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 19, 2022

Prayers of the People: The Other Lazarus ~ 16th Sunday after Pentecost '22 Yr C

For Sunday, September 25, 2022; Readings: Amos 6:1a. 4~7; Psalm 146, 1 Timothy 6:6~19, Luke 16:19~31

    Alas for those who lie on beds of ivory, and lounge on their couches…but are not grieved over the ruin of Joseph…they shall now be the first to go into exile and the revelry of the lounger shall pass away. [Amos 6:4a, 6b, 7]

    The Lord loves the righteous…cares for the stranger…sustains the orphan and widow but frustrates the way of the wicked. [Psalm 146: 8]

        But those who want to be rich, fall into temptation and are trapped by many senseless and harmful desires…the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil...some have wandered away from the faith...But as for you...fight the good fight of the faith...command them...to do good, to be rich in good works, generous, and ready to share, thus storing up...the treasure of a good foundation for the future...take hold of the life that really is life. [1 Timothy 6:9a, 10a, 17a, 18~19]

      But Abraham said, "Child remember that during your lifetime you received your good things, and Lazarus in like manner evil things; but now he is comforted here, and you are in agony...between you and us a great chasm has been fixed…" [Luke 16:25, 26a]

      We hear so much familiar phrasing in these readings, we may be surprised to remember or to discover their origins. For example, just in 1st Timothy we are given:

~we brought nothing into the world, so that we can take nothing out of it
~the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil
~Fight the good fight... 
~King of kings and Lord of lords

       Then in Luke comes the more precise wording that gives us: ...storing up for themselves the treasure of a good foundation for the future...
       All of the readings for this week give us the direction we need to reach the final destination of our own choosing. Amos warns that those who care only for their own ease and comfort in this life will find themselves on a different side of eternity at their mortal end. The first letter to Timothy gives us clear definitive steps to take us to the ultimate life to which we are called by God. We are to pursue godliness, faith, love, endurance, and gentleness. Jesus, in the parable in Luke's Gospel tells us of the fate of the beggar Lazarus and of a Rich Man. His point, to the Pharisees who were lovers of money [Luke 16:14], is that we have been given all the instruction we need for eternal life through Moses and the prophets ~ and for us as Christians, Jesus is the foremost Prophet as our Redeemer. All we need are eyes to see, ears to listen, and a willing soul. 
       And there are many subtleties amidst the clarity. Money itself is not evil ~ it is the love of money that is the issue. When do we realize that though our needs are fulfilled our wants have turned to desire for more and more and more? Ironically, when the "more" falsely seems so easily available to the many, more and more of humanity falls into desperate poverty ~ fueling rage, violence, and war. The western "lottery economy"* gives otherwise rational people a heightened and sometimes addictive and ruinous clamoring for the artificial opulence in lifestyles of celebrities or mega-gazillionaires. One spin of the wheel, one more right number, one more roll of the dice, one more square to scratch and you, too, will be rich beyond measure, all the while depleting ever lessening resources in the pursuit of total ease and comfort. In that we have wandered away from faith.
       Nothing new here ~ see Timothy again: But those who want to be rich fall into temptation and are trapped by many senseless and harmful desires... We, the people of God, never seem to have those eyes and ears aimed properly. We are often oblivious to the movement of our own desires, longings, and eagerness to have much more than we need. We know that we can’t take it with us yet we keep on seeking more. Timothy continues to awaken us as we, and especially the already rich, are gently admonished not to set our hopes on the uncertainty of riches, but rather on God...and the teaching tells us to do good, to be rich in good works, generous, and ready to share. And therein lies the path to storing up our treasure in heaven. Life is busy, life is full, life is hard, life has its good days and its not so good, but, all in all, whether you are feeling like this Lazarus or the Rich Man today, LIFE.IS.SHORT. It may end at any moment, whether we are healthy, wealthy, and wise, or unhealthy, poor, and otherwise. We are given the Way and the knowledge and the free will to choose our own path. Will we take hold of the eternal life that really is life or will we be among the first into exile where we will struggle to warn those left behind to change their life’s direction? Which path will we choose? The Archbishop of Canterbury, The Most Reverend Justin Welby, in his message at the funeral of Queen Elizabeth II, put it this way: "People of loving service are rare in any walk of life. Leaders of loving service are still rarer. But in all cases, those who serve will be loved and remembered when those who cling to power and privileges are long forgotten."

*A nod and thank you to A.K.A. Adam, Tutor in New Testament, Oxford University, England for his term "lottery economy."


 Leader:  ~ O Lord our God, You give life to all living things ~ seen and unseen. Deliver us from the traps of harmful and senseless desires in this temporal life and guide us to fight the good fight of the faith in Christ Jesus.

                                                       Almighty and Eternal God
RESPONSE:                 We put our trust in You             

~ O Lord our God, command the hearts of all with political power across this Earth to govern with justice, mercy, and peace, sustaining the needful and frustrating the ways of the wicked. We pray especially for: add your own petitions

                                                       Almighty and Eternal God
                                                       We put our trust in You

~ O Lord our God, grant hope to the hopeless, love to the loveless, and lighten the burden of pain and anguish for all who suffer in any way. We now join our voices to pray aloud for those in need… add your own petitions

                                                       Almighty and Eternal God
                                                       We put our trust in You         

~ O Lord our God, shelter and ease the hearts that grieve, as our loved ones, carried to Abraham by the angels, now take hold of the life that truly is life, in Your loving and eternal comfort. We pray especially for… add your own petitions

                                                       Almighty and Eternal God
                                                       We put our trust in You

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

                                                       Almighty and Eternal God
                                                       We put our trust in You                   

~ O Lord our God, may all ordained as the prophets in our time exemplify to us Your purpose in this world, and find continuing strength in the grace of Your ever-constant Presence. We pray especially for: add your own petitions

                                                       Almighty and Eternal God
                                                       We put our trust in You                                            

The Celebrant adds: Living God of Promise, heighten our awareness of the chasm before us at this life’s end that we persevere in good works, generosity, and sharing. Help us to store up our treasure of a good foundation in the true and eternal life after life, to which we are each called. We ask through Jesus, our Sovereign King of Kings; and the Holy Spirit, the Sacred Breath in our souls; who together with You are One God, now and forever and ever. Amen. 


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