Matthew 21:23-32 – Even after you saw it, you did not change your minds and believe him

Matthew 21:23-32

23When he entered the temple, the chief priests and the elders of the people came to him as he was teaching, and said, “By what authority are you doing these things, and who gave you this authority?” 24Jesus said to them, “I will also ask you one question; if you tell me the answer, then I will also tell you by what authority I do these things. 25Did the baptism of John come from heaven, or was it of human origin?” And they argued with one another, “If we say, ‘From heaven,’ he will say to us, ‘Why then did you not believe him?’ 26But if we say, ‘Of human origin,’ we are afraid of the crowd; for all regard John as a prophet.” 27So they answered Jesus, “We do not know.” And he said to them, “Neither will I tell you by what authority I am doing these things.

  • Light a candle to remember Christ’s presence with you.
  • Sit five to fifteen minutes in silence bringing your attention to the Breath.
  • What do you know?
  • What don’t you know?
  • Remember a time when the words that came from your mouth opposed the feeling that came from your gut.
  • What transformation in you came from that wrestling match?
  • Are there knowings in you today that do not match?
  • Spend some time listening deep within you.
  • What is your message from God?
  • Give thanks to God for this time in prayer and for any new insights you have received.
  • Share as you feel led in the reply box below.

Revised Common Lectionary Readings for Sunday, October 1, 2017, the Twenty-Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year A) and World Communion Sunday

Exodus 17:1-7
Psalm 78:1-4, 12-16
Philippians 2:1-13
Matthew 21:23-32

If you use these prayers in other groups, please give credit to author. Permission to use in not-for-profit settings (c) 2017 The Rev. Lil Smith, M.Div., DASD

Philippians 2:1-13 – Enabling you both to will and to work for his good pleasure

Philippians 2:1-13

1If then there is any encouragement in Christ, any consolation from love, any sharing in the Spirit, any compassion and sympathy, 2make my joy complete: be of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. 3Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility regard others as better than yourselves. 4Let each of you look not to your own interests, but to the interests of others. 5Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus,
6   who, though he was in the form of God,
did not regard equality with God
as something to be exploited,
7   but emptied himself,
taking the form of a slave,
being born in human likeness.
And being found in human form,
8        he humbled himself
and became obedient to the point of death —
even death on a cross.

9   Therefore God also highly exalted him
and gave him the name
that is above every name,
10  so that at the name of Jesus
every knee should bend,
in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
11  and every tongue should confess
that Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father.

12Therefore, my beloved, just as you have always obeyed me, not only in my presence, but much more now in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; 13for it is God who is at work in you, enabling you both to will and to work for his good pleasure.

  • Light a candle to remember Christ’s presence with you.
  • Sit five to fifteen minutes in silence bringing your attention to the Breath.
  • In a world filled with recent natural disaster, how do you desire to look to the interests of others?
  • Stop and listen to the desire that arises from the divine spark within you.
  • What life within you desires to give life to others?
  • What is your message from God?
  • Give thanks to God for this time in prayer and for any new insights you have received.
  • Share as you feel led in the reply box below.

Revised Common Lectionary Readings for Sunday, October 1, 2017, the Twenty-Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year A) and World Communion Sunday

Exodus 17:1-7
Psalm 78:1-4, 12-16
Philippians 2:1-13
Matthew 21:23-32

If you use these prayers in other groups, please give credit to author. Permission to use in not-for-profit settings (c) 2017 The Rev. Lil Smith, M.Div., DASD

Psalm 78:1-4, 12-16 – We will tell to the coming generation

Psalm 78:1-4, 12-16

1   Give ear, O my people, to my teaching;
incline your ears to the words of my mouth.
2   I will open my mouth in a parable;
I will utter dark sayings from of old,
3   things that we have heard and known,
that our ancestors have told us.
4   We will not hide them from their children;
we will tell to the coming generation
the glorious deeds of the Lord, and his might,
and the wonders that he has done.

12  In the sight of their ancestors he worked marvels
in the land of Egypt, in the fields of Zoan.
13  He divided the sea and let them pass through it,
and made the waters stand like a heap.
14  In the daytime he led them with a cloud,
and all night long with a fiery light.
15  He split rocks open in the wilderness,
and gave them drink abundantly as from the deep.
16  He made streams come out of the rock,
and caused waters to flow down like rivers.

  • Light a candle to remember Christ’s presence with you.
  • Sit five to fifteen minutes in silence bringing your attention to the Breath.
  • In times of darkness and despair, God has compassion for God’s people and works marvels.
  • How are you torn between the message of the world and the teaching of God?
  • Notice the tension and pain in your body.
  • Where do you need the gift of God’s freedom?
  • Breathe deeply into this space.
  • How do you desire for God to bring you/us out of slavery today?
  • Imagine how God will part the waters, lead you with a pillar of fire, quench your thirst as you kneel by the stream of water God makes for you.
  • What is your message from God?
  • Give thanks to God for this time in prayer and for any new insights you have received.
  • Share as you feel led in the reply box below.

Revised Common Lectionary Readings for Sunday, October 1, 2017, the Twenty-Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year A) and World Communion Sunday

Exodus 17:1-7
Psalm 78:1-4, 12-16
Philippians 2:1-13
Matthew 21:23-32

If you use these prayers in other groups, please give credit to author. Permission to use in not-for-profit settings (c) 2017 The Rev. Lil Smith, M.Div., DASD

Exodus 17:1-7 From the wilderness of Sin

Exodus 17:1-7

1From the wilderness of Sin the whole congregation of the Israelites journeyed by stages, as the LORD commanded. They camped at Rephidim, but there was no water for the people to drink. 2The people quarreled with Moses, and said, “Give us water to drink.” Moses said to them, “Why do you quarrel with me? Why do you test the LORD?” 3But the people thirsted there for water; and the people complained against Moses and said, “Why did you bring us out of Egypt, to kill us and our children and livestock with thirst?” 4So Moses cried out to the LORD, “What shall I do with this people? They are almost ready to stone me.” 5The LORD said to Moses, “Go on ahead of the people, and take some of the elders of Israel with you; take in your hand the staff with which you struck the Nile, and go. 6I will be standing there in front of you on the rock at Horeb. Strike the rock, and water will come out of it, so that the people may drink.” Moses did so, in the sight of the elders of Israel. 7He called the place Massah and Meribah, because the Israelites quarreled and tested the LORD, saying, “Is the LORD among us or not?”

  • Light a candle to remember God’s presence with you.
  • Sit five to fifteen minutes in silence bringing your attention to the Breath.
  • Notice where you are in the wilderness.
  • Why do you quarrel?  Why do you test?
  • Name these things and hold them in front of you.
  • What provision do you need from God?
  • Imagine how God will use a faithful leader like Moses to accompany you, be present with you, and act to bring about the provision of God.
  • Breathe deeply and let go of the tension in your body.
  • Be open to see God’s provision today.
  • What is your message from God?
  • Give thanks to God for this time in prayer and for any new insights you have received.
  • Share as you feel led in the reply box below.

Revised Common Lectionary Readings for Sunday, October 1, 2017, the Twenty-Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year A) and World Communion Sunday

Exodus 17:1-7
Psalm 78:1-4, 12-16
Philippians 2:1-13
Matthew 21:23-32

If you use these prayers in other groups, please give credit to author. Permission to use in not-for-profit settings (c) 2017 The Rev. Lil Smith, M.Div., DASD

Matthew 20:1-16 – I choose to give to this last the same as I give to you

 

A group of immigrant day laborers stand near a street corner waiting for work in the Staten Island borough of New York August 3, 2010. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson

Matthew 20:1-16

1“For the kingdom of heaven is like a landowner who went out early in the morning to hire laborers for his vineyard. 2After agreeing with the laborers for the usual daily wage, he sent them into his vineyard. 3When he went out about nine o’clock, he saw others standing idle in the marketplace; 4and he said to them, ‘You also go into the vineyard, and I will pay you whatever is right.’ So they went. 5When he went out again about noon and about three o’clock, he did the same. 6And about five o’clock he went out and found others standing around; and he said to them, ‘Why are you standing here idle all day?’ 7They said to him, ‘Because no one has hired us.’ He said to them, ‘You also go into the vineyard.’ 8When evening came, the owner of the vineyard said to his manager, ‘Call the laborers and give them their pay, beginning with the last and then going to the first.’ 9When those hired about five o’clock came, each of them received the usual daily wage. 10Now when the first came, they thought they would receive more; but each of them also received the usual daily wage. 11And when they received it, they grumbled against the landowner, 12saying, ‘These last worked only one hour, and you have made them equal to us who have borne the burden of the day and the scorching heat.’ 13But he replied to one of them, ‘Friend, I am doing you no wrong; did you not agree with me for the usual daily wage? 14Take what belongs to you and go; I choose to give to this last the same as I give to you. 15Am I not allowed to do what I choose with what belongs to me? Or are you envious because I am generous?’ 16So the last will be first, and the first will be last.”

  • Light a candle to remember Christ’s presence with you.
  • Sit five to fifteen minutes in silence bringing your attention to the Breath.
  • Imagine you are a laborer who works all day long.
  • How do you receive the news in the parable?
  • Imagine you are a laborer who works only part of the day.
  • How do you receive the news in the parable?
  • Hear these words of the landowner:  “I choose to give to this last the same as I give to you.”
  • Notice what arises in you
  • Hear these words of the landowner: “So the last will be first, and the first will be last.”
  • Notice what arises in you.
  • What is your message from God?
  • Give thanks to God for this time in prayer and for any new insights you have received.
  • Share as you feel led in the reply box below.

Revised Common Lectionary Readings for Sunday, September 24, 2017, the Twenty-Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year A)

Exodus 16:2-15
Psalm 105:1-6,37-45
Philippians 1:21-30
Matthew 20:1-16

If you use these prayers in other groups, please give credit to author. Permission to use in not-for-profit settings (c) 2017 The Rev. Lil Smith, M.Div., DASD

Philippians 1:21-30 – Striving side by side with one mind for the faith of the gospel

Philippians 1:21-30

21For to me, living is Christ and dying is gain. 22If I am to live in the flesh, that means fruitful labor for me; and I do not know which I prefer. 23I am hard pressed between the two: my desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better; 24but to remain in the flesh is more necessary for you. 25Since I am convinced of this, I know that I will remain and continue with all of you for your progress and joy in faith, 26so that I may share abundantly in your boasting in Christ Jesus when I come to you again.

27Only, live your life in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that, whether I come and see you or am absent and hear about you, I will know that you are standing firm in one spirit, striving side by side with one mind for the faith of the gospel, 28and are in no way intimidated by your opponents. For them this is evidence of their destruction, but of your salvation. And this is God’s doing. 29For he has graciously granted you the privilege not only of believing in Christ, but of suffering for him as well — 30since you are having the same struggle that you saw I had and now hear that I still have.

  • Light a candle to remember Christ’s presence with you.
  • Sit five to fifteen minutes in silence bringing your attention to the Breath.
  • Notice how you live both in the world and in Christ.
  • Place your hands on your lap with palms up in a receiving posture.  Hold your life in the world in one hand and your life in Christ in the other hand.
  • Invite a conversation between both hands.
  • What do you notice about the conversation?
  • Now bring both hands together and hold the two worlds together.
  • Consider your life in Christ with the world.
  • How is the conversation transformed?
  • What is your message from God?
  • Give thanks to God for this time in prayer and for any new insights you have received.
  • Share as you feel led in the reply box below.

Revised Common Lectionary Readings for Sunday, September 24, 2017, the Twenty-Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year A)

Exodus 16:2-15
Psalm 105:1-6,37-45
Philippians 1:21-30
Matthew 20:1-16

If you use these prayers in other groups, please give credit to author. Permission to use in not-for-profit settings (c) 2017 The Rev. Lil Smith, M.Div., DASD

Psalm 105:1-6, 37-45 – With joy

Psalm 105:1-6, 37-45

1   O give thanks to the LORD, call on his name,
make known his deeds among the peoples.
2   Sing to him, sing praises to him;
tell of all his wonderful works.
3   Glory in his holy name;
let the hearts of those who seek the LORD rejoice.
4   Seek the LORD and his strength;
seek his presence continually.
5   Remember the wonderful works he has done,
his miracles, and the judgments he has uttered,
6   O offspring of his servant Abraham,
children of Jacob, his chosen ones.

37  Then he brought Israel out with silver and gold,
and there was no one among their tribes who stumbled.
38  Egypt was glad when they departed,
for dread of them had fallen upon it.
39  He spread a cloud for a covering,
and fire to give light by night.
40  They asked, and he brought quails,
and gave them food from heaven in abundance.
41  He opened the rock, and water gushed out;
it flowed through the desert like a river.
42  For he remembered his holy promise,
and Abraham, his servant.

43  So he brought his people out with joy,
his chosen ones with singing.
44  He gave them the lands of the nations,
and they took possession of the wealth of the peoples,
45  that they might keep his statutes
and observe his laws.
Praise the LORD!

  • Light a candle to remember Christ’s presence with you.
  • Sit five to fifteen minutes in silence bringing your attention to the Breath.
  • God brought God’s people out with joy.
  • Where does joy live in you?
  • What obstacles keep joy from arising in you?
  • What places and people need to be liberated with joy?
  • How might you share joy today?
  • What is your message from God?
  • Give thanks to God for this time in prayer and for any new insights you have received.
  • Share as you feel led in the reply box below.

Revised Common Lectionary Readings for Sunday, September 24, 2017, the Twenty-Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year A)

Exodus 16:2-15
Psalm 105:1-6,37-45
Philippians 1:21-30
Matthew 20:1-16

If you use these prayers in other groups, please give credit to author. Permission to use in not-for-profit settings (c) 2017 The Rev. Lil Smith, M.Div., DASD

Exodus 16:2-15 – God hears complaints

Exodus 16:2-15

2The whole congregation of the Israelites complained against Moses and Aaron in the wilderness. 3The Israelites said to them, “If only we had died by the hand of the Lord in the land of Egypt, when we sat by the fleshpots and ate our fill of bread; for you have brought us out into this wilderness to kill this whole assembly with hunger.”

4Then the Lord said to Moses, “I am going to rain bread from heaven for you, and each day the people shall go out and gather enough for that day. In that way I will test them, whether they will follow my instruction or not. 5On the sixth day, when they prepare what they bring in, it will be twice as much as they gather on other days.“ 6So Moses and Aaron said to all the Israelites, “In the evening you shall know that it was the Lord who brought you out of the land of Egypt, 7and in the morning you shall see the glory of the Lord, because he has heard your complaining against the Lord. For what are we, that you complain against us?” 8And Moses said, “When the Lord gives you meat to eat in the evening and your fill of bread in the morning, because the Lord has heard the complaining that you utter against him — what are we? Your complaining is not against us but against the Lord.”

9Then Moses said to Aaron, “Say to the whole congregation of the Israelites, ‘Draw near to the Lord, for he has heard your complaining.’” 10And as Aaron spoke to the whole congregation of the Israelites, they looked toward the wilderness, and the glory of the Lord appeared in the cloud. 11The Lord spoke to Moses and said, 12“I have heard the complaining of the Israelites; say to them, ‘At twilight you shall eat meat, and in the morning you shall have your fill of bread; then you shall know that I am the Lord your God.’”

13In the evening quails came up and covered the camp; and in the morning there was a layer of dew around the camp. 14When the layer of dew lifted, there on the surface of the wilderness was a fine flaky substance, as fine as frost on the ground. 15When the Israelites saw it, they said to one another, “What is it?” For they did not know what it was. Moses said to them, “It is the bread that the Lord has given you to eat.”

  • Light a candle to remember Christ’s presence with you.
  • Sit five to fifteen minutes in silence bringing your attention to the Breath.
  • God leads us away from slavery into the wilderness.
  • The desert is dry and dead.
  • How are you hungry in the wilderness?
  • What do you desire from God that seem elusive?
  • Name it, describe it and hold it in front of you.
  • Let the desire deepen.
  • Share your deepest desire with God.
  • God send the Israelites quail and manna to fill their hunger.
  • Recognize the compassion God has for the Israelites.
  • What do you need God to send you?
  • Embrace the compassion God has for you.
  • What is your message from God?
  • Give thanks to God for this time in prayer and for any new insights you have received.
  • Share as you feel led in the reply box below.

Revised Common Lectionary Readings for Sunday, September 24, 2017, the Twenty-Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year A)

Exodus 16:2-15
Psalm 105:1-6,37-45
Philippians 1:21-30
Matthew 20:1-16

If you use these prayers in other groups, please give credit to author. Permission to use in not-for-profit settings (c) 2017 The Rev. Lil Smith, M.Div., DASD

Matthew 18:21-35 – Should you not have had mercy on your fellow slave, as I had mercy on you?

 

Matthew 18:21-35

21Then Peter came and said to him, “Lord, if another member of the church sins against me, how often should I forgive? As many as seven times?” 22Jesus said to him, “Not seven times, but, I tell you, seventy-seven times.

23“For this reason the kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who wished to settle accounts with his slaves. 24When he began the reckoning, one who owed him ten thousand talents was brought to him. 25and, as he could not pay, his lord ordered him to be sold, together with his wife and children and all his possessions, and payment to be made. 26So the slave fell on his knees before him, saying, ‘Have patience with me, and I will pay you everything.’ 27And out of pity for him, the lord of that slave released him and forgave him the debt. 28But that same slave, as he went out, came upon one of his fellow slaves who owed him a hundred denarii; and seizing him by the throat, he said, ‘Pay what you owe.’ 29Then his fellow slave fell down and pleaded with him, ‘Have patience with me, and I will pay you.’ 30But he refused; then he went and threw him into prison until he would pay the debt. 31When his fellow slaves saw what had happened, they were greatly distressed, and they went and reported to their lord all that had taken place. 32Then his lord summoned him and said to him, ‘You wicked slave! I forgave you all that debt because you pleaded with me. 33Should you not have had mercy on your fellow slave, as I had mercy on you?’ 34And in anger his lord handed him over to be tortured until he would pay his entire debt. 35So my heavenly Father will also do to every one of you, if you do not forgive your brother or sister from your heart.”

  • Light a candle to remember Christ’s presence with you.
  • Sit five to fifteen minutes in silence bringing your attention to the Breath.
  • Remember someone who forgave your debt.  Perhaps it is monetary.  Perhaps it is ugliness.  Perhaps it is selfishness.  Whatever the debt, remember one time your debt was forgiven.
  • Notice the freedom that came with the forgiveness of debt.
  • Are you still holding onto any judgment, guilt or anxiety from this memory?
  • Where are you holding this pain?
  • How do you wish to release the pain and forgive yourself?
  • Lean into the strength of God who wants this new healing and peace for you.
  • Forgive yourself from your heart.
  • Remember a debt someone owes you.
  • Are you ready to let go of that debt today and forgive?
  • Forgive your brother, your sister from your heart.
  • Lean into the love of God who wants this new healing and peace for you.
  • What is your message from God?
  • Give thanks to God for this time in prayer and for any new insights you have received.
  • Share as you feel led in the reply box below.

Revised Common Lectionary Readings for Sunday, September 17, 2017, the Twenty-Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year A)

Exodus 14:19-31
Psalm 114:1-8
Romans 14:1-12
Matthew 18:21-35

If you use these prayers in other groups, please give credit to author. Permission to use in not-for-profit settings (c) 2017 The Rev. Lil Smith, M.Div., DASD

Romans 14:1-12 – Who are you to pass judgment on your brother or sister?

Romans 14:1-12

1Welcome those who are weak in faith, but not for the purpose of quarreling over opinions. 2Some believe in eating anything, while the weak eat only vegetables. 3Those who eat must not despise those who abstain, and those who abstain must not pass judgment on those who eat; for God has welcomed them. 4Who are you to pass judgment on servants of another? It is before their own lord that they stand or fall. And they will be upheld, for the Lord is able to make them stand.

5Some judge one day to be better than another, while others judge all days to be alike. Let all be fully convinced in their own minds. 6Those who observe the day, observe it in honor of the Lord. Also those who eat, eat in honor of the Lord, since they give thanks to God; while those who abstain, abstain in honor of the Lord and give thanks to God.

7We do not live to ourselves, and we do not die to ourselves. 8If we live, we live to the Lord, and if we die, we die to the Lord; so then, whether we live or whether we die, we are the Lord’s. 9For to this end Christ died and lived again, so that he might be Lord of both the dead and the living.

10Why do you pass judgment on your brother or sister? Or you, why do you despise your brother or sister? For we will all stand before the judgment seat of God. 11For it is written,
“As I live, says the Lord, every knee shall bow to me,
and every tongue shall give praise to God.”
12So then, each of us will be accountable to God.

  • Light a candle to remember Christ’s presence with you.
  • Sit five to fifteen minutes in silence bringing your attention to the Breath.
  • Do a quick scan of your body and notice where you are holding judgment.
  • How is this judgment binding you to the world?  Describe the unfreedom.
  • Being gentle with yourself, look deeply within you.
  • How is this judgment about you?
  • Embrace the gentleness of the Holy Spirit.
  • What do you desire to let go?
  • What freedom comes as you let go?
  • What is your message from God?
  • Give thanks to God for this time in prayer and for any new insights you have received.
  • Share as you feel led in the reply box below.

Revised Common Lectionary Readings for Sunday, September 17, 2017, the Twenty-Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year A)

Exodus 14:19-31
Psalm 114:1-8
Romans 14:1-12
Matthew 18:21-35

If you use these prayers in other groups, please give credit to author. Permission to use in not-for-profit settings (c) 2017 The Rev. Lil Smith, M.Div., DASD