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 3, 2024

Prayers of the People: An Uncertain Limb ~ 3rd Sunday of Pentecost ’24 Yr B

For Sunday, June 9, 2024; Readings: 1 Samuel 8:4-11, (12-15), 16-20, (11:14-15), 
Ps 138, 2 Cor 4:13-5:1, Mark 3:20-35

   All the elders of Israel gathered together and came to Samuel...and said to him, "You are old and your sons do not follow in your ways; appoint for us…a king to govern us, like other nations"... Samuel prayed…and the LORD said, "Listen to the voice of the people… for they have not rejected you, but they have rejected me…forsaking me and serving other gods, so also they are doing to you…you shall solemnly warn them, and show them the ways…" [1 Samuel 8:4-5,6b-7, 8b-9]

    I will give thanks to you, O Lord, with my whole heart…and praise your Name, because of your love and faithfulness…Though I walk in the midst of trouble, you keep me safe…The Lord will make good his purpose for me. O Lord, your love endures forever. [Psalm 138:1a, 2b, 8a, 9a]

    Yes, everything is for your sake, so that grace…may increase thanksgiving to the glory of God…So do not lose heart. Even though our outer nature is wasting away, our inner nature is being renewed day by day. [2 Corinthians 4:15-16]

    Then [Jesus] went home, and the crowd came together again so that Jesus and his disciples could not even eat. When his family heard it, they went out to restrain him, for people were saying, "He has gone out of his mind."... A crowd was sitting around him; and they said to him, "Your mother and your brothers and sisters are outside, asking for you." And he replied, "Who are my mother and my brothers?" And looking at those who sat around him, he said, "Here are my mother and my brothers! Whoever does the will of God is my brother and sister and mother." [Mark 3:20-21,32-35]

      Just as Samuel might have wished his sons had behaved better, and the elders of Israel wanted a king to "be like other nations," even Jesus with his storied ancestry arrives in his home territory with less than a happy welcome from his family. Mary, his mother, and his brothers think he's crazy and needs to be physically restrained. Perhaps Mary and her other sons were embarrassed by Jesus, in the sight of others, for not following an expected career path. Most families I know or know of have tales about embarrassing or alienating relatives who have befouled the family tree and perhaps even been disowned. It is no easy feat to understand, support, and accept a member of the family who has gone in unexpected and inexplicable ways (much less feel accepted if it is ourselves). And so a household divides.
      The Psalmist and Paul acknowledge the ongoing love of God whose grace and safe holding carry us forward and renews our inner nature each day so that we may not lose heart or Spirit and continue to seek God’s purpose for our lives.
      Jesus defines family for himself, and by extension for us, as those who do the will of God. And how are we to determine what is the will of God, and what is the True Source and not the earth-based gods and idols that create unquenchable wants, desires, and addictions? How do we stand together when we understand things so differently from others we hold dear. We won't know for sure that we've made the exact right choices until ... And, until, whenever I feel I'm out on an uncertain limb of Christ's family tree, I go back constantly to my favorite prayer by Thomas Merton:

My Lord God, 
      I have no idea where I am going. I do not see the road ahead of me. I cannot know for certain where it will end. Nor do I really know myself, and the fact that I think I am following your will does not mean that I am actually doing so. But I believe that the desire to please You does in fact please You. And I hope I have that desire in all that I am doing. I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire. And I know that, if I do this, You will lead me by the right road, though I may know nothing about it. Therefore I will trust You always though I may seem to be lost and in the shadow of death. I will not fear, for You are ever with me, and You will never leave me to face my perils alone.   ~ From: Thoughts in Solitude¸ Thomas Merton


Leader:  ~ Lord God Almighty, as by Your Will we were created, renew our inner nature each day that we may seek Your purpose for our lives. Even among those who cannot understand, grant us the fortitude to abandon the earthly gods and idols that tempt us into wants and desires that lead us to forsaking You. 

                                          O God of Love and Faithfulness
        RESPONSE:        With our whole heart we praise and thank You

~ Lord God Almighty, as some seek to establish their own earthly kingdoms, let us work to extend the knowledge of Your grace, justice, mercy, and tolerance to all who would govern the peoples of this world, this nation, and this community, that we may abide together in Your House, undivided, with no exclusions. We pray especially for: add your own petitions

                                            O God of Love and Faithfulness
                                            With our whole heart we praise and thank You                                            
~ Lord God Almighty, heal and comfort all who struggle with chronic pain, addiction, and recovery, and heighten the stamina of those who give continuing support. We now join our hearts to pray for those in need…add your own petitions
                                            O God of Love and Faithfulness
                                            With our whole heart we praise and thank You  

~ Lord God Almighty, we lift up, with our love, all who have exchanged this earthly life for the glory, joy, and peace of eternity with You. We pray especially for: add your own petitions

                                             O God of Love and Faithfulness
                                            With our whole heart we praise and thank You    

~ Lord God Almighty, 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 Love and Faithfulness
                                            With our whole heart we praise and thank You          
~ Lord God Almighty, refresh the enthusiasm and vitality of those anointed to guide us, as together we navigate the time and tides of this temporal life, connecting our everyday lives and actions to You. We pray especially for: add your own petitions

                                            O God of Love and Faithfulness
                                            With our whole heart we praise and thank You

The Celebrant adds: O God of Grace and Glory, develop in us a spiritual thirst that seeks to be quenched only in Your service in the midst of being in earthly kingdoms, even as we strive to not be of them. Through Your enduring love and faithfulness, let us strive to become mother, father, sister, or brother to everyone, each according to their need, on every limb in the sacred family tree of Christ. We ask through the steadfastness of Jesus, and the blessings of the Holy Spirit, who together with You, reign as One God, now and forever. Amen.


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