In the name of God, source of all being, eternal Word, and Holy Spirit. Amen.
Lord, what is man, that Thou hast
regard for him?
Or the son of man, that Thou takest
account of him?
Man is like a breath,
His days are as a fleeting shadow.
In the morning he flourishes and grows up
In the evening he is cut down and withers.
So teach us to number our days,
That we may get us a heart of wisdom.
This prayer, read at funerals, is adapted from Psalms 144 and 90.
(Barbara Myerhoff, Number Our Days, New York: E. P. Dutton, 1978, xiv.)
So teach us to number our days, says the Psalmist, and when we try, we find we cannot, not to the end— no one knows it. So we learn: we can accept the gifts our days offer, and to receive those gifts in both hands, with delicate reverence, and in our hearts, with joyful fullness.
The people we love, the place we know, the times we live in, and the blessings we receive, large and small: treasured moments, new friends, and old movies…
We cannot number our days, not to the end, but we can treasure them—
and release them at last, trusting in the hope of resurrection, knowing that our God loves us and death is not the end. We do not see beyond it but we know we shall be united in the presence of a living God.
Living in hope — as we are living now, between the already and the not-yet of God —
is about expectation;
is about expectation;
is about assurance;
is about yearning for the end of the world — not to stop the pain of present existence but to begin the new life now!
Living in hope is about the already-but-not-yet reign of our Savior. It is the hope of eternal life, of the resurrection.
Beyond that, it is the hope of the beginning of the larger drama of which resurrection is a part: the inevitable triumph of God’s justice and righteousness in a transformation of all things. In the consummation of time, God will make all things new.
(Fred B. Craddock et al., Preaching Through the Lectionary, Year B, Harrisburg PA: Trinity Press International, 471)
And so our hope is found in faith, in confidence in God our resurrection as part of the fate of the people of God: the hungry and thirsty, the sick and the lame, the naked, the captive, the sorrowful; all those to whom Jesus proclaims the acceptable year of the Lord.
We live with that hope, in confidence and trust, knowing the light of Christ shines already – and darkness cannot put it out.
God of all power and might, give us grace to trust you in the darkness as well as the light. In the face of danger and adversity, sorrow and loneliness, be our strength and hope, so that we may live and work to your praise and glory; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who is alive and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God for ever.
(David Adam, Traces of Glory, London: SPCK, 146-147)
Forgiven and accepted by God, in the confidence of new life,
Let us hold fast to the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who has promised is faithful. And let us consider how to provoke one another to love and good deeds, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day approaching.
May God, who gives grace to us, give us grace to give others; may God, who is merciful to us and kind, bring kindness and generosity into our lives; that we may share the abundant love of Christ with those around us.
May we, seeking to do your will, find it in serving you; in seeking you to serve you; and find you in the face of others, friend and stranger.
May we, serving you in others, find ourselves at home; and find our home in you, Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
BProper28, Twenty Fifth Sunday after Pentecost, Daniel 12:1-3, Psalm 16, Hebrews 10:11-25, Mark 13:1-8,
O Lord, what are we that you should care for us?*
mere mortals that you should think of us?
We are like a puff of wind;*
our days are like a passing shadow.
You sweep us away like a dream;*
we fade away suddenly like the grass.
In the morning it is green and flourishes;*
in the evening it is dried up and withered.
So teach us to number our days*
that we may apply our hearts to wisdom.
(The Book of Common Prayer, Psalm 144: 3-4, Psalm 90:5-6, 12)