Centering Prayer & Devotional – Aug 17, 2021

Centering Prayer * St. James' Episcopal Church

The Welcoming Prayer for Healing – Centering Prayer (Please gently become aware of your interior state, and repeat this prayer.)

God, I welcome everything that comes to me in this moment.

God, I know it is for my healing.

God, I welcome all thoughts, and emotions.

God, I let go of my desire for control. God, I let go of my desire for approval.

God, I let go of my desire to change people.

God, I open myself to your love.

God, I open myself to your healing grace.

Now we will slowly breathe in through our nose, and then slowly breathe out through our mouths as we repeat one word, “Amen”, 3 times, while we refocus ourselves in our New Supernatural Reality Jesus: Amen. Amen. Amen.

Confession:

Merciful God, you pardon all who truly repent and turn to you. We humbly confess our sins and ask your mercy. We have not loved you with a pure heart, nor have we loved our neighbor as ourselves. We have not done justice, loved kindness, or walked humbly with you, our God. Have mercy on us, O God, in your loving-kindness. In your great compassion, cleanse us from our sin. Create in us a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within us. Do not cast us from your presence, or take your Holy Spirit from us. Restore to us the joy of your salvation and sustain us with your bountiful Spirit. Amen.

Bible Reading & Devotional:

DAILY MEDITATION: MATTHEW 19:23-30

Many who are first will be last, and the last will be first. (Matthew 19:30)

In a short story titled “Revelation,” renowned Catholic author Flannery O’Connor describes a self-righteous character who believes she is far superior, in God’s eyes, to people from a different social class than hers. But then a disturbing incident occurs that causes her to question whether God actually sees her in the way she sees herself. What if she is not of greater worth than those she scorns?

The possibility that her own assessment might be wrong is almost unthinkable to the woman, and deeply unsettling. As she angrily questions God, she suddenly has a vision of all those people she disdains making their way into heaven ahead of her. Stunned by what she sees, she is left to grapple with its message. The reversal of first and last is certainly not the order she expected!

In today’s Gospel passage, it’s clear that Jesus wants his disciples to understand that the people in his kingdom will not be judged according to the world’s criteria. In his new order, class, wealth, status, position, power, and influence do not guarantee a place of honor. No, Jesus is establishing a whole new set of criteria for salvation, one based on love, repentance, and humility.

As Christians, we know this to be true. But because we are sinful people living in a sinful world, there is always a danger that we will slip into judging people by the world’s superficial standards. We may even start to believe that we are somehow superior to other people.

How can we get our thinking in line with Jesus’ way of seeing people? The answer lies in asking for the grace to see people with his eyes. With the eyes of faith, we see beyond mere appearances, which can often distract us. We perceive people as they really are—as Jesus does—with deep charity and respect for who God has designed them to be. And that’s when we come to realize that we are all God’s children. Whether first or last, we are all brothers and sisters in Christ.

“Jesus, give us your vision for the kingdom of God.”

The Our Father (slowly pray this)
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.

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