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 17, 2024

Prayers of the People: Keep Still-ing ~ Proper 7, 5th Sunday after Pentecost '24 Yr B

For Sunday, June 23, 2024, Readings: 1- Samuel 17:57-18:5, 10-16; Psalm 133, 
2 Corinthians 6:6-13, Mark 4:35-41

  David had success in all his undertakings; for the Lord was with him. When Saul saw that he had great success, he stood in awe of him. But all Israel and Judah loved David; for it was he who marched out and came in leading them. [1 Samuel 18:14-16]

  Oh how good and pleasant it is when brethren live together in unity! …for there the Lord has ordained the blessing: life for evermore. [Psalm 133:1,5]

   As we work together with Christ, we urge you not to accept the grace of God in vain…as servants of God we have commended ourselves in every way: through great endurance…hardships, calamities…kindness, holiness of spirit…in honor and dishonor, in ill repute and good repute. [2 Corinthians 6:1, 4, 6, 8]

  A great windstorm arose, and the waves beat into the boat, so that the boat was already being swamped. But he was…asleep…and they woke him up and said to him, “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?” He woke up and rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, “Peace! Be Still!” Then the wind ceased, and there was a dead calm. He said to them, “Why are you afraid? Have you no faith?” [Mark 4:37-40]

   The story of Saul’s rise and fall is one that repeats itself continuously throughout the history of the world and into our own day, and no doubt, beyond. Power is intoxicating and addictive whether bestowed, assumed, or taken by force. The more power one has, the more one wants and needs, be it wealth, political, or any other form of which greed is a by-product. At some point such power breeds fear within the power monger as enemies mount, serious mistakes in judgment are made by the one who must continue to believe that they cannot fall even as their failures to triumph increase in frequency. The fear of losing often accelerates into near madness. Earlier in 1st Samuel, Saul ignores Samuel’s instruction to wait for him and takes on the religious role to offer the appointed sacrifice before a battle. Samuel recognized Saul as the political authority but not as the religious authority and was angry at this usurpation. We read last week that God later regretted his appointment of Saul as King. This week Saul having bestowed much favor on David becomes afraid of him as the Lord has withdrawn his favor from Saul for ignoring his instructions and has now given it to David. Later we’ll read what happens when David comes to his full power…
   And then we move to the utter simplicity and brevity of Psalm 133. In only its first and last short verses lie the complete encapsulation of ALL of God’s commandments: live together in unity…for there the Lord has ordained the blessing: life forevermore. Ah, but then we’d have to give up some of our personal power however small in comparison to another.
   Contrasting David's confidence in Mark's Gospel, the Disciples are terrified of the storm on the water. But wait, aren't most of them experienced fishermen? That must have been one whale of a storm to frighten them so much and you can almost hear the translation of Jesus's words to them in today's terms as "Seriously, you woke me for this? Where is your faith?" And, of course, Jesus tells the waves and winds, Peace! Be Still!
   And what does this all mean for my life here and now and tomorrow? Do I step up like David and face the Philistine-giant Foe of our own time, or cower like the Disciples in the wind-blown boat? Am I faith-strong or faith-weak? Well, that truly depends on the day and the fear; especially in these current days of not only of multiple worries on many fronts but raging anger, strong division, and the growing prevalence of random as well as targeted violence and bloodshed in this country and the across the world.
    Paul urges the Corinthians not to accept the grace of God in vain. That sentence jumped out at me. As well as reminder that in commitment to and as servants of God there is to be no complacency, no cowering, whatever the hardships, calamities...sleepless nights...hunger…kindness, holiness of spirit... as there is work to be done in our own fields of faith-filled living. And yes it is very difficult and often thankless work in this earth-bound, high-tech, materialistic, us vs. them, temporary life. Keeping my faith in God through Christ and the Holy Spirit conscious and active takes great effort in most times. Yet, it also means that I may surprise myself with my own strength, resilience, and capacity to face the fearsome foes and woes in life, most especially the ones I create for myself! I can also shine as the brightest of suns when the greatest joy arrives. And yet even in the most ordinary of times with daily frustrations, or the stormiest with anger, anxiety, and apprehension all around, mostly what I need is to take a moment to be still, breathe deeply, and quiet the winds and waves within myself. And then a step forward and another and another, in faith, in hope, in genuine love, truthful speech, and the power of God [2 Cor 6:6b-7a]. Then some more deep breaths to bring in enough physical and mind-ful peace to just keep still-ing while moving. Then: Repeat. Often.


Leader:  ~ O God, the Power in our Souls, in the face of fearsome foes, grant us the courage to brace against and still the winds of evil and the waves of emotional, physical, and spiritual damage engulfing so many of Your people, especially the children. Remind us often that You never forsake those who seek Your trust.

                                                     Lord of Justice and Peace
         RESPONSE:                Still our fear; Strengthen our faith     

~ O God, the Power in our Souls, infuse our minds and hearts with the skills of Your servant David, that we may challenge the leaders of Earthly, National, and Local governments to work against discrimination, injustice, and physical danger for all Your people. We pray especially for: add your own petitions

                                                       Lord of Justice and peace
                                                       Still our fear; Strengthen our faith     

~ O God, the Power in our Souls, restore health and give comfort to those who suffer in body, mind, or spirit, and give patience to those who tend their needs. We now join our voices to pray for those in need… add your own petitions

                                                       Lord of Justice and peace
                                                       Still our fear; Strengthen our faith 

~ O God, the Power in our Souls, lighten the burden for all who grieve, as You embrace those newly arrived to dwell with You, in the glory of everlasting life and peace. We pray especially for: add your own petitions

                                                       Lord of Justice and peace
                                                       Still our fear; Strengthen our faith 

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

                                                       Lord of Justice and peace
                                                       Still our fear; Strengthen our faith           

~ O God, the Power in our Souls, provide all of our ordained Shepherds with extra measures of endurance, conviction, and serenity. Especially in the week ahead in our Church’s General Convention, grant wisdom, clarity of purpose, and stamina for the US House of Deputies, clergy and lay, who with the House of Bishops now gather, worship, and do Your work to benefit the fields of Christ’s Mission and Ministry. Guide their discernment for the election of a new Presiding Bishop as our Spiritual Leader and Mentor for our journey as Your servants, always discovering ways to live into Christ’s Call. We pray especially for: We pray especially for: add your own petitions

                                                       Lord of Justice and peace
                                                       Still our fear; Strengthen our faith      

The Celebrant adds:  Most Loving God, help us to fully accept Your grace as true and humble servants in the wildest of storms and the most ordinary moments of this life. Fill us with faith enough to quell the tempests within ourselves and with each other, that we may see through another’s eyes and learn to walk together, if differently, to Your Eternal Shore. We ask through Jesus, our Peace and our Salvation; and the Holy Spirit, our Wisdom Guide; who with together with You, are One God for all of time eternal. Amen.

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