by Ellen Sims
text: Luke 6:17-26
On third Sundays we offer a contemplative prayer service which includes the opportunity to visit several prayer stations. A description of this Sunday’s prayer stations follows, along with some of the congregation’s responses to the prompt at Prayer Station 1.
1. CREATING OUR OWN BEATITUDES
With Jesus’s pattern and priorities in mind, who/what do you think will experience blessing? And whom do you think will experience “woe” as a consequence of thwarting the inbreaking of God’s kin*dom? With Luke 6: 20-26 as a model, create your own “beatitudes.” Consider types/groups of people who behave in certain ways. If you’re willing to let the pastor read your “beatitudes” aloud, leave your unsigned “beatitudes” at this station.
SOME NEW BEATITUDES CREATED AT PRAYER STATION 1:
* Blessed are those who walk in darkness for they occasionally stumble into God.
* Blessed are those that speak truth to power. Blessed are those that defend the powerless. Woe to those that speak lies as truth for they will be weighed and found wanting.
* Blessed are those who place others before themselves. Blessed are those who show love to those on the margins. Blessed are those who tear down walls. Woe to those who think only of themselves. Woe to those who exclude a person just because they are different from themselves. Woe to those who build walls.
* Blessed are you who barely have money to pay your bills — you will experience the things in life that matter most. Blessed are you who can’t afford cable — you will have peace of mind. Blessed are you whose entertainment are the flowers and rivers and trees — you will know the meaning of life. Blessed are you who are humble — your worth is beyond fame.
* Blessed are you who are curious and interested in learning for you will understand. Woe to you who know-it-all, for you will be duped.
* Blessed are those who: try to anticipate others’ needs; comfort those who suffer; do something nice for someone before they are asked; see the good, love and trust in others; are determined to balance negative with positive; just do!
This station also prompted one person to write this poem:
What defines a Monster? Where does one draw the line between someone with a questionable past, to one with a doomed future? What is Sanity in a game ruled by Insanity? Unmarked boundaries, indecisiveness . . . Who can distinguish between Sick and Evil? Humans are nothing but glorified animals housing too much brain power for our own good. The id overwhelms; unbridled strength and agile precision bubbles from recesses, envelopes our mammalian biped form like living armor. Words escape, with stinging efficiency . . . like blow darts tipped with poison. Messages erupt from fingertips post haste, from vocal cords through the mouth with ease. Can’t take it back . . . Permanent Copy and paste. . . Woe unto those who ignore the carnal nature within.
2. CREATING OUR OWN OASIS OF BLESSING
With the colored pencils or crayons provided, choose a page to color in a meditative way. In these moments just enjoy a chance to relax as you add a little beauty and color to a world that too often feels more about striving than living trustfully, creatively, gently. Enjoy the blessing of quiet reflection and creativity.
3. RECEIVING THE BLESSINGS OF THE LORD’S TABLE
The communion bread and wine have been blessed and broken. Our response to this blessing at the Lord’s Table is to receive with gratitude. Recall that even on the night in which Jesus was betrayed, he was offering blessings. Read silently these words before approaching the Table: “On the night before he met with death, Jesus came to the table with those he loved, took bread, and blessed the God of all creation; He broke the bread among his disciples and said “Take this, all of you, and eat it. This is my body which will be given up for you.” When supper was ended, he took a cup of wine and gave thanks to the God of all creation; he passed it among his disciples and said: “Take this, all of you, and drink from it. This is the cup of my blood, the blood of the new and everlasting covenant. It will be shed for you and for all with forgiveness. Do this in memory of me.”
4. GIVING FROM OUR BLESSINGS TO BLESS OTHERS
We respond to God’s graciousness by giving to others. From our blessings we hope to bless others. From our offerings we hope to equip Open Table to serve our community and create blessings for others. Thank you for all the ways you give of your time and talent and treasure and give to the ministry of Open Table UCC.
CLOSING PRAYER: God who sees the poor, the sick, the forsaken, the mistreated, help us see both individuals in need and see the bigger picture of the systems that create harm. Help us see and act as Jesus would. Amen
BENEDICTION: May Jesus walk out of this service using our legs. May Jesus reach out to others this week with our outstretched arms. May Jesus speak peace to all using our voices. May Jesus shower compassion on the lonely and disregarded because our hearts are stirred. Amen