Silence and Centering – Pause for 2 minutes of Silence
“Be still, and know that I am God; – Psalm 46:1
There are many ways to be unfaithful to what we have become through baptism,
to our commitment and our obedience to God.
We offer God now our prayers of repentance.
We confess to you, living God,
our failure to live as brothers and sisters, and as your children.
We confess to you, loving God,
that we have not loved you as you have loved us.
We confess to you, gracious God,
that we have doubted your word and failed to obey its teaching.
We confess to you, merciful God,
our desire to own you and contain you within our doctrines and theologies.
We confess to you, almighty God,
that we do not acknowledge you as Lord of all the earth.
Forgive us and redeem us for we have not allowed your presence to shine among us.
There are many ways in which we have failed
in our commitment and obedience to our fellow men and women.
We turn towards our neighbors and our friends
and offer them our prayers of repentance.
FIRST READING: PSALM 74
God, why have you rejected us for so long?
Why are you angry with us, the sheep of your pasture?
2 Remember the people you bought long ago.
You saved us, and we are your very own.
After all, you live on Mount Zion.
3 Make your way through these old ruins;
the enemy wrecked everything in the Temple.
4 Those who were against you shouted in your meeting place
and raised their flags there.
5 They came with axes raised
as if to cut down a forest of trees.
6 They smashed the carved panels
with their axes and hatchets.
7 They burned your Temple to the ground;
they have made the place where you live unclean.
8 They thought, “We will completely crush them!”
They burned every place where God was worshiped in the land.
9 We do not see any signs.
There are no more prophets,
and no one knows how long this will last.
10 God, how much longer will the enemy make fun of you?
Will they insult you forever?
11 Why do you hold back your power?
Bring your power out in the open and destroy them!
12 God, you have been our king for a long time.
You bring salvation to the earth.
13 You split open the sea by your power
and broke the heads of the sea monster.
14 You smashed the heads of the monster Leviathan
and gave it to the desert creatures as food.
15 You opened up the springs and streams
and made the flowing rivers run dry.
16 Both the day and the night are yours;
you made the sun and the moon.
17 You set all the limits on the earth;
you created summer and winter.
18 Lord, remember how the enemy insulted you.
Remember how those foolish people made fun of you.
19 Do not give us, your doves, to those wild animals.
Never forget your poor people.
20 Remember the agreement you made with us,
because violence fills every dark corner of this land.
21 Do not let your suffering people be disgraced.
Let the poor and helpless praise you.
22 God, arise and defend yourself.
Remember the insults that come from those foolish people all day long.
23 Don’t forget what your enemies said;
don’t forget their roar as they rise against you always.
SECOND READING: Luke 11:14-28
One time Jesus was sending out a demon who could not talk. When the demon came out, the man who had been unable to speak, then spoke. The people were amazed. 15 But some of them said, “Jesus uses the power of Beelzebul, the ruler of demons, to force demons out of people.”
16 Other people, wanting to test Jesus, asked him to give them a sign from heaven. 17 But knowing their thoughts, he said to them, “Every kingdom that is divided against itself will be destroyed. And a family that is divided against itself will not continue. 18 So if Satan is divided against himself, his kingdom will not continue. You say that I use the power of Beelzebul to force out demons. 19 But if I use the power of Beelzebul to force out demons, what power do your people use to force demons out? So they will be your judges. 20 But if I use the power of God to force out demons, then the kingdom of God has come to you.
21 “When a strong person with many weapons guards his own house, his possessions are safe. 22 But when someone stronger comes and defeats him, the stronger one will take away the weapons the first man trusted and will give away the possessions.
23 “Anyone who is not with me is against me, and anyone who does not work with me is working against me.
The Empty Person
24 “When an evil spirit comes out of a person, it travels through dry places, looking for a place to rest. But when it finds no place, it says, ‘I will go back to the house I left.’ 25 And when it comes back, it finds that house swept clean and made neat. 26 Then the evil spirit goes out and brings seven other spirits more evil than it is, and they go in and live there. So the person has even more trouble than before.”
People Who Are Truly Blessed
27 As Jesus was saying these things, a woman in the crowd called out to Jesus, “Blessed is the mother who gave birth to you and nursed you.”
28 But Jesus said, “No, blessed are those who hear the teaching of God and obey it.”
God’s people would never have believed that their nation would be conquered, their temple destroyed and their people carried into exile – until it actually happened. They had been warned by the prophets, who had seen this disaster coming, so many times, but they had ignored God’s messengers and trusted in their own wisdom and strength, and that of their allies. But now, this psalm reflects their grief at their shattered country and their shattered lives.
The song of lament in today’s reading shows that at least some of God’s people had not lost their devotion to God, although, clearly, the dark times they were living in made it hard to stay trusting and faithful. Yet, in their quest to keep their allegiance to God strong, the people turned to an ancient practice – lament – to pour out their grief to God and remind themselves that their lives were still in God’s hands.
The act of lament always includes four elements: A complaint against God, a remembrance of God’s past acts of salvation, a plea for God to act now, and a commitment to faith and praise in the midst of the struggle. You will see all of these elements in this psalm. It’s this combination of grief and faith, of pleading and praising, that makes lament such a powerful, healing act. In our world of injustice, racial and religious hatred, poverty, dread diseases and natural disasters, we need this ancient practice just as much as the psalmist. When we have learned to lament well, it helps us to keep our faith strong even in the darkest moments of our lives. What are you grieving today? How can you embrace lament as a healing practice?
DO: Take some time today to think about the realities in your life and in the world that most upset or anger or grieve you. Then turn to God in lament, expressing your honest feelings, pleading for God to act, but also making a commitment to praise. Then, reflect on how you feel after these moments of lament.
PRAY: Hear my cry, O God, and make your presence known to me even in the midst of suffering and injustice.
PRAY: Today, help me to live, O God, with hospitality, service and patient, joyful endurance.
As I listen for your voice, O God, so I become more alert to the signs of your coming.:
Faithful God Hear our Prayer.
For all who suffer, that they may find comfort through their faith, we pray.
For all those who minister to the sick, that they be signs of God’s love we pray.
For doctors, nurses and caregivers, that their actions be done with love we pray.
For Ourselves, that we always believe that God holds us gently we pray.
Gracious Father, we pray for your Church. Fill it with all truth, in all truth with all peace. Where it is corrupt, purify it; where it is in error, direct it; where in anything it is amiss, reform it. Where it is right, strengthen it; where it is in want, provide for it; where it is divided, reunite it; for the sake of Jesus Christ your Son our Savior. Amen.
Our Father which art in heaven, hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth, as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one. For yours is the kingdom, the power, and the glory forever, Amen.
Look with favor, O God.
On all our needs
And hear our pleas when we cry out to you.
Grant to us, the faith of the centurion,
That we might give you glory
For the mercy and compassion
That lifts us up with your Son, our Lord Jesus Christ,
Who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
One God, for ever and ever Amen!
God, I thank you for all that you helped me accomplish during this day. Thank you for giving me the strength and energy, as well as the focus and ability to do all the things that got done today. Thank you for blessing me with people in my life today who were funny or encouraging or helpful. Thank you for your favor and care for me throughout the day. And now, I thank you for sweet rest throughout the night. Amen.
Conclude with 5 Minutes of Silence