fit their sense of very ancient oral traditions written into only slightly less ancient written languages and translated into modern languages millennia later. The first Genesis story of Creation speaks of God creating male and female at the same time [Genesis 1:27], while this passage is about God creating the man first and then bringing the woman from the man’s rib as a helper and partner and essentially in both stories, God entrusted all of Creation to them. As we read from a more modern perspective, it’s easy to see how male dominance has been interpreted and used and yet, it is interesting to note that the very end of this passage in a man leaves his father and his mother to cling to his wife is not the norm of the ancient world, nor indeed of many cultures in our current world. Perhaps we’re invited to read something differently here than we thought we understood.
     This Psalm is a thanksgiving for our own place in Creation and gives some of the first expressions of gratitude to infants and children. We humans are but a little lower than angels and are given mastery of the works of God’s hands. What faith God has in us! What are we doing with it?
     There’s a lot to be said about the Letter to the Hebrews, firstly it is more sermon than letter and is unlikely to have been written by Paul. Stylistically alone it doesn’t fit. We are given the instruction to pay more attention to what God is telling us through all God has done and especially through Jesus ~ who is the reflection of God's glory and the exact imprint of God's very beingAnd secondly, we’re missing an important part, that is Hebrews 2:1-4, so I invite you to read the appointed pieces and add in those verses. This passage in Hebrews picks quite a bit from this week’s Psalm giving us more information about Jesus who, earlier in the passage is a Son, the heir of all things and through whom the world was created and later described as the pioneer of their salvation. It was written for early Christians who were facing shaming, hostility, and perhaps persecution from their neighbors which is still happening in many places around this world. It would do well for us to realize that the Jewish people of that time were having difficulty understanding those who would turn to Jesus, just as today, there are Christians turning against Christians who are interpreting the teachings of the Hebrew Testament, the Gospels and the Epistles differently from one another.
          And we come to Mark with a heavy lesson about divorce, known in some circles today as a clobber passage, given the modern state of marriage and the frequency of divorce. As with all tests of Jesus by the Pharisees, it is intended as a trap. There is much to discover about procedure versus criteria for divorce in ancient times as well as moving forward into Greco-Roman times and later. This small passage may be better considered as descriptive rather than prescriptive. The Church today admonishes that Marriage must not be undertaken unadvisedly or lightly. And yet marriages fail for many reasons. Suddenly, we move into Jesus being indignant, perhaps grumpy from another round with the Pharisees, because the children being brought to him are being held back. He tells the disciples to let the children come forward and be welcomed fully and completely to be blessed. He is telling us to feel the peace and security of a child beloved of a parent, whether or not that is our lived experience, so that we may receive the kingdom of God as a little child.
       And for me, this is the primary lesson of this Gospel passage: Let us seek to find and hold the ability to love unconditionally as does a child. When we actively and consciously pursue the love and presence of God, through Jesus and the gifts of the Holy Spirit, we will more easily accept and work through all that life provides. Whatever the tests may be, the difficult and the easy, whatever the twists and turns in the trials of faith, God is as faithful to us as the Parent in The Children’s Hour. Let us be as faithful, loving children to our God, and pause often in the day’s occupations, not only between the dark and the daylight, but especially often between the daylight and the dark in each and every day, until we enter into the eternal Light of new life in Christ, and are kept forever and a day.

Between the dark and the daylight,
When the night is beginning to lower,
Comes a pause in the day's occupations,
That is known as the Children's Hour.

And there will I keep you forever,
Yes, forever and a day,
Till the walls shall crumble to ruin,
And moulder in dust away!*


  *The Children’s Hour, 1st and last stanzas, from the poem by American poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, 1807-1882, published in the September 1860 Edition of The Atlantic magazine. To read the rest of this poem click on:  The Children's Hour


Leader:  ~ Creator of Heaven and Earth, as from out of the ground You formed every animal of the field and every bird of the air, so also You created humankind, that each of us might partner with one another for caring, sharing, and helping all to thrive.  Grant us the fresh sight and new spirit of children, to re-awaken us to the wonder of every mortal being, every species, and this precious Earth, our temporal home.   

            O Lord, our God                                                
               RESPONSE:    We exalt Your Name by our every thought and act         

~ Creator of Heaven and Earth, release all who govern on this Earth, in this Nation, and in this Community, from any hardness of heart or evil intent, that through actions of integrity, equity, and generosity, they may find their own moral substance in the well-being of all Your people. We pray especially for: add your own petitions

                                                O Lord our God
                                                We exalt Your Name by our every thought and act

~ Creator of Heaven and Earth, give rest and hope to those wearied by coping with persistent illness, homelessness, hunger, or addiction, and reinvigorate those who provide them with care. We now join our hearts together to pray for those in need… add your own petitions

                                                O Lord our God
                                                We exalt Your Name by our every thought and act       

~ Creator of Heaven and Earth, as Jesus tasted suffering and death for everyone, our loved ones are now crowned with honor and glory in Your eternal kingdom. We pray especially for…add your own petitions

                                                O Lord our God
                                                We exalt Your Name by our every thought and act

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

                                                O Lord our God
                                                We exalt Your Name by our every thought and act                    

~ Creator of Heaven and Earth, bestow extra grace upon our anointed leaders in this congregation and everywhere in Your Church, as they proclaim Your powerful Word, and walk with us on our journey to redemption through Christ. We pray especially for: add your own petitions

                                                O Lord our God
                                                We exalt Your Name by our every thought and act

The Celebrant adds: O God for Whom and through Whom all things exist, kindle and strengthen us to accept all tests and trials of temporal life, remaining faith-filled, thankful, and purified of sin. We ask with a child-like heart through Christ Jesus, the Imprint of Your Being; and the Holy Spirit, as Sanctifier; who together with You, are One God, eternal, infinite, limitless. Amen.

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