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Intercessory Prayer - Part 2
To follow up with last weeks column on intercessory prayer, I came across this article written by Debie Thomas who I greatly admire. I am only using part of what she wrote. The based on the Gospel for this Sunday (The Seventh Sunday of Easter)….John 17:20-26. This passage focusing on part of what is called Jesus’s “High Priestly Prayer.” It is the end of his farewell discourse to his disciples.
“…In preparation for writing this essay, I sat with the words of the lection for a long time, waiting to see what words or phrases would stand out. I didn’t expect the magic words to be, “I ask.” But those are the words that caught my attention. What does it mean that Jesus spends his final moments with his friends in humble, anxious supplication? Jesus who healed the sick and fed the hungry and raised the dead. What does it mean that that same Jesus ends his ministry by asking into uncertainty? Hoping into doubt? Trusting into danger?
In an outpouring of words and emotions, Jesus asks God to do for his followers what he himself cannot do. To be for us in spirit what he can no longer be for us in body. “May they be in us,” he prays. May they all be one. May they know the love that founded the world. May they see the glory of God.
In his beautiful book entitled, Tokens of Trust, the 104th Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, describes the strangeness and wonder of this Jesus who prays: “Yes, Jesus is a human being in whom God’s action is at work without interruption or impediment. But wait a moment: the Jesus we meet in the Gospels is someone who prays, who speaks of putting his will and his decisions at the service of his Father. He is someone who is in a relationship of dependence on the one he prays to as Father. In him there is divine purpose, power, and action; but there is also humility, responsiveness, and receptivity.”
Do I know this Jesus, the one who pleads so earnestly? I think I know the Jesus who teaches, heals, resurrects, and feeds. But do I know this one? This vulnerable one who in this passage does the single hardest thing a friend, a lover, a spouse, a parent, a child, a teacher, a pastor ever does? Sends his cherished ones into a treacherous, divisive, broken world on nothing but a hope and a prayer? Entrusts the treasures of his heart to the vast mystery that is intercession?
I ask. As if to say: I don’t know what you will do with my asking. I don’t know how or when or if you will answer this prayer. I can't force your hand. But I am staking my life and the lives of my loved ones on your goodness, because there’s literally nothing more I can do on my own. I have come to the end of what this aching love of mine can hold and guard and save. I ask.
To wonder what role prayer plays in our world, a world rife with tragedy, injustice, and oppression, is to raise the hardest questions I can think of about God — questions I don’t know how to answer. Does God intervene directly in human affairs? Does his intervention — or lack of it — depend in any way on our asking? Can prayer "change" God?
The challenge of intercessory prayer is that it's subjective. What looks like God's "yes" in my eyes might easily look like his "no," his silence, or even his non-existence in yours. As Barbara Brown Taylor puts it, "The meaning we give to what happens in our lives is our final, inviolable freedom." When is an "answer to prayer" really an answer? When is it coincidence? Randomness? A trick of the light? The cost of our liberty — a cost God daily chooses to endure — is that we can't say for sure. Not in this lifetime.
So why do I pray? One answer is that I pray because I am compelled to do so. Because something in me cries out for engagement, relationship, attentiveness, and worship. I pray because my soul yearns for connection with an Other who is God, and that connection is best forged in prayer. With words, without words, through laughter, through tears, in hope, and in despair, prayer holds open the possibility that I am not alone, and that this broken, aching world isn't alone, either. I pray, as C.S Lewis writes, "because I can't help myself." Because "the need flows out of me all the time — waking and sleeping."
That’s a reasonable answer. But maybe this week’s Gospel reading offers me another one: I pray because Jesus did. I ask because Jesus asked. Asking is the last thing he did before his arrest. The last tender memory he bequeathed to his friends. He didn’t awe them with a grand finale of miracles. Neither did he contemplate their futures and despair. He looked up to heaven with a trembling heart, and surrendered his cherished ones to God.
Jesus asked because he loved too much not to.
May we bravely and humbly do likewise.”
Think on these things and see how it might affect your prayers. It also will, I hope affect how you respond to the various Prayers of the People we will be using in the months ahead.
I close with two prayers. One is Dedie Taylor's favorite:
“Lord, you know. In Jesus’ name, Amen. “
And my favorite prayer:
Lord, AGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGH! Thank you for listening. Amen
It is with sadness that I share with you that after 28 years, Bill Smith is retiring was our organist. His email is below. The Bishop's Committee will figure out the best time and way to celebrate and give thanks for Bill's ministry of music and Gail's presence among us.
It appears that the time for my retirement has arrived. On Sunday I struggled to perform my duties. Apparently I was suffering the onset of a light stroke. As the day progressed I lost the use of my right hand. I am not paralyzed but my right arm and hand are very weak. I may return from this but I can see it will be very slow going. I am very sorry I couldn't complete my 28 years at St. Paul's, but I got close. It has been a joy serving God and the people of St. Paul, but I guess all things must end.
I will keep you updated on my condition.
God bless you and your family. Please tell the folks I will always remember them with a great fondness.
ALSO.....IT IS FINISHED!!!!!!
THE PRAYER WALL
Waiting for chalk holder and chalk and we are ready.
Many Thanks to Buddy Knight who built the wall and is building the chalk holder, Carolyn Macartney and her apprentice, Britt Mazurek made the wall come alive!
P.S. Mark your calendars...A continuation of our Book study focusing on The Wisdom Jesus by Cynthia Bourgeault. It will be held on Thursday nights beginning on June 13 and ending on July 18th. It will be held in the Casita in Alpine at 6:30 in the evening. Our own David Mainz will be the facilitator. We have extra copies of the book at the church.
Acts 16: 16-34
THIS WEEK JESUS PRAYS FOR UNITY
The Seventh Sunday of Easter
Acts 16.16-34: Chains
There are multiple options for this week in RCL Year C in 2016. One option is to treat the week as Easter 7C (if not observing Ascension Sunday on May 8, 2016). If you choose the readings for Easter 7C, the reading from Acts is 16:16-34.
In that passage are several different expressions of the issue of slavery. A slave girl's gift of insight is exploited by her owners in order to make money. She cries out that Paul and Silas are "slaves of the Most High God." When given the opportunity to escape from jail (where they are being kept with their feet in stocks), Paul and Silas choose to remain in the jail, saving the life of the jailer and leading him to belief in the Lord Jesus Christ.
Each of these ideas approaches the idea of slavery and chains in a different way. The girl has no choice. She is exploited, kept in slavery because her owners profit from her. Paul and Silas are voluntary slaves. Slaves to no human but only to God. That relationship leads them to choose to remain in jail, even when they might have been freed.
We may be tempted to think about slavery in first-century Palestine differently than slavery in more recent centuries. It was not race-based; any person could be enslaved. It was not uncommon for parents of families living in poverty to sell their children into slavery. Perhaps that is how the girl in Acts found herself owned and telling prophecies for her owners. However it is, she was in no position to help herself or to make decisions about staying where she was. And in that sense, in that taking away of personal human agency, all slavery is the same.
Shackles intended for a child.c. 1800. New York Historical Society. Published in The Civil War in 50 Objects (https://books.google.com/books?id=98uKmoB8o9gC&printsec=frontcover&source=gbs_ge_summary_r&cad=0#v=onepage&q&f=false)
The shackles above were intended for a child. And perhaps the girl in the Acts passage was not shackled as the 19th-century African children were shackled, but she was chained every bit as much until she was freed by Paul's words to the spirit that possessed her, "I order you in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her."
The name of Jesus Christ freed this girl. The name of Jesus Christ could free everyone who is chained.
30th - Ascension Day
30th - Thursday -
Jeanne d’Arc (Joan of Arc), Mystic and Soldier, 1431
31st - THE VISITATION OF THE BLESSED VIRGIN MARY
1st - 6 PM - Wedding of Philippe Corbe & Javier Cespedes
2nd - Seventh Sunday of Easter
9:15 - Bible Study
10:30 - The Holy Eucharist
2nd - Sunday -
1st - Saturday - Justin, Martyr at Rome, c. 167
Blandina and Her Companions, the Martyrs of Lyons,
3rd - Monday -
The Martyrs of Uganda, 1886
4th - Tuesday -
John XXIII (Angelo Guiseppe Roncalli), Bishop of Rome, 1963
5th - Noon - Alpine Ministerial Alliance
5th - Wednesday -
Boniface, Archbishop of Mainz, Missionary to Germany, and Martyr, 754
6th - Thursday -
Ini Kopuria, Founder of the Melanesian Brotherhood, 1945
7th - Friday -
The Pioneers of the Episcopal Anglican Church of Brazil, 1890
8th - Tuesday -
Roland Allen, Mission Strategist, 1947
9th - Pentecost Sunday - WEAR RED
9:00 - Bishop's Committee
10:30 - The Holy Eucharist
9th - Sunday -
Columba, Abbot of Iona, 597
10th - Monday -
Ephrem of Edessa, Syria, Deacon, 373
12th - Wednesday -
Enmegahbowh, Priest and Missionary, 1902
13th - 6:30 - Book Study in the Casita
The Wisdom Jesus
13th - Thursday -
Gilbert Keith Chesterton, Apologist and Writer, 1936
14th - Friday -
Basil the Great, Bishop of Caesarea, 379
15th - Saturday -
Evelyn Underhill, 1941
16th - Trinity Sunday
9:15 - Bible Study
10:30 - The Holy Eucharist
16th - Sunday -
George Berkeley, 1753, and Joseph Butler, 1752, Bishops and Theologians
June 17th - July 3rd
Susan and Fr. Mike's Anniversary Tour
18th - Tuesday -
Bernard Mizeki, Catechist and Martyr in Mashonaland, 1896
19th - Wednesday -
Adelaide Teague Case, Teacher, 1948
20th - 6:30 - Book Study in the Casita
The Wisdom Jesus
22nd - Saturday -
Alban, First Martyr of Britain, c. 304
23rd - Second Sunday after Pentecost - Proper 7
9:15 - Bible Study
10:30 - Morning Prayer led by Allison Scott
Here is who we prayed for in church
Any changes, please let us know.
For The Church
.…We pray especially for Justin, Archbishop of Canterbury, Michael, our Presiding Bishop, Michael, our Bishop, and Michael our Vicar….
In the Anglican Cycle of Prayer we pray for the Anglican Church of Melanesia…
In our Diocesan cycle of prayer, we pray for St. Andrew's, Las Cruces, St. James' Mesilla Park… We Also pray for St. James, Alpine, St. Stephens, Ft. Stockton, Santa Inez, Terlingua, Chapel of St. Mary & St. Joseph, Lajitas, and the Marfa and Alpine Ministerial Alliances…. For Connor Travis and the ministry of Young Life
For Those In Authority
….For Donald, our president, Greg our Governor and Ann Marie, our Mayor, Manny our mayor-elect and the mayors of our surrounding communities…. our elected officials in Washington and all who exercise authority at any level of government. For all who struggle to make a more just society…
For People and Places in the World
…for peace, that the Spirit will inspire human hearts to turn from violence, and work together to defeat the common enemies of disease, ignorance and poverty….For refugees and displaced persons, that God will guide to safety all who have fled violence and persecution, and help them find welcome in new communities…, for all who live and work in places of war and violence, For women and men and children who have been victims of sexual assault and sexual exploitation… for those whose lives have been turned upside down by various disasters: that God will help them rebuild their lives, give them strength to face their challenges and touch the hearts of many to assist them…,for all those in the military, especially those who come home broken in body, mind, and spirit …may the hearts of those reporting the news be drawn to what is true and right telling the truth in the most helpful way,…
For St. Paul's
Bless and direct the people of this congregation. Make us confident that you love us and know each of us by name. Move us past our fears and preoccupations into eager discipleship and loving service. Let all be done your glory, and for the good of those in our family, community, workplace and world.…guide us to live out our mission to be a welcoming, prayerful, caring community actively sharing the love of God…
For Those Who Have Asked For Prayers From Our Community
….Betty, Bill & Gail, Patty, Holly, D'Ette, Merit and the Fowlkes family, James, Shere, Kevin and Jay, Lesly, Lila, Linda King, Melodie, Mimi, Pat & Mary, the Vana Family… FOR Jeanie Olivas, Vijaya, Frank, Larry, Jack Risen, Kathryn Anschutuz, Sue Ellen Kelly, Brian Hutchins who have cancer… FOR David and Catherine in the midst of chemotherapy, …for Michael Simpson, Dale and Lee Ann, FOR Helen Bates, Gene, and Rucker who are in Hospice care….. for James and Brian Neal, Jacob, Linda & David, for Jenny, Megan and Elizabeth, for David who has MSA, for the Sidney Taylor-Cryer Detention Center Retreat next weekend….
Prayers of Thanksgiving
….first responders throughout the world,…For Marfa’s first responders and those in our surrounding communities… for the Border Patrol who live in our communities…the United Nations and its agencies, peace-keeping forces, and relief and aid organizations, for all who plant seeds of peace through prayer and action both near and far, for those heroes both known and unknown who show compassion and courage for people in the face of trouble, for people simply being good neighbors, for teachers, educators and administrators in our schools….for Ann Marie and the gift of her leadership during her time as our Mayor.…
FOR THOSE WHO HAVE DIED:
Walter Sayle Smith, George W. Smith and Harold K. Wilkes
You are the Alpha and Omega, the beginning and end, O God: Accept our prayers on behalf of the whole creation and strengthen it in your love, that we may honor your Spirit which fills the whole earth, through Jesus Christ our Savior. Amen.
O God, Creator of all thats is -
of seas and clouds, rains and rivers,
grass and trees, insects and fish,
humans, animals, birds and reptiles,
of all life connected, sharing this one earth -
we are aware that our way of living
is profoundly affecting the earth's climate,
that many people are in danger of flood and drought,
that some are greatly impoverished,
and the whole fabric of life is in danger.
to those who make international policies,
give wisdom and courage;
to those who direct industry and commerce,
give a concern for the common good;
to those who struggle for justice,
give strength and hope;
and to us all
give the grace and strength to change our ways
for the good of all that lives
and for your glory.
GOOD NEWS & THANK YOU
A big thank you to Bill Smith for his music ministry of nearly 28 years of sitting on the bench, playing the keys and the pedals on our organ.
Thank you to people participating in the discussion about intercessory prayer either in person or on-line.
SEEING YOU SUNDAY