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 31, 2023

Prayers of the People: The Cloud of Glory ~ The Transfiguration (10th Sunday after Pentecost) '23 Yr A

For Sunday, August 6, 2023, Readings: Exodus 34:29-35, Psalm 99:5-9, 2Peter 1:13-21, Luke 9:28-36 

   [Moses] came down from Mount Sinai...with the two tablets of the covenant in his hand...Moses did not know that the skin of his face shone because he had been talking with God...When Moses had finished speaking with [Aaron and the Israelites] he put a veil on his face; but whenever Moses went in before the Lord...he would take the veil off until he came out. [Exodus 34:29-30, 33]

   ...they called upon the Lord, and he answered them. He spoke to them out of the pillar of cloud.  [Psalm 99:6b, 7a]

   We ourselves heard this voice come from heaven...So we have the prophetic message more fully confirmed. You will do well to be attentive to this as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts. [2 Peter 1: 18-19]  

   Jesus took with him Peter and John and James, and went up on the mountain to pray. And while he was praying, the appearance of his face changed, and his clothes became dazzling white. Suddenly they saw two men, Moses and Elijah talking to him. They appeared in glory and were speaking of his departure, which he was about to accomplish at Jerusalem. [Luke 9:28-31]

    We begin the readings for this Sunday with a taste of the Moses story veiling his face after his divine encounters as his own radiance is nearly blinding to the Israelites on his return.   

   As with Moses and the stone tablets, the Transfiguration of Jesus is at once mystery, miracle, and milestone. Jesus became a dazzling, shining, glowing, gleaming, shimmering beam of radiant glory! A momentary, visible metamorphosis. At the top of the mountain, Jesus becomes the connection, the conduit between human and divine ~ between God and us. Another cloud of God in glory then overshadowed them and again, God spoke to say, as at his baptism, “This is my Son, my Beloved…” and most importantly for Peter, James, John, and us: “…listen to him!”  These particular kinds of clouds in which God is present, are known in Judaism as the Shekinah ~ a feminine Hebrew word for a name of God. It also translates to "settling or dwelling of the Divine Presence."

   The Transfiguration was a miracle of God in which Jesus is not the one performing but the one receiving. We don't know if Jesus knew this moment was coming when he took several of his disciples to the mountain to pray. His three companions were certainly blasted awake from the sleepiness that was about to overtake them as suddenly, at the top of the mountain, in a near-blinding all-encompassing cloud, when the temporal and eternal sparked a dazzling display of transcendent, Majestic Glory, all in the sight of the chosen disciples who then bore witness to the prophecy confirmed.  

    Moses and Elijah appear, representing the Law and the Prophets, converse with Jesus about his coming departure at Jerusalem, then they vanish. Luke, in the original Greek, carefully chooses exodus as the word to describe the coming departure of Jesus. Through this new Exodus, the departure of Jesus in death and resurrection, a new order, that of the Messiah is established, leading God's people out of the bondage of sin and into the true and eternal promised land of the Kingdom of Heaven.       
    The Transfiguration is a critical piece in the significant events in the life of Jesus. The others are his Baptism, Crucifixion, Resurrection, and Ascension. It is at this moment that Christ is confirmed by God as His Chosen, to those present. The mission of the disciples is then fully inaugurated in their own minds and they spend the rest of their lives in Christ's service, spreading the Gospel. It is this moment, in this spectacular cloud, that the Reign of Christ, our King, begins. It is this moment, now, that we must emerge as if from a cloud to listen, to learn, and to live into the Reign of Jesus by our thoughts, our words, and our actions. God knows we are marked as Christ's own forever. It's time that we know it again. As we enter the Cloud of Glory with the disciples, we emerge with hearts and souls shining with Christ’s radiance to guide us in the fullness, in the emptiness, and in the regular-ness of life here and now in Christ’s Kingdom on Earth, until the time to cross into the Forever Kingdom of Heaven.

LET US, GOD’S PEOPLE, PRAY
 
Leader:  ~ God of Majesty and Glory, upon Your Sacred Mountains you gave Moses the Law for our instruction and transfigured the Being of Your Son, Jesus, as the shining example for our lives. Rise in our hearts as the morning star, as we seek to lift the Gospel veil to listen and live according to Your Word.
 
                                            Beloved Jesus, Face of God                             
         RESPONSE:            Transfigure us for Your Service
 
~ God of Majesty and Glory, transform the hearts, the souls, and the minds of the leaders of this world, this nation, and this community, so that their judgments are unclouded by personal ambition, and they legislate for justice with wisdom, tempered with mercy for all.  We pray especially for: add your own petitions
 
                                                Beloved Jesus, Face of God
                                                Transfigure us for Your Service
                                                
~ God of Majesty and Glory, comfort all who are ill, weary, or anxious, with Your Presence and grant unfailing strength of body and heart to all who care for the weakest of Your children. We now join our hearts to pray aloud for those in need… add your own petitions
 
                                                Beloved Jesus, Face of God
                                                Transfigure us for Your Service
            
~ God of Majesty and Glory, we give You thanks for those we love who are now received into the holy whirlwind of Your divine radiance, to live again with You in the glory of Christ Jesus forever. We pray especially for:  add your own petitions
 
                                                Beloved Jesus, Face of God
                                                Transfigure us for Your Service
 
~ God of Majesty and Glory, we pause in this moment to offer You our other heartfelt intentions and petitions, aloud or silently… add your own petitions
 
                                                Beloved Jesus, Face of God
                                                Transfigure us for Your Service
            
~ God of Majesty and Glory, endow with fortitude and vitality all who are chosen and anointed as the exemplars of Your Word and Will, our spiritual beacons on the sacred path. We pray especially for: add your own petitions
 
                                                Beloved Jesus, Face of God
                                                Transfigure us for Your Service
                                                                                                         
The Celebrant adds:  God of gods, Lord of lords, infuse us with greater strength and purpose to faithfully reaffirm our covenant with You. May our lives and souls be purified through the dazzling brilliance of the Transfigured Christ, and the mystical breath of the Holy Spirit, who together with You reign as One God, now and forever. Amen.

 

 






All compositions remain the property of the owner of this blog but may be used with attribution and edited for local use as long as they are not sold or charged for in any way. For more information or comments, contact: Leeosophy@gmail.com


Monday, July 24, 2023

Prayers of the People: Great Pearls and Bad Fish ~ Proper 12, 9th Sunday after Pentecost '23 Yr A

For Sunday, July 30, 2023, Readings: 1 Kings 3:5-12, Psalm 119:129-136, Romans 8:26-39,  
Matthew 13:31-33, 44-52

And Solomon said…”O Lord my God…Give your servant therefore an understanding mind to govern your people able to discern between good and evil… [1 Kings 3:7a, 9a]

 

  Turn to me in mercy, as you always do to those who love your Name. Let your countenance shine upon your servant and teach me your statutes. [Psalm 119:132, 135]

 

    If God is for us, who is against us?...Who will separate us from the love of Christ?...neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, not things present, nor things to come...will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. [Romans 8:31b, 38]

 

   Jesus [said]: " The Kingdom of Heaven is like a mustard seed...like yeast...like treasure hidden in a field...[and] like [a pearl] of great value...[and] like a net that...caught every fish...when it was full, they...put the good into the baskets but threw out the bad. [Matthew 13:31, 33, 44, 45, 48-49]

   In Solomon’s time as in our own, there were corporate/communal rituals and worshipful actions along with precise words that allow for congregants to say in unison. Then, as now, there were also individual conversations with God ~ aka prayers ~ for a more intimate expression of emotion and thoughts to share with God. Solomon’s prayer in 1 Kings 3:6-9 is an early example of such a prayer. God comes to Solomon in a dream and asks Solomon what he wants ~ clearly a test that Solomon passes very well as he is now the icon of his reward: wisdom. The Psalms, of course, are also expressions of prayer and cover every human emotion possible from joy, rage, peace, adoration, and more. Today’s Psalm is a promise to remain faithful with God’s constant help.
   Jesus lets loose quite a barrage of parables to further explain the kingdom of God in everyday illustrations for that time and some in our own. There is something for everyone to do whether we are planting tiny mustard seeds to grow into large trees for nesting birds and human food, mixing yeast with flour to expand the dough of life, finding buried treasure in the field of an everyday experience, or discovering a pearl so perfect that we choose to sell all we own to buy it. And there are times when we must allow ourselves to be caught like fish in a net, and the goal of that moment – and every other – is to be sorted into the baskets with the good fish rather than thrown out with the bad.
   One message here is that there is no perfection in humanity but in choosing well, our smallest efforts can grow and yield a large return. We are to remember that God is always present even if that discovery sometimes requires some digging on our part. Paul tells us that to be separated from the love of God through Jesus, even with all of our faults, is nearly impossible. After all, if God is for us, who can be against us? Only ourselves! And the choice to be separated would have to be our own.
   Even Paul is teaching us about prayer and ways to access God’s help when we often don’t know our own minds or hearts. He reassures us that the Spirit helps us in our weakness if we have faith – however small and however it wavers. It is our intention that will be known by God. We may need to be reminded that prayer isn’t about telling God what to do, but rather to ask and seek to know what we are called to fulfill.
   The Spirit of God, if we open ourselves in faith, is the yeast that expands our understanding, our relationship, and the willingness to seek God’s purpose in all that we do. The love of Christ is what blends us all; it is the pearl of great price to be Christ’s own together. God is the ultimate master of the household who gathers the yield of fish and field, the good and the bad, the mediocre and the exceptional. Some days in God’s Creation are better than others yet God is the constant that draws us near. We’re called to choose our own path to discover the treasures, the nesting places, the full or scanty harvests, and the good fish with the bad on any given day in every given life.


LET US, GOD’S PEOPLE, PRAY

 

Leader:  ~ God of Steadfast Love, the smallest seeds, the yeast that gives rise, and the hidden treasures of everyday life, are a few of the markers of Your bountiful love. Guide us to see the ordinary as miraculous in Your Creation, filling our souls beyond measure through faith.

 

                                                       O Spirit of God                     

RESPONSE:                            Our help in our weakness

 

~ God of Steadfast Love, endow all who govern in every area of our World with wise and understanding minds, able to discern and choose good over evil for the health and welfare of all Your people. We pray especially for: add your own petitions

 

                                                       O Spirit of God

                                                       Our help in our weakness

 

~ God of Steadfast Love, ease the burdens and fear of illness, injury, or despair for those who suffer, and bring relief to those who give them care. We now join our hearts together to pray for those in need… add your own petitions

 

                                                       O Spirit of God

                                                       Our help in our weakness

           

~ God of Steadfast Love, we hold closely in our hearts all who have traveled to the end of their human experience, and now shine in Your eternal radiance and peace.  We pray especially for… add your own petitions

 

                                                       O Spirit of God

                                                       Our help in our weakness

 

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

 

                                                       O Spirit of God

                                                       Our help in our weakness

                        

~ God of Steadfast Love, bestow the gift of grace-filled respite for all who are called to lead us in Your church, teaching us to pray, worship, and work together, all according to Your purpose. We pray especially for: add your own petitions

 

                                                       O Spirit of God

                                                       Our help in our weakness

 

~The Celebrant adds: O God of Mercy, as You are always for us, nothing can separate us from the enduring love of Christ but ourselves. Catch us in Your ample net and draw us from the troubled waters of this life, into the eternal good of Your Heavenly Kingdom. We ask through Jesus, our Hope and our Savior; and the Holy Spirit, our Advocate and Counselor; who together with You are our One God, forever and ever. Amen.

 






All compositions remain the property of the owner of this blog but may be used with attribution and edited for local use as long as they are not sold or charged for in any way. For more information or comments, contact: Leeosophy@gmail.com


Monday, July 17, 2023

Prayers of the People: Tare-ing Things Out ~ Proper 11, 8th Sunday after Pentecost '23 Yr A

For Sunday, July 23, 2023, Isaiah 44:6-8, Psalm 86:11-17; Romans 8:12-25, Matthew 13:24-30, 36-43

     Thus says the Lord, the King of Israel, and his Redeemer, the Lord of hosts: I am the first and I am the last; besides me there is no god. [Isaiah 44:6]

     Teach me your way, O Lord, that I may walk in your truth…For great is your steadfast love for me…you, O LOrd, are…merciful and gracious…slow to anger…you, Lord, have helped and comforted me. [Psalm 86:11a, 13a, 15a, 17b]

     When we cry, "Abba! Father!" is that very Spirit bearing witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then...heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ...But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience."  [Romans 8:15b-17a, 25]

      [Jesus] answered, "The one who sows the good seed is the Son of Man; the field is the world, and the good seed are the children of the kingdom; the weeds are the children of the evil one, and the enemy who sowed them is the devil; the harvest is the end of the age, and the reapers are the angels...The Son of Man will send his angels, and they will collect...all causes of sin and all evildoers, and...throw them into the furnace...Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father. [Matthew 13:37-42a, 43a]

   To begin this week’s readings, we have a 3 verse snippet of a slightly longer chapter of Isaiah. Essentially we hear about the singularity of God: I am the first, and I am the last. We’ve heard the connection between God and God’s people elsewhere in the Bible and it is what we have all been taught for generations beyond generations, yet, there’s a whole sermon waiting to be written about how this concept of “one God” aka monotheism has been co-opted from the understanding of early Judaism. In ancient times it was assumed that there were other deities who had their own limited things to do and spheres of influence. Israel’s God, however, was intended to be an exclusive relationship and commitment by Israel as God’s chosen, as no other god equals Israel’s God. There’s much to consider but in the interest of time and space, it was the onset of the 17th century with world conquering and domination to be done by the West, whose leaders determined cultures with multiple gods to be inferior, that the concept of monotheism as the ONLY way it was developed and used as method of continuing colonial baggage and then spreading back to the conquerors' own lands. As Reed Carson writing for WorkingPreacher.com says: Ironically, this na├»ve self-assurance places Christian theologians in a similar position to what texts like Isaiah 44 sought to correct…Today a host of rival gods contend for our affection and adoration…Among these rival deities are the Christian Nationalist God, the spirits of Profit and Growth, and demons like Patriarchy and White Supremacy. Each of these…has found ways to demand of us sacrifices, oaths of loyalty, and (perhaps most ruinous) awestruck fear.
   In a slight departure, this Psalm gives us many quotations from the Torah, the first five books of the Old/Hebrew Testament and some also appear in other psalms. The Psalmist doesn’t seem to worry at all about people with their other gods. The primary affirmation is that God is gracious and full of compassion, slow to anger and abounding in love and kindness. These words are to give us the freedom and conviction that we can appeal directly to God, as the Psalmist speaks to his own trust and expectation that even those “others” will come to worship the One.   
   Paul speaks to our inward groaning and mortal struggles to avoid the deeds of the body as he exhorts us to hope for what we do not see and wait for it with patience.
   But it is this parable of Jesus, often known as the wheat and the tares [noxious weeds that resemble the wheat sprouts], that offers us a lesson in prudent personal agronomy. It takes an experienced farmer/gardener to know the difference between seedlings that grow into the desired plants and those that produce invasive, destructive weeds. The Master of this field wisely leaves well enough alone, as at maturity, the reapers will have no difficulty in distinguishing the wheat from the weeds, knowing which to save and which to burn.
   While the Master of this story blames an enemy for the deliberate seeding of tares in his field, we can look to ourselves for the crop of noxious weeds we ourselves produce. One grows each time we point a finger in disgust or hate, however self-righteous and correct we believe we are. Another shoots up each time we judge and belittle those we believe to be the enemy of our personal agenda (even if they are). The next grows tall every time we decide who is an undesirable and useless plant growing where it isn't wanted. And half an acre at least rises up especially when we believe we know who God will ~ or should ~ burn. It is so easy to sow another seed of soul-destroying rubbish in our own spiritual ground, reducing it to an unholy dump.
   The message is pretty clear, and always difficult: it's not our job to reap the harvest and separate the weeds from the wheat. We are called to be the good seeds, the children of the kingdom, to be fruitful and nourish the fields of the Lord. In growing strong in Christ together, we will crowd out temptation, resist and lessen the impact of the noxious weeds sown in God's Creation. The true and fertile seeds of the Spirit are ready to sprout. God is the true and only judge of the hearts of others. As the most famous line in the old Walt Kelly cartoon Pogo says: We have met the enemy and he is us. Jesus came to save the fallen, not just the faithful. Let us not be the enemy.  Only God is the One to tare things out of the wheat.

LET US, GOD’S PEOPLE, PRAY

Leader: ~ O Lord our God, lead us, Your children by Your Spirit, to labor with patience and hope in Your fields to gather for ourselves and all Creation, the everlasting freedom of Your Glory.

                                        Merciful and Gracious God
 RESPONSE:            Our Help and our Comfort

~ O Lord our God, impel the hearts and souls of all who govern our World, our Country, and our Community, to tear out the choking tendrils of the deadly contagion of inequity, injustice, and personal greed, so to save and prosper the lives of all Your people. We pray especially for: add your own petitions

                                        Merciful and Gracious God
                                        Our Help and our Comfort

~ O Lord our God, relieve the pain and despair from those who suffer with illness, injury, or addiction, and sustain the strength of those who give support. We now join our hearts together to pray for those in need… add your own petitions

                                        Merciful and Gracious God
                                        Our Help and our Comfort

~ O Lord our God, We lift up and release those we love into Your joyous welcome, to shine like the sun in Your Eternal Kingdom. We pray especially for… add your own petitions

                                        Merciful and Gracious God
                                        Our Help and our Comfort

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

                                        Merciful and Gracious God
                                        Our Help and our Comfort

~ O Lord our God, We commend to You, with gratitude, those who have committed their lives to us in Your service. Bless, inspire, and uphold them, as they work with us in Your Creation, to guide us always toward You. We pray especially for: add your own petitions

                                        Merciful and Gracious God
                                        Our Help and our Comfort

The Celebrant adds: Abba! Father! Sow in us a longing to clear away the weeds of sin and doubt within, and to prosper our spiritual ground with good seed and great hope, that we may shine like the sun in Your Eternal Kingdom. We ask through Jesus, our Strength and our Redeemer; and the Holy Spirit, our Soul Guide and our Wisdom; who together with You reign as One God, now and forever. Amen.





All compositions remain the property of the owner of this blog but may be used with attribution and edited for local use as long as they are not sold or charged for in any way. For more information or comments, contact: Leeosophy@gmail.com


Monday, July 10, 2023

Prayers of the People: Grounded ~ Proper 10, 7th Sunday after Pentecost '23 Yr A

For Sunday, July 16, 2023; Readings: Isaiah 55:10-13, Psalm 65:9-13, Romans 8:1-11, Matthew 13:1-9, 18-23

  For you shall go out in joy and be led back in peace; the mountains and hills before you shall burst into song and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands. [Isaiah 55:12]

  …the hills gird themselves with joy; the meadows clothe themselves with flocks; the valleys deck themselves with grain; they shout and sign together for joy. [Psalm 65:12b-13]

  To set the mind ion the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace...But you are not in the flesh; You are in the Spirit, since the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him.  [Romans 8:6, 9]

   Let anyone with ears listen! ...for what was sown on rocky ground, this is the one who hears the word...yet such a person has no root...and immediately falls away...As for what was sown among thorns, this is one who hears the word but the cares of the world and the lure of wealth choke the word, and it yields nothing. But as for what was sown on good soil, this is the one who hears the word, understands it, who indeed bears fruit... [Matthew 13:9, 20a, 21a,b; 22, 23a]

    The poetic beauty of this week’s brief text from Isaiah is overshadowed by current and past news of catastrophic flooding in the US northeast and other areas here and around the world. Yet are there not always times when good news for some contains bad news for others? Of course drought-stricken areas are happy for plenteous rain or snow but too much or too little are each their own problem. The prophet here is no stranger to grieving and this text isn’t intended as mere pretty poetry or platitude. One writer suggests this piece is a catalyst for hope. Prior parts of this section of Isaiah have been about the pain of exile in Babylon and now they have returned to the land of their ancestors. This Creation imagery, coming even in the midst of lingering suffering from exile, as any people displaced by flooding, or earthquakes, or millions of acres on fire can attest, offers the hope and comfort of a deeply loving God. The psalm continues the imagery of a planet thoroughly enriched by God that grows and feeds and sings with joy.
    And then we move to Paul’s Letter to the Romans as he describes how to avoid condemnation. The flawed and sometimes despicable humans that move alongside the people of God are created by God and gifted with the free will to obey or not. Many of those who play larger roles in life find themselves in thorny patches on rocky roads diverted from their appointed mission by the lure of earthly distractions, intemperance, or a volatile nature. Yet they are brought to us in Scripture, remembered for their deeds and misdeeds, as human as we are, and, like us, with depths and shallows, tragedies and triumphs, ordinary and extraordinary depending on the day, the dilemma, and the choices made. 
    We, too, are created and chosen by God with the seeds of the Spirit planted within us. It would seem that all we need to do is till, tend, water, feed, and weed for a bountiful harvest of God's love, that is, to freely set our minds on Christ's salvation and life eternal. But, of course, it's not always quite so simple. Farming is tough work, a 24/7 job on and in the ground. Great soil, good weather, and hard work should yield a good crop. But even excellent farmers have epic failures despite their best efforts. We, as all those who came before and all who come after, will encounter feasts and famines, droughts and floods, rocks, thorns, pestilence, and grief within the span of our lives; some of it through no fault of our own and some by our willing neglect and impetuous choices. But, the Spirit of God always dwells within us and when we are shaken back to that consciousness, it is never too late to replenish the soil, enrich it with the nutrients of prayer and penitence, and nurture the deep roots that remain. Whatever is on the surface of our temporal acreage at any given time, the Word of God will ground us if we will hear and try to understand. 
    Matthew helps us see the impetuous of the “sure, I get that” response from those on rocky ground with no rootedness to live into the Word when things aren’t going well. We know the one living among the thorns who never hears the words of Jesus being lured by earthly distractions and attractions and the gathering of stuff and money that never fully satisfies. But the good soil, cultivated and maintained by regular feeding and replenishment hears and understands, building a strong foundation so that even the dire troubles life can bring, though distracting at times, can withstand and yield ever greater yields of spiritual fruit.
    A dandelion can flower in all manner of ground, and a desert will erupt in blooms with the slightest moisture. Whenever the Word penetrates my awareness, I must try, try again to clear the rocks, cut back the thorns, and cultivate the soil to enable those deep roots to keep me spiritually grounded; to be fruitful and multiply the good yields of my soul, to belong to Christ Jesus again and forever.

LET US, GOD’S PEOPLE, PRAY

Leader:  ~ Holy God, Ground of our Being, grant us eyes to see and ears to hear the Word that calls us each and together, to seek the fertile path of the Spirit.  Guide us to listen deeply to understand, and to continually enrich the soil of our souls to go out in joy and be led back in peace.

                                                Lord Jesus, our Christ
             RESPONSE:         Deepen our roots in You

~ Holy God, Ground of our Being, sow the healthy seeds of grace and goodness in the souls of those who govern this World, our Nation, and our Community. Divert them from the way of thorns into the arable terrain of fairness, honor, and integrity. We pray especially for: add your own petitions

                                                Lord Jesus, our Christ
                                                Deepen our roots in You

~ Holy God, Ground of our Being, comfort and heal all who struggle with illness in body, mind, or heart, and ease the burden of those who care for them.  We now join our hearts together to pray for those in need… add your own petitions

                                                Lord Jesus, our Christ
                                                Deepen our roots in You       

~ Holy God, Ground of our Being, we commend to Your hand, all who have left this world for Your Kingdom where there is no death, only life everlasting in the fullness of joy. We pray especially for… add your own petitions

                                                Lord Jesus, our Christ
                                                Deepen our roots in You

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

                                                Lord Jesus, our Christ
                                                Deepen our roots in You                   

~ Holy God, Ground of our Being, plant a grower’s faith and vitality within those chosen and anointed as the tillers of Your verdant fields. Guide them to model and inspire spiritual growth in each other, in ourselves, and in our community of Christ. We pray especially for: add your own petitions

                                                Lord Jesus, our Christ
                                                Deepen our roots in You
 
The Celebrant adds:  Lord of Creation, our Divine Gardener, cultivate our hearts to free us from the weeds of temporal pleasures that choke away our spiritual birthright of salvation. Enrich our willingness to tend and nurture Your Word and Presence within us for a fruitful yield; a soul-fulfilling harvest to last eternally. We ask this through Jesus, Sower of the Word; and the Holy Spirit, Wellspring of Wisdom; who live and thrive together with You as One God, now and forever.  Amen.


 
 



All compositions remain the property of the owner of this blog but may be used with attribution and edited for local use as long as they are not sold or charged for in any way. For more information or comments, contact: Leeosophy@gmail.com


Monday, July 3, 2023

Prayers of the People: The Yoke's On Us ~ Proper 9, 6th Sunday after Pentecost '23 Yr A

For Sunday, July 9, 2023, Readings: Zechariah 9:9-12, Psalm 145:8-15, Romans 7:15-25a,
 Matthew 11:16-19, 25-30

  See, your king comes to you triumphant and victorious is he, humble and riding on a donkey…he shall command peace to the nations. [Zechariah 9: 9b, 10a] 

  The Lord is gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love. The Lord is good to all, and his compassion is over all that he has made.  [Psalm 145:8-9]

  I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but the very thing I hate...For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I do...Who will rescue me from this body of death? Thanks be to God though Jesus Christ our Lord! [Romans 7:15, 19,24b-25]

    Jesus said to the crowd, "To what will I compare this generation? It is like children sitting in the marketplaces and calling to one another...For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say 'he has a demon'; the Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say 'Look, a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!' Yet wisdom is vindicated by her deeds...Come to me, all of you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will bind rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light." [Matthew 11: 16, 18-19, 28-30]

  Our Hebrew Testament reading highlights the God-inspired prophetic gifts of Zechariah in his foretelling of the king who is humble and riding on a donkey in a hymn of praise. This Zechariah, aka Zacharias, is the eleventh of the twelve Minor Prophets so named for their shorter books. He lived in the 6th century BCE [Before the Common Era, or BC in the Christian parlance of Before Christ] and not the Zechariah mentioned as the father of John the Baptist in the Christian [New] Testament.
    The Psalmist presents us with a comforting and hope-filled description of God as slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love. Quite a contrast from what many of us think about the angry vengeful God some of us were exposed to as children in catechism class or Sunday School that made us shudder and sometimes worry. Biblical scholar Walter Bruggemann, in his book Praying the Psalms, explains categories of the psalms that meet us where we are and give us the words to pray out loud in anger, in fear, or even where we long to be. This is one, for me, is the perfect peace-filled comforter to pull over our heads in difficult times or just when we need a cuddle.   
    And then we move to Paul in an essay of self-revealing angst that always speaks to me with the stark reminder of all that is happening now has been happening all along. We may tune it out, believe or at least hope we are more self-aware and better at life, yet we all succumb to the us vs them mind game more often than we are willing to admit to ourselves. It may be in a hidden desire for a sense of personal superiority or of belonging to the correct group. There can be an almost addicting need for a sense of acceptance within a given community ~ if you are not one of or with us in all we think, say, or do, then you are one of or with them, painting with the broad brush of no exceptions. Further, if you are one of them you can't be one of us ~ THEM have demons, are gluttons and drunkards. THEM are and associate with all who are unacceptable to US. What part of the TV or online news brings any of this too close for comfort and self-awareness?
     It is so easy, familiar, and self-comforting to get caught up in the want of knowing unequivocally who is right and who is wrong. That has never been more crystal clear than right here and right now. Paul brings our humanity front and center ~ deep down I know I don't want to say or do some of the things I say or do but I do the very thing I hate. When I catch myself, I resolve to be better and improve my reactions and responses in everyday living. Then, unaware, I fall back into the “I'm better than fill in name of person or group mode and act accordingly, whereupon ~ eventually ~ I realize, I have failed, again, to be who and what I want to be. 
     Jesus, in turn, offers us His easy yoke, to guide us and teach us. The burden is light, he says, but the pull back to the familiar behaviors ~ even those we don't want ~ is quick and often unconscious. They are easier than making conscious changes, and, taking on the very real risk of being ostracized from our “us” as one of "them."
    In the language of addiction treatment, we are sinners in recovery. The tendency to fall back is always strongest at the start of healing. But the farther we move ahead of it, the easier to resist, especially in a learning, supportive community of those who acknowledge unhealthy thoughts and behaviors and strive to overcome them; and when a fall occurs, the easy yoke of Christ will carry us together. 
   There is a yoke on each of us and each come with a clear choice. One binds us to the faults great and small that we know are within us, that bruise and chafe our hearts and damage our souls. The other is the Yoke of Christ, not free of pain or trials or even fear, but the loads and burdens of this short life ~ much of it self-inflicted ~ are lightened, less wearisome, healing, and hopeful. We are always one in, of, and with Him. With His yoke on us, we are a team doing His work in His field, pulling together for our own sakes and for the sake of all humanity, yet with time for rest and replenishment in Him.

LET US, GOD’S PEOPLE, PRAY 

Leader:  ~ O Lord, Gracious and Merciful, awaken us to our self-imposed bindings of our familiar sins that distract us from hearing and acting upon Your truth. Rescue our hearts to recover our eagerness to accept Your easy yoke of learning and redemption. 

                                                  O Christ, our Savior                                                           
RESPONSE:             We rest our souls in You           

~ O Lord, Gracious and Merciful, burden and enflame the souls the leaders of our World, our Nation, and our Community with a heavy yoke of desire to turn to the good they are capable of doing, to gather the strength to avoid the evils of power, and use their vision to see into the eyes and hearts of those for whom they legislate and those they themselves love. We pray especially for: add your own petitions

                                                       O Christ, our Savior
                                                       We rest our souls in You

~ O Lord, Gracious and Merciful, soothe the pain and suffering of those depleted by disease, injury, or depression, and comfort those who give them care.  We now join our hearts together to pray for those in need… add your own petitions

                                                       O Christ, our Savior
                                                       We rest our souls in You

          ~ O Lord, Gracious and Merciful, we commend with our love all who have been released from this life into the glorious reception of everlasting life with You. We pray especially for… add your own petitions


                                                       O Christ, our Savior
                                                       We rest our souls in You

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

                                                       O Christ, our Savior
                                                       We rest our souls in You                      

~ O Lord, Gracious and Merciful, for all who lead us in Your Church as a visible sign of Your Yoke, we ask continual renewing of the Spirit and the replenishment of joy in life and ministry. Let us be mutual companions on this journey of our souls, caring and carrying in turn. We pray especially for: add your own petitions

                                                       O Christ, our Savior
                                                       We rest our souls in You                                                                        
The Celebrant adds: O God of our Souls and our Humanity, help us to come as children to listen and learn, to hear and grow. Fill us with the desire to recognize and repent of our sins great and small, and to be held captive only by Your love and grace. We ask this through our Most Holy Jesus, and Your Glorious Spirit, who live and reign with You, as One God forever and ever.  Amen. 






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