Monday, July 16, 2018

Proper Prayers for Proper 16B (15 July 2018)

General Notes


· Those who are planning worship may take into consideration how the First Person of the Trinity is addressed in any prayer.
·     Some congregations may have concerns about the use of the noun ‘Lord’. When referring to the Second Person of the Trinity, some congregations may find it helpful to use ‘Jesus Christ’ or ‘Jesus the Christ’ or ‘Jesus our Saviour’ or ‘Jesus our Redeemer’ or some similar formulation that is faithful to the historicity of the Incarnation.
·     In contemporary English ‘so that’ is used to begin a clause that describes the hoped-for consequence of a specific petition rather than the simple ‘that’.

Proper 16B

Sunday between 17 and 23 July


2 Samuel 7.1-14a; Psalm 89.20-37; Ephesians 2.11-22; Mark 6.30-34, 53-56


Collect of the Day


Almighty God, your Son has opened for us a new and living way into your presence. Give us pure hearts and constant wills to worship you in spirit and in truth; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.  Amen. [The Book of Alternative Services1986, 369]
or
O God, powerful and compassionate, you shepherd your people, faithfully feeding and protecting us.  Heal each of us, and make us a whole people, that we may embody the justice and peace of your Son, Jesus Christ, our Saviour and Lord.  Amen.  [Evangelical Lutheran Worship2006, 42]
or
Holy God of Israel, draw us near to you, so that, in place of hostility, there may be peace; in place of loneliness, compassion; in place of aimlessness, direction; and in place of sickness, healing; through Christ Jesus, in whom you draw near to us.  Amen.  [Liturgy Task Force2016, 88]
or
Compassionate God, from far and near you gather your church into one, safeguard the unity of your flock through the teaching of Christ the Shepherd, so that all your scattered children may find in him the guidance and nourishment they seek. Amen.  [Liturgy Task Force2016, 88]

Prayer over the Gifts


O God, accept our praise and thanksgiving.  Help us in all we do to offer ourselves as a true and living sacrifice; through Jesus Christ the Lord.  Amen.  [The Book of Alternative Services1986, 369]
or
Holy God, gracious and merciful, you bring forth food from the earth and nourish your whole creation.  Turn our hearts toward those who hunger in any way, that all may know your care; and prepare us now to feast on the bread of life, Jesus Christ, our Saviour and Lord. Amen.  [Evangelical Lutheran Worship2006, 107]
or
God of all creation, all you have made is good, and your love endures forever.  You bring forth bread from the earth and fruit from the vine.  Nourish us with these gifts, that we might be for the world signs of your gracious presence in Jesus Christ, our Saviour and Lord.  Amen.  [Evangelical Lutheran Worship2006, 107]
or
Blessed are you, O God, maker of all things.  Through your goodness you have blessed us with these gifts:  our selves, our time, and our possessions.  Use us, and what we have gathered, in feeding the world with your love, through the one who gave himself for us, Jesus Christ, our Saviour and Lord.  Amen.  [Evangelical Lutheran Worship2006, 107]
or 
God of mercy and grace, the eyes of all wait upon you, and you open your hand in blessing.  Fill us with good things at your table, that we may come to the help of all in need, through Jesus Christ, our redeemer and Lord.  Amen.  [Evangelical Lutheran Worship2006, 64]
or
Merciful God, as grains of wheat scattered upon the hills were gathered together to become one bread, so let your church be gathered together from the ends of the earth into your kingdom, for yours is the glory through Jesus Christ, now and forever.  Amen.  [Evangelical Lutheran Worship2006, 64]

Prayer after Communion


O God, as we are strengthened in these holy mysteries, may our lives be a continual offering, holy and acceptable in your sight; through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen. [The Book of Alternative Services1986, 369]
or
We give you thanks, almighty God, that you have refreshed us through the healing power of this gift of life.  In your mercy, strengthen us through this gift, in faith toward you and in fervent love toward one another; for the sake of Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen. [Evangelical Lutheran Worship2006, 114]
or
O God, we give you thanks that you have set before us this feast, the body and blood of your Son.  By your Spirit strengthen us to serve all in need and to give ourselves away as bread for the hungry, through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.  [Evangelical Lutheran Worship2006, 114]
or
God of abundance, with this bread of life and cup of salvation you have united us with Christ, making us one with all your people.  Now send us forth in the power of your Spirit, that we may proclaim your redeeming love to the world and continue forever in the risen life of Jesus Christ, our Lord.  Amen.  [Evangelical Lutheran Worship2006, 114]
or
Gracious God, in this meal you have drawn us to your heart, and nourished us at your table with food and drink, the body and blood of Christ.  Now send us forth to be your people in the world, and to proclaim your truth this day and evermore, through Jesus Christ, our Saviour and Lord.  Amen.  [Evangelical Lutheran Worship2006, 65]
or
O God, our life, our strength, our food, we give you thanks for sustaining us with the body and blood of your Son.  By your Holy Spirit, enliven us to be his body in the world, that/so that more and more we will give you praise and serve your earth and its many peoples, through Jesus Christ, our Saviour and Lord.  Amen.  [Evangelical Lutheran Worship 2006, 65]

Saturday, July 14, 2018

What on Earth Is God Doing? Reflections on Ephesians 1.3-14 (RCL Proper 15B, 15 July 2018)

This is the first of a series of reflections on those pericopes from the Letter to the Ephesians appointed in the Revised Common Lectionary for Year B.

What on Earth Is God Doing?
Reflections on Ephesians 1.3-14

RCL Proper 15B
15 July 2018

Holy Trinity Cathedral

Ephesians 1.3-14

            1.3Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, 4just as he chose us in Christ before the foundation of the world to be holy and blameless before him in love.  5He destined us for adoption as his children through Jesus Christ, according to the good pleasure of his will, 6to the praise of his glorious grace that he freely bestowed on us in the Beloved.  7In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace 8that he lavished on us.  With all wisdom and insight 9he has made known to us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure that he set forth in Christ, 10as a plan for the fullness of time, to gather up all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth.  11In Christ we have also obtained an inheritance, having been destined according to the purpose of him who accomplishes all things according to his counsel and will, 12so that we, who were the first to set our hope on Christ, might live for the praise of his glory.  13In him you also, when you had heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and had believed in him, were marked with the seal of the promised Holy Spirit; 14this is the pledge of our inheritance toward redemption as God’s own people, to the praise of his glory.

At the heart of Christian worship is meeting the Word of God amidst the words of the Scriptures.
            Some years ago, while I was still teaching at Vancouver School of Theology, I heard my colleague Harry Maier, who teaches New Testament and early Christian literature, quote Martin Luther in a sermon.  I’m afraid that I didn’t write down exactly what Harry said, but the substance of Luther’s comment was this:  Sometimes, in order to be faithful to the Word of God, you have to preach against the words of the Scriptures.  What Luther and Harry were saying is that the words of the Scriptures are the attempt of human beings, moved by the Holy Spirit, to speak about God, to speak for God, to speak to their contemporaries.  Because we are mortal and not God, because we live in time and space, our words, however eloquent and precise they may be, can conceal as much as they reveal about the Holy One of Israel, the One who created all that is, seen and unseen.

            But every time we gather as Christians to proclaim the Word and to break the bread and to drink the cup, we cannot escape our need to discern what God is saying to us in the words of what we call the ‘Holy Scriptures’.  To help us in this task of discernment, Anglicans do not give the choice of what is to be read to the preacher alone.  We use a lectionary, a cycle of readings for Sundays and holy days, so that we are led through the Christian year to hear a wide range of voices from the beginnings of the Hebrew people to the struggles of the early Christian community.

            Sometimes, however, the number of voices we hear on a Sunday can overwhelm us, especially at this time of the year.  Our readings from the Hebrew Scriptures trace the story of David, his successes and his spectacular failures, while the readings from the Gospels will soon lead us on an extended reflection on what it means to speak of Jesus as the ‘bread of life’.  On top of all this, this Sunday we begin to read a letter from an anonymous disciple of Paul which, although we call it the Letter to the Ephesians, might not have been written to them alone.  So, when the reader ends by saying, ‘Hear what the Spirit is saying to the church,’ we could be forgiven if we were to respond, ‘And what is the Spirit saying to the church?’

            Don’t get me wrong.  Hearing the many voices from the Scriptures is a good thing.  I remember an occasion when I was preaching at Christ Church Cathedral.  My sermon was on the gospel, but the hymns focused on the epistle and the prayers of the people on the reading from the Hebrew Scriptures.  No one went home hungry for the Word of God.  But there is something to be said for focus --- not a ‘theme’ --- a focus on one current within the river of words we hear.

            So for the next few weeks I will be focussing on the Letter to the Ephesians. Why?  Because I think that the writer of this Letter, in addressing the context of his contemporaries, has something to say to us here at Holy Trinity Cathedral as we live out our commitment as disciples of Jesus.

What on Earth is God doing?
            Sometime before the year 100 c.e. a Jewish-Christian disciple whose roots where in the communities founded by the apostle Paul wrote a document to be shared widely among these communities.  He was concerned that the growing number of non-Jewish Christians, the so-called ‘Gentiles’, were not completely aware that the mystery of God’s plan began in creation, continued in the witness of the covenant with the people of Israel and made known in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus.  Like many converts to a new way of life, these Gentile disciples were living too much in the present, losing sight of the past and not looking towards the long and difficult road to the future.

            He tells his audience that they are part of an unfolding drama, the ‘mystery’ of God’s plan for the whole of creation.  From the creation itself to the present day, he writes, God has been revealing this plan, nothing less than the unity of all creation, the healing of the divisions caused by human sin.  And what are the signs of this mystery?

·     Creation itself is an act of love not a cosmic accident.
·     Human beings are made in the image of God and that image is love.
·     Human beings are called to grow into the likeness of God --- ‘We are called to act with justice, we are called to love tenderly, we are called to serve one another, to walk humbly with God’.[1]
·     All disciples are participants, co-workers with God, in working out this plan, whether Jew or Gentile.

What is the Spirit saying to the church?
            As we look at the society in which we live, the culture which shapes our daily lives, we know that there are many of our neighbours, our friends and our family who aren’t convinced that creation is an act of love.  And the only evidence we can offer is the self-giving love we choose to give.

            As our media daily report the tragedies of the world, the narrowness of vision expressed by many of the world’s political leaders and the active encouragement of division, prejudice and self-interest, it’s hard to believe that human beings are made in the image of God and that this image is love.  And the only evidence we can offer the witness of people of faith who resist the voices of fear and who choose hope.

            As we witness the harm done to ‘this fragile earth, our island home’ and the resistance within many of us to live more simply so that others may simply live, it’s difficult to find someone worth following, to find a way of life that can offer a different path.  And the only evidence we can offer is the way of discipleship, the way of Jesus.

            When demagogues laud ‘us’ versus ‘them’, when uninformed or intentionally malicious opinion is presented as ‘truth’, when influential voices prey on our innate fear of the ‘other’, walls that divide rise so high that we cannot see what or who is on the other side.  And the only evidence we can offer that God breaks down such walls is our own witness that there are no ‘others’, every human being is a child of God, every human being is precious not only in God’s eyes but ours.

            Among all the words from today’s readings this is what I believe is the Word and what the Spirit is saying to us, the followers of Jesus, the spiritual descendants of Abraham and Moses, the beloved of the Holy One of Israel.
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[1]Evangelical Lutheran Worship #720.

Monday, July 9, 2018

Proper Prayers for RCL Proper 15B (16 July 2018)

Suggested Proper Prayers


General Notes


·     Those who are planning worship may take into consideration how the First Person of the Trinity is addressed in any prayer.
·     Some congregations may have concerns about the use of the noun ‘Lord’. When referring to the Second Person of the Trinity, some congregations may find it helpful to use ‘Jesus Christ’ or ‘Jesus the Christ’ or ‘Jesus our Saviour’ or ‘Jesus our Redeemer’ or some similar formulation that is faithful to the historicity of the Incarnation.
·     In contemporary English ‘so that’ is used to begin a clause that describes the hoped-for consequence of a specific petition rather than the simple ‘that’.

Proper 15B

Sunday between 10 and 16 July


2 Samuel 6.1-5, 12b-19; Psalm 24; Ephesians 1.3-14; Mark 6.14-29


Collect of the Day


Almighty God, you have made us for yourself, and our hearts are restless until they find their rest in you.  May we find peace in your service, and in the world to some, see you face to face; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.  Amen.  [The Book of Alternative Services 1986, 367]
or
O God, from you come all holy desires, all good counsels, and all just works.  Give to us, your servants, that peace which the world cannot give, that our hearts may be set to obey your commandments; and also that we, being defended from the fear of our enemies, may live in peace and quietness, through Jesus Christ, our Saviour and Lord.  Amen.  [Evangelical Lutheran Worship 2006, 42]
or
God of the prophets, whose word cuts through the webs of power and holds the tyrant to account:  be with all who raise their voice against oppression and misrule, who are imprisoned and abused for freedom’s sake; help us to stand and speak with them and witness to your kingdom now; through Jesus Christ, the name above all others.  Amen. [Liturgy Task Force 2016, 87]
or
O God, when pride leads us deeper into sin, grant us strength, so that we may turn from pride and know the power of your uncompromising love.  In Jesus’ name we pray.  Amen.  [Liturgy Task Force 2016, 87]
or
God of justice, God of salvation, from every land you call a people to yourself. Yours is the work we do, yours the message we carry.  Keep your Church single-minded and faithful to you.  Let failure not discourage us nor success beguile our hearts, as you send us to proclaim the gospel.  We make our prayer through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, God for ever and ever.  Amen. [Opening Prayers 1997, 84-85]

Prayer over the Gifts


Father, your word creates in us a yearning for your kingdom.  Receive all we offer you this day, and keep us in your peace; for the sake of Jesus Christ the Lord.  Amen.  [The Book of Alternative Services 1986, 368]
or
Holy God, gracious and merciful, you bring forth food from the earth and nourish your whole creation.  Turn our hearts toward those who hunger in any way, that all may know your care; and prepare us now to feast on the bread of life, Jesus Christ, our Saviour and Lord. Amen.  [Evangelical Lutheran Worship 2006, 107]
or
God of all creation, all you have made is good, and your love endures forever.  You bring forth bread from the earth and fruit from the vine.  Nourish us with these gifts, that we might be for the world signs of your gracious presence in Jesus Christ, our Saviour and Lord.  Amen.  [Evangelical Lutheran Worship 2006, 107]
or
Blessed are you, O God, maker of all things.  Through your goodness you have blessed us with these gifts:  our selves, our time, and our possessions.  Use us, and what we have gathered, in feeding the world with your love, through the one who gave himself for us, Jesus Christ, our Saviour and Lord.  Amen.  [Evangelical Lutheran Worship 2006, 107]
or 
God of mercy and grace, the eyes of all wait upon you, and you open your hand in blessing.  Fill us with good things at your table, that we may come to the help of all in need, through Jesus Christ, our redeemer and Lord.  Amen.  [Evangelical Lutheran Worship 2006, 64]
or
Merciful God, as grains of wheat scattered upon the hills were gathered together to become one bread, so let your church be gathered together from the ends of the earth into your kingdom, for yours is the glory through Jesus Christ, now and forever.  Amen.  [Evangelical Lutheran Worship 2006, 64]

Prayer after Communion


Living God, in this sacrament we have shared in your eternal kingdom.  May we who taste this mystery forever serve you in faith, hope and love.  We ask this in the name of Jesus Christ the Lord.  Amen.  [The Book of Alternative Services 1986, 368]
or
We give you thanks, almighty God, that you have refreshed us through the healing power of this gift of life.  In your mercy, strengthen us through this gift, in faith toward you and in fervent love toward one another; for the sake of Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen. [Evangelical Lutheran Worship 2006, 114]
or
O God, we give you thanks that you have set before us this feast, the body and blood of your Son.  By your Spirit strengthen us to serve all in need and to give ourselves away as bread for the hungry, through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.  [Evangelical Lutheran Worship 2006, 114]
or
God of abundance, with this bread of life and cup of salvation you have united us with Christ, making us one with all your people.  Now send us forth in the power of your Spirit, that we may proclaim your redeeming love to the world and continue forever in the risen life of Jesus Christ, our Lord.  Amen.  [Evangelical Lutheran Worship 2006, 114]
or
Gracious God, in this meal you have drawn us to your heart, and nourished us at your table with food and drink, the body and blood of Christ.  Now send us forth to be your people in the world, and to proclaim your truth this day and evermore, through Jesus Christ, our Saviour and Lord.  Amen.  [Evangelical Lutheran Worship 2006, 65]
or
O God, our life, our strength, our food, we give you thanks for sustaining us with the body and blood of your Son.  By your Holy Spirit, enliven us to be his body in the world, that/so that more and more we will give you praise and serve your earth and its many peoples, through Jesus Christ, our Saviour and Lord.  Amen.  [Evangelical LutheranWorship 2006, 65]