It's been a while. Twenty two months, to be exact. Twenty-two months ince I've prayed in public, in a Sunday morning worship service. I am rusty, and I am nervous. Really nervous.
We've been studying the book of James this fall, trying to discover what this small book might teach us about living the life of a disciple, a disciple who makes disciples. This small epistle is part of the lectionary readings as we cycle through the last weeks of Ordinary Time and this week's reading is from chapter 3, verses 13-18 - words on wisdom, true wisdom, godly wisdom. And, of course, the kind of 'wisdom' that is far from godly.
The gospel reading in Matthew 10 includes the words of Jesus, sending the disciples out on their own for the first time, encouraging them to be 'wise as serpents...' Oh - and we'll be singing, "Immortal, Invisible, God Only Wise," just before the prayer.
Will you join me as we pray together this morning?
It is good to praise you, Almighty God.
It is good to sing loudly, tapping our feet - at least
on the inside - joining right in with those angels,
the ones who are adoring you,
the ones veiling their sight.
Because even the angels cannot look directly
at you, O Lord of Glory.
They cannot behold your splendid and radiant Being,
because you are just . . . too much.
Too much for them,
and surely too much for us,
"frail children of dust" that we are.
It's hard for us to even begin to wrap our minds around
the Truth that is you,
the Immensity of you.
You are the Wild and Untamable Source
of all that is beautiful,
and powerful -
in this universe;
on our planet;
in these bodies, which we treat with such casual neglect;
this natural world in which we live -
this world that speaks to us of
your creative genius and
your overwhelming attention to detail.
And yet . . . you are the very same God who
guides the likes of us, day by day,
and who invites and encourages us
to join you in the ongoing renewal of creation.
It is good to praise you,
Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
God of Immensity,
Son of Humility,
Spirit of Comfort and Conviction.
Help us to do this always,
to offer our songs,
in joyful thanksgiving for who you are,
and how you are working to revive and restore and refresh
all that you have created,
most especially each and every one of us.
And some of us truly need to find that refreshment this day, O Lord.
We're wondering what's coming next -
feeling overloaded at school,
maybe worried about our jobs, or our children, or both.
Some of us are waiting on doctor's diagnoses,
some of us have already heard hard news.
Some of us wonder if we'll have enough money to cover the month,
some of us have plenty of money, but not much joy in it.
Some of us are young and curious,
often thinking we know more than we actually do.
And some of us are old and failing,
not sure if we know anything at all.
Some of us are worried about a lot of things,
and getting plenty sick of worrying.
And some of us are just plain sick.
Sick and tired of all kinds of things and wondering
where you are. And even there, Lord God,
even there, it is good to praise you.
Maybe even especially there.
So, Only Wise God,
will you help us to become wise people
who know how to praise you well?
Because wise people are people who know how to say thank you,
even when we have to stretch pretty hard to do it.
Wise people are people who do good deeds,
even when that's the last thing we feel like doing.
Wise people are people who don't give in to
bitterness, or cynicism, or sarcasm,
but choose words that honor, and uplift and encourage.
Wise people are naturally generous,
offering what they have to others,
sharing the gifts they've received.
Wise people are people who look like the folks Jesus is
talking about in our Gospel lesson for the morning.
People who are 'wise as serpents, and innocent as doves.'
Yes, Lord - that's exactly who we'd like to be.
But we readily admit that we are not all that wise a lot of the time.
So, will you remind us to say we're sorry,
to admit our frailties and flaws
and to consistently seek to grow into the people
you have in mind for us to be?
O Lord, if everyone in this world who says they are a
follower of yours would do this -
if we would all admit we're far from perfect,
if we would ask for help when we need it,
and if we would seek to be wise -
what a different place this old planet of ours could be!
So, begin with us, will you, please?
Soften our hearts,
open our wallets,
give us words of peace to offer,
wherever we go, whomever we meet.
And we'll end right where we began,
by praising your Holy Name,
O, God Only Wise.
Joining with Michelle's Sunday invitation and Jennifer's sisterhood: