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, June 10, 2024

Prayers of the People: A Few More Ounces ~ 4th Sunday after Pentecost '24 Yr B Proper 6

For Sunday, June 16, 2024, Readings: 1 Samuel 15:34-16:13, Psalm 20, 
2 Corinthians 5:6-10, [11-13], 14-17; Mark 4:26:34

   ...for the Lord does not see as mortals see; they look on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart. [1 Samuel 15:7b]

   May the Lord answer you in the day of trouble, the Name of the God of Jacob defend you…Some put their trust in chariots and some in horses, but we will call upon the Name of the Lord our God. They will collapse and fall down, but we will arise and stand upright.  [Psalm 20 1, 7-8] 

    We are always confident; even though we know that while we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord -- for we walk by faith, not by sight. [2 Cor 5:6-7]

   With what can we compare the kingdom of God...It is like a mustard seed, which, when sown upon the ground, is the smallest of all the seeds on earth; yet when it is sown it grows up and becomes the greatest of all shrubs, and puts forth large branches, so that the birds of the air can make nests in its shade." [Mark 4:30-32]

    Early in the Hebrew Testament reading for this week, Samuel is grieving over Saul’s abysmal kingship. God was sorry that he had made Saul king as he disobeyed God’s decrees and decided to do only as he wanted to do and in his own way. It’s an interesting and rare moment that God regrets a decision. The only other time we’re told about is in Genesis 6 when God regretted the creation of humanity and so, enter Noah. For me, it’s comforting to know that there are times when God’s mind is changed about a prior decision. While we only know about two of them from the Bible, perhaps there are more? How does this speak to those who firmly believe in pre-destination also known as fate or the concept that God already knows everything that will happen?
    God is then preparing Samuel to find a new king for Israel and explains the criteria to him. Mortals look at outward appearance and make judgments while God looks on the heart and from that vantage point, God guides the uncertain Samuel to choose Saul’s successor. David, who while the smallest seed of Jesse, had a confident heart when the spirit of the Lord came mightily upon him at his anointing.
    When the reading from 2nd Corinthians for this week began with "So we are always confident...," I was immediately struck with the sense of how, more often than not, I am far from feeling confident in my faith or in my understanding of God.  It feels especially rocky in those moments in life when, as Paul says in Romans 7:15: "I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing that I hate." For that reason I had to retreat to the end of chapter 4 and the start of chapter 5 in 2nd Corinthians to find my internal footing, to begin to accept that the opening lines of today's reading from Paul really can apply to me. Paul tells us just before today’s reading that we [are to] look not at what can be seen but at what cannot be seen; for what can be seen is temporary, but what cannot be seen is eternal. [2 Cor 4:18] It all seems very cryptic but it then weaves into Paul's reminder this week that being at home in this earthly body, that is seen and also temporary, is life away from the Lord. We are called to seek our eternal, and not yet seen, home with our Lord God, and in so doing we become a new creation in Christ. 
    As usual, with Paul’s letters, we have to take our time and plod through the sometimes density of his words to discover the meaning. It is also important to remember that Paul wrote those letters in his time to specific churches and communities in their time as guidance for their particular issues. We can only truly relate to them in our own time, and IF those issues are our own individual life and spiritual questions, and also collectively as a parish for the same reasons.
    Jesus carries things further in his likening the Kingdom of God to a mustard seed, a very tiny seed that grows into a shrub or tree so large that birds can nest in its branches. The parable of the mustard seed appears in the Gospels of Mark, Matthew [Matthew 13:31-32] and Luke, and has always resonated with me, especially later on in Luke when Jesus says that all we need is faith the size of one of these very tiny seeds and mountains can be moved [Luke 17:6].  Just how small is that exactly? Well some varieties yield seeds the size of the period that ends this sentence. The average modern mustard seed is about one tenth of an inch across and it takes about 750 seeds to weigh one gram or 3% of one ounce. An average green grape weighs about 5 grams or 17% of an ounce. Well, I think my faith is as good as that tiny seed which comforts my heart and a offers my soul quite a few more ounces of confidence.


Leader:  ~ Creator of the Seen and Unseen, You brought forth and seeded the Universe with life and living in all of its forms. Grow our willingness to tend our personal spiritual gardens by weeding out temptation, feeding with prayer in action, and prospering the work of our souls for Your service.
                                                     O Lord our God
       RESPONSE:                  Help us grow confident in faith 

~ Creator of the Seen and Unseen, answer us in our days of trouble and cultivate the growth of virtue, decency, empathy, and righteousness within the souls of all who govern in this World, in this Country, and in this Community. Implant any change of heart needed to bring about the full and equal flowering of all people, and cessation of violence and war everywhere. We pray especially for: add your own petitions

                                                       O Lord our God
                                                       Help us grow confident in faith                                             
~ Creator of the Seen and Unseen, may all who are weakened by severe illness, depression, or desperation, feel nested in the comforting shade of Your healing embrace. Fortify and strengthen all those who give them care. We now join our hearts to pray for those in need…add your own petitions

                                                       O Lord our God
                                                       Help us grow confident in faith             

~ Creator of the Seen and Unseen, through the beauty and abundance Your Earth provides, we give continuous thanksgiving for the brilliance of the eternal life, where those we love now live anew and thrive forever. We pray especially for: add your own petitions

                                                       O Lord our God
                                                       Help us grow confident in faith

~ Creator of the Seen and Unseen, we pause in this moment to offer You our other heartfelt thanksgivings, intercessions, petitions, and memorials, aloud or silently…add your own petitions

                                                       O Lord our God
                                                       Help us grow confident in faith

~ Creator of the Seen and Unseen, enhance the special combination of humility and confidence in those chosen to serve as leaders in Your Church. Guide them as they guide us to vibrantly bloom as a new creation in Christ. We pray especially for: add your own petitions

                                                       O Lord our God
                                                       Help us grow confident in faith

The Celebrant adds: O God, Most High, instill in us the wisdom to know that, however small and humble our beginnings, as we walk by faith and not by sight, we will surely reap the fullness of life eternal from the seeds of Your infinite love and grace. We ask through Jesus, our Christ, in whom all Creation is new; and the Holy Spirit whose Wisdom enriches the roots of our souls; who together with You, are One God, now and for ever.  Amen.  

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