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Bidding Prayer liturgy Prayer

Bidding Prayer for Vision

vision-2372177_1280.jpg

Come, let us pray for the Church throughout the world.
(silence or a time for people to quietly give voice to their concerns)
Patient God, your people have gathered throughout all generations to worship and sing your praises. Even today, your name is spoken around the world. May each community know the power of your presence and recommit to following you. While we are easily distracted and often lose track of your ways, you are always waiting to reclaim, restore, and re-form your church. Once again, reveal your vision to us, encouraging us to let go of all that prevents us from reflecting your love and glory. May we become the body of Christ needed here and now.
We seek you, O God.
Free us from all our fears.

Come, let us pray for the United Church of Christ gathered here and elsewhere.
(silence or a time for people to quietly give voice to their concerns)
Merciful God, may we remember the lessons you taught Job as the chaos of the world brings pain and suffering into our lives. Remind us that we do not always understand the mystery of your ways or recognize you at work in the world. While we strive to embody you love, keep us mindful that you are God of all, and we are not. Bless with wisdom and insight all those you have called into leadership, especially the Rev. Dr. John Dorhauer, our general minister and president and the Rev. Shari Prestemon, our Conference Minister. Open our eyes wide enough to recognize you,your claim on us, and your call of serving all.
We seek you, O God.
Free us from all our fears.

Come, let us pray for God’s people throughout the earth.
(silence or a time for people to quietly give voice to their concerns)
Eternal God, you have long-spoken your desires for us through the prophets of old and the prophets of now. Your love has remained steadfast for all your peoples from generation to generation no matter what we have done or what we have left undone. You ask us to love you, love our neighbors, love our selves, and love creation. We find it so hard to live in the abundance of your love. May we recognize your Spirit moving among us, guiding us, re-forming us in this moment.
We seek you, O God.
Free us from all our fears.

Come, let us pray for this country and all those who live within its borders.
(silence or a time for people to quietly give voice to their concerns)
Merciful God, show us again the difference between following you and following the leaders of this world. You envision unity and oneness where we see only difference and division. You would have us welcome caravans of immigrants and refugees. You would have us embrace our *Trans siblings. You would have us protect those who are vulnerable to hatred and ignorance. You would have us shelter and feed those who live in poverty. You would have us see you in those we have been taught to ignore, reject, or pass by. Jesus, son of David, have mercy on us! May the day quickly arrive when the abundance of this great nation is freely shared with all who have need and that your vision becomes our truth.
We seek you, O God.
Free us from all our fears.

Come, let us pray for all those who suffer in body, mind, or spirit.
(silence or a time for people to quietly give voice to their concerns)
Liberating God, free us from the limits of our vision. You see wholeness where we see brokenness. You see blessings where we see uselessness. You see value where we see worthlessness. You offer healing and hope when we turn away. Show us your mercy that we might bring joy where there is weeping, hope where there is despair, and love where there is fear. Bring compassion and tenderness where we bring judgement and rejection. You are God of all people, not just those we choose to see. Show us how to love with your love and see with your vision of wholeness and joy.
We seek you, O God.
Free us from all our fears.

Come let us pray for those who are grieving.
(silence or a time for people to quietly give voice to their concerns)
Healing God, you are the One who leads us from weeping to joy, from despair to hope. You remember us when others would forget. You claim as your own beloved even as we lose ourselves in the pain of loss. You see us when we cannot find our way. Breathe new life into all those who are grieving. Heal the wounds that bind us to yesterday and open us to the abundant possibilities of life in you.
We seek you, O God.
Free us from all our fears.

Come, let us give thanks to God for all the blessings we have received.
(silence or a time for people to quietly give voice to their concerns)
Generous God, over and over again you have reclaimed, restored, and re-formed your people, and we are thankful. We are thankful that your love for us never wavers and you patiently wait for us to return to you every time we lose our way. May our gratitude lead us to the wisdom gleaned from past experience, the possibilities for growth in the present, and the joy the future holds for us. You are ever blessing all the earth. May we be courageous enough to seek out your ways with gratitude and praise, bringing your vision into life.
We seek you, O God.
Free us from all our fears.
Amen.

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RCL – Year B – Twenty-third Sunday after Pentecost – October 28, 2018
Job 42:1-6, 10-17
Psalm 34:1-8 [19-22]
Jeremiah 31:7-9
Psalm 126
Hebrews 7:23-28
Mark 10:46-52

Photo: CC0 image by Wokandapix

Categories
Musings

Does Superman play Tetris?

This election stuff is getting to me. I find myself turning off the radio, avoiding television, and skipping over a lot of FB posts. I have known for many months which candidates are going to get my vote and I am done with the political propaganda. Unfortunately, some things still get through like Romney’s promise to make hospital visitation rights of gay family members an issue for states to settle. Isn’t there a reason why Obama signed the bill to allow gay partners and parents visitation rights instead of letting states determine such things? Or, worse, Mr. Mourdock’s statement that a child resulting from rape or incest is the will of God. Does he really believe this or is it just so he doesn’t have to admit that there are circumstances in which a woman should have the right to choose abortion? And really, why is abortion still an issue in this election? What drives this need to turn back time?

Strangely, two not so political news articles might point to answers. One story was about the success of the game Tetris. I am a huge Tetris fan. My wedding even had a Tetris theme. It is a very compelling game. The author suggested that Tetris taps into a deep need for order. Maybe so. But I think that the desire to return to a time with clear moral answers might be part of what drives current US politics. The idea that abortion is always the wrong choice or that pregnancy is always the will of God or that being gay is a sin is somehow appealing in these uncertain times. Moral ambiguity is disquieting and candidates who seem more inclined to repeat history than to risk progressing into the future might feel like a safer bet.

We like order and predictability as much as we like what is familiar. Of course, this is fine for Tetris but not so great in politics. (For the full Tetris article, see http://www.bbc.com/future/story/20121022-the-psychology-of-tetris)

The second news story that might shed some light on the media mess this election season tells about Clark Kent quitting his job. Apparently, Superman is dissatisfied with the pursuit of entertainment over journalism. Sure, it might be more complicated than that, but for a super hero who is always on the side of Justice, how could he not quit? Shouldn’t news be more than entertainment in print or on the web? Wouldn’t it be nice if real life news agencies could get this idea. MSNBC? FOX? I applaud Superman for taking a stand. I’d hope that more people would not be swayed by the exaggerated and distorted reporting and advertising of this political campaign. We can play Tetris and read Superman comics for entertainment. Our politicians and reporters should try facts over biased opinions more often. (For one of the Superman stories, see http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-20050483)

Now what does Tetris and Superman have to do with the lectionary? On the surface, nothing much. But look a little deeper. This week’s readings are all about restoration and mercy. Job and Bartimaeus experienced restoration; they returned to a state much like they had previously experienced. They got this by standing up for themselves, challenging the status quo.

This is where  we leave Tetris and Superman behind and enter reality. In today’s world where so very little can be said to be absolutely right or completely wrong, we can learn much from both Job and Baritmaeus. First, Job stood his ground. He did not back down. Eventually, with humility, he recognized the limits of his understanding and God had mercy on him and restored him, and then some. Bartimaeus also was not content to let things be. He cried out to Jesus for mercy and it was given him. However neither of these men returned to living as they had in the past. Job was more blessed in the second half of his life than the first. And Bartimaeus became a follower of Jesus. Both moved into the future; they did not return to the past.

I’m tired of the struggle for justice for so many marginalized peoples. I am exhausted by the rhetoric of politicians. I don’t want to return to an era that limited rights for women, or the LGBT community, or anyone else. I don’t want to return to a time with certain morals because too many people were harmed by ignorance and injustice in those days. I’m all for restoration of fortune (and sight) literally and figuratively, but I’m not willing to pay the soul-destroying price that might be exacted if the politicians have their way. Mercy, true mercy, anyway, is truely priceless.

I worry about what is happening in this country and around the world. No amount of Tetris will diminish my concerns and Superman is too busy looking for new employment to come to the rescue. So, I cry out with Bartimaeus, Jesus, Son of David, have mercy.

RCL – Year B – Twenty-second Sunday after Pentecost – Reformation Sunday – October 28,2012

(photo from http://mortalkombat.wikia.com/wiki/Superman)

Series 1:
Job 42:1-6, 10-17
Psalm 34:1-8 [19-22]Series 2:
Jeremiah 31:7-9
Psalm 126
Hebrews 7:23-28
Mark 10:46-52

Categories
Musings Sermon Starter

Sin, Salvation, and Servitude

The Bible tells us far more about what it means to be human than what it means to be God. We learn from Job that we want answers.  We aren’t particularly thrilled with coming up against our limits. This hasn’t changed much since Job’s time.We wantnt to know why things happen the way they do. We want to understand the universe, our world, and our place in it

From the sons of Zebedee we learn that there is a very human drive for power and glory. They wanted to prove that they were the best of Jesus’ disciples. They wanted a promotion. I’m not so sure they had any idea what that might cost them. At the time they were willing to risk sh

aring in a drink from Jesus’ cup and wading into his baptismal waters, but I doubt they were ready for what Jesus said next. Then, as now, no one aspired to be a servant or a slave.

If servitude is really what Jesus ransomed us for, do we still want to be

Christians? Jesus was very clear when he told his disciples that the greatest among them must become a servant, a slave, to all the others. Moreover, he said that he did not come to be served but to serve, and to give his life a ransom for many. He gave his life to free us from our selfish desires that we might serve others. Did James and John get that? Did the other ten? Do we?

It is so much easier to sit with Job than it is to walk with Jesus. I’d much rather ask why there is polio in Pakistan, starvation in Sudan, war

in Syria, homelessness on the corner of my street, or pain in my life than contemplate the responsibility that comes with salvation. Job got a reminder that he is not God. James and John found out that there is a good bit of discomfort that comes with discipleship. I’m not so sure I want either.

I know I’m not God. I don’t have to understand all things and that there are a lot of why-questions with impossible answers. While I am not fon

d of human fragility and finitude, I can accept it most days. And, well, I am kind of like James and John; I want recognition for what I do at least some of the time. Also, the possibility of a link between salvation and servitude is one that makes me question how much I get in Jesus’ way these days. There are limits to my willingness to serve even within my ability to do so. This thought makes me decidedly uncomfortable.

It is time to stop asking the why questions. God must be really tired of those. How might I be of service?

Won’t you let me be your servant, let me be as Christ to you? Pray that I may have the grace to let you be my servant, too.  –Richard Gillard

RCL – Twenty-first Sunday after Pentecost – October 21, 2012

Series 1:
Job 38:1-7, (34-41)
Psalm 104:1-9, 24, 35c
Series 2:
Isaiah 53:4-12
Psalm 91:9-16
Hebrews 5:1-10
Mark 10:35-45

photo from http://www.nepalmountainnews.com/cms/2012/08/12/polio-vaccine/