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, November 14, 2023

Prayers of the People: Enter into the Joy ~ 25th Sunday after Pentecost '23 Yr A

For Sunday, November 19, 2023, Readings: Judges 4:1-7, Psalm 123, 1 Thessalonians 5:1-11, Matthew 25:14-30

At that time, Deborah, a prophetess…was judging Israel…and the Israelites came up to her for judgment.
[Judges 4:1-7]

   So our eyes look to the Lord our God, until he shows us his mercy. [Psalm 123:3]
   For God has destined us not for wrath but for obtaining salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, who died for us, so that whether we are awake or asleep we may live with him. 
[1 Thessalonians 5:9-10]
   …a man…gave…to each according to his ability…you have been trustworthy in a few things, I will put you in charge of many things; enter into the joy of your master. [Matthew 25:14-15, 21]

   There is quite a lot to know about Deborah, the only female Judge and mentioned in one of the oldest writings of the Hebrew/Old Testament. This snippet is far from her whole story and I urge you to take a look at who she was. There are great articles on her online in the Britannica and in some Jewish commentaries, among others. For people named Deborah, it’s a great opportunity for them, as well as the rest of us, to know more about her.
    The very brief Psalm 123 is a great one to memorize and pray with. Whether we are the ones subjected to contempt or whether in our occasional sense of entitlement we are attaching our own contempt and derision to others, we can use it as a regular prayer to God for mercy, for ourselves and even, and especially for the indolent rich, letting go of whatever negative feelings or resentments we may harbor.
    Paul is the perfect prelude to this Gospel yet may well be left behind as it is customary to preach the Gospel. In this piece from the first letter to the Thessalonians, he is telling us that we cannot know the time of Christ’s return, even as Paul himself thought it was imminent for much of his time of conversion.  And so, IF it truly was/is any minute now that Jesus will come like a thief in the night [not the best Christ analogy!], we are to take up the responsibilities of our calling. We are to put on the breastplate of faith and love and for a helmet, the hope of salvation. For God has destined us not for wrath but for obtaining salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, who died for us, so that whether we are awake or asleep we may live with him.
    And then follows Matthew’s Gospel account, which has a slight parallel in Luke 19:11-27 but not in the other two Gospels, is an uncomfortable view of judgement. There is so very much that can be taken apart and analyzed here but lack of time and space limits much more. Some writers have discussed the man going on a journey as God. But as we read the Gospel, the least of the servants is afraid of this man who reaps what [he] does not sow which isn’t the God I know or want. Of course it is the God of those who want to sow fear into their own followers, exploiting the words and phrasing that indicate God’s wrath, or in this case, those who are proponents of a “prosperity gospel.” One interesting phrase in this passage is that this man gives to each according to his ability. And that, for me, is the crux of the matter. As disciples, Matthew has been telling us all through his Gospel accounts that the Law is only a starting point, we are to exceed those expectations by cultivating and manifesting an inner attitude of love for God, ourselves, and each other in everything, to the best of our abilities, spiritually and otherwise. We are to be that love in all that we think and do, so that our motives, our deepest intentions, are expressed as genuine service in Christ’s name, without any sense of merit or self-importance. There are many nice people doing good things but if their inner purpose is personal gain or acclaim, they may well have missed, or ignored, the message of Jesus. And of course, it’s not always easy to be so pure of heart. Yet we strive to do the best we can with what we have been given in heart, body, mind, and soul, failing often as we will, and praying for the mercy we already have, and so we will enter into the joy of [our] Master ~ Jesus, our Christ.


Leader:  ~ O Lord, our God, you have given us each our talents according to the abilities with which You created us. Grant us the courage to put on the breastplate of faith, love, and the hope of salvation, to encourage ourselves and one another to boldly risk the peace and security of what we have, to be Your faithful stewards for all of our allotted time.

                                                 Creator and Redeemer Lord
              RESPONSE:        Grant us Your Mercy           

~ O Lord, our God, keep us from complacence as we continue to call to account those who govern now and those who soon will, in our Nation, in our Community, and in our World. We pray especially for: add your own petitions.     

                                                Creator and Redeemer Lord
                                                Grant us Your Mercy

~ O Lord, our God, calm and heal the hearts of all who are seriously ill, in depression, or facing other uncertain life circumstance, and steady the course of those who give them care. We now join our hearts to pray for those in need… add your own petitions

                                               Creator and Redeemer Lord
                                                Grant us Your Mercy

~ O Lord, our God, fill our hearts with the peace of those who are now alive again, in the glorious and eternal light of Your Kingdom. We pray especially for… add your own petitions

                                                Creator and Redeemer Lord
                                                Grant us Your Mercy

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

                                                Creator and Redeemer Lord
                                                Grant us Your Mercy                  

~ O Lord, our God, we give great thanks and prayerful gratitude for the faithful stewards of Your Church, who keep us on a spiritual track in daily life, and guide us in living the mission of Christ on earth. We pray especially for: add your own petitions

                                                Creator and Redeemer Lord
                                                Grant us Your Mercy

The Celebrant adds:  O God Most High, through your Judge and Prophet Deborah, and the Apostles Paul and Matthew, we learn the dangers and the opportunities of investing all our mortal days in Your service. We lift up our eyes to You for the willingness, the strength, and the mercy, to reap enough of the good we sow to enter into the joy of our Lord. We ask through Jesus, our Christ and our Master; the Holy Spirit, the Sacred Breath in our souls; who together with You, live and reign as One God, forever and forever. Amen.

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