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 11, 2022

Prayers of the People: The Better Part ~ 6th Sunday after Pentecost '22 Yr C

For Sunday, July 17, 2022, Readings: Genesis 18:1-10a, Psalm, 15, Colossians 1:15-28, Luke 10:38-42

  The Lord appeared to Abraham by the oaks of Mamre, as he sat at the entrance of his tent in the heat of the day. [Genesis 18:1-10a]

  Lord, who may abide upon your holy hill? Whoever leads a blameless life and does what is right, who speaks the truth from his heart…there is no guile upon his tongue…he does not heap contempt upon his neighbor. [Psalm 15:1b-3]

  And you who were once estranged and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds, he has now reconciled in his fleshly body through death...provided that you continue securely established and steadfast in the faith... [Colossians 1:21-22, 23a] 

      But the Lord answered her, "Martha, Martha, you are worried and distracted by many things; there is need of only one thing. Mary has chosen the better part, which will not be taken away from her. [Luke 10:41-42]

      Of course, the focus for today's readings is the iconic Martha and Mary story in Luke's Gospel. But there is another icon to mention from today's reading in Genesis, arising from the visit to Abraham as he sat at the entrance of his tent in the heat of the day. It opens with "The Lord appeared to Abraham" and then tells us that Abraham looked up and saw three men yet strangely spoke to them in the singular of "My Lord..." The men who sit at Abraham’s table were beautifully captured by the 15th century Russian Orthodox iconographer, Andrei Rublev, in his famous, and my personal favorite of all icons, "Rublev's Holy Trinity."*  
This icon, as icons always are, is filled with great symbolism which I encourage you to explore.
      But for this moment, it is his stunning visual interpretation that speaks to me of the "three in one" mystery of the Trinity. As for the rest of the reading, a cliff-hanger of sorts for Sarah and Abraham, as we imagine them pondering the parting words of the men who say she will have a son. 
      The Psalm is filled with God's instructions on how to find our way to heaven, the Holy Hill, and Paul congratulates the Colossians for their turn from evil deeds to the fullness of God through Christ. But it is the age-old Martha/Mary conflict that draws the most attention. Then as now, the everyday tasks take over life and some days, or many, there’s simply not enough time left over for God.
       We're all so very busy despite all sorts and conditions of modern technology in our western culture that is supposed to encourage and allow more leisure time. Martha was trying to have Jesus understand all that she had to do and needed Mary’s help. Lucky Mary wins the round with Jesus patiently explaining to the harried Martha to take a breath and relax, sit down and choose the better part. I’m wondering if Martha is looking at him with the “and just who do you think is going to get all this cooking and cleaning done for all these people” look?
       I’m sure I’m not alone with the struggle to make the better part of life as time with our Trinity? Someday, I’ve often mused, I’ll have the time to continue securely established and steadfast in the faith without shifting from the hope promised in the Gospel. It isn’t even a question of “balance” in our lives. We are to be faithful to God in Christ first and then get on with the other stuff. Sure, easy to do when you don’t have to make a living, or meet every bill deadline, do the shopping, prepare the food, or cope with the interminable interruptions such as bad weather, family needs, and whatever else life throws at you. And if you have children or teens at home, there are a thousand other things to do in addition. Yet God is always with us, Christ always within us, the Word always surrounds us and all we need to do is breathe consciously in and out with God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit on our lips and in our hearts.
      Of course we all know that “someday, once everything settles down,” we can get on with the business of the God and faith stuff. Although I saw a sign once that said, Someday is not on the calendar. Busy may accomplish earth-bound tasks in the life where someday never arrives. But being merely busy, even with Church things, doesn't draw us closer to Christ, it more likely keeps us at a distance. Let us mindfully, intentionally, deliberately choose the better part of the very brief God-given life we have and all else will get done. Jesus says clearly, there is need of only one thing, and being Mary-er is the better part.

 *click here to learn more about: Symbolism in Rublev's Trinity
Leader:  ~ Immortal, Invisible God, grant us the courage to do what is right with no guile and no contempt for our neighbor. Guide us to always reject evil and strive to present ourselves to You as becoming mature in Christ, and proclaiming his wisdom to all we meet.
                                                      O Lord, in Your Fullness
         RESPONSE:                  Keep us steadfast in our faith
~ Immortal, Invisible God, strengthen us to speak the truth from our hearts that will reconcile to Your Will the earthly rulers of all thrones, dominions, and powers in every corner of this world, great and small. We pray especially for: add your own petitions

                                                       O Lord, in Your Fullness
                                                       Keep us steadfast in our faith
~ Immortal, Invisible God, restore health and hope for those with chronic pain in body, mind, or spirit, and refresh all who bring them comfort and care. We now join our hearts to pray aloud for those in need… add your own petitions
                                                       O Lord, in Your Fullness
                                                       Keep us steadfast in our faith
~ Immortal, Invisible God, lift grieving hearts with the joy of eternal life in glory, now bestowed on those we have loved in this life. We pray especially for… add your own petitions
                                                       O Lord, in Your Fullness
                                                       Keep us steadfast in our faith
~ Immortal, Invisible God, we pause in this moment to offer You our other heartfelt thanksgivings, intercessions, petitions, and memorials, aloud or silently… add your own petitions
                                                       O Lord, in Your Fullness
                                                       Keep us steadfast in our faith
~ Immortal, Invisible God, look with extra favor upon those who lead us in Your Church as they teach us to recognize when You arrive in the heat of the day, or the cold of the night. As servants of the Gospel they shepherd our souls to follow, together, in the footsteps of Christ. We pray especially for: add your own petitions
                                                       O Lord, in Your Fullness
                                                       Keep us steadfast in our faith
The Celebrant adds: Lord God of Promise and Presence, release us from the traps of worry, busy-ness, and distraction that we set for ourselves, estranging us from You. Infuse us with the wisdom to choose the better part of the life you have given us to live, the hope of Christ within us. We ask through Jesus, Firstborn of All Creation; and the Holy Spirit, Counselor to our souls; who together with You are One God, forever and ever.   Amen. 


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