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, August 8, 2022

Prayers of the People: Unseen Listener ~ 10th Sunday after Pentecost '22 Yr C

For Sunday, August 14, 2022, Readings: Jeremiah 23:23-29, Psalm 82, Hebrews 11:29-12:2, Luke 12:49-56

    Am I a God nearby, says the LORD, and not a God far off? Who can hide in secret places so that I cannot see them? I have heard what the prophets have said who prophesy lies in my name…Is not my word like fire… [Jeremiah 23:23, 25a, 29a]

     Arise, O God, and rule the earth, for you shall take all nations for your own. [Psalm 82:8]

        Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight and the sin that clings so closely, and let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus the pioneer and perfecter of our faith... [Hebrews 12:1-2a]

          Do you think that I have come to bring peace on earth? No, I tell you, but rather division! From now on five in one household will be divided, three against two and two against three...You hypocrites! You know how to interpret the appearance of earth and sky, but why do you not know how to interpret the present time? 
[Luke 12:51-52, 56]

        In the dining room of my paternal Great-Grandmother, who was born in 1867, was a framed calligraphed message that read: Christ is the head of this house, the unseen guest at every meal, the silent listener to every conversation. As a child, it both fascinated and frightened me and I often tried to avoid going into the room, possibly thinking and hoping that was the only place the charm worked! I was not quite 12 when she died and, for reasons I still do not understand, I asked if I could have it and it was given. I still have it though it is carefully packed away because of its age and fragility. It no longer frightens me yet when I think of it, as with this week’s readings, I am caught a bit short, or, perhaps more than a bit.
       God is blunt in Jeremiah: Who can hide in secret places so that I cannot see them? I have heard what the prophets have said who prophesy lies in my name…Is not my word like fire? God is equally clear in the Psalm when castigating unjust gods who show favor to the wickedNevertheless, says God, you shall die like mortals, and fall like any prince.
      Paul gives us equal clarity for our path now and going forward by emphasizing the role of faith that kept the ancients on their road to God, despite all manner of hardship. He points us to Jesus the pioneer and perfecter of our faith as our guide. Yet not only is God near by, and Jesus within us, along with the power of the Holy Spirit, Paul reminds us that we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, those who have persevered in the life we have each been given. Are we repelled, or at least unsettled as I was with the plaque as a child, or comforted and bolstered by the wonder of a God who knows all we say and do, with Jesus as perfection when we are so imperfect, and a Cloud filled with support?
     In this piece from Luke’s Gospel, Jesus seems uncharacteristically harsh when he tells us that he came to bring fire to the earth and division within households. At first glance it strikes a particularly disheartening chord in these days of fiery political and “religious” false rhetoric that seems designed to enflame passions and instill fear, especially among the weak and the poor. Families, friends, nations are torn apart by mortals-who-would-be-gods. However, the fire of God and Jesus isn’t intended to burn us to a crisp and turn the Earth into an orbiting cinder, ruled by the “winners” of the race that is set before us. This fire is the refiner’s fire of purifying and cleansing, removing the dross – the junk and rubble that weakens our faith. It is a call, even a warning to us to re-order our priorities, our principles, what we value, our purpose in life. This fire will be uncomfortable as we turn away from the temptations of all the false gold that glitters, but the reward is beyond all joy that we can imagine. Jesus, impatient for us to understand, knew at that moment that his baptism of blood would come first. Our next baptism is upon us.
    This mortal life is not meant to be a “rat-race” to the finish. Yet it will finish at a time unknown and unexpected. As that clock ticks on, I must now ask myself, again, what am I still trying to hide from that Unseen Listener? Maybe, the unseen listener is also me, hearing my own rationalizing easy temptations, as well as Jesus who is listening to see how I am hearing and heeding His words. Ok, I'm going to go read that plaque again and make some plans. 


Leader:  ~ O Lord Most High, kindle our hearts and refine our souls with the purifying fire of Your Presence. Guide us to run with perseverance the race and understand the division from those who have not yet found their enduring faith.

                                          Arise, O God                                           
           RESPONSE:                    Fire our Faith

~ O Lord Most High, with the courage and wisdom of the celestial Cloud of Witnesses beside us, let our voices be heard by the leaders of our Earth, our Country, and our Community, to lay aside the clinging sins of destructive and unholy words and actions. We pray especially for: add your own petitions

                                                       Arise, O God
                                                       Fire our Faith

~ O Lord Most High, sustain and comfort all who suffer physically, emotionally, or spiritually, and renew all who offer supportive care. We now join our hearts together to pray for those in need… add your own petitions

                                                       Arise, O God
                                                       Fire our Faith

~ O Lord Most High, accompany the mournful through the trial of loss, as the choirs of Heaven sing in jubilance for those now arrived in the splendor of Your Eternal Kingdom… add your own petitions

                                                       Arise, O God
                                                       Fire our Faith

~ O Lord Most High, we pause in this moment to offer You our other heartfelt thanksgivings, intercessions, petitions, and memorials, aloud or silently… add your own petitions 
                                                       Arise, O God
                                                       Fire our Faith
~ O Lord Most High, grant the grace of authenticity to those we choose to interpret the Truth in Your Word, guiding us as together we sift through the deceits and false prophecy of those who use distortion for their own secret purpose. We pray especially for: add your own petitions

                                                       Arise, O God
                                                       Fire our Faith                                                                                                   

The Celebrant adds:  O Lord our God, Who rules the Earth, transform the fires of discord, violence, and hate that rage across this planet into the cleansing waters of Baptism, revealing the glory of Salvation, beneath the dross of human excess, and the eternal beauty of the Gospel message. We ask through Jesus, the Pioneer and Perfecter of Faith; and the Holy Spirit, the Fire of Wisdom; who together with You are One God, in the blaze of Mercy, Justice, and Everlasting Peace, forever and ever.  Amen. 

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