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.

Tuesday, June 6, 2023

Prayers of the People: Then, Now, & Forever ~ 2nd Sunday after Pentecost '23 Yr A

For Sunday, June 11, 2023; Readings: Hosea 5:15-6:6, Psalm 50:7-15, Romans 4:13-25,
 Matthew 9:9-13, 18-26

  For I desire steadfast love and not sacrifice, the knowledge of God rather than burnt offerings. 
[Hosea 6:6]

    Offer to God a sacrifice of Thanksgiving, and pay your vows to the Most High. Call on me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you shall glorify me. [Psalm 50:14-15]

   For the promise that he would inherit the world did not come to Abraham or to his descendants through the law but through the righteousness of faith. For if it is the adherents of the law who are to be the heirs, faith is null and the promise is void. [Romans 4:13-14]

  [Jesus] said, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. Go and learn what this means, ‘I desire mercy not sacrifice.’ For I have not come to call the righteous but sinners.” [Matthew 9:12]

  The opening reading this week is from Hosea, someone we don’t hear from all that much yet this week his thoughts appear twice. Hosea is one of the Twelve Minor Prophets whose writings are aggregated into one book in the Jewish Bible. In the Christian version of the Hebrew [Old] Testament, he has his own, if brief, book. The Talmud refers to him as the “greatest prophet of his generation” and his writings take us from doom to restoration. He is also quoted in the Qu’ran. As we all: Jews, Christians, and Muslims are children of Abraham, this should not come as a surprise though, sadly, it often does. We’ll see Jesus quote him in Mt 9:13, building on Hosea’s quote about what God truly wants ~ not things we think we are to sacrifice to God as God has/is everything. This piece from Hosea is worth reading in full, and beyond that he has an interesting personal history which includes his wife Gomer, and is of restoring and forgiving.  
   The partial piece of Psalm 50 appointed for today continues this theme that God isn’t interested in the sacrifice of livestock but rather a sacrifice of thanksgiving and honoring God by actions that pay our vows to God. Again, reading the full Psalm from verse 1 to 23, gives us a greater understanding of what God is calling us to be and to do.
   After his conversion, Paul understood that strict obedience to The Law as only a system of rules was, in a sense, replacing personal goodness and obedience to God; a message found often in the teachings of Jesus. Paul further realized that for Gentiles to understand salvation, it needed to be expressed as God’s promise, as it had first been given to Abraham and later to Moses. As one source says: Therefore, Abraham could be the spiritual ancestor of everyone who shared his obedient faith, quite independently of racial heritage [emphasis added]. It is to fulfilling our faithful commitment and thanksgiving to God rather than arbitrary sacrifice that God calls us.
   This week’s Gospel reading from Matthew begins with the Call of Matthew: As Jesus was walking along, he saw a man called Matthew sitting at the tax-collection station, and he said to him, “Follow me.” And he got up and followed him. After this was a dinner to which many tax collectors and sinners came to sit with Jesus and the disciples. The rigidly Law-abiding, righteous Pharisees asked the disciples why Jesus would eat with such people. Jesus overheard and responded that well people don’t need a doctor and, with the piece from Hosea but with his own interpretation said: “Go and learn what this means. ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’ For I have not come to call the righteous but sinners.” 
   So for this week, the sum and substance of these readings for me are fairly clear. God doesn’t want and certainly doesn’t need blood sacrifices, just simply our following through with the faith commitments we’ve made. And, they/we who have begun to feel sorry for what we have and haven’t done can and must learn to accept the ceaseless outpouring of forgiveness that God is offering. Put the angry God of vengeance behind you. Too much rule-based religion has been grounded in fear. Hear the words of Jesus: EVERYONE who yearns to, wants to, hopes to, or is even afraid to receive the love of God, has it. Believe it, and know that God through Christ, with the Holy Spirit loves and forgives continuously, constantly, then, now, and forever.


Leader:  ~ O God, our God, You give eternal life to the dead and call into existence the things that do and cannot exist without You. Remind our hearts and our souls, to return our selves to You. In offering a sacrifice of thanksgiving and in paying our vows to You by our ways in living, we have the gift of calling on You in our days of trouble. Let us glorify our God!

                                          Lord God of Promise
RESPONSE:               By Faith we rest in Your Grace 

~ O God, our God, guide us in the ways and strength of faith, that we may deliver to the leaders of this Planet, this Country, and this Community, the message that we require mercy from and by you, not a sacrifice of principle or loss of human rights and basic needs. We pray especially for: add your own petitions

                                                       Lord God of Promise
                                                       By Faith we rest in Your Grace                                                  

~ O God, our God, still the fear and quiet the anxiety of all who are ill in body, mind, or spirit, and give energy and strength of purpose to all who give them care. We now join our hearts to pray for those in need… add your own petitions

                                                       Lord God of Promise
                                                       By Faith we rest in Your Grace                                                  

~ O God, our God, embrace the hearts of all who grieve and guide them to the comfort of knowing, that all whom we have loved and lost, are risen in the joy of eternal life with You. We pray especially for… add your own petitions

                                                       Lord God of Promise
                                                       By Faith we rest in Your Grace                                                  

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

                                                       Lord God of Promise
                                                       By Faith we rest in Your Grace                                                  

~ O God, our God, renew again and always, the souls, the hearts, and the minds of all those anointed to serve Your Church, in guiding and teaching, listening and caring. Give them the self-knowing and courage to care as much for their own needs as for ours. We pray especially for: add your own petitions

                                                       Lord God of Promise
                                                       By Faith we rest in Your Grace  

The Celebrant adds: Most High and Loving Creator, as Jesus called Matthew, so he calls us each to follow Him. Open our eyes and hearts each day with our spirits renewed, to go forth as Christ’s Body in all that we do in love and with mercy for all of Your people. We ask through Jesus, our Lord and Redeemer; and the Holy Spirit, the Fire of our Faith, who live and reign with You, One God, now and forever. Amen. 

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