A DIARY OF DAILY PRAYER
26 May 2020
Opening Sentences (responsive) .
What does the Lord require of us?
To do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with our God.
What does God command of us?
To love God with all our heart, and all our soul, and all our mind, and all our strength, and to love our neighbor as ourselves.
God does not call us to ease or to comfort.
But to presence, and abundance, and grace in our struggle.
Let us worship the God who believes in us, and trusts in us, and abides with us.
Let us worship the God who will ask much of us, but will be beside us every step of the way.
Prayer for Illumination
God who gives rules, regulations, and guidelines and then violates them in amazing ways, grant that as we consider these words from scripture we may enter into the full joy of your glad welcome. Amen.
Scripture Reading Mark 9:33-37
SOME THINGS TO PONDER AS YOU READ THE PASSAGE:
- Date = the decade of 65-75 CE
Why this dating?
The story that Mark tells is clearly suited to the needs of Christians under persecution – either in actuality or in potential. For this reason scholars tend to date the composition of Mark to the decade of 65-75 CE when Nero’s persecutions of Christians in Rome was quickly followed by the first disastrous Jewish-Roman war (66-74 CE) in which Jerusalem and the Temple itself were destroyed by the Romans.
Consequently, though located second in the New Testament canon, the Gospel of Mark was probably the first of the extant gospels to be written.
- General themes:
Each of the gospels has a particular sense – a particular odor – a particular point about the story of Jesus to make.
According to Mark, the ministry of Jesus was 1) one of healing the sick, the lame, and blind who came to him in huge numbers; 2) of arguing with religious leaders who oppose his work, fear his popularity, and plot to kill him; 3) and of teaching recalcitrant disciples who initially leave everything to follow him and then in the end betray him to his enemies, flee when trouble comes, and deny they ever know him.
- Passage before us:
Deals with what counts for “greatness.”
READ TEXT: Mark 9:33-37
33 Then they came to Capernaum; and when he was in the house he asked them, “What were you arguing about on the way?” 34 But they were silent, for on the way they had argued with one another who was the greatest. 35 He sat down, called the twelve, and said to them, “Whoever wants to be first must be last of all and servant of all.” 36 Then he took a little child and put it among them; and taking it in his arms, he said to them, 37 “Whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me, and whoever welcomes me welcomes not me but the one who sent me.”
33 They came to Capernaum. When he was safe at home, he asked them, “What were you discussing on the road?” 34 The silence was deafening—they had been arguing with one another over who among them was greatest. 35 He sat down and summoned the Twelve. “So you want first place? Then take the last place. Be the servant of all.” 36-37 He put a child in the middle of the room. Then, cradling the little one in his arms, he said, “Whoever embraces one of these children as I do embraces me, and far more than me—God who sent me.”
In the midst of a conversation about greatness, Jesus says “true greatness” is not what the disciples or you and I think at all. True greatness certainly is not what our culture says it is.
What constitutes true greatness?
True greatness involves caring for, welcoming, embracing the most vulnerable segment within our society.
True greatness = welcoming the least…which amounts to welcoming Jesus and the one who sent Jesus.
In our passage from Mark’s gospel Jesus takes into his arms another of the excluded and inconsequential of his day – i.e., a child.
In Jesus’ day (and in our own), fame, importance, greatness were judged by whose company one kept. So…to welcome children rather than the rich and famous would bring no honor. But Jesus says that welcoming the powerless actually welcomes the most powerful…i.e., the one who sent Jesus.
What does it mean for us to welcome Jesus…and more than that, to welcome God? And how do we as a church welcome or turn our back on the vulnerable people in our midst?
The prickly pear for me…at least as I try to listen to the texts before us…is that Jesus said, “Whoever welcomes this little child welcomes me.”
He did not say, “Whoever welcomes this little child if she is worthy or if you can afford it or if you have any leftovers to share.” Jesus said, “Whoever welcomes this little child, welcomes me…and more than me…the God who sent me.”
I find his words to be tremendously challenging because I take him to mean that when we do not welcome the child, when we let caution get in our way, when we worry about ourselves more than the needs of others, we do not welcome our Lord. We turn our Lord away.
We give you our praise and thanks, O God, for all gifts of love we have received from you…and for your persistent mercy through Jesus Christ. Especially we thank you for…
…work we have accomplished pleasing to you…
…the faithful witness of Christian people…
…the example of righteousness we see in parents and teachers…
…the witness of love we see in people who wear masks in public…
…the conscious and unconscious faithfulness we see in children…
…all works of compassion.
We give you our cares and concerns, O God, because we know you are kind and care for your children in every circumstance. Especially we pray for…
…those who struggle with doubt and despair…
…people afflicted with disease…
…those called to special ministries…
…people neglected or abused.
O God our shepherd, as you bring us through another day to a time of reflection and rest, calm our souls, and refresh us with your peace. Keep us close to your Son and draw us closer to one another in the bonds of his wondrous love. This we pray through Christ our Lord. Amen.
We are the body of Christ.
May we have the heart of Christ, tender for mercy.
May we have the eyes of Christ to see a world in need.
May we have the feet of Christ to bring good news.
Go in peace! And God go with you.
And with you, as well. Amen.