intercession

Falling Upward: Living through shattered dreams (Pentecost 23, Year C)

 

jengaYearly Rhythm

Sunday 27th October 2013

 This is the 23rd Sunday after Pentecost (Ordinary Time) Year C

 “The church sets aside a holy season called Ordinary Time as sacred. The Ordinary is part of the religious tradition of being ordered in our daily lives so that we can always be in the presence of the holy.”

(Becca Stevens)

“Ordinary Time is the season of the Church year when (we) are encouraged to grow and mature in daily expression of (our) faith outside the great seasons of celebration of Christmas and Easter and the great periods of penance of Advent and Lent.

Ordinary Time is a time to deepen one’s prayer life, read the Scriptures, unite more deeply with the Lord in the Eucharist and become a more holy and whole person.

Ordinary Time is a period when average people like you and me strive to become the extraordinary messengers of the Gospel that we have been commissioned to be through our Baptism.

Ordinary Time is this day, this moment.  Now.” 

(source)

 

This week I spent three days on what we call a district ministers’ retreat.  Sammy Njenga was our facilitator.  One afternoon our activity was to share together in building a “Jenga Tower” (a team exercise game to see how high you can build before the tower falls over).  Judging by the exclamations and laughter the big moment of the game was when the tower came tumbling down.  When reflecting, Sammy made the point that the game was designed so that the tower would fall.  He said that the same is true of life.  The Lectionary readings address something of this.

 

 

Weekly Rhythm

Engaging with the weekly Lectionary Readings

(Comment and Questions – PDF Download)

 Joel 2:23-32.

The only reading from Joel in Year C. The previous verses describe with graphic detail the destruction of Jerusalem and Judah. These verses speak of a restoration to come and later a time when God’s Spirit would be poured out on ALL flesh with simultaneous portents in heaven and earth — while the sky is dark and the moon blood red, people of all ages and stations will prophesy, see visions, and dream dreams.

Psalm 65.

A psalm of thanksgiving for fruitful times, especially for a successful harvest. To offer this psalm in response to Joel is to participate in the promise of abundance to come. Response: “Now thank we all our God with hearts and hands and voices.”

2 Timothy 4:6-8, 16-18 (4th week of 4).

“The time of my departure has come. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race.”

Luke 18:9-14

A religious leader: “God, I thank you that I am not like other people … ” A tax collector: “God, be merciful to me, a sinner.”

 (Readings and comments: thanks to gbod.org)

 

Questions for reflections and discussion

1)      Why do you think a Pharisee and a tax-collector have been used as the characters in this story?

2)      What are the differences between what the Pharisee and Tax collector say?

3)      What do their body actions express?

4)      In noting the Pharisees words, explore what drives our needs to compare ourselves favourably to others.  Is this related to our need to blame others?

5)      Richard Rohr uses the term “falling upward”.  How might the tax collector be “falling upward”?  How is this different to climbing up the ladder in our own righteousness?

6)      What kind of community would the Pharisee be moulding?  What kind of community would the tax-collector be part of?

7)      How might this story influence your life?

 

 

Weekly Rhythm

(Shaping Sunday Worship)

Praying the Lectionary Readings

 (Use these resources in your preparation to lead or attend worship)

 

Call to worship (Based on Psalm 65 NIV)

 Praise awaits you, our God, in Zion;

The whole earth is filled with awe at your wonders

Where morning dawns, where evening fades,

you call forth songs of joy.

We shout for joy and sing.

  

Praise, Confession and Thanksgiving

 

Joel 2:23-32

23 Be glad, people of Zion,

rejoice in the Lord your God,

for he has given you the autumn rains

because he is faithful.

He sends you abundant showers,

both autumn and spring rains, as before.

24 The threshing floors will be filled with grain;

the vats will overflow with new wine and oil.

25 “I will repay you for the years the locusts have eaten—

the great locust and the young locust,

the other locusts and the locust swarm[a]—

my great army that I sent among you.

26 You will have plenty to eat, until you are full,

and you will praise the name of the Lord your God,

who has worked wonders for you;

never again will my people be shamed.

27 Then you will know that I am in Israel,

that I am the Lord your God,

and that there is no other;

never again will my people be shamed.

 

The Day of the Lord

28 “And afterward,

I will pour out my Spirit on all people.

Your sons and daughters will prophesy,

your old men will dream dreams,

your young men will see visions.

29 Even on my servants, both men and women,

I will pour out my Spirit in those days.

30 I will show wonders in the heavens

and on the earth,

blood and fire and billows of smoke.

31 The sun will be turned to darkness

and the moon to blood

before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord.

32 And everyone who calls

on the name of the Lord will be saved;

for on Mount Zion and in Jerusalem

there will be deliverance,

as the Lord has said,

even among the survivors

whom the Lord calls.” (NIV)

 

Lord God we bow before you and worship.  You are the rock on which we build, the sure foundation for an optimistic future.  You, God of the ages, gather our past, act in the present and prepare our future.  Without you we are trapped in an endless cycle of repeating the past.  With you we can break free and journey into new, life-giving territory.

We do see wonders in the heavens and the earth. Lord, give us insight to see where the portents, the signs that surround us, are pointing.  The sun, heralding each new day, the moon calling us to look up by night, buds unfurling in spring, crops bearing grain, rains watering and reviving.  We hear the cries of life, “It’s a girl,” “It’s a boy!”  We celebrate stories of victory won, the triumph of good over evil.

Then we see an empty tomb,

“But God raised him from the dead, freeing him from the agony of death, because it was impossible for death to keep its hold on him.”  (Acts 2:24 NIV)

You are with us in our places of despair, in our graveyards, in our broken dreams, in our stress, in our lost and rebellious wanderings. But today we interpret the signs, it is happening.  Lord we turn to You, the life giver. Your Spirit is pouring out, bringing new life to young and old, slave and free, man and woman. Yes, to us.

You are hope, healing, revival. You bring that future to us in this present moment. Abundant showers, vats overflowing with goodness, all calling on the Lord’s name and knowing salvation.

And so Lord, evening fades and morning dawns and calls forth songs of joy.

In Jesus name

Amen

 

Intercessions and healing

Introduction to the Intercessions

The prophet Joel writes to the exiles as their past lies in ruins and they wonder what their future holds.  Will they always live in a diminished way? Today’s prayer is for those who relate to this sense of lost years and the need for restoration.  We must grieve the changes in our lives, but the journey of grief brings healing.

 

Prayer:

Let us be still.

In the quietness bring to mind those devastating moments that have left your life ruined in some way.  How have you struggled?  What feelings have made you cry out?  What feelings hang like a dark cloud over your life? How has this robbed you of life?  What years has the locust eaten?  Now hear the prophet Joel as he speaks God’s restoration into your life:

 

Be glad for your God brings deliverance.  Like the rains that fall during Spring bring provision, the Lord will restore your loss with interest.  He says, “I will repay you for the years the locusts have eaten—and you will praise the name of the Lord your God who has worked wonders for you;   never again will you be shamed.  Then you will know that I am …the Lord your God.”   I will pour out my Spirit on you.  Your inner child will wake up to God’s word, your tired heart will dream again, your oppressed self will be set free to live again.  You will see wonders and signs of salvation all around you.  All you need to do is call on the name of the Lord for this outpouring of life renewing rain. For whoever calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.

(Based on Joel 2:23-32 NIV)

 

Sending out: (Luke 18:9-14)

Go now,

not to be the judge of others.

not to compare and find others lacking.

But go,

               As one who comforts the broken

As one who lifts up the fallen

 

 

 

Daily Rhythm

21 – 27 October

A resource for the Daily Rhythm of Worship

(Download the PDF here.)

 

Devotional  Diary   21 – 27 October 2013

 

Readings for the week (Thanks to gbod.org)

Joel 2:23-32.  (After the aftermath)  The previous verses describe with graphic detail the destruction of Jerusalem and Judah. These verses speak of a restoration to come and later a time when God’s Spirit would be poured out on ALL flesh with simultaneous portents in heaven and earth — while the sky is dark and the moon blood red, people of all ages and stations will prophesy, see visions, and dream dreams.

Psalm 65.  A psalm of thanksgiving for fruitful times, especially for a successful harvest. To offer this psalm in response to Joel is to participate in the promise of abundance to come. Response: “Now thank we allour God with hearts and hands and voices.”

2 Timothy 4:6-8, 16-18.”The time of my departure has come. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race.”

Luke 18:9-14.  A religious leader: “God, I thank you that I am not like other people.  A tax collector: “God, be merciful to me, a sinner.”  For comments and reflection on these readings see Rhythm of Worship (jamesnicolson.co.za)

Monday:

Adoration Focus: Psalm 150:1 Praise the Lord. Praise God in his sanctuary; praise him in his mighty heavens.

Confession: In our confession this week we examine the barriers in our lives that stop us from humbling ourselves and worshipping God, allowing Him to embrace and kiss us in love and celebration.  Today: self-righteousness.

The Word:

Seeking the Kingdom:

Shared Focus: Each day we look at an area of concern. Lift up prayer needs that relate to this area. Today: Our home town.

Personal prayers: (Use this section to list people you need to pray for or situations of personal concern that you need to bring before God in prayer)

Dedication:

I have put my trust in you.  Show me the way I should go… Psalm 143:8

 

Tuesday:

Adoration Focus: Psalm 150:2 Praise him for his acts of power; praise him for his surpassing greatness.

Confession: In our confession this week we examine the barriers in our lives that stop us from humbling ourselves and worshipping God, allowing Him to embrace and kiss us in love and celebration.  Today: false dignity.

The Word:

Seeking the Kingdom:

Shared Focus: Each day we look at an area of concern. Lift up prayer needs that relate to this area each day. Today: South Africa.

Personal Prayers:

Dedication:

I have put my trust in you.  Show me the way I should go… Psalm 143:8

 

Wednesday: 

Adoration Focus: Psalm 150:6 Let everything that has breath praise the Lord. Praise the Lord.

Confession: In our confession this week we examine the barriers in our lives that stop us from humbling ourselves and worshipping God, allowing Him to embrace and kiss us in love and celebration.  Today: feeling of being hard-done by.

The Word:

Seeking the Kingdom:

Shared Focus: Each day we look at an area of concern. Lift up prayer needs that relate to this area each day. Today: Africa

Personal prayers:

Dedication:

I have put my trust in you.  Show me the way I should go… Psalm 143:8

 

Thursday:

Adoration Focus: Psalm 149:1 Praise the Lord. Sing to the Lord a new song, his praise in the assembly of the saints.

Confession: In our confession this week we examine the barriers in our lives that stop us from humbling ourselves and worshipping God, allowing Him to embrace and kiss us in love and celebration.  Today: Unforgiveness

The Word:

Seeking the Kingdom:

Shared Focus: Each day we look at an area of concern. Lift up prayer needs that relate to this area each day. Today: Middle East.

Personal prayers:

Dedication:

I have put my trust in you.  Show me the way I should go… Psalm 143:8

 

Friday:

Adoration Focus: Psalm 149:3 Let them (us!) praise his name with dancing and make music to him with tambourine and harp.

Confession: In our confession this week we examine the barriers in our lives that stop us from humbling ourselves and worshipping God, allowing Him to embrace and kiss us in love and celebration.  Today: hard heart.

The Word:

Seeking the Kingdom:

Shared Focus: Each day we look at an area of concern. Lift up prayer needs that relate to this area each day. Today: Our world.

Personal prayers:

Dedication:

I have put my trust in you.  Show me the way I should go… Psalm 143:8

 

Saturday:

Adoration Focus: Psalm 147:1 Praise the Lord.  How good it is to sing praises to our God, how pleasant and fitting to praise him!

Confession: In our confession this week we examine the barriers in our lives that stop us from humbling ourselves and worshipping God, allowing Him to embrace and kiss us in love and celebration.  Today: boredom.

The Word:

Seeking the Kingdom:

Shared Focus: Each day we look at an area of concern. Lift up prayer needs that relate to this area each day. Today: God’s mission in this world.

Personal prayers:

Dedication:

I have put my trust in you.  Show me the way I should go… Psalm 143:8

 

Sunday:

Adoration Focus: Psalm 147:7 Sing to the Lord with thanksgiving; make music to our God on the harp.

Confession: Today we don’t focus on a barrier, just spend some time praising God and continuing to give us the barriers that you have focused on during the week.

The Word:

Seeking the Kingdom:

Shared Focus: Each day we look at an area of concern. Lift up prayer needs that relate to this area each day. Today: The Churches that are all around us.

Personal prayers:

Dedication:

I have put my trust in you.  Show me the way I should go… Psalm 143:8

 

It’s a matter of the heart {Shaping Sunday Worship}

Praying the Lectionary Readings

Preparing for the shape of Sunday Worship – Pentecost 22 (Ordinary Time) Year C

 

slant heartCall to Worship

Leader:  The heavens declare the glory of God;

    the skies proclaim the work of his hands.

All: Day after day they pour forth speech;

    night after night they reveal knowledge.

Leader: They have no speech, they use no words;

    no sound is heard from them.

All: Yet their voice goes out into all the earth,

    their words to the ends of the world.

(Psalm 19 1-4 NIV)

 

Praise, Confession, Thanksgiving

Today we lift up hearts of praise.

You, Lord God, are all around us. Your glory is shouting out, waiting for us to respond with hearts of thanksgiving. You, Lord God, are declared glorious by the heavens, by the rhythms of day and night, seasons of autumn, winter, spring, summer. You, Lord God, have shown yourself in birth,  growth, mission, service, suffering, death, resurrection,  ascension and reign. You, Lord God, have opened a good way of life and living for us.  A way that sees, hears, receives, renews, responds.  A way of forgiveness, justice inclusiveness, loving all, even enemies, a way of caring, connecting, following.

Lord God only you can set us free: free from a blindness that refuses to see glory; free from a stubbornness that refuses to acknowledge God creating, holding, sustaining, re-creating, renewing;  free from a hardness of heart that looks at the way of Christ and chooses a different route.  Our self-centred drivenness  has left us with tough and sinewy hearts.                                                                 The psalmist’s prayer is our prayer too:

May these words of my mouth and this meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight,  Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer.

(Psalm 19: 14 NIV)

Today we pray for the fulfillment of the new heart:

(Jeremiah 31)

 33 “This is the covenant I will make with the people of Israel

    after that time,” declares the Lord.

“I will put my law in their minds

    and write it on their hearts.

I will be their God,

    and they will be my people.

34 No longer will they teach their neighbor,

    or say to one another, ‘Know the Lord,’

because they will all know me,

    from the least of them to the greatest,”

declares the Lord.

“For I will forgive their wickedness

    and will remember their sins no more.”

 Lord God forgive and give us hearts that know God, that see glory, that enter the rhythms of worship, that acknowledge and follow the way of Christ.  Soft responsive hearts that dare to love as Christ loves.

For this new and blessed way of living we thank you, God of the new heart.

In Jesus name

Amen.

Intercession:

For our intercession we first read the Gospel Passage (or place the intercessions after the sermon):

The Gospel reading:

Luke 18:1-8

(New International Version (NIV))

The Parable of the Persistent Widow

18 Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up. 2 He said: “In a certain town there was a judge who neither feared God nor cared what people thought. 3 And there was a widow in that town who kept coming to him with the plea, ‘Grant me justice against my adversary.’

4 “For some time he refused. But finally he said to himself, ‘Even though I don’t fear God or care what people think, 5 yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will see that she gets justice, so that she won’t eventually come and attack me!’”

6 And the Lord said, “Listen to what the unjust judge says. 7 And will not God bring about justice for his chosen ones, who cry out to him day and night? Will he keep putting them off? 8 I tell you, he will see that they get justice, and quickly. However, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?”

 

So how does this passage speak into today’s intercessory prayer?

•          We don’t pray as if God is an unjust God who needs his arm twisted.

•          Our God is for us, and willing (even to death) to act on our behalf.

•          He calls us into a faith partnership, expressed in prayer seeking justice.

 

We pray:

Leader:

Dear Lord God, Loving Lord God, Caring Lord God, God among and for us.  Today we join with you as we pray for justice.

Lord we know that life is often not fair.

The rich get richer, the poor get poorer.

Those who “have” often just invest in their own pleasures.

Those who “have” can buy their justice, the poor struggle to defend their case.

The poor struggle to educate their children, to have access to good medical care.

The poor get caught up in surviving and this battle imposes its limits.  Food, housing, security are the concerns that consume them.

All:

Loving God, let your justice flow like a mighty river.

 

Leader:

Lord we know that life is often not fair.

The strong and loud dominate.  Our world hands over authority to those who are often not for a kingdom of justice.  To those who are self-seeking, corrupt, and steered by popular vote.  And our communities end up reflecting our leaders’ values.

All:

Loving God, let your justice flow like a mighty river.

 

Leader:

Lord we pray for the common values that form the foundations for our shared human lives.

We practice retribution: an eye for an eye.

If we can get away with it, we think it doesn’t matter.

If others are doing it, why shouldn’t we?

We abuse others under the guise of a free market.

We are self seeking rather than Kingdom of God seeking.

All:

Loving God, let your justice flow like a mighty river.

 

Leader:

We acknowledge that we stand before you, the just judge.

The one who has lived and died for this justice.

The one who willingly and eagerly seeks justice for all.

Our Lord we offer ourselves to join with you in obedience to this call for justice.

May we be among those who care for widows and all who live under the burden of injustice.

All:

Loving God, let your justice flow like a mighty river.

In Jesus Name

Amen

 

Sending Out

Leader:

Go now, held in God’s heart.

God’s heart forgives,

God’s heart serves,

God’s heart loves,

God’s just heart makes all things new!

 All:

May the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ

The love of God

And the fellowship of the Holy Spirit

Be with us all, evermore.

Amen

Psalm 19: 14 May these words of my mouth and this meditation of my heart

    be pleasing in your sight,  Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer.

A well-watered place – Liturgy

Praying the Lectionary Scriptures

 Lectionary inspiration for Sunday 13 October 2013,

(Pentecost 21, Ordinary Time, Year C)

Call to worship (Psalm 66 NIV)Water Lillies edit

One:  Shout to God with joy, everyone on earth!  Sing about the glory of his name!

All:  We  give him glorious praise!

One:  Say to God, “What wonderful things you do!

All: We bow down to you we sing your praise!

 

Opening Prayer (Praise, confession, thanks)

Verses to use in introducing this prayer:

Psalm 66:12 “But you brought us to a place where we have everything we need.” (NIV)

Psalm 66:12 Finally he brought us to this well-watered place. (The Message)

 

After each sentence is read a short pause is suggested in order to reflect thankfully on that particular provision.

“Lord, you have brought us to a spacious, well-watered, place.  Here today we have provision enough:

You have watered us with creation (Pause)

You have watered us with life (Pause)

You have watered us with a life shared even to death (Pause)

You have watered us with your Holy and comforting Spirit (Pause)

You have watered us with the gift of community (Pause)

You have watered us by calling us and giving us a calling in life (Pause)

Yet we confess our germination is stunted.  We are slow to split open and sprout; fearful of opening ourselves to your gift of life.  We have yet to be changed from glory into glory through the way of growth you have provided.  When will we flower and bear your fruit?   Lord God, today in this place of provision help us to risk and open ourselves to your life-giving and transforming Spirit, that Spirit who blows where He wills,

that Spirit who animates us with life-giving energy,

that Spirit who connects us with Jesus,

that Spirit who gifts us for the common good,

that Spirit who catches us up in the Mission of God.

Will you open your life to this Spirit today?

If you would like to open your life afresh to God’s Spirit, open your hands as an expression of this (Pause).

We continue to pray:

 “Spirit of the living God fall afresh on us,

Break us, Melt us, Mould us, Fill us.

Spirit of the living God fall afresh on us.”

(Pause)

Thank you Lord, you have brought us to this place of provision, this well-watered place.  And here we are restored.

In Jesus” Name

Amen.

 Intercession

Begin by Reading our Jeremiah passage:

Jeremiah 29:4-7 (NIV)

“4 This is what the Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, says to all those I carried into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon: 5 “Build houses and settle down; plant gardens and eat what they produce. 6 Marry and have sons and daughters; find wives for your sons and give your daughters in marriage, so that they too may have sons and daughters. Increase in number there; do not decrease. 7 Also, seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile. Pray to the Lord for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper.”

 

The call is to seek the peace and prosperity of our city, because if it prospers we too will prosper.  In our prayer of intercession we pick up this call and pray that all may share in the abundant provision of our Lord.

Lord, you have provided so abundantly in creation, in salvation, in transformation.  You have provided for the renewal of all creation, a new heaven and a new earth.  We thank you that you call us into this mission of new life.

Yet as we look at our “city”, as we cast our net wider than just our own concerns, we see lack, poverty, paralysis, lack of hope and vision.

May our hearts be filled with the same passion that hears the cry of need.

We pray for those in our city who are hungry…

We pray for those in our city who only live to get and never know the joy of giving…

We pray for those in our city who know no community support…those who have no sense of belonging…

We pray for those in our city who have trusted and whose trust has been betrayed…those who have decided never to trust again…

We pray for those in our city who are abused, children, women, disadvantaged, the powerless…

We pray for those in our city who are cut off from the supply of provision, either through their own failures or through the failures of others.

Lord, we pray…

And now Lord we offer ourselves to “seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which (you) have carried (us).”  We offer you our passion, our planning, our energy, our time, our resources, our creativity.   May this church be a place of caring action on behalf of others:  May we be among the peace makers.

To this end we offer these prayers and our lives.

For Jesus’ sake,

Amen.

Sending Out:

Lord, we move beyond being mere spectators.

You call us to participate fully in the story of Salvation.

We go now, renewed through your provision.

We go now caught up by your Spirit of love.

 

We greet one another in the words:

May the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ,

The love of God

And the fellowship of the Holy Spirit

Be with us all, now and forever more.

Amen