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 24, 2024

Prayers of the People: Sea-ing the Changes ~ Proper 8, 6th Sunday after Pentecost '24 Yr B

For Sunday, June 30,2024,  Readings: 2 Samuel 1:1, 17-27; Psalm 130, 
2 Corinthians 8:7-15, Mark 5:21-43

  How the mighty have fallen…I am distressed for you, my brother Jonathan; greatly beloved were you to me… [2 Samuel 1:25a, 26a]

   Out of the depths have I called to you, O LORD…hear my voice; let your ears consider well the voice of my supplication … I wait for the LORD, my soul waits for him; in his word is my hope … for with the LORD there is mercy...With him there is plenteous redemption [Ps 130: 1, 4, 6b, 7a]

  For if the eagerness is there, the gift is acceptable according to what one has – not according to what one does not have...it is a question of fair balance between your present abundance and their need…" [2 Cor 8:12, 13b-14a]

    When Jesus had crossed again in the boat to the other side, a great crowd gathered around him; and he was by the sea...Jesus said to the leader of the synagogue, "Do not fear, only believe." [Mark 5: 21, 36b]

   We are living in chaotic times as we try to pay attention to and cope with the whiplashing effects of random violence, continuing de-humanization of some groups of people by others, the political polarization in this country and around the world, terrible weather events, and the devastation of ongoing wars. It often feels much like the storm in the Sea of Galilee, in last week’s Gospel, that so frightened experienced sailors they woke the sleeping Jesus who calmed the seas and stilled the winds. This week the reading begins after the sea was quieted as Jesus, with the disciples, crossed over to the other side. In our time we continue to cross the churning seas of daily news as we seek to re-establish our footing on something that resembles solid ground. In the disarray, the anger, and the fear, some of us move into new consciousness, some of us retreat into the old.
    This week even as David returns home a victor in war, he crosses over the exultation of winning into the woeful lament and mournful loss of Saul and Jonathan. Saul became an enemy that David still loved nonetheless, and Jonathan was in life closer to his heart than anyone else. David exclaims 3 times in this reading: "How the mighty have fallen!" and we suddenly realize how the fallen "mighty" are just ordinary mortals like the rest of us. Even the “mighty” will end their earthly sojourn in a grave, the great equalizer of us all.       
    Paul enters testy waters as he asks the Corinthians to cross over from a previous idea of financial support for the poor in Jerusalem, to actually finishing the plan and giving the funds. He tells us that if we are eager to help, any gift is acceptable given according to what we have and not given from what we do not have. I especially like when he says in verses 13 and 14, I do not mean that there should be relief for others and pressure on you, but it is a question of fair balance between your present abundance and their need…What is too much; what is too little? Our own eagerness – or lack of – will determine how we give.      
     As Mark gives us Jesus and the Disciples after the storm on the other shore, Jesus is met by a frightened father in fear of his daughter's serious illness. Jesus agrees to go to see the child. On the way, a woman afflicted with hemorrhages for 12 years reached for and touched his cloak and was suddenly healed. Perhaps those witnessing also crossed over into an even greater level of faith in Jesus as Jesus tells the woman, "Your faith has made you well." And it was the faith of Jairus that Jesus responded to yet as he approached, the wailers and weepers declared the child was dead. Jesus responds by telling them that she is just sleeping and the wailers laughed.
     An interesting point is that earlier in Mark’s Gospel (6:5-6) it says that while in Nazareth, Jesus could do no deed of power because of the unbelief of those in his hometown. When there is no faith, healing is exponentially more difficult. To that end, he sends all the scoffers away, takes mom, dad, and his disciples into see the little girl, and once inside they all become collaborators* with Jesus through their faith, unlike the home-crowd in Nazareth.
    As the child crosses back into life from death, I remember my long-held curiosity about the woman suffering for 12 years and the 12 year old girl. Twelve years and twelve years…** 
    I wonder (as usual) ~ what has all this to do with my own faith? This doesn’t appear to me as message to say that if I’m not immediately healed of some affliction that my faith isn't strong enough. Maybe I/we need to revisit what we mean by healed. Perhaps it is that in the reaching for Jesus we are led to faith in action inwardly as well as outwardly. In the most difficult times, when faith is strained, perhaps it is enough to believe that prayer brings God's support to every forward step we attempt to take even if the outcome we most desire isn’t seemingly fulfilled. With our constancy in prayer, we will be more able to live out our faith with far less fear of what is or isn’t and of what is to come. I think that it is in the working through our faith, in all of the sea changes of life, that our souls are healed, or at least mended, and our confidence of Christ’s presence within us grows. It is also that gathering in a determined community of faith, crossing various angry seas at times and floating along in the moments of tranquil waters, that we find our strength and purpose. With all hands on deck, we join together, in a collaboration of faith, sea-ing the changes we face, and in so doing, we are each touching the hem of Christ. In giving money, time, and talent as we are able, in principle and love, we will bring ourselves and each other to that heavenly shore, where there is no death, or chaos, or strife, but only life everlasting. In God, through Jesus, by the power of the Holy Spirit, there is plenteous redemption.

*On Facebook, I happened to see a meme with a quote from John Dominic Crossan, one of my favorite theologians. When asked why God doesn’t do this or that, Crossan said: While we are waiting for God’s intervention, God is waiting for our collaboration.

**I finally searched on this point and while here is only one source, I found it fascinating and of course the comments that follow it are, well, what they are. I will continue to explore but here’s a beginning point, do click and read and let me know what you think: https://hermeneutics.stackexchange.com/questions/13692/two-stories-intertwined-in-mark-a-12-year-old-daughter-and-woman-with-a-12-year 


Leader:  ~ O Lord of Mercy and Hope, as we more easily turn to You in the tragedies of life, remind us that Your presence is constant even in the everyday routines. Guide us to be as constant with You, mindful that even a hesitant prayer touches Christ’s hem, grows our faith, and strengthens our souls.   

                                                O God of Plenteous Redemption
                                                Lord, hear us call 

~ O Lord of Mercy and Hope, awaken compassion, virtue, and morality within ourselves and in all who govern in our world, our country, and our community, to ensure an equitable balance between the vast abundance of the few and the significant needs of the many. We pray especially for: add your own petitions

                                                O God of Plenteous Redemption
                                                Lord, hear us call                                             

~ O Lord of Mercy and Hope, relieve the suffering of those with serious illness, addiction, or desperate life circumstance, and give wisdom and respite to those who give them care. We now join our voices to pray for those in need…add your own petitions

                                                O God of Plenteous Redemption
                                                Lord, hear us call           

~ O Lord of Mercy and Hope, fill us with the peace of knowing that those who have crossed to the other side, now live again forever, in the glorious bliss of Your eternal kingdom. We pray especially for: add your own petitions

                                                O God of Plenteous Redemption
                                                Lord, hear us call 

~ O Lord of Mercy and Hope, we pause in this moment to offer You our other heartfelt thanksgivings, intercessions, petitions, and memorials, aloud or silently…add your own petitions

                                                O God of Plenteous Redemption
                                                Lord, hear us call 

~ O Lord of Mercy and Hope, strengthen those whom you have called to be our anointed guides through all the uncharted waters of this earthly sojourn. We pray especially for: add your own petitions

                                                O God of Plenteous Redemption
                                                O Lord, hear us call    

The Celebrant adds:  O Lord of Peace and Wholeness, as the woman reached to Jesus, and the child awakened at his call, grant us the determination to reach towards You with fearless faith, eagerness of heart, and purity of intent. May justice and mercy prevail among all Your people. We ask through Jesus, our Redeemer; and the Holy Spirit, our Sanctifier; who together with You reign as One God, now and forever. Amen.


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