Monthly Archives: September 2013

You have enough faith! {October 6} Thoughts on the Scripture Passages

Sorry to let you down, but our Gospel passage (Luke 17:5-10)  is not about how to move mountains or plant trees in the sea!  In response to the disciples’ request for more faith, Jesus uses this expression to say they have enough already!   Even faith as small as a mustard seed is enough to move mountains.  N.T.Wright puts it this way, “Faith is like a window through which you can see something. What matters is not whether the window is six inches or six feet high; what matters is the God that your faith is looking out on.” (Luke for Everyone)

It’s like someone at a buffet meal with a good plate of food still piling it up and thinking that’s what it’s all about.  But of course it’s about eating the meal, they now need to tuck in and enjoy what has been prepared for them!  If we have enough faith, if we have looked through the window and seen our great God in action (Father, Son [the life, death, resurrection] and Holy Spirit) how do we tuck in?  The passage continues to give us direction: we need to imitate our Lord and live lives of service in grateful response, “When you’ve done everything expected of you, be matter-of-fact and say, ‘The work is done. What we were told to do, we did.” ( Luke 17:10, The Message)

We  see in our Lamentations affirmation the exiles continuing, in the midst of crises and grief,  to live out what they had seen through their window of faith: “Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning;  great is your faithfulness. I say to myself, “The Lord is my portion; therefore I will wait for him.” (Lamentations 3, NIV)

How are we living grateful lives of faith in the midst of crises?  We have seen now we must imitate and follow the one who has served us. (Christ living in us and we living in Him.)

 

Praying the Lectionary {6 October} Praise and Transformation

A prayer, adapted from here:

 

The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases, his mercies never come to an end;

they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. (Lamentations 3:22 NRSV)

 

“You are not the accuser, but the liberator,

not the destroyer, but the rescuer,

not the executioner, but the saviour,

not the scatterer, but the gatherer,

not the traitor, but the deliverer.

You do not pull down, but lift up.

You do not knock down, but stand upright.

You do not curse, but bless.

You do not take revenge, but give grace.

You do not torment, but comfort.

You do not erase, but write.

You do not shake, but steady.

You do not trample, but console.

You do not invent the causes of death,

but seek the means to preserve life.

You do not forget to help.

You do not abandon the good.

You do not withhold compassion.

You do not bring the sentence of death,

but the legacy of life.

For these, we send not complaints,

but gratitude that cannot be silenced.

Take away my sins, Almighty.

Remove the curse from me, blessed.

Pardon my debts, merciful.

Erase my transgressions, compassionate.

Extend your hand of deliverance

and I will instantly be made perfect.

What is easier than this for you Lord,

and what is more important to you?

Thus, providential Lord, revive me,

made in your image and brought to life by your breath…”

 

The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases, his mercies never come to an end;

they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.

“The LORD is my portion,” says my soul, “therefore I will hope in him.”

The LORD is good to those who wait for him, to the soul that seeks him.

It is good that one should wait quietly for the salvation of the LORD.

(Lamentations 3:22-26  New Revised Standard Version)

 Amen.

Praying the Lectionary {Sunday October 6}

Call to worship, Sending out,  and Hope in Suffering (a prayer).

Feel free to use any or all of these resources .

 

Call to worship:

Here is the God of Heaven

Here is the God who joins us on earth

Here is God, all-powerful, all-present, all-knowing, all-creating

Here is God, humble, connecting, sharing suffering, friend of sinners.

Let us lift up our eyes and worship our God.

 

Sending out:

The world doesn’t need more plastic success stories.

Go out to share in suffering and grief.

Go out as healing balm and be applied to the wounds of this world.

Go out as servants and follow your Master’s example.

Go out trusting in death and resurrection.

 

Hope in the midst of suffering

It is difficult to live in a world that is continually plunged into new cycles of grief.  In its darker moments life is filled with despair and curses.   Our Lord entered this suffering in his incarnation and hung on a cross, shared our death.   We, the body of Christ are called to continue sharing in the suffering of this world.  Do we go the way of the cross and share in this grief?  Our readings from Lamentations and Psalms give us an opportunity to express this call. How is our world grieving? What grief lies behind your life today?   What grief have you hidden from?   How does Psalm 137 express this grief?  How does Lamentations direct us in dealing with the grief we have expressed and identified with?  The prayer below seeks to responds to some of these questions.

(In the midst of grief Lamentations declares: “The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases, his mercies never come to an end…they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.”)

Prayer:

Lord Jesus you have entered our suffering, hung on a cross

Your call is to identify with the suffering of this world.

And so we groan as Israel groaned.

 

Leader: The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases, his mercies never come to an end;

All: They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.

 

O Lord our hearts are crying out, How Long? How much?

Suffering engulfs us.  We try to build walls to protect our sanity.

But these walls are breached again and again.

 

Leader: The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases, his mercies never come to an end;

All: They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.

 

We groan for our world.

A world where the sacred overflows in violence and threat.

A world where calling and stewardship are abandoned for plunder and wealth.

A world where we continually sacrifice our integrity for personal preservation and success.

A world where we live for the thrill of the moment and lose sight of eternal values.

 

Leader: The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases, his mercies never come to an end;

All: They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.

 

We groan for the Church.

A church that has followed the gods of the age.  That has placed numbers, finances, success, good times on top of its survival list.

A church that has lost sight of the Reality of God, of God’s Holiness, of God’s Mission.

A Church that seeks instant transformation without the devotion to God’s channels of grace.

A Church that has forgotten why it gathers for worship and why it leaves worship to enter into the world.

 

Leader: The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases, his mercies never come to an end;

All: They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.

 

We groan for people.

People that are struggling to cope with a fast changing world.   Who grieve for the old and battle to make friends with the new.

People who have experienced significant change in their own life framework.  Whose work context has been shattered, whose place of living has shifted.

People who are grieving loved ones and cannot see a way forward alone.

People who lack resources to sustain their lives: food, income and support.

 

Leader: “But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope:

All: The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases, his mercies never come to an end;

Leader: They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.

All: “The LORD is my portion,” says my soul, “therefore I will hope in him.”

Leader: The LORD is good to those who wait for him, to the soul that seeks him.

All: It is good that one should wait quietly for the salvation of the LORD.”   (Lamentations 3:21-26)