Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray with Psalm 105, a sacred invitation to rest confidently in God.
Glory in God’s holy name; rejoice, O hearts that seek the LORD! Look to the LORD’s strength; seek to serve God wholeheartedly.
Our trust is based on God’s infinite memory, mindful of us with every breath of our lives. We are asked to remember too.
The Lord remembers the covenant for ever.
Jesus reminds us of this covenant in our Alleluia verse from John’s Gospel:
Let’s just be cradled in these holy promises as we pray today.
Poetry: Trust by Thomas R. Smith
It’s like so many other things in life to which you must say no or yes. So you take your car to the new mechanic. Sometimes the best thing to do is trust. The package left with the disreputable-looking clerk, the check gulped by the night deposit, the envelope passed by dozens of strangers— all show up at their intended destinations. The theft that could have happened doesn’t. Wind finally gets where it was going through the snowy trees, and the river, even when frozen, arrives at the right place. And sometimes you sense how faithfully your life is delivered, even though you can’t read the address.
Music: two songs today. I liked them both a lot and didn’t want to deprive you of either.
Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray with Psalm 2 which, at the beginning of the Psalter, highlights the centrality of King David to Israel’s faith.
For Christians, the archetype of King David serves as point of insight to explore who Jesus Christ is for us. Of course we know that Christ is God, but we have no direct experience of God. So we try to understand God through symbols which, although inadequate, give us a context to form our relationship with God.
Psalm 2 gives us two such archetypal symbols: king and son. For us, that combination signals not only Christ’s power but the fact that it is directly derived from God. Christ’s power is divine, just as the Creator’s power is divine.
Because of that divine intimacy, the “King-Son” may ask and will receive whatever is requested.
Ask of me and I will give you the nations for an inheritance and the ends of the earth for your possession.
Psalm 2; 8-9
Christ’s whole life – Passion, Death, and Resurrection – was that Messianic “Ask” foretold in David. Through Jesus, we too become daughters and sons of God. This is the Good News the disciples preach in today’s first reading.
We ourselves are proclaiming this good news to you that what God promised our fathers God has brought to fulfillment for us, their children, by raising up Jesus, as it is written in the second psalm, “You are my Son; this day I have begotten you.”
This is the Way, the Truth and the Life that Jesus offers in today’s Gospel.
“Master, we do not know where you are going; how can we know the way?” Jesus said to him, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”
John 14: 5-6
The gender-heavy symbols of king and son don’t speak strongly to me, but the image of Christ as my “Requestor” does. I think this morning of another Gospel assurance that I love:
I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father. And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it.
John 14: 12-14
Dear Jesus, may we learn what it is to live fully in your Name.
Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray with Psalm 118.
“This psalm is centered on God, in a movement that expresses gratitude, admiration, joy and praise. In the King James Version, the Lord is mentioned in almost every verse.” (Wikipedia)
Give thanks to the LORD who is good, whose mercy endures forever. It is better to take refuge in the LORD than to trust in humans. It is better to take refuge in the LORD than to trust in princes.
Psalm 118: 1, 8-9
Following our first reading today, the psalm focuses me on God’s Name – often “Lord”, as in the psalm – but also so many other Names of God from the riches of scripture and tradition.
… in the Name of Jesus, this man stands before you healed. He is the stone rejected by you, the builders, which has become the cornerstone. There is no salvation through anyone else, nor is there any other name under heaven given to the human race by which we are to be saved.
Acts 4: 10-12
The fact that we have so many names for God reminds me of how accommodating God is to my need as I pray.
One day I need “My Rock”.
Another day I delight in “My Dayspring”.
As I wake up each morning and allow the day to embrace me, I often greet God with a special name, depending on the mood and circumstances of my heart:
Good morning, Beautiful Light. Take any darkness from our world this day.
I greet You, Sweet Lord. Thank you for the delicious gift of life.
Cloudy God, you have been hiding from me. Bring me into your Sunshine today.
God, my Strong Shoulder, stand by me today.
Chilly God, seeming to ignore my prayer, unfreeze my spirit to hear your answer.
Jesus invites us to pray with images that speak to our hearts. In our Gospel, He names himself a Shepherd, an image so accessible to his agrarian listeners, and which said it all without the need for theology!
Jesus said: “I am the good shepherd. A good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.”
As we pray today, within what image is God coming to us? May we let the Holy One speak a sanctifying and special Name over us in our prayer. May it free us just as it freed the man healed in today’s passage from Acts.
Poetry: Six Recognitions of the Lord – Mary Oliver
I know a lot of fancy words.
I tear them from my heart and my tongue.
Then I pray…..
3 I lounge on the grass, that’s all. So simple. Then I lie back until I am inside the cloud that is just above me but very high, and shaped like a fish. Or, perhaps not. Then I enter the place of not-thinking, not-remembering, not- wanting. When the blue jay cries out his riddle, in his carping voice, I return. But I go back, the threshold is always near. Over and back, over and back. Then I rise. Maybe I rub my face as though I have been asleep. But I have not been asleep. I have been, as I say, inside the cloud, or, perhaps, the lily floating on the water. Then I go back to town to my own house, my own life, which has now become brighter and simpler, some-where I have never been before….
Of course I have always known you
Are present in the clouds, and the
Black oak I especially adore, and the
Wings of birds. But you are present
Too in the body, listening to the body,
Teaching it to live, instead of all
That touching, with disembodied joy.
We do not do this easily….
Every summer the lilies rise and open their white hands until they almost cover the black waters of the pond. And I give thanks but it does not seem like adequate thanks, it doesn’t seem festive enough or constant enough, nor does the name of the Lord or the words of thanksgiving come into it often enough Everywhere I go I am treated like royalty, which I am not. I thirst and am given water. My eyes thirst and I am given the white lilies on the black water. My heart sings but the apparatus of singing doesn’t convey half what it feels and means. In spring there’s hope, in fall the exquisite, necessary diminishing, in winter I am as sleepy as any beast in its leafy cave, but in summer there is everywhere the luminous sprawl of gifts, the hospitality of the Lord and my inadequate answers as I row my beautiful, temporary body through this water-lily world.
Music: Two Songs for today
Kyrie – Michael Hoppé
Kyrie Eleison Lord, have Mercy
For those who might want to take it up a notch: Kyrie – Mr. Mister
Today, in Mercy, Jesus once again instructs his disciples to pray “in my Name”.
Amen, amen, I say to you, whatever you ask the Father in my name he will give you. Until now you have not asked anything in my name; ask and you will receive, so that your joy may be complete.
What does Jesus really mean by,:
“Ask in My Name”.
There is an idiomatic phrase popular in culture today, “just asking for a friend”. It is used when the questioner feels embarrassed or unsure about the question, or unworthy of posing it oneself, for example: Can you really go to jail for not paying your taxes, just asking for a friend?
What might happen if we prayed like this, taking Jesus seriously in his offer to intervene for us, to stand in the place of our fear, hesitation, confusion, or unworthiness:
Dear God, please forgive me for this sinful choice I made. I ask you in the Name of Jesus, my friend.
Dear God, will you please comfort my dear one who is suffering. I ask you in the Name of Jesus, my friend.
Dear God, will you please intervene to stop the suffering in the world. I ask you in the Name of Jesus, my friend.
How would the addition of this little phrase change my prayer?
The words are not a magic formula for working miracles. They won’t allow us to cure the sick or raise the dead in visible ways. But they will allow us to heal ourselves and others in ways beyond human calculation.
I think the words are a key to unlock our understanding that when we pray in the Name of Jesus, the miracle happens in us, not in our surroundings.
We realize that Jesus, in whose Name we pray, changed the world not by magic but by sacrificial love. Becoming his friend and praying in his name demands that we too live our experiences with that kind of unquestioning love.
Such love unveils the glorious mystery of the Cross to us. Even under its shadow, we see through to the triumph of the Resurrection as Jesus did.
Certainly, suffering was not removed from Jesus’ life nor from that of his followers.
But what was given was abiding faith, hope, love, and the trustworthy promise of eternal life.
Let’s ask for these precious gifts, in the Name of Jesus.
Music: In Jesus’ Name I Pray – Charley Pride
In Jesus’ Name I Pray
Father give me strength, to do what I must do.
Father give me courage, to say what I must say.
Let that spirit move me.
I’m nothing on my own.
Father stand by me, I can not stand alone, in Jesus name I pray.
Father open up my eyes to your wonders all around.
Father let me see the good and beauty of this day.
Fill my heart with love, for my fellow man.
And if I’m tempted Father.
Father take my hand, in Jesus name I pray.
Father help me through the troubled days that lie ahead.
Let your life stand before me, that I may find a way.
So let me stumble Father, or fall beneath my load.
Father guide my footsteps.
Hold me to the road, in Jesus name I pray.
Let not hunger be my guide, nor fear be my master.
Father let not envy, be a part of me in any way.
Father search my soul, take away my fear and doubt.
Any moment that you find this,
Father cast it out, in Jesus name I pray.
Ah ah ah Amen.