Advent Daily Prayer Challenge – Day 12

Advent Daily Prayer Challenge – Day 12

Read Luke 12.  Commentary – There is a deepness in this chapter.  Jesus gives a warning about hypocrisy, urges his hearers in fearless confession, tells a parable about wealth, talks about worry and slaves, and says that he is the cause of division.  This is a chapter full of Jesus’ sayings that are unexpected by many.  This chapter paints a different picture of Jesus than we prefer.  Too often we prefer a tame and timid Jesus, not the Jesus who judges, criticizes, exhorts, and causes division.  But these are important aspects of Jesus.  He is the cause of division for many.  Even within the body of those that claim to follow him, there is division because of him.

Let us pray.  God of truth, you speak words of truth to us.  But do we really want to listen?  Some of these words are hard to hear.  Too often, many of us have the privilege of pushing aside uncomfortable words of Jesus.  We somehow have this image that following you is all positive.  How did that happen?  Especially when you are clear over an over again that following you leads to death – death to self, to selfishness, to our self-imposed identities, etc.  It is only through death that we experience resurrection and who we are truly called to be.

Today I pray for Christians pastors who proclaim Jesus with their lips, but in action oppose Jesus through what and who they support, that use their position to mislead what Jesus is about, that are more interested in earthly influence, political power, and money.  These folks have a loud voice and people listen.  They lead many of the sheep to destruction.  Open them to be, as you said in Luke 12:15, “on your guard against all kinds of greed;”  Cause them to repent and change their ways.  As for me, you know what I need.  Give me the courage to speak up when abusive theology is proclaimed.  Give me the courage to love those that willingly mislead for their own benefit.  That doesn’t mean to enable or ignore what is happening – but rather to act in the most loving way I can.  Allow me to still see the Imago Dei in these people.  Amen.

Advent Daily Prayer Challenge – Day 11

Advent Daily Prayer Challenge – Day 11

Read Luke 11.  Commentary – Perseverance, prayer, accusations, spirits, light, arguments.  these are the descriptives of this chapter.  Jesus perseveres through it all.  He is accused of being with the devil.  Those around him demand signs.  Yet, would they believe even with a sign?  It is doubtful.  Instead, as we are told in verse 54 they would be “lying in wait for him, to catch him in something he might say.”

Let us pray.  God of light, you are the light that the world needs.  In that light, you show who you are and who we are too.  You light the way.  You expose sin and brokenness.  Wipe our eyes so that we may see you clearly.  Open our hearts so that we can be warmed by the light.

Today I pray for those who try to trap people and for those who have already made up their minds regardless of what is presented.  Why ask for signs, or facts, or data, or anything else, when those asking aren’t really interested in what they are?  Why do these insist on twisting sings and the truth for their own purposes?  Release them from the captivity of wanting to be right and in control.  Release me also from darkness so that I may see the image of God in each person – especially those that I am frustrated with for their hard heartedness.  Amen.

Advent Daily Prayer Challenge – Day 10

Advent Daily Prayer Challenge – Day 10

Read Luke 10.  Commentary – Being sent and rejoicing.  That’s what comes out of this chapter.  70 disciples are sent out in to the world to proclaim the Good News, to rebuke demons, and more.  When the disciples return, they rejoice.  Jesus rejoices too.  Amidst the sending and rejoicing, there is conflict too – in the form of the Good Samaritan parable and Jesus’ visit with Martha and Mary.

Let us pray.  God of sending, you send us out like sheep among wolves.  You send us out to proclaim Good News.  You send us out to rebuke the demons of our world – things that have a firm grip on people.  You send us out rejoicing.  And what do we find?  Conflict, suffering, hunger, and more.  How the world needs Good News.

Today I pray for those who are unwilling to face the truth.  When confronting Jesus about who is his neighbor, the Scripture lawyer gives a technically correct answer.  But he misses the point.  He can’t bring himself to name the person who is most neighbor like.  He can’t bear to see the humanity.  Soften the hearts of those who refuse to see the humanity of others.  And work on me too – open my eyes to see the image of God, especially with those I disagree with.  Amen.

Advent Daily Prayer Challenge – Day 9

Advent Daily Prayer Challenge – Day 9

Read Luke 9.  Commentary – Very interesting things are taking place in this chapter.  Things that don’t seem to be related to one another.  The underlying theme though is summed up in two passages of this chapter – Herod’s perplexity of who Jesus is and Jesus asking his disciples, “But who do you say that I am?”  Everyone wants to know who Jesus is – he’s doing exorcisms, transfiguring, feeding the multitudes, and more.  Who is this Jesus?  And what does he want?

Let us pray.  God who is, you often leave us perplexed.  Yet, you also tell us exactly who you are and what you are about.  Why is it that we doubt you when you tell us though?  Jesus tells his disciples what was to happen to him.  Yet they didn’t get it.  It is no surprise that we often miss it too.

Today I pray for those who are figuring out who Jesus is – both those who don’t really want to know Jesus and those that are seeking to become his disciples.  It’s the same question, yet the purpose of the question leads to far different paths.  Open our hearts to follow you when you call us.  Amen.

Advent Daily Prayer Challenge – Day 8

Advent Daily Prayer Challenge – Day 8

Read Luke 8.  Commentary – This is a chapter that can be summarized as Jesus upsets the status quo.  He takes what is familiar and seemingly out of humanity’s control – how things grow, a demon possessed man, a hemorrhaging woman, a dying girl – and he turns the tables on this.  He proclaims the Kingdom of God, and encounters them all.  And in that encounter, everything transforms.

Let us pray.  Transforming God, the status quo is no match for you.  We may buy into the belief that things can’t change.  We may settle for the way things are and believe that we can’t do anything.  We may resign ourselves to a broken world, with broken people living in broken systems.  But that’s not the way it’s supposed to be.  And you show us how it can and will be different.

Today I pray for those who perpetuate systems that maintain brokenness.  Why do some do this?  I don’t know.  Is it an expectation that the world can’t improve?  Is it some broken idea that only a handful deserve a better life?  I don’t know.  Open their hearts to know that you transform all.  And open me to see the brokenness for what it is and inspire me to act.  Let your kingdom come.  Amen.

Advent Daily Prayer Challenge – Day 7

Advent Daily Prayer Challenge – Day 7

Read Luke 7.  Commentary – Outsiders and outcasts dominate this chapter.  A Roman Centurion of great faith and a women of questionable background, also of great faith.  And in the middle of it all, John the Baptist (or at least his followers) make an appearance.  And through it all, it is the religious class who doubts Jesus – the ones who should know better.

Let us pray.  God of the outsider, you widen the circle of who is considered “in.”  That’s because your kingdom is unlike any earthly kingdom or nation.  Instead of figuring out ways to keep people out, like the nations of the world, your kingdom is always seeking ways to draw more people in.  Open our hearts to this welcome, knowing that you have done this for us as well.  Open us to seeing that this isn’t just for us.  It is for all peoples.

Today I pray for those who promote and support policies, rule, regulations, and ideas that shut people out, turn people away, demonize “others,” and dehumanize those who aren’t from here.  I pray that supporters of these things never have to experience the shutting out that they promote.  Forgive me when I get angry at such behavior and ideas and want to do unto others as they do to “others.”  As these people reject and push away “others” help me to find ways to draw these people in to community.  Let us build community together in spite of efforts and hardened hearts that seek to wall off people who are not “one of us.”  There is no them.  There is only us.  Amen.

Advent Daily Prayer Challenge – Day 6

Advent Daily Prayer Challenge – Day 6

Read Luke 6.  Commentary – Wow, what a chapter!  Blessings and woes throughout the chapter.  Blessings for those who the world proclaims don’t deserve it.  Woes to those who the world thinks should be blessed.  I saw an article about the man charged with a homelessness commission who believed that handing out free food to the homeless was enabling.  I wonder if he ever read Luke 6?  But maybe the highlight of the chapter happens at the end of the chapter when Jesus is quoted as saying “Why do you call me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I tell you?”  In other words, to really be a follower of Jesus, we are supposed to hear what Jesus says and act on it.

Let us pray.  God of blessings and woes, you do what the world doesn’t expect.  Over and over again, you bless those who the world finds worthless.  You heal those who the world finds to be void of value.  You welcome those that the world fears.  You surround yourself with those the world pushes away.  And you expect that your followers will do the same thing.  Blessed are those who hang out with the poor, the outcast, the stranger, the foreigner, the sick, etc.  Blessed are those who give away food, money, time, and compassion.  Blessed are those who are foolish enough to believe that the brokenness of this world is not the way it is supposed to be and that it is supposed to be different – and then do something about that.

Today I pray for those who call Jesus “Lord, Lord,” and do not follow what Jesus calls on them to do.  I don’t understand how a person can claim the name of Christ and then reject what Jesus teaches about the poor and hungry, the stranger, the sick, and the outcast.  I don’t understand how a person can claim to be a follower of Jesus and then support policies that blame the poor, that keep the poor in poverty, that set the poor against other poor.  I don’t understand.  I may never understand.  I’m not sure I really want to understand.  Instead open me to seeing the fear and privilege of those who support these policies in a new way.  Open me to seeing their fear so that I may be an instrument of peace.  Open me to discerning new ways of empowering those experiencing poverty.  Open me to offering healing to those who bring hurt to the poor, the outcast, the stranger, and the foreigner.  Let your kingdom come, Lord.  Amen.