Prayer of the Day
O Lord God, tireless guardian of your people, you are always ready to hear our cries. Teach us to rely day and night on your care. Inspire us to seek your enduring justice for all this suffering world, through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord.
27The days are surely coming, says the Lord, when I will sow the house of Israel and the house of Judah with the seed of humans and the seed of animals. 28And just as I have watched over them to pluck up and break down, to overthrow, destroy, and bring evil, so I will watch over them to build and to plant, says the Lord. 29In those days they shall no longer say:
“The parents have eaten sour grapes,
and the children’s teeth are set on edge.”
30But all shall die for their own sins; the teeth of everyone who eats sour grapes shall be set on edge.
31The days are surely coming, says the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah. 32It will not be like the covenant that I made with their ancestors when I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt—a covenant that they broke, though I was their husband, says the Lord. 33But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord: I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. 34No longer shall they teach one another, or say to each other, “Know the Lord,” for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, says the Lord; for I will forgive their iniquity, and remember their sin no more.
97Oh, how I | love your teaching!
All the day long it is | in my mind.
98Your commandment has made me wiser | than my enemies,
for it is | always with me.
99I have more understanding than | all my teachers,
for your decrees | are my study.
100I am wiser | than the elders,
because I observe | your commandments.
101I restrain my feet from every | evil way,
that I may | keep your word.
102I do not turn aside | from your judgments,
because you your- | self have taught me.
103How sweet are your words | to my taste!
They are sweeter than honey | to my mouth.
104Through your commandments I gain | understanding;
therefore I hate every | lying way.
2 Timothy 3:14–4:5
14But as for you, continue in what you have learned and firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it, 15and how from childhood you have known the sacred writings that are able to instruct you for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. 16All scripture is inspired by God and is useful for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, 17so that everyone who belongs to God may be proficient, equipped for every good work.
4:1In the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and in view of his appearing and his kingdom, I solemnly urge you: 2proclaim the message; be persistent whether the time is favorable or unfavorable; convince, rebuke, and encourage, with the utmost patience in teaching. 3For the time is coming when people will not put up with sound doctrine, but having itching ears, they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own desires, 4and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander away to myths. 5As for you, always be sober, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, carry out your ministry fully.
1Then Jesus told them a parable about their need to pray always and not to lose heart. 2He said, “In a certain city there was a judge who neither feared God nor had respect for people. 3In that city there was a widow who kept coming to him and saying, ‘Grant me justice against my opponent.’ 4For a while he refused; but later he said to himself, ‘Though I have no fear of God and no respect for anyone, 5yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will grant her justice, so that she may not wear me out by continually coming.’ ” 6And the Lord said, “Listen to what the unjust judge says. 7And will not God grant justice to his chosen ones who cry to him day and night? Will he delay long in helping them? 8I tell you, he will quickly grant justice to them. And yet, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?”
Sermon – Pastor Meggan Manlove
Jesus tells a parable about two people. First there is a truly disgusting judge. He is a sleazy jurist, probably put in his position through some political shenanigans. The widow is the woman who always gets the raw deal, because she has nothing—no husband, no inheritance, no social standing. What hope does she have before this judge?
She does have one thing. She can pester. Leaving messages on his answering machine, constantly banging on his door, giving him no peace — she is persistent. Finally, the judge says to himself, “Even though I could care less about God and can’t stand humanity, I will give this woman what she wants, just to get her out of my hair.”
Maybe in this story, Jesus wants us to understand that, even though the world may look broken, unjust, and corrupt, if we keep working at it, if we persistently believe the world to be a basically good place, things will work out. If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.
But if that were the parable’s lesson, this would not be, “Pray always and don’t lose heart,” but merely “Keep at it, be persistent, and things will eventually work out for the best.” If that were the point, Jesus would have said we should keep at prayer, harassing God until we get what we want. But Jesus told this parable, “In order that we might pray always without ceasing and not lose heart.”
This is a parable about the character of God. It’s about a judge. If this sleazy judge will open up his hand to those who seek justice, how much more so will God? Think of prayer, not as asking God to do this or that for us, but rather as asking God to be God, to be who God is.
This parable is a story, not so much about the efficacy of prayer, but about the character of God and the kingdom God wants to usher in. The judge revealed his sleaziness. God reveals God’s goodness.
For me this parable is primarily about the relationship between prayer and justice. And when I speak of justice I mean fairness, equity, making sure everyone has enough, biblical justice. I have learned a great deal about the relationship between prayer and justice the past few years.
In February 2020, I was in California for a training with Lutheran church leaders from across the American West. We were preparing to lead groups on Zoom through a series of spiritual practices. We all thought we were going to be part of a big and relatively new experiment—could we create genuine community online? Little did we know that the rest of the world was going to quickly join the experiment.
Central to the spiritual practices I led my Northwest Intermountain Synod group through was the relationship between prayer and doing justice. Readers of Richard Rohr’s daily devotions might use the language of contemplation and action (like the name of the center Rohr founded in New Mexico).
Every Sunday, after a time of checking in, I led the group through a spiritual practice, different each week. Then we would reflect together on our experience. Finally, we would discuss what action the spiritual practice might be leading us into the next week. Often the commitment to action was small—take time to listen to someone, ground myself before a meeting, go on a walk to clear my head, be truly present to another person.
These 12 faith practices are not a list of things to check off. This was not a different spin on earning eternal life or forgiveness through good works. I see the practices as a response to the abundant love of God we have already received. Trying them, making them part of our life of faith, nurtures our relationship with God, a relationship we are already in. Participating in these faith practices in community, rather than individually, helps create new relationships with other disciples, other people trying to follow Jesus. Finally, and perhaps most surprisingly to me, the spiritual practices impact our relationships with self.
I led a second group through the spiritual practices last year and am getting ready to start leading my third group. A huge piece of the experience has in fact been listening. We do a lot of listening—to one another, to God, and to our own selves. And this brings me back to the relationship between action and contemplation or prayer and justice. Listening is crucial to both prayer and justice. It is, in my humble opinion, a key part of following Jesus. A huge part of the Christian calling is to listen—to the Word of God through scripture, to neighbors and strangers and friends, to the stirrings in my own soul, to other followers of Jesus, to people who society tries to mute, and to the Holy Spirit.
With all of that as context, let’s look at the parable again. It’s natural to want to see ourselves as the widow in Jesus’ parable this morning. And for some of us, that may be a faithful interpretation for today or some time in our past. For those in our city, county, and world with very little power and agency, all they can do is cry out for justice—cry out to those with more power and cry out to God.
However, most of us gathered here have at least a little agency, and a little power. We are, therefore, not the widow or the judge. We are somewhere else in the parable. We may be the ones with power to have prevented some of the widow’s despair. The question for us, reading this parable about prayer and justice, is how does the one inform the other? Put another way, how do our prayers transform or shape our quest for justice, our discipleship?
When I once asked a college student attending worship here what she appreciated about worship at Trinity she stated, “You cannot pray the prayers of intercession Sunday after Sunday and not be transformed.” We follow a pattern each week which includes intercessions for the church, the well-being of creation, for peace and justice in the world, for the poor, oppressed and lonely, for all who suffer in body, mind, or spirit, and for our congregation.
Yes, we have a list of people connected to our congregation who we might remember silently in our hearts, but the prayers are never a list of merely our material wants. And I can say, as someone who grew up in this tradition and has prayed these petitions with assemblies for over 40 years that they have in fact continually transformed me and my view of the world.
One writer suggested that prayer, in the context of this morning’s parable, is a way to describe confidence in and openness to the support of God.
Luther theologian Dietrich Bonoheffer once said that “Our being Christian today will consist in only two things: in praying and in doing justice among people.” He too saw the connection. When you pray every week or every day for justice to be done, for the lowly to be lifted up, for unjust systems to be dismantled, for the weak to the be strengthened, for the powerful to be brought down, for parts of creation to be made whole again, then you want to be part of making all of that happen in whatever small way you can.
You might help people register to vote or get to the poles. You might read about candidates and issues we are voting on with the lens of faith. You might earn or spend money in new ways. You might give your time to causes aligned with the Gospel and our prayers of intercession. As one person put it, “crying out to God” must be correlated with practices consistent with the dogged pursuit of justice.” (Green)
Later in this service we will pray, “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come…” See? First the Lord ’s Prayer talks about who God is, before it asks God to do anything like give us bread or forgive us our sin. We wouldn’t even bother God about bread were it not for our abiding conviction that we are God’s creatures and that our Creator cares.
In praying we show our confidence that this God hears, and cares, and acts. When we pray for something as mundane, as essential as “daily bread” it is making a rather amazing statement of faith in the goodness of God. Prayer is our way of responding to God’s love. We join our God who cares about bread, and rain, and peace, and forgiveness. Prayer is the courageous determination to let God be God and to become part of God’s kingdom breaking into this world.
Prayers of Intercession
The prayers are prepared locally for each occasion. The following examples may be adapted or used as appropriate.
In gratitude and humility, let us join together in prayer on behalf of all of God’s creation.
A brief silence.
For all the baptized, that they become skilled in compassion and grace and equipped to share the good news with all. Grant your followers persistence in proclamation and prayer. Hear us, O God.
Your mercy is great.
For air and sky, clouds and sun, that they provide rain to parched land and relief to flooded ground. Renew and restore our polluted atmosphere and empower us to be worthy stewards of creation. Hear us, O God.
Your mercy is great.
For judges, juries, and all who work in the judicial system, that they desire wisdom, seek truth, rule with fairness, and have the courage to do what is right. Eliminate oppression and injustice in our criminal justice system. Hear us, O God.
Your mercy is great.
For all who are lonely, especially those who have newly arrived in an unfamiliar city or country, political prisoners without recourse to justice, hospital patients without visitors, and any who are ill or grief-stricken. Hear us, O God.
Your mercy is great.
For those in our congregation and community engaged in advocacy work (local ministries may be named), that with the persistence of the widow, they lift their voices in seeking justice on behalf of others. Hear us, O God.
Your mercy is great.
Here other intercessions may be offered.
For those who have taught us faith and now rest in your heavenly peace (especially), that we remember and give thanks for these saints who shared the gospel through word and deed. Hear us, O God.
Your mercy is great.
With grateful hearts we commend our spoken and silent prayers to you, O God; through Jesus Christ, our Lord.
Please note our email has changed to email@example.com Thanks, Dennis and Linda McQueen
On 10/16/2022, at 05:32 PM, A Place