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 18, 2023

Prayers of the People: Self-Righteous Sulk ~ 17th Sunday after Pentecost '23 Yr A

For Sunday, September 24, 2023, Readings: Jonah 3:10-4:11, Psalm 145:1-8, Philippians 1:21-30, 
Matthew 20:1-16

  God saw…the people of Nineveh…how they turned from their evil ways [and] God changed his mind…Jonah…became angry. [Jonah 3:10-4:1]

  The Lord is gracious and full of compassion, slow to anger and of great kindness. [Psalm 145:8]

     Only, live your life in a manner worth of the gospel of Christ...standing firm in one spirit, striving side by side with one mind for the faith of the gospel, and are in no way intimidated by your opponents. [Philippians 1:27-28]

     When the first came, they thought they'd receive more...they grumbled against the landowner. But he replied to one of them..."Take what belongs to you. I choose to give to this last the same as I give to you..." So the last will be first, and the first will be last. [Matthew 20:10a, 11b, 13a, 14, 16]

       Jonah, could be my patron saint. He has gone off in a serious sulk, even while acknowledging to God that you are a gracious God and merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love, and ready to relent from punishing. And now that God has seen that, after Jonah’s warnings to Nineveh earlier in this chapter, Nineveh has changed its ways so God chooses not to bring the promised calamity on them, you know, like, God is relenting from punishment! And still, Jonah is angry because God didn’t punish them even though they did repent and stopped doing what they were doing. I love Jonah. He’s cranky, irritable, eventually does what he’s told to do after trying hard to get out of it, gets the result he’s been talking about but drat and dagnabbit those people escaped Your wrath, God, so I’ll just sit here and sulk in the heat and hope to die! Gee, I never felt like that ever, no never, mostly, ok ~ rarely-ish.
       Paul is writing to the Philippians expressing his own personal reality. He wants to die to be united with Christ as that is his ultimate goal, yet living is how he can make Christ known to more people. It’s hard work and he has to keep at it as human people will lapse in their faith and commitments unless their leaders keep them on track. Paul wants to be that leader for them. He expresses a human truth that he understands their struggles with living a life in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ for he has struggled, too, and it continues. He pledges to be with them through it in person or in absence.
       The vineyard laborers in the parable of Jesus aren't happy that the Landowner is simply using his prerogative to be generous. Same pay for one hour's work as for a full day ~ who wouldn't get upset about that? Don't those who worked longer and did more work deserve more? How many of us Good Christian People would grumble and self-righteously sulk about that Landowner in the parking lot? If only we could feel ~ and stop ~ the creeping envy, greed, and judgment filling us. If only we could freely accept someone’s simple generosity to another without feeling as if we were somehow betrayed. Do we ever learn?
       It's a difficult balance to fight for equity and fairness for ourselves and others in our temporal life, while relinquishing jealousy and anger at not getting what we perceive is deserved.  God isn't leading us by clouds and pillars of fire these days, but by the Word of Christ. Am I seeking it first? Am I hearing? Am I listening? Am I following? Am I trusting?  Or am I self-righteously sulking in the heat of my perceived-as-unfair-mistreatment. My prayer is to try to find that balance, to not leave the releasing of envy and grumbling to my last conscious thought; and, oh yes: Dear Lord, if only You will save me from all that I justly deserve...you know, like, that relenting from punishment thing…  


Leader:  ~ Most Generous God, if only we could remember that Your love for us is limitless as we grumble and complain about fairness in this brief life. Relieve us of envy and guide us to stand firm with one spirit, to strive together with one mind, and to live in and for our faith in Christ’s Gospel now, with every conscious breath and every waking thought.
                                                    Gracious Lord                                         
                       RESPONSE:   Help us Live Your Gospel
~ Most Generous God, grant us the voice to move the hearts and minds of political leaders locally, nationally, and globally to act justly and always on behalf of humanity, with mercy, compassion, and kindness. We pray especially for: add your own petitions
                                                       Gracious Lord                                         
                                                       Help us Live Your Gospel                                                      
~  Most Generous God, enfold all who suffer in body, mind, or spirit into Your loving embrace, and lift the spirits of those who give them care.  We now join our hearts to pray for those in need… add your own petitions
                                                       Gracious Lord                                         
                                                       Help us Live Your Gospel 
~  Most Generous God, we commend to Your eternal Heart all still loved in this life, who now live again and forever with Christ. We pray especially for… add your own petitions
                                                       Gracious Lord                                         
                                                       Help us Live Your Gospel
~ Most Generous God, we pause in this moment to offer You our other heartfelt thanksgivings, intercessions, petitions, and memorials… add your own petitions
                                                       Gracious Lord                                         
                                                       Help us Live Your Gospel
~ Most Generous God, grant renewable supplies of wisdom, vitality, and pizazz to all who have been chosen to elevate Your Church into a vibrant community of faith in every circumstance of human living. We pray especially for: add your own petitions 
                                                       Gracious Lord                                         
                                                       Help us Live Your Gospel
The Celebrant adds:
Eternal God, compel our souls to desire life with Christ first in every decision and action, and to release us from carrying judgment, greed, and envy within us to the last. We ask this grace through Jesus, our Hope and our Salvation; and the Holy Spirit, our Advocate and Sanctifier; who live and reign together with You, One God, now and forever.  Amen. 


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