Monday, July 6, 2015

to share the blessing

In the midst of human life, suffering, striving, celebrating, or simply seeking the presence of God, and in the light of the Gospel, we ask:

Where is God in all this? He is in the midst of the people, to lead them, to heal them and comfort them, to revive the spirit of the humble and to revive the heart of the contrite. (Isaiah 57: 15, 18)

And this word goes out to all the world: “Peace, Peace, to the far and near,” says the Lord; “and I will heal them.” (19)

Jesus gathers the humble and contrite, heals, comforts, and leads them, revives their hearts and spirits, and gathers them into one flock, one fold. He is the good Shepherd.

No longer are some insiders, others outsiders. All are within the embrace of the one, true, living God.

What are people willing to do to share the blessing?

As soon as they came ashore, the people recognized Jesus and rushed all over the countryside and began to carry the sick around on their beds to wherever they heard that he was. (v.55, J. B. Phillips paraphrase)

They chased him! They pursued him. They carried others, hoping for healing.

We are assured in Christ of that healing, that hope — through God’s continuing presence, leading, comforting, and reviving our hearts and our spirits.

What were Jesus, the disciples, the people—and what are we—willing to do to share the blessing? Not just to share in it, but to share it with others?

The disciples
heard the message from Jesus,
spread out among the villages—
packing light, like messengers bearing urgent dispatches— 
proclaiming, teaching, exorcising, anointing and healing,
preaching repentance,
taking the risk of rejection,
accepting the hospitality that is offered,
(without attempting to ‘trade up’),
to return, regroup, and report …

The people
followed Jesus,
sought him out wherever he might be,
hurried to be there,
(ahead of him at the lakeshore)
recognized Jesus when they caught sight of him,
to carry the sick to be healed,
touched his cloak-edge—
trusted in his power to heal.

The people followed, recognized, rushed,  carried, trusted, and were healed.

And they listened to his teaching.

The teaching, the healing, the comfort, and the leading: this is all fulfilling the promise of God. And so is the people’s response.

What was Jesus willing to do to share the blessing?

Jesus went from home,
was baptized,
retreated to pray,
taught in the synagogues and on the hillsides,
proclaimed repentance and a new way of life,
healed the sick and cast out demons,
(raised the dead, fed multitudes, restored speech and hearing and sight, … but refused to give a sign!)

Jesus welcomes children, blesses them—

He gathers his people and comforts and leads them.
He gathers his disciples and teaches them—
and sends them forth.
He teaches the cost of discipleship.

Jesus sets his face toward Jerusalem,
(knowing where he was going – and why)
enters the city,
teaches in the Temple,
heals at the Pools,
disputes with his opponents,
prophesies the end of the Temple,
blesses bread and breaks it,
accepts arrest,
submits to trial,
carries the cross…

What do we do to share the blessing?
To share in it, and not only that, to share it with others?

The disciples took the risk, listened to the call, went out among the villages and spread the good word. The people ran to where Jesus was, bringing the sick, to share the blessing.

Where is the blessing— not only to have but to give— for us?

Where are the challenge and the celebration, the comfort and the call to conversion?

What are we doing to share the blessing?

With each other in the fellowship-community?
With each other turned outward?
To our towns, the surrounding villages and countryside?
Our county, our region, our state?
Our diocese and larger communion? Our nation and our world?

We pray, give, and act.
We feed the hungry, clothe the naked, and visit the sick and the people in prison.
We work to end hunger, poverty, disease, and the conditions leading to imprisonment.
We work to make God’s presence in the world manifest, and real.

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 Savior and Lord. Amen.

(Closing prayer is the Prayer of the Day from the Lutheran (ELCA) book of worship.)

July 19
Eighth Sunday after Pentecost
Proper 11

Almighty God, the fountain of all wisdom, you know our necessities before we ask and our ignorance in asking: Have compassion on our weakness, and mercifully give us those things which for our unworthiness we dare not, and for our blindness we cannot ask; through the worthiness of your Son Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Here is the collect for the seventh Sunday after Pentecost from the Book of Common Prayer of the Church of South India (a 1947 ecumenical amalgam of Methodists, Episcopalians, and their ilk) adapting Ephesians 2.19-21 (from this Sunday's lections):

O almighty God, who has built thy Church upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the head corner-stone;  Grant us so to be joined together in the unity of the Spirit by their doctrine, that we with all the Saints may be made a holy temple acceptable unto thee; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

2 Samuel 7:1-14a
Psalm 89:20-37
Ephesians 2:11-22
Mark 6:30-34, 53-56

St. John's Episcopal Church
19 Sowles Ave.
Bisbee, AZ 85603
Phone: 520-432-7006
The Rev. Richard Aguilar
9 a.m. Sunday (Lance Ousley, Stewards Stirrings)

The readings for 8th Sunday after Pentecost Proper 11B  include: 2 Samuel 7:1-14a and Psalm 89:20-37, and Ephesians 2:11-22; and Mark 6:30-34, 53-56.

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