PENTECOST 21C     October17, 2010


Jeremiah 31:27-34
The new covenant — "I will put my law within them and I will write it on their hearts; and I will be their God."
-Even the Apostle Paul distinguished between written codes that kill and the Spirit that gives life. 2 Corinthians 3:5-6 says, "Our competence is from God, who has made us competent to be ministers of a new covenant, not of letter but of spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life."
-Behold, I am doing a new thing, even now it is springing to light. Do you not perceive it?" Isaiah
-Nothing is more surprising than the rise of the new within ourselves. We do not foresee or observe its growth. We do not try to produce it by the strength of our will, by the power of our emotion, or by the clarity of our intellect. On the contrary, we feel that by trying to produce it we prevent its coming Isaiah
Psalm 119:97-104 or Psalm 19 " Oh how I love your law.... How sweet are your words to my taste. Sweeter than honey to my mouth.
2 Timothy 3:14—4:5 (week 3 of 4) Coaching Timothy — "Continue in what you have learned ... all scripture is inspired by God and is useful for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness. Proclaim the message ... do the work of an evangelist." .
-Bible answers the "why" questions and science answers the "how" questions. 
-People love the Da Vinci code, New Age myths and recycled Hinduism in western garb. One reason we need evangelists?
-The Bible is not for spectators; it is for participants. Virtual reality.
-The Bible, the least read best seller in history.
-The word of God may be hazardous to your health.

Luke 18:1-8 Parable on prayer — The persistent widow and the unjust judge: "Will not God grant justice?" "When the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?" "ought always to pray and not lose heart."

 a. Unjust judge represents God and widow represents ourselves pleading with God till finally he answers our
pleas. God is not unjust but if such a wicked man will eventually give in, how much more will God?.
 b. The persistent widow represents God who continually calls us and we are the unjust judge who neither
fears God nor respects people. (Examples: Jonah, Paul, St. Augustine)
 c. This parable is intended to be an encouragement for us to pray continually until Jesus comes back. When Jesus asks at the end of verse 8, "When the Son of Man comes will he find faith on earth?" he means, "Will the Son of Man find that his disciples have kept praying or have lost heart and given up?" So the implication seems to be: prayer and faith stand and fall together. If we lose heart and drift away from prayer, then the Son of Man will not find faith in us when he comes.

-Jesus' words directed to his disciples who have been taught to pray “Thy kingdom come”

-This parable has often been called, "The Story of the Unjust Judge." However, it is more the "Story of the Just Judge

 - God." Jesus is seeking to encourage his disciples, and Luke, no doubt, is seeking to
encourage the church of his day which may well have been facing persecution and growing weary of waiting for the Lord's coming.  Bass Mitchell

-The first readers of Luke’s Gospel expected Jesus’ immanent return and his judgment would establish God’s justice

- Be persistent. Be insistent.

- Jesus is directing his words to disciples who have been taught to pray, "Thy kingdom come".

- Patience and hope keep faith alive.

- Prayer: Oh love that will not let me go, hymn.

- The most important question Jesus asks is: "Will God find faith?

-The primary effect of prayer is not on God, but on us. God’s love is already unconditional, God’s justice perfect, God’s compassion without limit. God recognizes our needs even before we do. It’s not God who needs to change, it is up to us to get in line with God’s program, and prayer is a large part of how that comes about. She had what is known in Yiddish as chutzpah. Our prayer needs to have chutzpah, not because God is deaf but because opening our hearts to God is no easy matter. The Very Rev. Charles Hoffacker

SERMON                             SOME THINGS TO THINK ABOUT PRAYER
Using the "things" below, pick out the ones that you think your congregation can best respond to. Lindy

- Have we the faith of a mustard seed, the faith of a widow?
- If perseverance works, does that mean we can control God? Lindy
- “Prayer is faith in God, not faith in prayer.”
- One line prayer needed, 'Thy will be done" Dr. Ralph F. Wilson
- “Parables often interrogate us.”
-What we are speaks so loudly, God cannot hear what we say. Emerson
  - Even though prayer does not always change God, it can change us. Wesley.
- Prayer raises threatening issues, troublesome questions. Is there a God? If there is, is there a God who hears and acts for us? William Willimon
-What I think is more common is the lack of faith among those for whom life is going well. They don't need to concern themselves about the welfare of widows and orphans -- or the entire planet -- so they don't. When Jesus comes, will they have faith? Stoffregen
- What would we pray for after 9/11; Afghanistan?, Iraq? Will we keep praying? When will wars and killing and hatred end? When will God's kingdom come? What should we be doing while waiting? Stoffregen
- It is God Himself who prays through us, when we pray to Him. Tillich
-"Until you have stood for years knocking at a locked door, your knuckles bleeding, you do not really know what prayer is." ...told by Craddock.
-The primary effect of prayer is not on God but on us. The Very Rev. Charles Hoffacker
-The ultimate form of hope is prayer. Reinhold Niebuhr
- "So no longer do I privately make my prayer requests by praying to the God 'out there'. The deity I worship is rather part of who I am individually and corporately. So praying can never be separated from acting. I t is when I walk into these dimensions and activities of life that I am praying."  John Slelby Spong

- One of the realities of our world today is that people don't know what to believe. You can't believe the government, you can't believe industry, you can't believe the experts, you can't believe the politicians, etc. etc. .
- Humanity's capacity for justice makes democracy possible; but humanity's
inclination to injustice makes democracy necessary." Reinhold Niebuhr
-"The squeaky wheel gets the grease." Brittish
- Practice the presence of God. Brother Lawrence
- When you get to your wits end, remember that God lives there. (Old proverb)
-The disciples are learning through this parable that their lives of fidelity are a form of prayer or relationship with God. Waiting, hoping watching, and longing, are parts of any loving relationship.
-This “kingdom” begins with me and my kingdom’s being converted and I know this to be seemingly slower and slower. My living each day in this conflict between my kingdom and that of Jesus is how I pound on God’s door. I want “justice,” but yet I fear what “justice” would ask of me and my “kingdom.” My prayer is my fidelity to the process of God’s converting my heart. So it is a battle and hopefully God will win Larry Gillick, S.J.

Two frogs fell into a deep cream bowl;
The one was wise, and a cheery soul.
The other one took a gloomy view
And bade his friend a sad adieu.
Said the other frog with a merry grin,
"I can't get out, but I won't give in;
I'll swim around till my strength is spent,
Then I will die the more content."
And as he swam, though ever it seemed,
His struggling began to churn the cream
Until on top of pure butter he stopped,
And out of the bowl he quickly hopped.
The moral, you ask? Oh, it's easily found!
If you can't get out, keep swimming around. Author Unknown

-Most of us are familiar with Ted Turner, the cable television millionaire. Turner, at the American Humanist Association banquet, where he received an award for his work on the environment and world peace, openly criticized fundamental Christianity. He said, "Jesus would be sick at his stomach over the way his ideas have been twisted." He went on to say, "I’ve been saved seven or eight times. But, I gave up on it, when, despite my prayers, my sister died. The more I strayed from my faith, the better I felt!"     Ted Turner is dead wrong, but he is perfectly reflecting the attitude many hold concerning God and the matter of prayer. Many people will pray about something for a while and when the answer doesn’t come when they think it should, they just throw up their hands in defeat and say, “What’s the use?” Many of us wouldn’t admit that tonight, but we have done the same thing! This passage is a challenge to that notion!
-The story is told of a girl who watched a holy man praying at the riverbank. Once the man had finished his prayer, the girl approached him and asked, “Will you teach me to pray?” The holy man studied the girl’s face, and agreed to her request. He took her into the river. The holy man instructed her to lean over, so her face was close to the water. The girl did as she was told. Then the holy man pushed her whole head under the water. Soon the girl struggled to free herself in order to breathe. Once she got her breath back, she gasped, “What did you do that for?” The holy man said, “I gave you your first lesson.” “What do you mean?” asked the astonished girl. He answered, “When you long to pray as much as you long to breathe, then I will be able to teach you how to pray.”
HUMOR- By perseverance the snail reached the ark. Spurgeon
- Three-minute egg, one hour dry cleaning, twenty minute pizza, ASP oil change, instant oatmeal, etc. Why wait?
- There is a story about a young person who was distraught and confused. This person wisely chose to turn to the Bible. However they chose to do so in a peculiar manner. This young person closed their eyes opened the Bible and pointed to a verse then looked to see what it said. It said, "And he hanged himself." (Matt. 27:5) Deciding that this was not what God wanted, he tried the same process again. He closed his eyes and pointed. Then he looked down. The verse said, "Go and do likewise."
-If you hold your hands upside down, you get the opposite of what you pray for.
-My grandmother had prayed first thing in the morning ever since she was a girl. But recently she has been reading the newspaper first, so I asked her if prayer had become less important to her. "Oh, no," she said, "I'm just looking to see what I should pray about."
-O God, if there is a God, save my soul, if I have a soul, so I can go to heaven, if there is a heaven."
-I know the Lord will help but help me Lord until you help! Hasidic

- Oh God, give us the courage to pray. Give us courage to let you be God.
 Often we ask for many things: health, joy, prosperity, forgiveness, etc…we forget that you already know our every need.  Often we do most of the talking when we pray…and fail to hear what You are saying to us.  Often we ask you to be with the dying, the sick, those who suffer, but we forget that your spirit is already with them…healing ,caring, guiding and loving them. Help us to hold on to You while you already have hold of us. Give us the courage to let you be God. and open our hearts and minds to your spirit as we pray the only prayer that is needful…”Thy kingdom come…Thy will be done.” Lindy
- Thankful that we are a part of you (O God) and you are a part of us....Lindy


Go into this week rejoicing in the knowledge
that God's love permeates every fibre of your being,
that Jesus' love is deeply inscribed on your heart,
that the Holy Spirit's love is the inspiration of your life.
-We praise you for being our God and for claiming us as your people. 




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