Offertory Prayer

Each month's Offertory Prayers includes an "Invitation to the Offering" (see below) along with a digital image for those who might want to use it. We hope you will find this a helpful way to remind the people in your pews that their offering travels to many places to make a powerful difference in the lives of people they may never meet. You can find great stories of the difference our giving makes at http://umcgiving.org.

Invitation to the Offering
The offering you made last week empowered ministry within our congregation and in response to the needs of our community. It also helped support the work of ministries beyond the local church that reach people who are in desperate need to feel the touch of love and reconciliation. Through our connectional giving, we support the General Board of Global Ministries (GBGM) and missionaries around the world -- such as Alex andBrenda Awad, who serve Christians in East Jerusalem and the ministries of Bethlehem Bible College. So when you revive the story this season of the birth of the Son of God in Bethlehem, remember that United Methodists are still working to make the world a more welcoming place for the God of love and peace. This ministry happens thanks to the generous support of United Methodists like you. I invite you once again to give generously as we worship God through the sharing of our gifts, tithes, and offerings.

Learn more about the work of GBGM Missionaries at: www.umcmission.org/Explore-Our-Work/Missionaries-in-Service

December 7, 2014 -- Second Sunday of Advent
O God of our salvation, we praise you, for you give us every good thing. You speak peace to our hearts. By your power, 'steadfast love and faithfulness will meet; righteousness and peace will kiss each other.' May we live in gratitude for our reconciliation with you through Jesus Christ your Son. Let us dedicate our selves to your service in his name. Amen. (Psalm 85)


November Offertory Prayers were written by the Rev. Rosanna Anderson, Associate Director of Stewardship Ministries at Discipleship Ministries, The United Methodist Church.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Glad to see him, Reflection on Song of Solomon 2:8-13

According to the Jewish Study Bible, introduction to what is called there the Song of Songs:
"While the book's origin remains obscure, the history of interpretation of the Song in Jewish tradition is well documented. From as early as the 2nd century CE, it has been understood in both human and divine terms. In rabbinic tradition, the Song narrates the words which God and Israel spoke to each other at the Red Sea, at Sinai, or in the Tent of Meeting. The descriptions of the male lover are understood as allegorical descriptions of God while the descriptions of the female lover are understood as divine praise of Israel...."

And, not surprisingly, many commentators read this book to be about human sexual love. In this passage, for example, it's spring, the couple enjoy each other, and they want to be together.

Many Christians interpret this book, as well as the rest of what we call the Old Testament, as foretelling our relationship with Jesus Christ. For example, according to the Wesley Study Bible, Wesley asserted that this particular passage describes how the church triumphs in Christ's love and gracious call. That reading suits the lectionary pairing with the passage from Matthew this week. Jesus says, "Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.

(amended from August 2009)

Daily Prayer, Thursday, June 30

All your works shall give thanks to you, O Lord, and your faithful ones shall bless you!

Morning
Invitatory Psalm 150
Praise the Lord!

We praise you in your sanctuary;
we praise you in your mighty firmament!
We praise you for your mighty deeds;
We praise you according to your surpassing greatness!
We praise you with trumpet sound;
We praise you with tambourine and dance;
We praise you with strings and pipe!
We praise you with clanging cymbals;
We praise you with loud clashing cymbals!

Let everything that breathes praise the Lord!
Praise the Lord!

Psalms 39, 40

Daily Lectionary Reading, Song of Solomon, 2:8-13
8 Listen! It’s my lover: here he comes now,
leaping upon the mountains,
bounding over the hills.
9 My lover is like a gazelle
or a young stag.
Here he stands now,
outside our wall,
peering through the windows,
peeking through the lattices.
10 My lover spoke and said to me,
“ Rise up, my dearest,
my fairest, and go.
11 Here, the winter is past;
the rains have come and gone.
12 Blossoms have appeared in the land;
the season of singing has arrived,
and the sound of the turtledove
is heard in our land.
13 The green fruit is on the fig tree,
and the grapevines in bloom
are fragrant.

[Common English Bible]


Today's Prayer
O Lord, help us to recognize the beauty and joys of your creation. We give you thanks for the opportunity to be in relationship with other people. Instill in us the ability to care for your gifts. Amen.



Midday Psalm 119:68-77

Evening
Psalm 69

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

In the place of ancestors, a Reflection on Psalm 45:10-17

In the book of Genesis, we read many stories of people leaving their home and moving to an unfamiliar place. In chapter 12, the Lord tells Abraham to "Go to a land that I will show you." In this week's reading from Genesis 24, Abraham then sends his servant back to his hometown to get a wife for his son, Isaac. At the well, the servant is offered help by Rebekah, who turns out to be the appropriate wife for Isaac. Their son Jacob will also find a wife--well, two wives--in the former home of Abraham (Ch 29).

Psalm 45 is directed to a bride who is marrying the king. Yet, we can read it as being directed to any bride, "Forget your people and your father's house." That is, we can read it that way, but it's really hard today to imagine that any bride should be asked to break off any family contact and instead submit to her husband's authority--even if the exchange would result in lots of gifts and extravagant clothes.

I find more palatable the interpretation that God calls people to leave the comfortable and familiar to go to the uncomfortable and unfamiliar. Think of foreign missions, but don't restrict mission work to other countries. After all, there's plenty of unfamiliar places within easy driving distance of where we go to church--or, pretty likely, within walking distance.

I'm looking at verse 16 now, "In the place of ancestors, you ... shall have sons..." In the church we attend, we may hear, or say, "That's not the way we do it." Yet, it may be time to rethink the way we are used to and consider whether a new way might suit God better.

Daily Prayer, Wednesday, June 29

All your works shall give thanks to you, O Lord, and your faithful ones shall bless you!

Morning

Invitatory Psalm 100
Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth.
Worship the Lord with gladness;
come into the Lord’s presence with singing.

We know that you are God.
It is you that made us, and we are yours.
we are your people and the sheep of your pasture.

We enter your gates with thanksgiving,
and your courts with praise.
We give thanks to you, bless your name.
For you, O Lord, are good;
your steadfast love endures forever,
and your faithfulness to all generations.

Psalm 37

Daily Lectionary Reading, Psalm 45:10-17
10 Listen, daughter; pay attention,
and listen closely!
Forget your people
and your father’s house.
11 Let the king desire your beauty.
Because he is your master,
bow down to him now.
12 The city of Tyre, the wealthiest of all,
will seek your favor with gifts,
13 with riches of every sort
for the royal princess, dressed in pearls,
her robe embroidered with gold.
14 In robes of many colors,
she is led to the king.
Her attendants,
the young women servants
following her,
are presented to you as well.
15 As they enter the king’s palace,
they are led in with celebration and joy.
16 Your sons, great king,
will succeed your fathers;j
you will appoint them as princes throughout the land.
17 I will perpetuate your name
from one generation to the next
so the peoples will praise you
forever and always. [Common English Bible]
________________________

Prayer for Today:
Majestic God, we come to you in praise, and we honour
you in all your glory and perfection. Our finite minds struggle
with concepts by which we can praise and worship you
in ways that are relevant to our limited understanding of
the Holy Being that is God. We seek ways that are appropriate
to revere your holiness and goodness, and yet we fail dismally.

Glorious God, because of our human limitations we instead use
images with which we are familiar that express something of the
beauty, glory and dignity of our God. We imagine the pomp and
majesty of royal processions and coronations; of superb brides and
grooms at their wedding festivities; we even imagine street parades
where significant people are lauded and honoured, and presented
with gifts. Yet each of these images pale into insignificance when
we finally manage to grasp something of God’s presence and glory.

Holy God, in reverent awe, we praise and worship you. Through the
Beauty of your Being, you have raised our perceptions of the being
majesty and splendour of our God, and we are spiritually enriched
because of this, and we want to share this experience with others.
Gracious God, may we worship and praise you always and forever. Amen.
If used in shared worship, please provide an acknowledgement as follows:
© 2011 Joan Stott – "The Timeless Psalms" RCL Psalm Year A, used with permission

Midday Psalm 119:57-67

Evening
Psalms 63, 68

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Cycles, Reflecting on Genesis 24:34-38, 42-29, 58-67

Genesis is a book of cycles--this generation will repeat what the previous generation has done. Yet, no generation repeats exactly. Watch for differences.

For example, compare how Genesis presents Sarah and then Rebekah. We are not told anything about Sarah's life before she married Abraham. We don't know how she reacts to the migration plans. We don't know whether Abraham told anything about his agreement to sacrifice Isaac or whether she was even told about it when Abraham and Isaac returned.

On the other hand, we are introduced to Rebekah even before Isaac is. Abraham sends his servant back to Haran to find a suitable wife for his son. When he sees Rebekah at the spring of water, the servant tells her how wealthy Isaac's father is. He tells her how she is the answer to his prayer. When she tells him who her family is, he gives her gifts of jewelry, and asks her to agree to marry Isaac.

The cycle of the next generation will have similarities and differences. Isaac and Rebekah's son, Jacob, will also marry a woman from Haran. The meeting will also be at a well, but Jacob will make the trip himself.

Another difference between the stories of Abraham and Sarah and of Isaac and Rebekah is the way they perceive God's directions to them. Abraham hears God directly. Genesis doesn't tell us whether Isaac does. Abraham's servant prays to God and feels assurance that God is directing things (Genesis 24:12-14, 21-27, 42-49). But, we are not told whether Rebekah herself heard God directly.

[repeat]

Daily Prayer, Tuesday, June 28

All your works shall give thanks to you, O Lord, and your faithful ones shall bless you!

Morning

Invitatory Psalm 84
How lovely is your dwelling place, O Lord of hosts!
My soul longs, indeed it faints for the courts of the Lord;
my heart and my flesh sing for joy to the living God.
....

Psalm 36

Daily Lectionary Reading, Genesis 24:34-38, 42-49
34 The man said, “I am Abraham’s servant.” 35 The LORD has richly blessed my master, has made him a great man, and has given him flocks, cattle, silver, gold, men servants, women servants, camels, and donkeys. 36 My master’s wife Sarah gave birth to a son for my master in her old age, and he’s given him everything he owns. 37 My master made me give him my word: ‘Don’t choose a wife for my son from the Canaanite women, in whose land I’m living. 38 No, instead, go to my father’s household and to my relatives and choose a wife for my son.’

42 “Today I arrived at the spring, and I said, ‘LORD , God of my master Abraham, if you wish to make the trip I’m taking successful, 43 when I’m standing by the spring and the young woman who comes out to draw water and to whom I say, “Please give me a little drink of water from your jar,” 44 and she responds to me, “Drink, and I will draw water for your camels too,” may she be the woman the LORD has selected for my master’s son.’ 45 Before I finished saying this to myself, Rebekah came out with her water jar on her shoulder and went down to the spring to draw water. And I said to her, ‘Please give me something to drink.’ 46 She immediately lowered her water jar and said, ‘Drink, and I will give your camels something to drink too.’ So I drank and she also gave water to the camels. 47 Then I asked her, ‘Whose daughter are you?’ And she said, ‘The daughter of Bethuel, Nahor’s son whom Milcah bore him.’ I put a ring in her nose and bracelets on her arms. 48 I bowed and worshipped the LORD and blessed the LORD , the God of my master Abraham, who led me in the right direction to choose the granddaughter of my master’s brother for his son. 49 Now if you’re loyal and faithful to my master, tell me. If not, tell me so I will know where I stand either way.”
[Common English Bible]

Prayer for Today:
O Lord, keep us mindful as we go through our lives following the instructions that have been given to us that your will, your ways are to be paramount. Keep us mindful of your presence and of your wishes for us. Amen.

Midday Psalm 119:49-56

Evening
Psalms 55, 59, 60, 62

Monday, June 27, 2011

Worship Resources for Independence Day

Jeanee Woodard's website, The Text This Week, offers suggestions for Independence Day.

Acceptance and Rejection, Reflection on Matthew 11:16-19, 25-30

"You've ignored all the cues. You don't respond to our joy or our sorrow." It's hard too imagine how someone could be less interested or less impressed than to be oblivious to happiness or mourning.

"What does it take to convince you?" Jesus is asking. "You criticized John for being too religious and Jesus for not being religious enough."

Current church members could compile a similar list. Evangelism is and always has been difficult.

Matthew does not intend for us to believe the accusations that John had a demon or that Jesus was a drunkard. Does he want us to believe the third accusation--that Jesus was a friend of tax collectors and sinners? (with thanks to Ronald J. Allen & Clark M. Williamson in their Preaching the Gospels without Blaming the Jews.)

Matthew uses two metaphors to describe Jesus: Son of Man and Wisdom.

Son of Man: Jesus had responded to a potential follower by saying, "Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head," (Matthew 8:20). Jesus will use this term again to describe the one who will come in glory and judge the nations (Matthew 25:31-46). According to the notes in the New Interpreters' Study Bible, Son of Man can refer to a human being (Ezekiel 2) or to a heavenly figure who rules (Daniel 7:13-14).

Wisdom: Hard to find, expensive to obtain, God knows where it is, Job 28:12-28. Wisdom calls out to us wherever we go. Wisdom was the first creation of God. Proverbs 8.

I've been reading Celia Deutsch's essay in A Feminist Companion to Matthew, edited by Amy-Jill Levine, in which she discusses Wisdom Christology. I'm interpreting that phrase to mean that Matthew's readers would recognize the attributes of Wisdom from their access to Job and Proverbs, as well as to Sirach and Wisdom of Solomon.

Deutsch points out parallels to the invitation, "Come to me, you who desire me, and eat your fill of my fruits. ..." Sirach 24:19-22 and to the image of the yoke, "Put your feet into her (Lady Wisdom) fetters, and your neck into our collar (Sirach 6:25).

She asserts that Matthew's description of Jesus as a teacher of apocalytic mesteries and an authoritative interpreter of Torah indicate that his teachings are superior to that of his usual opponents in this Gospel, the ubiquitous scribes and Pharisees (pp. 98-100).

Although I studied Greek in seminary, I am not a scholar. But, I do own books--and, from time to time, read them. Here's what I learned today about the word "psuche" that is translated as "souls" in Matthew 11:29:

As a verb, "psuche" means breathe or blow. As a noun, it means breath, that is, the vital force that animates the body and shows itself in breathing. Another word that we translate as breath is "pneuma." Sometimes the two terms are used indiscriminately but sometimes not. In 1 Thessalonians, pneuma is the rational part of man (Thayer's Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament).

When I read "rest for your souls," I automatically think of after-life. Was Matthew thinking this way? Or was he talking about an immediate comfort? Or both?

[Repeat]

Daily Prayer, Monday, June 27

All your works shall give thanks to you, O Lord, and your faithful ones shall bless you!

Morning
Invitatory Psalm 95
O come, let us sing to the Lord:
let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation!
We come into your presence with thanksgiving;
we make a joyful noise to you with songs of praise.
You, Lord, are a great God,

In your hands are the depths of the earth;
the heights of the mountains are yours also.
The sea is yours, for you have made it,
and the dry land, which your hands have formed.

O come, let us worship and bow down,
let us we kneel before our Maker!
For you are our God,
and we are the people of your pasture,
and the sheep of your hand.
….

Psalm 34

Daily Lectionary Reading, Matthew 11:16-19, 25-30
16 “ To what will I compare this generation? It is like a child sitting in the marketplaces calling out to others, 17 ‘We played the flute for you and you didn’t dance. We sang a funeral song and you didn’t mourn.’ 18 For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, ‘He has a demon.’ 19 Yet the Human One came eating and drinking, and they say, ‘Look, a glutton and a drunk, a friend of tax collectors and sinners.’ But wisdom is proved to be right by her works. ”

25 At that time Jesus said, “I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you’ve hidden these things from the wise and intelligent and have shown them to babies. 26 Indeed, Father, this brings you happiness.

27 “My Father has handed all things over to me. No one knows the Son except the Father. And nobody knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son wants to reveal him.

28 “ Come to me, all you who are struggling hard and carrying heavy loads, and I will give you rest. 29 Put on my yoke, and learn from me. I’m gentle and humble. And you will find rest for yourselves. 30 My yoke is easy to bear, and my burden is light.

[Common English Bible]

Prayer for Today:
O Lord, help us to extend our care and concern to people whose behavior may differ from our own. Open our eyes to see you in all parts of our lives. Comfort us in our own hard times. And remind us of your presence, always and forever. Amen.

Midday Psalm 119:41-48

Evening
Psalms 46, 48, 49

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Now That Sin No Longer Is in Control of You, What Now? Reflecting on Romans 6:12-18 Already but Not Yet, Reflecting on Romans 6:19-23

Paul says that we don't have to be slaves to sin any more. "Put yourself into righteous acts, he demands." I thought about this attitude of his as I read an article by Electra Draper in the June 13, 2008, The Denver Post, http://www.denverpost.com/news/ci_9571047.

"We Believe Colorado" is a diverse group of faith leaders seeking to broaden the values debate for 2008, according to organizers. The group is challenging the political agenda set by social conservatives and the religious right in the 2000 and 2004 elections.

Thursday's event combined worship and training for effective advocacy on moral issues such as civil rights, the environment and economic justice.

"I came happy. I came excited. I came to embrace and endorse 'We Believe Colorado' as an opportunity for economic and social justice to prevail," said the Rev. Andrew Simpson, presiding elder of the African Methodist Episcopal Church. Simpson and others said faith communities outside the extreme right have been in the majority but have not been counted by politicians and media as values voters.

"We Believe Colorado" is part of a national movement for racially, ethnically and religiously diverse alliances that will represent their common moral values in the political arena, according to organizers, such as Washington, D.C.-based Faith in Public Life and the Colorado Council of Churches.

Issues this year include lifting people out of poverty, equitable public education, affordable health care, a just immigration policy offering paths to legal status and families' reunifications, progressive taxes and government budgets that embody the common good.

I'm paraphrasing:

Sin used to control you. You were its slave and an obedient one. Now, let righteousness be your master. Look at this way, what benefits did you get from sin? What benefits can you receive from God?

Daily Prayer, Sunday, June 26

Morning
I will sing to you, Lord, for you have dealt bountifully with me.

Invitatory Psalm 24
The earth is the Lord’s and all that is in it, the world, and those who live in it.

You have founded it on the seas and established it on the rivers.

Who shall ascend the hill of the Lord?
And who shall stand in your holy place?
Those who have clean hands and pure hearts, who do not lift up their souls to what is false, and do not swear deceitfully.
They will receive blessing from the Lord, and vindication from the God of heir salvation.
Such is the company of those who seek you, who seek the face of the God of Jacob.

Lift up your heads, O gates!
and be lifted up, O ancient doors!
that the King of glory may come in.
Who is the King of glory?
The Lord, strong and mighty,
the Lord, mighty in battle.

Who is this King of glory?
the Lord of hosts,
You are the King of glory.

Psalms 32, 33

Daily Lectionary Reading, Romans 6:12-23
12 So then, don’t let sin rule your body, so that you do what it wants. 13 Don’t offer parts of your body to sin, to be used as weapons to do wrong. Instead present yourselves to God as people who have been brought back to life from the dead, and offer all the parts of your body to God to be used as weapons to do right. 14 Sin will have no power over you, because you aren’t under Law but under grace.

15 So what? Should we sin because we aren’t under Law but under grace? Absolutely not! 16 Don’t you know that if you offer yourselves to someone as obedient slaves, that you are slaves of the one whom you obey? That’s true whether you serve as slaves of sin, which leads to death, or as slaves of the kind of obedience that leads to righteousness.

17 But thank God that although you used to be slaves of sin, you gave wholehearted obedience to the teaching that was handed down to you, which provides a pattern. 18 Now that you have been set free from sin, you have become slaves of righteousness. 19 (I’m speaking with ordinary metaphors because of your limitations.) Once, you offered the parts of your body to be used as slaves to impurity and to lawless behavior that leads to still more lawless behavior. Now, you should present the parts of your body as slaves to righteousness, which makes your lives holy.

20 When you were slaves of sin, you were free from the control of righteousness. 21 What consequences did you get from doing things that you are now ashamed of? The outcome of those things is death. 22 But now that you have been set free from sin and become slaves to God, you have the consequence of a holy life, and the outcome is eternal life. 23 The wages that sin pays are death, but God’s gift is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

[Common English Bible]

Lectio Divina
What then? Should we sin because we are not under law but under grace? By no means! Do you not know that if you present yourselves to anyone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin, which leads to death, or of obedience, which leads to righteousness? (Romans 6:15-16)

I will sing of your steadfast love, O Lord, forever; with my mouth I will proclaim your faithfulness to all generations (Psalm 89:1).

Prayer for Today:
O God, we give you thanks that you have given us the opportunity to follow your will. Through this gift, we can give up those thoughts and actions that are harmful to us and those around us. Keep us mindful of the path you have set for us. Keep us mindful of the goal you have prepared for us. Amen.

Evening
Psalms 44, 45

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Psalm 13, a Lament Psalm

Over a third of the psalms can be categorized as Lament Psalms. They are important for us to read and to think about. They give us words to express our own sorrows, and they give us permission to use such words, to admit such feelings.

The usual format includes: addressing God directly, voicing the complaint, and, often, expressing trust in God to handle the problem.

Psalm 13 begins, "How long, O Lord?" Are we uncomfortable voicing complaints and doubts?

The psalm asks the Lord to pay attention to the problem--because the situation is so dire that the psalmist must have help. What has it taken in our lives for us to realize that we need God's help? Or, are we usually more aware of God when we are in trouble than when things are going well? Or, the other way around?

Following the usual pattern of a lament, Psalm 13 closes with an expression of gratitude to the Lord for rescue from the dire situation. Then, the psalmist turns to the congregation, "I will sing to the Lord, because he has dealt bountifully with me." When we are grateful to God, do we remember to mention that to others?

Suggested reading: James E. Bowley, Introduction to Hebrew Bible.

(repeat)

Daily Prayer, Saturday, June 25, 2011

Morning
I will sing to you, Lord, for you have dealt bountifully with me.

Invitatory Psalm 67
God, be gracious to us and bless us
and make your face to shine upon you,
that your way may be known upon earth,
your saving power among all nations.
Let the peoples praise you, O God;
let all the peoples praise you.

Let the nations be glad and sing for joy,
for you judge the peoples with equity
and guide the nations upon earth.
Let the peoples praise you, O God;
let all the peoples praise you.

The earth has yielded its increase;
God, our God, has blessed us.
May God continue to bless us;
let all the ends of the earth revere you.

Psalms 26, 27, 29

Daily Lectionary Reading, Psalm 13

Lectio Divina
How long, O Lord? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me? (Psalm 13:1)

But I trusted in your steadfast love; my heart shall rejoice in your salvation (Psalm 13:5).

Prayer for Today:
In faith, hope and in trust, we gather to worship our God.
Yet we also come in fear and anguish, for God seems
to be absent from us, and lost to us in our deep anxiety.

In expectation and faith, we gather to worship our God.
But, how long will you be far away from us, O God?
How long will you ignore us in our anguish and pain?

Even now, in quiet confidence we gather to worship our God,
even in the darkness of our souls, we will still praise God!
Hear and help us, our God, even when we do not understand—
we still come to you, trusting in your generous mercy. Amen.

[http://www.wesleychurchgeelong.net/w_resources/pentecost2[13]a_2011.htm If used in shared worship, please provide an acknowledgement as follows:
© 2011 Joan Stott – "The Timeless Psalms" RCL Psalm Year A, used with permission.]


Evening
Psalms 30, 31

Friday, June 24, 2011

The Lord Will Provide, Reflecting on Genesis 22:9-14

The altar is built, wood is laid on it, Isaac is bound, Abraham is holding the knife. And God intervenes. "Don't kill your son." Abraham listens then turns and sees a ram caught in the bushes. He names the place, "The Lord will provide."

God has provided a substitute sacrifice.

God has provided an act of grace for a man who has shown over and over that he needs it.

(repeat)

Daily Prayer, Friday, June 24, 2011

Morning
I will sing to you, Lord, for you have dealt bountifully with me.

Invitatory Psalm 118
O Lord, we give thanks to to you, for you are good;
your steadfast love endures forever!
….
Out of my distress I called on the Lord;
the Lord answered me and set me in a broad place.
With the Lord on my side I do not fear.
What can mortals do to me?
….
Open to me the gates of righteousness,
that I may enter through them
and give thanks to the Lord.

This is the gate of the Lord;
the righteous shall enter through it.

Psalms 23, 25

Daily Lectionary Reading, Genesis 22:9-14

Lectio Divina
So Abraham called that place "The Lord will provide"; as it is said to this day, "On the mount of the Lord it shall be provided" (Genesis 22:14).

Consider and answer me, O Lord my God! Give light to my eyes, or I will sleep the sleep of death, and my enemy will say, "I have prevailed"; my foes will rejoice because I am shaken (Psalm 13:3-4).

Prayer for Today:
O Lord, we come to you hoping, asking, and, often, pleading. We come to you because we have already received so many gifts from you. As you have been faithful to us, strengthen us to be faithful to you. Open our eyes to the way you have provided for us. Amen.

Midday Psalm 119:33-40

Evening
Psalms 30, 31

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Testing Abraham, Reflecting on Genesis 22:1-8

"After these things God tested Abraham." In their book, Narrative in the Hebrew Bible, David Gunn and Danna Fewell point out that Abraham has already sacrificed both of his wives twice as well as his older son Ishmael. They ask "What is the test? Does God think that Abraham won't risk this son in order to ensure his own safety?

He had argued with God about the proposed destruction of Sodom. Why does he not argue now? Gunn and Fewell suggest several arguments that Abraham might have used: "Take me instead. I'm old. The boy is innocent. You are a just God." Instead, Abraham gets up early and takes his son Isaac on a journey toward a place God had shown him.
(repeat)

Daily Prayer, Thursday, June 23, 2011

Morning
I will sing to you, Lord, for you have dealt bountifully with me.

Invitatory Psalm 150
Praise the Lord!

We praise you in your sanctuary;
we praise you in your mighty firmament!
We praise you for your mighty deeds;
We praise you according to your surpassing greatness!
We praise you with trumpet sound;
We praise you with tambourine and dance;
We praise you with strings and pipe!
We praise you with clanging cymbals;
We praise you with loud clashing cymbals!

Let everything that breathes praise the Lord!
Praise the Lord!

Psalms 19, 20, 21
Daily Lectionary Reading, Genesis 22:1-8

Lectio Divina
Abraham said, "God himself will provide the lamb for a burnt offering, my son." So the two of he walked on together (Genesis 22:8).

How long, O Lord? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me? How long must I bear pain in my soul, and have sorrow in my heart all day long? How long shall my enemy be exalted over me? (Psalm 13:1-2)

Prayer for Today:
Faithful God, we come before you with our needs,
with all our fears, our anxieties, all our uncertainties
and our doubts. As we wallow in the midst of our
deep inner anguish of the soul, we can’t seem to
find you in that dark and empty space inside each of us.
But dear God, where are you, we can’t find you?

We have a deep sense of alienation from our God!
Has this been brought on by our spiritual disobedience?
Have we allowed the pressures of life to undermine
our faith and trust in our Faithful and Forgiving God?
Have we separated ourselves from God by our lack
of commitment to God’s ways, to God’s guidance?

Ever-present God, deep in our souls there is even still
that comforting reassurance that comes from a lifetime
of trusting in God, that, even though we feel alienated
from God, we know that God is never far from us—
never further than our breath, and closer than touch.
We rejoice in God’s unfailing mercies; we celebrate
the constancy of our God; and even though there may
still be a darkness in our soul, there is also joy and light—
because God’s face is turned towards us, and God’s
ear is always attentive to our needs and hears our fears.
Let us sing for joy for the renewing powers of our God. Amen.
If used in shared worship, please provide an acknowledgement as follows:
© 2011 Joan Stott – "The Timeless Psalms" RCL Psalm Year A, used with permission. http://www.wesleychurchgeelong.net/w_resources/pentecost2[13]a_2011.htm

Midday Psalm 119:25-32

Evening
Psalms 22, 28

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Remember and Remind, a Reflection on Psalm 89:1-4, 15-18

Psalm 89 begins with a promise to the Lord, "I'll sing of your steadfast love forever. I'll tell everybody. I'll tell them, old and young, that what you've been doing for us, you'll keep doing for them."

When do we need to hear this reminder? What prompts us to remember to give it?

Do we have to be living in bad times to be able to appreciate good ones?

Whom do we trust enough to receive comfort from what they tell us?

The original psalm may have been helpful to people living during the Babylonian Exile. They were dislocated, their king had been ousted, but they could hear reassurance that the Lord was still in charge, and the outcome for them was going to be all right.

And knowing this, believing this means telling what we know and believe:
Happy are the people who know you. They exult in your name all day long, and extol your righteousness (89:16).

Daily Prayer, Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Morning
I will sing to you, Lord, for you have dealt bountifully with me.

Invitatory Psalm 100
Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth.
Worship the Lord with gladness;
come into the Lord’s presence with singing.

We know that you are God.
It is you that made us, and we are yours.
we are your people and the sheep of your pasture.

We enter your gates with thanksgiving,
and your courts with priase.
We give thanks to you, bless your name.
For you, O Lord, are good;
your steadfast love endures forever,
and your faithfulness to all generations.

Psalms 12, 13, 17

Daily Lectionary Reading, Psalm 89:1-4
1 I will sing of the LORD ’s loyal love forever.
I will proclaim your faithfulness
with my own mouth
from one generation to the next.
2 That’s why I say,
“Your (y) loyal love is rightly built—forever!
You establish your faithfulness in heaven.”
3 You said,(z)“ I made a covenant with my chosen one;
I promised my servant David:
4 ‘I will establish your offspring forever;
I will build up your throne from one generation to the next.’ ” Selah

15 The people who know the celebratory shout are truly happy!
They walk in the light of your presence, LORD !
16 They rejoice in your name all day long
and are uplifted
by your righteousness
17 because you are the splendor
of their strength.
By your favor you make us strong
18 because our shield is the LORD ’s own;
our king belongs
to the holy one of Israel!


y Heb lacks Your .
z Heb lacks You said .
[Common English Bible]

Lectio Divina

I will sing of your steadfast love, O Lord, forever; with my mouth I will proclaim your faithfulness to all generations (Psalm 89:1) [NRSV]

You said, "I have made a covenant with my chosen one, I have sworn to my servant David; I will establish your descendants forever, and build your throne for all generations" (Psalm 89:3-4). [NRSV]

Prayer for Today: I can't say it better than this psalm already does. Pray verses 15-18.



Midday Psalm 119:17-24

Evening
Psalm 18

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Words for People Who Have Lost Everything, Reflection on Jeremiah 28:5-9

One prophet, Hananiah, says, "Everything is going to be all right. God will fix it" (28:1-4). The other, Jeremiah, says, "May it be so, but remember what other prophets have said, how they have spoken of war, famine, and pestilence" (28:5-8).

Jeremiah, at the time of this confrontation, is wearing a yoke to demonstrate God's command to him that the people of Judah were supposed to capitulate to Babylon. "Anyone that tells you that the temple will be restored are liars," he had preached (27:1-22).

When is it appropriate to preach optimistically? When is it not?

Which prophet's words seem more in line with the suggested Psalm 89?

Do you agree with the decision of the lectionary preparers to connect this passage with Matthew 10:40-42?

Offertory Prayers for July 2011

See the GBOD page for Offertory Prayers for July.

These prayers this month are written by Sanford Coon, the Executive Director of the New Mexico Conference Methodist Foundation, Inc. You may contact him at sanford@nmcmfi.org.

Any local church, regardless of denominational affiliation, or any United Methodist organization may reprint any or all of these prayers, provided that the author is cited.

Daily Prayer, Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Morning
I will sing to you, Lord, for you have dealt bountifully with me.

Invitatory Psalm 84
How lovely is your dwelling place, O Lord of hosts!
My soul longs, indeed it faints for the courts of the Lord;
my heart and my flesh sing for joy to the living God.

Even the sparrow finds a home, and the swallow for herself
where she may lay her you, at your altars, O Lord of hosts, my Ruler and my God.
Happy are those who live in your house, ever singing your praise.

Happy are those whose strength is in you, in whose heart are the highways to Zion.
As they go through the valley of Baca they make it a place of springs;
the early rain also covers it with pools.
They go from strength to strength;
the God of gods will be seen in Zion.

O Lord God of hosts, hear my prayer;
give ear, O God of Jacob!
Behold our shield, O God;
look on the face of your anointed.

For a day in your courts is better than a thousand elsewhere.
I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God
than live in the tents of wickedness.
For the Lord God is a sun and shield;
who bestows favor and honor.
No good thing does the Lord withhold
from those who walk uprightly.
O Lord of hosts,
happy is everyone who trusts in you.

Psalms 9, 10

Daily Lectionary Reading, Jeremiah 28:5-9
5 Then the prophet Jeremiah responded to Hananiah in the presence of the priests and all the people who were standing in the LORD ’s temple. 6 The prophet Jeremiah said: “ Indeed. May the LORD do just as you have said! May the LORD fulfill the words that you have prophesied and bring back from Babylon the equipment of the LORD ’s temple and all the exiles to this place. 7 However, listen closely to what I have to say to you and all the people: 8 The prophets who came before you and me long ago prophesied war, disaster, and disease against many lands and great kingdoms. 9 So the prophet who prophesies peace is recognized as one who is actually sent by the LORD only when that prophet’s message is fulfilled. ” [Common English Bible]

Lectio Divina
As for the prophet who prophesies peace, when the word of that prophet comes true, then it will be known that the Lord has truly sent the prophet(Jeremiah 28:9). [NRSV]

I declare that your steadfast love is established forever; your faithfulness is as firm as the heavens (Psalm 89:2). [NRSV]

Prayer for Today:
O Lord, help us to distinguish your will through the voices of the many who claim to be speaking for you. Help us always to demonstrate your steadfast love, your faithfulness, and your desire for us to live in peace with each other. Amen.
Midday Psalm 119:9-16

Evening
Psalms 6, 7, 8

Monday, June 20, 2011

Rewards, Reflecting on Matthew 10:40-42

I'm looking at the headings in Chapter 10 in The New Interpreter's Bible: first, is "The Mission of the Twelve," then three ominous ones, "Coming Persecutions," "Whom to Fear," and "Not Peace, but a Sword."

Matthew is speaking to the church of his time and to ours. Discipleship can be tough.

Then I look at the heading of the last section, today's reading: Rewards. Discipleship can have rewards. Matthew tells them (and us): Some will welcome you. You have given up a lot in order to take the message to them. Some will respond, and in responding, will be rewarded.

(repeat)

Daily Prayer, Monday, June 20

Morning
I will sing to you, Lord, for you have dealt bountifully with me.

Invitatory Psalm 95
O come, let us sing to the Lord:
let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation!
We come into your presence with thanksgiving;
we make a joyful noise to you with songs of praise.
You, Lord, are a great God,

In your hands are the depths of the earth;
the heights of the mountains are yours also.
The sea is yours, for you have made it,
and the dry land, which your hands have formed.

O come, let us worship and bow down,
let us we kneel before our Maker!
For you are our God,
and we are the people of your pasture,
and the sheep of your hand.
….

Psalms 1, 2, 3, 5

Daily Lectionary Reading, Matthew 10:40-42

Lectio Divina
And whoever gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones in the name of a disciple--truly I tell you, none of these will lose their reward (Matthew 10:42).

I will sing of your steadfast love, O Lord, forever; with my mouth I will proclaim your faithfulness to all generations (Psalm 89:1).

Prayer for Today:
O Lord, remind us so that we can remind others of your love. Prompt us to show that love both by what we say and what we do. Open our eyes to those who need help and direct us into ways that will provide that help. Amen

Midday Psalm 119:1-8

Evening
Psalms 6, 7, 8

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Live in Peace? If, Only a Reflection on 2 Corinthians 13:11-13

What an appropriate text for preachers to consider as they reflect on the annual conference they just attended. Read verses 1-10, as well. Paul said, "Some of you think that the rest of you are not thinking and living and talking as Christians should. You think you get the message much better than the others do and you are pretty open about your disdain for them."

Think back over the resolutions and debate about them at conference.

Paul's instructions to the fractious Corinthians seem, to me, to be really hard to follow: "Agree with one another and live in peace."

Yet, how else can Christians be Christian?

Daily Prayer, Sunday, June 19

Morning
O Lord, our Sovereign, how majestic is your name in all the earth!

Invitatory Psalm 24
The earth is the Lord’s and all that is in it, the world, and those who live in it.

You have founded it on the seas and established it on the rivers.

Who shall ascend the hill of the Lord?
And who shall stand in your holy place?
Those who have clean hands and pure hearts, who do not lift up their souls to what is false, and do not swear deceitfully.
They will receive blessing from the Lord, and vindication from the God of heir salvation.
Such is the company of those who seek you, who seek the face of the God of Jacob.

Lift up your heads, O gates!
and be lifted up, O ancient doors!
that the King of glory may come in.
Who is the King of glory?
The Lord, strong and mighty,
the Lord, mighty in battle.

Who is this King of glory?
the Lord of hosts,
You are the King of glory.

Psalms 147, 148, 149

Daily Lectionary Reading, 2 Corinthians 13:11-12
Final greeting
11 Finally, brothers and sisters, good-bye. Put things in order, respond to my encouragement, be in harmony with each other, and live in peace—and the God of love and peace will be with you.
12 Say hello to each other with a holy kiss.k All of God’s people say hello to you.
13 The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.

_________________________________________________
k 2 Cor 13:12-13 is in some versions equivalent to 13:12-14.
[Common English Bible]

Lectio Divina,
Finally, brothers and sisters, farewell. Put things in order, listen to my appeal, agree with one another, live in peace; and the God of love and peace will be with you (2 Corinthians 13:11, NRSV)

Out of the mouths of babes and infants you have founded a bulwark because of your foes, to silence the enemy and the avenger (Psalm 8:2, NRSV)

Prayer for Today:
Everlasting God: You have revealed yourself as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, and ever live and reign in the perfect unity of love. Grant that we may always hold firmly and joyfully to this faith, and, living in praise of your divine majesty, may finally be one in you; who are three persons in one God, for ever and ever. Amen. (UMBOW 412).

Evening
Psalms 144, 145

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Being Given Dominion, Reflection on Psalm 8:5-9

Repeat:
"O God," the Psalmist sings, "When I consider your glory, when I consider your power, when I consider what you have created, I wonder why you bother with us."

God is greater, much greater than human beings. Yet, don't get too humble. God has a job for us.

Many of us can use this psalm to prod us or to assure us of the value of what we're trying to do--or, ought to be. We're responsible for maintaining, caring for, being responsible for, God's creations--human and earthly.

Daily Prayer, Saturday, June 18

Morning
O Lord, our Sovereign, how majestic is your name in all the earth!

Invitatory Psalm 67
God, be gracious to us and bless us
and make your face to shine upon you,
that your way may be known upon earth,
your saving power among all nations.
Let the peoples praise you, O God;
let all the peoples praise you.

Let the nations be glad and sing for joy,
for you judge the peoples with equity
and guide the nations upon earth.
Let the peoples praise you, O God;
let all the peoples praise you.

The earth has yielded its increase;
God, our God, has blessed us.
May God continue to bless us;
let all the ends of the earth revere you.

Psalms 141, 146

Daily Lectionary Reading, Psalm 8:5-9

Lectio Divina,
You have given them dominion over the works of your hands; you have put all dominion over the works of your hands; you have put all things under their feet, all sheep and oxen, and also the beasts of the field, the birds of the air, and the fish of the sea, whatever passes along the paths of the seas (Psalm 8:6-8).

When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars that you have established (Psalm 8:3)

Prayer for Today:
Holy and Majestic God, the glory of your name overshadows the earth
and all creation, time and space;
and in awe and reverence
we come to worship you.
God’s holy Name proclaims and identifies
the being and wonder of God,
yet with our finite minds,
the power and glory of God is beyond us.
We give thanks that we will never come to the end
in our search for an understanding of Almighty God.

Through the grace and mercy of God,
infants in all their simplicity
are empowered and given the privilege of praising God,
because their minds are not cluttered with useless information.
Glorious God, may we also have the privilege
of giving you our praise
and glorifying yourname with open and honest hearts;
and with sincere minds and thoughts.

Before the majesty of God, we human beings are of little significance
in the grand scheme of the universe, yet God has destined that humanity
be given a special responsibility so that we can communicate with God,
and be so blessed that we can speak to God in prayer, and know that
we are heard and be answered. What a glorious blessing and gift!

Generous God, you have entrusted us with the care and nurturing of
your creation, and yet we have been poor stewards of this responsibility.
Give us, we pray, a clearer understanding of the significance of that role,
and may we honour your Holy Name through our care of your world.

Holy and Majestic God, the glory of your name overshadows the earth
and all creation. Praise and thankfulness is our offering to God this day.
May this worship and praise be acceptable as a sincere act of worship. Amen.

If used in shared worship, please provide an acknowledgement as follows:
© 2011 Joan Stott – "The Timeless Psalms" RCL Psalm Year A, used with permission. For other prayers, visit her website http://www.wesleychurchgeelong.net/w_resources.htm

Evening
Psalms 140, 142, 143

Friday, June 17, 2011

What Are Human Beings?, a Reflection on Psalm 8:1-4

The psalmist addresses God as the powerful king of the earth--and of the heavens, as well. The glory of God is visible. Contemplating what God has done, the psalmist asks, "Why do you pay any attention to us humans? Why do you care what happens to us?

I wasn't sure what verse 2 meant, "Out of the mouths of babes and infants you have founded a bulwark because of your foes, to silence the enemy and the avenger," so I turned to several commentaries. Among them was The Book of Psalms, A Translation with Commentary, by Robert Alter.

He says that the phrase "mouths of babes and sucklings [his translation] does not have a clear meaning and has never been satisfactorily explained. He supplies what he terms a distant possibility:
God draws strength from consciously aware humankind, made in His image, even from its weakest and youngest members, against the inhuman forces of chaos. Perhaps the innocence of infants is imagined as a source of strength.

Psalm 8 begins with an assertion of the greatness of God, Master of the earth. This powerful, majestic God turns to the weakest among us to put an end to threats. Alter says:
Because this is a psalm celebrating creation, there is plausibility in the identification proposed by some scholars between this implacable foe and the primordial sea monster, who, in Canaanite myth, must be subdued by the god of order so that the world can come into stable being Imagery taken from that cosmogonic battle between gods is borrowed by a good many psalms.

Daily Prayer, Friday, June 17, 2011

Morning
O Lord, our Sovereign, how majestic is your name in all the earth!

Invitatory Psalm 118
O Lord, we give thanks to to you, for you are good;
your steadfast love endures forever!
….
Out of my distress I called on the Lord;
the Lord answered me and set me in a broad place.
With the Lord on my side I do not fear.
What can mortals do to me?
….

Psalms 131, 132, 133

Daily Lectionary Reading, Psalm 8:1-4

Lectio Divina
O Lord, our Sovereign, how majestic is your name in all the earth! You have set your glory above the heavens (Psalm 8:1).

What are human beings that you are mindful of them, mortals that you care for them? (Psalm 8:4)

Midday Psalm 119:169-176

Prayer for Today:
Holy and Eternal God, the glories of your Name are
beyond any finite understanding or human explanation.
The majesty and glory of God fills the earth - and
all that lies beyond it into the mystery of space.

Inspirational God, you enable tiny babes to praise you
in ways that we cannot, as they see, hear and know you.
We too seek the simplicity of their understanding,
so we can also sincerely and reverently praise you.

The power of your Holy Voice brings all things into being.
In reverent awe, we gather to worship you, Creating God. Amen.
If used in shared worship, please provide an acknowledgement as follows:
© 2011 Joan Stott – "The Timeless Psalms" RCL Psalm Year A, used with permission. To see other prayers, visit her website http://www.wesleychurchgeelong.net/w_resources.htm


Evening
Psalms 137, 138, 139

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Father's Day

The GBOD offers devotions, prayers, and other resources for Father's Day.

When God is Resting, a Reflection on Genesis 2:1-4

On the seventh day God finished the work that he had done, and he rested on the seventh day from all the work that he had done.

The Babylonians took over their country, destroyed the temple, and carried many people into exile. They had lost their home and their sacred place, the place where they had been able to meet God. Yet, God was not absent from their lives. According to Samuel Terrien, in The Elusive Presence, "Deprived of sacred space, they discovered the sacrality day of the Sabbath....The creator may seem to be absent from history, but he is present in the cosmos and offers man a means of participating in divine creativity. The Sabbath, whatever its prehistoric origins, became for the first Jews a sacrament of presence."

They needed to feel God's presence because in their lives it felt a lot like God was absent. Many others through time have needed this reassurance that although they feel as if they have been deserted or forgotten, God is still there, is still powerful, and is still interested in our lives.

Daily Prayer, Thursday, June 16, 2011

Morning
O Lord, our Sovereign, how majestic is your name in all the earth!

Invitatory Psalm 150
Praise the Lord!

We praise you in your sanctuary;
we praise you in your mighty firmament!
We praise you for your mighty deeds;
We praise you according to your surpassing greatness!
We praise you with trumpet sound;
We praise you with tambourine and dance;
We praise you with strings and pipe!
We praise you with clanging cymbals;
We praise you with loud clashing cymbals!

Let everything that breathes praise the Lord!
Praise the Lord!

Psalms 125, 126, 127, 128, 129

Daily Lectionary Reading, Genesis 2:1-4

Lectio Divina
So God blessed the seventh day and hallowed it, because on it God rested from all the work that he had done in creation (Genesis 2:3).

What are human beings that you are mindful of them, mortals that you care for them? (Psalm 8:4)

Prayer for Today:
Holy God, you have given us grace, by the confession of the faith of your holy church, to acknowledge the mystery of the eternal Trinity and, in the power of your divine majesty, to worship the Unity. Keep us steadfast in this faith and worship, and bring us at last to see in your eternal glory One God, now and forever. Amen. (UMH 76).

Midday Psalm 119:161-168

Evening
Psalms 135, 136

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Dominion, a Reflection on Genesis 1:27-31

God said to them, "Be faithful and multiply, and fill the earth and subdue it; and have dominion over every thing that moves upon the earth."

Well, we've done very well with the multiplying and filling the earth part. If that's what God meant about being faithful, then we have been. But, if God was more concerned with the dominion part, we may not have been.

If dominion means something like dominate, then we humans have been working on that. But, if dominion really means something more like having responsibility for the care of, then we need to improve our efforts.

Daily Prayer, Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Morning
O Lord, our Sovereign, how majestic is your name in all the earth!

Invitatory Psalm 100
Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth.
Worship the Lord with gladness;
come into the Lord’s presence with singing.

We know that you are God.
It is you that made us, and we are yours.
we are your people and the sheep of your pasture.

We enter your gates with thanksgiving,
and your courts with praise.
We give thanks to you, bless your name.
For you, O Lord, are good;
your steadfast love endures forever,
and your faithfulness to all generations.

Psalms 120, 121, 122, 123, 124

Daily Lectionary Reading, Genesis 1:27-31

Lectio Divina,
So God created humankind in his image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them. God blesses them, and God said to them, "Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth and subdue it; and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the air and over every living things that moves upon the earth (Genesis 1:27-28).

What are human beings that you are mindful of them, mortals that you care for the" Yet you have made the a little lower than God (Psalm 8:4-5).

Prayer for Today:
We bow before the mystery of your creative power. May we never fail to see the beauty of your creation, because we pass through life hurriedly. Keep us mindful that you have given us the responsibility to care for every living creature on earth, in the sea, and in the sky. Instill in us the desire and the ability to care for this earth that you have provided for us. Amen.
(adapted from Prayers of the People, Richard Einerson).

Midday Psalm 119:153-160

Evening
Psalm 130

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

In the Beginning, a Reflection on Genesis 1:1-26

Bible scholars tell us that this part of Genesis was edited by theologians after the exile. In part, it is an assertion that the God of Israel is superior to the deities worshipped by the Babylonians. And it is an assurance that this God we worship is God who cares for the earth and all the creatures on it. Although God had allowed the exile, God could be trusted to restore the community on its return. (with thanks to Allen & Williamson's Preaching the Old Testament.


Into chaos comes the word of God.

God speaks, and light overcomes darkness.

God enters the world and brings order to it.

Daily Prayer, Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Morning
O Lord, our Sovereign, how majestic is your name in all the earth!

Invitatory Psalm Tuesday 84
How lovely is your dwelling place, O Lord of hosts!
My soul longs, indeed it faints for the courts of the Lord;
my heart and my flesh sing for joy to the living God.

Even the sparrow finds a home, and the swallow for herself
where she may lay her you, at your altars, O Lord of hosts, my Ruler and my God.
Happy are those who live in your house, ever singing your praise.

Happy are those whose strength is in you, in whose heart are the highways to Zion.
As they go through the valley of Baca they make it a place of springs;
the early rain also covers it with pools.
They go from strength to strength;
the God of gods will be seen in Zion.

O Lord God of hosts, hear my prayer;
give ear, O God of Jacob!
Behold our shield, O God;
look on the face of your anointed.

For a day in your courts is better than a thousand elsewhere.
I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God
than live in the tents of wickedness.
For the Lord God is a sun and shield;
who bestows favor and honor.
No good thing does the Lord withhold
from those who walk uprightly.
O Lord of hosts,
happy is everyone who trusts in you.

Psalms 97, 98, 99, 101

Daily Lectionary Reading, Genesis 1:1-26

Lectio Divina
In the beginning when God created the heavens and the earth, the earth was a formless void and darkness covered the face of the deep, while a wind from god swept over the face of the waters (Genesis 1:1-2).

When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars that you have established (Psalm 8:3)

Prayer for Today:
God, you brought order out of chaos, providing a home for us. Through your word, we have this earth and what the earth yields to us. Keep us mindful of the blessings you have bestowed on us even though we had done nothing to deserve them. Keep us mindful of your command to treat these gifts with care and appreciation. Amen.

Midday Psalm 119:137-152

Evening
Psalms 115, 116, 117

Monday, June 13, 2011

The Great Commission, a Reflection on Matthew 28:16-20

If we could have asked those eleven disciples that day, I imagine that they would rather have had Jesus stay with them.

Instead of his staying, he told them that they weren't supposed to stay, either.

Through exodus and exile, their ancestors had learned that God could not be restricted to a geographical spot. Jesus reminds them that God is not restricted to a particular group of people, either.

"Go therefore and make disciples of all nations," he tells them.

We can think of this command as meaning we are supposed to go to different countries, but we also can think of it as meaning we should reach out to unfamiliar groups within our own communities.

The next part of his instructions are that baptism is not the end of becoming a Christian. Rather, disciples are supposed to teach the new adherents everything that Jesus had commanded them. Sounds like we already-Christians need to stay familiar with those commands ourselves. Teachers need teaching.

The task must have seemed large to a group of only eleven. They had others who had been meeting with them, but is it harder to convince someone familiar with you to do something new than it is to just do it without them? Question for later, it's distracting me now.

However difficult or new the task they are being commanded to undertake, they are not doing it alone. Jesus reminds them--and through them, us, "I am with you always to the end of the age."

Daily Prayer, Monday, June 13, 2011

Morning
O Lord, our Sovereign, how majestic is your name in all the earth!

Invitatory Psalm Monday 95
O come, let us sing to the Lord:
let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation!
We come into your presence with thanksgiving;
we make a joyful noise to you with songs of praise.
You, Lord, are a great God,

In your hands are the depths of the earth;
the heights of the mountains are yours also.
The sea is yours, for you have made it,
and the dry land, which your hands have formed.
….

Psalms 94, 96

Daily Lectionary Reading, Matthew 28:16-20

Lectio Divina
Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, an teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age (Matthew 28:19-20).

O Lord, our Sovereign, how majestic is your name in all the earth! You have set your glory above the heavens (Psalm 8:1).

Prayer for Today:
Holy, Holy, Holy God, fill us with strength and courage, with discernment and compassion, that we may be your instruments of justice and love in this world, that it may be on earth as it is in heaven. Amen. (from RCL Prayers, Fortress Press).

Midday Psalm 119:129-136

Evening
Psalms 110, 111, 112, 113, 114

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Varieties of Gifts, a Reflection on 1 Corinthians 12:3b-13

(Repeat)
Look back at the first chapter of Corinthians--Paul has heard that the congregation has divided into groups and the groups are not getting along. The more things change .... you know the rest.

Paul continues to lecture and warn and remind them of what they should be concerned about.

In Chapter 12, he talks about spiritual gifts. (We aren't sure whether the Greek term should be translated as "spiritual gifts" or "spiritual persons").

Paul tells them, and through them, tells us that a congregation is made up of people with different gifts. Both words are important: different and gifts.

Gifts denotes that we don't get these talents or abilities by ourselves. The Spirit of God has passed them out to us. Different is also important because difference is essential if the whole thing is going to work.

Note the pattern from unity through diversity in order to enable unity.

Daily Prayer, Sunday, June 12, 2011

Morning
May my meditation be pleasing to you, O Lord.

Invitatory Psalm Sun 24
The earth is the Lord’s and all that is in it, the world, and those who live in it.
You have founded it on the seas and established it on the rivers.
....

Psalm 90, 92, 93

Daily Lectionary Reading, 1 Corinthians 12:3b-13

Lectio Divina
Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of services, but the same Lord; and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who activates all of them in everyone. To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good (1 Corinthians 12:4-7).

May my meditation be pleasing to him, for I rejoice in the Lord. Bless the Lord, O my soul. Praise the Lord! (Psalm 104:31)

Prayer for Today:
Grant that, gathered and directed by your Spirit, we may confess Christ as Lord and combine our diverse gifts with a singular passion to continue his mission in this world until we join in your eternal praise. Amen. (from RCL Prayers, Fortress Press)

Evening
Psalms 108, 109

Saturday, June 11, 2011

What do Strangers Have to Say to Us? a Reflection on Acts 2:12-21

Repeat from previous years:

Here is part of the poem, "Pentecost," offered by Jan L. Richardson:
....
and I am not persuaded
that if we look alike
God will love us more.


I believe God loves the languages
of those struggling to speak
the words embedded in our flesh
of every shape and hue.

And I believe God blesses
every space where we are welcomed
to speak with tongues of fire
and hear with hearts aflame.


I found the poem in her book, In Wisdom's Path: Discovering the Sacred in Every Season.

Her thoughts have forced me to rethink the Pentecost message. Have I been too restrictive in my definition of language?

Daily Prayer, Saturday, June 11, 2011

Morning
May my meditation be pleasing to you, O Lord.

Invitatory Psalm Fri 118
O Lord, we give thanks to to you, for you are good;
your steadfast love endures forever!
....

This is the day that the Lord has made;
let us rejoice and be glad in it.
Save us, we beseech you, O Lord!
O Lord, we beseech you, give us success!
….
You are my God, and I will give thanks to you;
you are my God, I will extol you.

O Lord, we give thanks to you,
for you are good,
your steadfast love endures forever.

Psalms 81, 82, 85

Daily Lectionary Reading, Acts 2:12-21

Lectio Divina
In the last days it will be, God declares, that I will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh, and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams (Acts 2:17).

These all look to you to give the their food in due season; when you give to them, they gather it up (Psalm 104:27-28).

Prayer for Today:
Fire from heaven
not raining-down-destruction fire
but lighting fire,
a-lighting
on soul kindling
waiting for blessing.

Tongues of fire!
Isaiah's hot coal,
cleansing tongues,
loosing tongues,
unleashing tongues to speak
unfathomable glories.

Tongues of fire!
night-lighting fire,
leading lost ones,
comforting scared ones,
healing scarred ones,
warming fire.

Tongues of fire!
burned-not-consumed fire,
Moses' bush,
shining emblem in a desert of shame.

Tongues of fire!
Shadrach's fire
singeing some,
shielding others,
revealing the Son of God.
(Safiyah Fosua, http://bit.ly/lylC7D)



Evening
Psalm 107

Friday, June 10, 2011

Reactions to the Pentecost Surprise, a Reflection on Acts 2:1-11

The Holy Spirit appeared suddenly, loudly, and effectively. The reaction was mixed. Some were bewildered, amazed, astonished.

Even when they found themselves able to understand in their own languages what the recipients were saying, the first witnesses either didn't know what was happening or made up a reason that seemed reasonable--they must be drunk.

Miracles or any exciting phenomena do not necessarily generate faith.

Peter responded to the lack of understanding and the rude remark by preaching a sermon.

Nonbelievers will not agree with our explanations. At least right away. After all, why should they? Allowing experience to explain phenomena is not unexpected.

Be careful with those sermons. They don't always help the unbeliever. At least right away.

I'm wondering what fraction of the people listening to a sermon on any Sunday are unbelievers. I'm wondering what they think about what they see happening that we explain has come through the Lord.
(Repeat)

Daily Prayer, Friday, June 10, 2011

Morning
May my meditation be pleasing to you, O Lord.

Invitatory Psalm 118

Psalm 76

Daily Lectionary Reading, Acts 2:1-11

Lectio Divina
(Acts 2:3-4)
Psalm 104:27-28)

Midday Psalm 119:121-128

Prayer for Today:
Perplexing, Pentecostal God, you infuse us with your Spirit, urging us to vision and dream. May the gift of your presence find voice in our lives, that our babbling may be transformed into discernment and the flickering of many tongues light an unquenchable fire of compassion and justice. Woo us from our tendency to build walls between brothers and sisters and bring us unity of heart and understanding like that first Pentecost Day. Amen. (from RCL Prayers and Prayers of the People)

Evening
Psalm 106

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Praise the Lord, a Reflection on Psalm 104;24-34, 35b

Youtube has several versions of Psalm 104 including a Praise song version, an Amy Grant version, a photographic presentation.

Psalm 104 summarizes creation. In this week's lection, we give thanks to the Lord for the creatures of the earth and for the sea, great and wide. We recognize that all the gifts we have originate with the Lord, and we recognize the part of other people in ensuring that the Lord's gifts are distributed.

As we read--and pray--toward Pentecost, we read verses 30, "When you send forth your spirit, they are created; and you renew the face of the ground." and we respond with verse 35b, "Bless the Lord, O my soul. Praise the Lord!"

Daily Prayer, Thursday, June 9

Morning
May my meditation be pleasing to you, O Lord.

Invitatory Psalm 150
Praise the Lord!

We praise you in your sanctuary;
we praise you in your mighty firmament!
We praise you for your mighty deeds;
We praise you according to your surpassing greatness!
We praise you with trumpet sound;
We praise you with tambourine and dance;
We praise you with strings and pipe!
We praise you with clanging cymbals;
We praise you with loud clashing cymbals!

Let everything that breathes praise the Lord!
Praise the Lord!


Psalm 73

Daily Lectionary Reading, Psalm 104:24-34, 35b

Lectio Divina,
When you hide your face, they are dismayed; when you take away their breath, they die and return to the dust (Psalm 104:29).

May my meditation be pleasing to him, for I rejoice in the Lord. Bless the Lord, O my soul. Praise the Lord! (Psalm 104:34)

Midday Psalm 119:113-120

Prayer for Today:
We are grateful, O God, for those who have gone before us and carried the tradition of the Spirit forward: for those who have been able to dream distant dreams; for those whose visions can always see light however much darkness there seems to be; for those who teach us that life always leans forward and that to clutch too closely to the past is always a destructive posture....Amen. (from Prayers of the People, Richard Einerson).


Evening
Psalm 105

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Receiving the Spirit in the Wilderness, a Reflection on Numbers 11:24-30

Repeatedly in the Book of Numbers, the Lord gives something to the people, escape from slavery, for example, and the people soon start complaining about not having one more thing. Often, their complaints seem understandable to me--when they are thirsty, they want water, but, overall, their complaints do demonstrate their limited trust in the Lord to provide everything they need.

Moses also complained. Earlier in chapter 11, he complained to the Lord about being burdened with all these complainers. The Lord responded by sharing the leadership responsibility with seventy elders.

As we today prepare for Pentecost Sunday, the remembrance of the Holy Spirit coming on the believers, we read this passage in Numbers about the Spirit coming down, speaking to Moses, and being shared with others. Those who received the Spirit were able to prophesy.

To the consternation of some, the Spirit also landed on a couple of men who had not been in the original group. When Joshua, Moses' assistant, tried to stop them from prophesying, Moses stopped him. Moses said, "Do you think I need to be the only one that hears what God says? Do you think I want God's attention on me alone?"

We continue to wrestle with the questions of who has the appropriate authority to speak in God's name and who should be in charge of this authorization.

Daily Prayer, Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Morning
May my meditation be pleasing to you, O Lord.

Invitatory Psalm 100
Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth.
Worship the Lord with gladness;
come into the Lord’s presence with singing.

We know that you are God.
It is you that made us, and we are yours.
we are your people and the sheep of your pasture.

We enter your gates with thanksgiving,
and your courts with praise.
We give thanks to you, bless your name.
For you, O Lord, are good;
your steadfast love endures forever,
and your faithfulness to all generations.

Psalms 71, 72

Daily Lectionary Reading, Numbers 11:24-30

Lectio Divina
And Joshua son of Nun, the assistant of Moses, one of his chosen men, said, "My lord Moses, stop them!" But Moses said to him, "Are you jealous for my sake? Would that all the Lord's people were prohets, and that the Lord would put his spirit on them!" (Numbers 11:28-29)

Yonder is the sea, great and wide, creeping things innumerable are there, living things both small and great. There go the ships, and Leviathan that you formed to sport in it (Psalm 104:25-26)

Midday Psalm 119:105-112

Prayer for Today:
Open us to your word even as it comes through the unexpected. Open us to the opportunities to share your word as we recognize that you have put your Spirit on us, and on others. Amen.

Evening
Psalm 104

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Rivers of Living Water, a Reflection on John 7:37-39

This alternative gospel reading for Pentecost tells us about an appearance Jesus had made on the last day of the festival of booths, a time of celebrating the harvest and remembering the time of wandering in the wilderness.

Near the end of the festival, the priest would pour freshly drawn water on the altar as an offering to God. Allen & Williamson in their Preaching the Gospel say that although this rite originated as a petition for rain, it had developed into a broader statement of salvation. They cite the Babylonian Talmud's explanation of its significance by citing Isaiah 12:3, "With joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation."

Jesus says to them, "Let anyone who is thirsty come to me, and let the one who believes in my drink." John has used water as a metaphor before--The Samaritan woman who asked Jesus for living water (4:1-15) and the crowd who had been fed bread and wanted true bread from heaven (6:25-35).

Allen & Williamson mention several passages that use the metaphor of water; e.g.:
For I will pour water on the thirsty land, and steams on the dry ground; I will pour my spirit upon your descendants, and my blessing on your offspring (Isaiah 44:3).
Then he brought me back to the entrance of the temple; there, water was flowing from below the threshold of the temple....Wherever the river goes, every living creature that swarms will live, and there will be very many fish, once these waters reach there. It will become fresh; and everything will live where the river goes....(Ezekiel 47:1-12)

John tells us that what Jesus was talking about is the Spirit. Since we now know that Modalism is a heresy, we need to be able to interpret "for as yet there was no Spirit," as not meaning that the Spirit did not exist before Jesus. Here's what O'Day and Hylen have to say in their commentary on John:
These words should not be taken as a general statement that Gods Spirit did not yet exist, for John the Baptist makes reference to the Holy Spirit's presence at Jesus' baptism (1:32-33). Instead, the future gift of the Spirit underscores the way in which the Spirit will become known in the life of the church after the death, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus. Jesus' teachings about the Spirit's role in the church are found in the farewell discourse (chapters 14-17), and his gift of the Spirit is narrated in 20:22-23.

Daily Prayer, Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Morning
May my meditation be pleasing to you, O Lord.

Invitatory Psalm 84
How lovely is your dwelling place, O Lord of hosts!
My soul longs, indeed it faints for the courts of the Lord;
my heart and my flesh sing for joy to the living God.

Even the sparrow finds a home, and the swallow for herself
where she may lay her you, at your altars, O Lord of hosts, my Ruler and my God.
Happy are those who live in your house, ever singing your praise.

Psalm 65, 66, 70

Daily Lectionary Reading, John 7:37-39

Lectio Divina
On the last day of the festival, the great day, while Jesus was standing there, he cried out, "Let anyone who is thirsty come to me, and let the one who believes in me drink. As the scriptures has said, 'Out of the believer's heart shall flow rivers of living water.'" Now he said this about the Spirit, which believers in him were to receive; for as yet there was no Spirit, because Jesus was not yet glorified (John 7:37-39).

I will sing to the Lord as long as I live; I will sing praise to my God while I have being (Psalm 104:33).

Prayer for Today:
Holy God, you spoke the world into being. Pour your Spirit to the ends of the earth, that your children may return from exile as citizens of your commonwealth, and our divisions may be healed by your word of love and righteousness. Amen.

Midday Psalm 119:97-104

Evening
Psalms 102, 103

Monday, June 6, 2011

Pentecost Blessing

Go to Jan Richardson's website, The Painted Prayerbook to see her Pentecost Blessing and image.

Jesus Comes to Them, a Reflection on John 20:19-23

The lectionary offers a choice of gospel readings for Pentecost--John 20:19-23 or John 7:37-39. The one from John 20 was also the gospel lesson for the second Sunday of Easter this year. Here's what I posted for it then:
Mary had told them that she has seen the risen Jesus, but they are afraid anyway.

A sermon was not enough to liberate them from their fears.

Jesus came to them, anyway.

We may still not be willing to start our lives anew. Jesus may come to us, anyway.

They were afraid, but he breathed the Holy Spirit on them and gave them a commission. He intended for them to get out of that locked room.

Daily Prayer, Monday, June 6, 2011

Daily Prayer, Monday, June 6
Morning
May my meditation be pleasing to you, O Lord.

Invitatory Psalm 95
O come, let us sing to the Lord:
let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation!
We come into your presence with thanksgiving;
we make a joyful noise to you with songs of praise.
You, Lord, are a great God.

Psalms 57, 61, 64

Daily Lectionary Reading, John 20:19-23

Lectio Divina
After he said this, he showed then his hands and his side. Then thee disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord. Jesus said to them again, "Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you" (John 20:21-22).

O Lord, how manifold are your works! In wisdom you have made them all; the earth is full of your creatures (Psalm 104:24).

Midday Psalm 119:89-96

Prayer for today:
Empowering God, you gave the church the abiding presence of your Holy Spirit. Look upon your church today and hear our petitions. (Pray for the church, the world, your community, the persons closest to you.) Woo us to wish for and to work for, peace and justice among all your peoples. Amen. (from RCL Prayers and from Prayers of the People).


Evening
Psalms 87, 88, 91

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Difficult but Necessary Instruction, a Reflection on 1 Peter 4:12-15; 5:6-11

Not everyone will appreciate your being a Christian. Sometimes, the things you do because you are a Christian will irritate people a lot. For example, in a country that is not friendly with the U.S., Christian evangelism may be seen as an attempt undermining that country. But, besides trying to get religious people to change their religion to ours, what do Christians do that would be upsetting?

What are Christians supposed to do to be Christians? Love one another. Feed the poor. Care for the helpless. Visit prisoners. Treat others the way you want to be treated. Forgive. Pray. You can think of others.

Some groups don't like the idea of feeding the poor or making sure old people will be able to afford health care twenty years from now.

These long-ago Christians were told to humble themselves. I'm wondering how many of us Christians of today think we are still supposed to be humble. Is humble something to be desired? accepted? Wouldn't we rather have that exaltation now rather than some time in the future?

Daily Prayer, Sunday, June 5, 2011

Morning
Sing praises to our King, sing praises.

Invitatory Psalm 24
The earth is the Lord’s and all that is in it, the world, and those who live in it.
You have founded it on the seas and established it on the rivers.

Who shall ascend the hill of the Lord?
And who shall stand in your holy place?
Those who have clean hands and pure hearts,
who do not lift up their souls to what is false,
and do not swear deceitfully.
They will receive blessing from the Lord, and vindication from the God of heir salvation.
Such is the company of those who seek you, who seek the face of the God of Jacob.

Psalms 52, 53, 54, 56

Daily Lectionary Reading, 1 Peter 4:12-14; 5:6-11

Lectio Divina
Cast all your anxiety on him, because he cares for you. Discipline yourselves, keep alert. Like a roaring lion your adversary the devil prowls around, looking for someone to devour. Resist him, steadfast in your faith, for you know that your brothers and sisters in all the world are undergoing the same kinds of suffering (1 Peter 5:7-9).

Awesome is God in his sanctuary, the God of Israel; he gives power and strength to his people. Blessed be God (Psalm 68:35).

Prayer for today:
O Lord, strengthen us and sustain us as we face the turmoils and pains of life. Give us the courage and the will to follow the commands you have left for us. Through your Spirit, remind us that you are with us and will sustain us as we work in the world, against the world, and for the world. Amen.

Evening
Psalms 78, 79, 83, 86

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Left Behind--to be the Church, a Reflection on Acts 1:6-14

They've witnessed the crucifixion (from a distance) and are now in the presence of the risen Jesus. What they want to know is whether he is about to restore the kingdom to Israel. I'm reading this to mean is he going to lead the overthrow of the Romans who have occupied what had been their country.

He responds, "It is not for you to know the times or periods that the Father has set by his own authority."

[Aside: We have recent evidence that this pronouncement is still true. See http://bit.ly/iXbmtG]

Although he doesn't tell them the exact time, he does assure them that the Holy Spirit will give them the power they need to be his witnesses--and that their work will not be just for their neighborhood but to the ends of the earth.

They see him ascend. While they're looking up to where he has disappeared from them, two men in white robes ask them why they're looking toward heaven. They say that Jesus will return.

In his commentary on Acts for the Interpretation series, Will Willimon says:
The response of the disciples to the instruction, reproof, and the promise is exemplary. They gather to pray...They are told to be witnesses "to the end of the earth" and their first response is prayer. The action demanded of the church is more than busyness and strenuous human effort. Disciples have been told that the promised kingdom is a gift to be given in God's own time and that the promised Spirit is also by God's grace. Their mission requires more than even their earnest striving.

Daily Prayer, Saturday, June 4, 2011

Morning
Sing praises to our King, sing praises.

Invitatory Psalm 67
God, be gracious to us and bless us
and make your face to shine upon you,
that your way may be known upon earth,
your saving power among all nations.
Let the peoples praise you, O God;
let all the peoples praise you.

Let the nations be glad and sing for joy,
for you judge the peoples with equity
and guide the nations upon earth.
Let the peoples praise you, O God;
let all the peoples praise you.

The earth has yielded its increase;
God, our God, has blessed us.
May God continue to bless us;
let all the ends of the earth revere you.

Psalms 50, 51

Daily Lectionary Reading, Acts 1:6-14; Psalm 68:1-10, 32-35

Lectio Divina
He replied, "It is not for you to know the times or periods that the Father has set by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth" (Acts 1:7-8).

Father of orphans and protector of widows is God in his holy habitation. God gives the desolate a home to live in; he leads out the prisoners to prosperity, but the rebellious live in a parched land (Psalm 68:5-6).

Prayer for Today:
When they thought that Jesus had left them, when they saw him go away, they returned to Jerusalem and stayed together. They were constantly together in prayer, their group included men and women. O Lord, when we think you have left us, gather us together with others, even those who may not be like us. Instill in us the will to pray. Remind us of all you have given us, and remind us of why you have given us so much and what you intend for us to do with these gifts you have entrusted to us. Keep us singing your praises. Amen.


Evening
Psalms 75, 77

Friday, June 3, 2011

Jesus Prays for the Church, a Reflection on John 17:1-11

Those of us who may limit the meaning of "eternal life" to heaven can get a richer meaning from this prayer. Jesus defines eternal life as a life shaped by knowing God and knowing Jesus Christ who has been sent by God. In their commentary on John, Gail O'Day and Susan Hylen say "Jesus makes God known to people (They suggest looking at verses 6, 24, and 26) and, in so doing, provides eternal life.

Jesus asked God to glorify your Son so that the Son may glorify you. Allen and Williamson in Preaching the Gospels point out that in the First Testament, "glory" and "glorification" referred to God's manifesting the divine will and power through people. They gives as examples, Exodus 16:10; 24:7; Wisdom 9:10; 2 Maccabeus 2:8.

In the days to come, these disciples will come together and scatter apart. The church still does. Jesus prayed that God would protect us so that we would be one. How unified are we? In what ways do we demonstrate that we know God? In what ways do we demonstrate that we are part of the world?

Daily Prayer, Friday, June 3, 2011

Morning
Sing praises to our King, sing praises.

Invitatory Psalm 118
....
This is the day that the Lord has made;
let us rejoice and be glad in it.
Save us, we beseech you, O Lord!
O Lord, we beseech you, give us success!
....

You are my God, and I will give thanks to you;
you are my God, I will extol you.

O Lord, we give thanks to you,
for you are good,
your steadfast love endures forever.

Psalms 41, 42, 43, 47

Daily Lectionary Reading, John 17:1-11

Lectio Divina
And this is eternal life, that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent (John 17:3).

But let the righteous be joyful; let them exult before God; let them be jubilant with joy (Psalm 68:3).

Prayer for Today:
O God of glory,
your Son Jesus Christ suffered for us
and ascended to your right hand.
Unite us with Christ and each other,
in suffering and in joy,
that all your children may be drawn into your bountiful dwelling. Amen.
(from RCL Prayers, Fortress Press).

Midday Psalm 119:78-88



Evening
Psalm 74

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Power to the Church, a Reflection on Ephesians 1:15-23

Repeat:
"I pray that God will send you the Spirit," Paul writes to the Ephesians.

Here's what the Spirit does for the church: enlightens the eyes of your heart
--that is, helps you to catch on to what God intends for you to be doing and what God has already done for you.

To these early Christians as they began to form congregations and missions, he is emphasizing power and what power is to be used for.

To these Christians adjusting to their life after the crucifixion of Jesus, he writes of the power available to them through God. God put this power to work in Christ and has made him the head of the church. The church is the body of Christ, "the fullness of him who fills all in all."

As I regularly do, I have been reading Boring & Craddock's People's New Testament Commentary. And, as I regularly am, I am glad that I do. For example,here's their discussion of the phrase, "glorious inheritance":

The phrase refers to God's inheritance, not the believers'. In Old Testament theology, Israel as God's chosen people is often called God's inheritance (Deut 4:20; 9:26, 29; 2 Sam 21:3; 1 Kings 8:51, 53; Ps 28:9; 33:12; 68:9; 78:62, 71; 94:14; 106:5, 4-; Isa 19:25; 47:6; 63:17; Jer 10:16; 51:19). For the author of Ephesians, to be in the church is to be incorporated into the continuing people of God, Israel (2:11-12).

Daily Prayer, Thursday, June 2, 2011

Morning
Sing praises to our King, sing praises.

Invitatory Psalm 150
Praise the Lord!

We praise you in your sanctuary;
we praise you in your mighty firmament!
We praise you for your mighty deeds;
We praise you according to your surpassing greatness!
We praise you with trumpet sound;
We praise you with tambourine and dance;
We praise you with strings and pipe!
We praise you with clanging cymbals;
We praise you with loud clashing cymbals!

Let everything that breathes praise the Lord!
Praise the Lord!

Psalms 39, 40

Daily Lectionary Reading, Ephesians 1:15-23

Lectio Divina
Far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the age to come. And he has put all things under his feet and has made him the head over all things for the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all (Ephesians 1:21-23).

God is king over the nations; God sits on his holy throne. The princes of the people gather as the people of the God of Abraham. For the shields of the earth belong to God; he is highly exalted (Psalm 47:8-9).

Prayer for Today:
Open our minds to understand the scriptures, O God,
so that when sin cripples our hope,
we may discover the freedom of your forgiveness;
when suffering and death overtake our lives,
we may know the joy of the risen Christ;
and when we feel abandoned,
we may comprehend the power of the promised Spirit,
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
(from RCL Prayers, Fortress Press.)

Midday Psalm 119:68-77

Evening
Psalm 69

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Blessing in the Leaving

Read Jan Richardson's poem, Blessing in the Leaving, for Ascension Day, the moving from Easter to Ordinary Time.

Over All the Earth, a Reflection on Psalm 47

This week, we read Luke's accounts of the ascension. In Acts, the resurrected Jesus was lifted up and a cloud took him out of their sight. In the gospel, he was carried up into heaven.

In the accounts of the ascension, we can hear echoes to this psalm--God has gone up with a shout. ("Gone up" anyway, but I'm not so sure about the "shout").

Walter Breuggemann discusses this psalm in Texts for Preaching:
When we say of Jesus in the creed, "He ascended into heaven," in the first instance this is the language of ritual enthronement and coronation. What is claimed substantively, politically, theologically is first asserted dramatically and liturgically.

In the psalm, the congregation is called to sing praises to the King, and the King is identified as God, the great king over all the earth, God, the king over the nations.
Clap your hands, all you peoples;
Shout to God with loud songs of joy (1).
Sing praises to God, sing praises;
Sing praises to our King, sing praises(6).
For God is king over the nations... (7).

Think about the "all the earth" and "king over the nations" assertions. People who have not formally entered into our community are being cared for by God. As we celebrate the Ascension of the Lord, we are recognizing that the care of Jesus extends far beyond the small circle of disciples at his death but, instead, is world-wide.

Daily Prayer, Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Morning
Sing praises to our King, sing praises.

Invitatory Psalm 100
Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth.
Worship the Lord with gladness;
come into the Lord’s presence with singing.

We know that you are God.
It is you that made us, and we are yours.
we are your people and the sheep of your pasture.

We enter your gates with thanksgiving,
and your courts with priase.
We give thanks to you, bless your name.
For you, O Lord, are good;
your steadfast love endures forever,
and your faithfulness to all generations.

Read and reflect on Psalm 37

Daily Lectionary Reading, Psalm 47

Lectio Divina
God has gone up with a shout, the Lord with the sound of a trumpet (Psalm 47:5).

Sing praises to God, sing praises; sing praises to our King, sing praises. For God is the King of all the earth; sing praises with a psalm (Psalm 47:6-7).

Prayer for today:
We recognize that you are the king over all the earth, and we give thanks to you for sharing your possessions with us. Amen.

Midday Psalm 119:57-67

Evening
Psalms 63, 68