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 20, 2021

Prayers of the People: Well Seasoned ~ 18th Sunday after Pentecost '21 Yr B

For Sunday, September 26, 2021; Readings: Numbers 11:4-6, 10-16, 24-29; Psalm 19:7-14, James 5:13-20, 
Mark 9:38-50

        The rabble among them had a strong craving…”Eldad and Medad are prophesying in the camp”…And Joshua…said, “My Lord Moses, stop them!”…But Moses said…”Would that all the Lord’s people were prophets and the Lord would put his spirit on them!” [Numbers 11:4a, 27b, 28b, 29]

              Let the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O Lord, my strength and my redeemer. [Psalm 19:14]

           The prayer of faith will save the sick, and the Lord will raise them up; and anyone who has sins will be forgiven...pray for one another so that you may be healed…if anyone…wanders from the truth and is brought back by another…whoever brings back a sinner…will save the sinner’s soul from death… [James 5:13-15, 19-20]

       But Jesus said, “Do not stop him; for no one who does a deed of power in my name will be able…to speak evil of me. Whoever is not against us is for us…For everyone will be salted with fire. Salt is good; but if salt has lost its saltiness, how can you season it? Have salt in yourselves and be at peace with one another. [Mark 9:39, 49-50]

     This week, our reading from the Hebrew Testament is from the Book of Numbers, the fourth of the 5 Books of Moses in the Jewish Torah. The name of the Book comes from the two censuses taken of the Israelites. In Numbers, the Israelites have reached Sinai and been given the Law and the Covenant of God. God has come to dwell among them in the Tent of Meeting, a portable residence for the Ark of the Covenant where access was strictly limited. The Israelites are grumbling with their earthly cravings, again, remembering NOT the hardships of Egyptian slavery, but If only we had meat to eat. We remember the fish…the cucumbers, the melons…but now…there is nothing at all but this manna to look at. Of course, we know down the road this nothing/manna will be remembered as the Bread of Angels. But Moses is frustrated and takes his complaint to God who in turn invites the 70 Elders of Israel to the Tent of Meeting, which is a pretty big deal. Off went Moses with 68 of the Elders. It seems Eldad and Medad weren’t interested. However, God took some of the spirit that was on him and put it on the seventy elders…and they prophesied, but only that time. Yet the Spirit rested on Eldad and Medad, too, and  even though they had remained behind, both began to prophesy in the camp. A young man and Joshua told Moses. Joshua wanted Moses to stop them but Moses, knowing it was God’s doing, asked if Joshua was jealous for the sake of Moses and followed on saying Would that all the Lord’s people were prophets…
       The Psalm brings multiple examples of "parallelisms", which essentially is a poetic form that repeats by a variety of parallel phrases. For example, The law of the Lord is perfect, …the testimony…is sure, …the statutes…are just,and so on, reinforcing the reward in keeping them. The end of this Psalm is a familiar opening for a sermon by preachers of a variety of denominations, Let the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O Lordand there are a variety of endings, and the form we’re using this week says, my strength and my redeemer.
        Whether suffering or cheerful or sinning, James reminds us of the power of the prayer of faith for ourselves and for others. If someone we know wanders from the truth and is brought back by another then the other has saved the wanderer’s soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins. Let’s work on that together ~ if you or I are wandering off, let’s pledge to bring each other back!
         Jesus, like Moses, tells the disciples not to worry about someone “else” doing good things in Jesus’ name ~ for Whoever is not against us is for us. Nor are we to worry about stumbling. We’re better off entering God’s Kingdom with the wounds we acquire in this earthly life, by shedding what causes us to stumble into sin, than to enter the unquenchable fire whole and sin-filled. This piece is quite shocking in some ways in its gruesome details but sometimes we need to be startled to listen closely again. We are all the little ones of Jesus, and we are to remember each other in that way and treat ourselves and one another accordingly. Jesus tells them and us that we are ready for the work we are called to do in his name for we are salted with fire. But as with literal salt, its essence can slip away, become stale, no longer enhancing the flavor of the food. We have Christ’s salt within us, in as many sizes, shapes, colors and flavors as we are, and we are to be at peace with one another to feed the flock of Christ. Let us be generous and fired up, well  seasoned with constant and unending prayer, in and of faith, for ourselves and for others as in Christ we are called to Serve, Act, Love, and Teach.


Leader:  ~ O God, our Strength, remove strong earthly cravings from our desires and keep us mindful of our how we use our mouths and meditations in ways great, small, indifferent, hurtful, and irreverent. Open us to feel the depth and energy of Your Presence always, and especially when we pray in faith for others and ourselves.

                                              O Lord, our Redeemer                                               
    RESPONSE:    Guide our words and hearts

~ O God, our Strength, as our world seethes with devastating natural disasters, disease, anger, violence, and fear, guide those who lead with integrity and compassion on this Earth, in our Nation, and in our Community, to exert strong influence for the most positive actions in the ways of justice, health, and peace everywhere. We pray especially for: add your own petitions

                                                O Lord, our Redeemer
                                                Guide our words and hearts

~ O God, our Strength, infuse all hope into those longing for release from sickness, injury, or the struggles of life, and give comfort from the prayers we lift together.  We now join our hearts together to pray for those in need… add your own petitions

                                                O Lord, our Redeemer
                                                Guide our words and hearts     

~ O God, our Strength, grant the sweetness of memory for all who mourn as the endless days of rejoicing begin for those who now live again in Your Eternal Life. We pray especially for… add your own petitions

                                                O Lord, our Redeemer
                                                Guide our words and hearts

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

                                                O Lord, our Redeemer
                                                Guide our words and hearts                 

~ O God, our Strength, we give You great thanks for those who have been chosen for the challenge of leading us in Your Church. Bless them for praying with us and for us, and for guiding our spiritual journey in Your service. We pray especially for: add your own petitions

                                                O Lord, our Redeemer
                                                Guide our words and hearts

The Celebrant adds: O God of Justice and Joy, salt our souls with the fire of Christ’s love, that we may live and act through the power of Your Name, bringing each other back from wandering afar of our faith into sin. We ask through Jesus, our Teacher and Redeemer; and through the Holy Spirit, the Channel of Your Grace; who together with You, are One God, forever and ever. Amen.


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