Sometimes it seems like You have forgotten us, Your own children. We look, but cannot see Your face. We have pain in our souls, sorrow in our hearts, and it seems as if we are being destroyed while You stand by.
Yet experience has taught us that Your timing is different, and much better, than our own. Even when it seems that we are about to lose everything that gives our lives meaning, we have seen You intervene just in time. You do not act too early, nor do You act too late, and in the end Your love always has always proven to be unfailing.
We have come to know that the road of obeying You, following along in Your ways, often does not feel easy. We may be asked to follow You up some difficult mountains. This was asked of Your friend Abraham, and has been asked of many of Your friends through the centuries, including Your own Son, our Savior, Jesus Christ.
So give us strength when following You is not easy, by helping us to remember that even at the worst conceivable moments, Abraham trusted Your love, Jesus trusted Your love, and we are invited to do the same.
We know that we are not alone on this path, but that many others have walked it before us, and many walk it alongside us now.
As we walk where You lead us, following the example of Jesus, we are taught how to speak to others with our mouths like He would , how to serve and give cups of cold water with our hands like He would, how to follow Him with our feet farther along in Your ways. As we do so, we realize that our bodies and our whole beings become more and more able to do the things that You want and less and less inclined to separate ourselves from You.
So continue to lead us along in the ways of Your Son. Although we do not know where You are taking us, we know that You have dealt always bountifully with us, and You will continue to do so forever.
As we we continue along this way as Jesus' students, again today we take the step of praying the prayer that He taught us, saying,
Our Father in heaven, hallowed be Your name, Your kingdom come, Your will be done, on earth as in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread.
Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us.
Save us from the time of trial and deliver us from evil.
For the kingdom, the power, and the glory are Yours now and for ever. Amen
This week, the readings shift from being aligned with one another to being aligned over a series of weeks. In other words, during the seasons of the Christian year of Advent, Christmas, Lent, and Easter, the four readings for each week have a connection to one another, something like this:
However, as of this week, we are full-swing into "Ordinary Time." We don't call it ordinary in the sense of being plain or boring, but in the sense of being sequenced. So, instead of a particular reading relating to the other readings in that same week, most often during Ordinary Time, a particular reading will be part of a sequence, like this:
Depending on which system of ordering one pays attention to, this Sunday can also be referred to as Proper 8, or (in 2011) the Second Sunday after Pentecost. Regardless of the system, the readings are the same. So, the readings for this week, on which this prayer is based, are:
- Genesis 22:1-14: The sixth of thirteen possible consecutive readings after Pentecost from Genesis, and the fourth of five on the life of Abraham. This passage recounts God's testing of Abraham, when he asked him to sacrifice his son Isaac. When God saw that Abraham would obey, he intervened and provided a ram to be the sacrifice in Isaac's place. It's striking that God did not tell Abraham about the fuller plan as soon as he'd made up his mind to obey, but Abraham went through every possible step in obedience short of actually taking his son's life. God intervened at the last possible moment. God provides, but often not until we're up on that mountain.
- Psalm 13: A psalm of lament (or complaint) by David, pleading for God to deliver him from his enemies. As is common, the psalm ends with a steadfast commitment to trust in God, who despite the current appearances, has always proven himself faithful.
- Romans 6:12-23: The fifth of sixteen possible consecutive readings after Pentecost from Romans. In this passage, Paul encourages his readers train their bodies to live into their identity as servants of righteousness, rather than submitting themselves to further domination by sin.
- Matthew 10:40-42: All of the gospel readings after Pentecost in Year A come from Matthew, and this is the third of three possible readings on Jesus' commissioning of the twelve apostles to go and minister to others. In this week's reading, Jesus teaches his students that as people treat them (and, therefore, as we treat others), it is as if the same treatment is being given directly to him.