Each week’s liturgy includes something we call “The Prayer of the Day,” formerly known as “The Collect.” The Prayer of the Day is a summing up of all the day’s themes, to greater and lesser degrees of weekly success. This Sunday’s texts are all about the cost of discipleship, the push and pull of faith and life, forgiveness and sin, responsibility and sloth. The Prayer of the Day appointed for Sunday is a particular favorite of mine:
Teach us, good Lord God, to serve you as you deserve,
to give and not to count the cost,
to fight and not to heed the wounds,
to toil and not seek for rest,
to labor and not to ask for reward,
except that of knowing that we do your will.
It is a bracing “ask.” And a prayer not many of us would eagerly pray.
Sunday’s texts are all about the cost of doing God’s will.
We meet the prophet Jeremiah, a reluctant spokesperson for God, called to speak judgement in a time of great prosperity. On his best prophet days, he was ignored. On his worst prophet days he was betrayed by his own family. (Jeremiah 20.7-13)
The Apostle Paul characterizes the life of faith as dying to sin, being crucified with Christ, being buried with Christ, being destroyed and enslaved. (Romans 6.1b-11) Who would choose such a life? Apparently, many did. The opportunity to live life in Christ was a greater joy than all the sorrows that came with it. Is that true for us?
In the Gospel, Jesus paints a dark picture of what the disciples have agreed to do. (Matthew 10.24-39) You may recall that last Sunday Jesus commissioned them to share his work, because there was simply too much for him to do alone. They were glad to hear that they would be able to cure and exorcise and even raise the dead. But Sunday’s text speaks four times of “fear.” With the power to restore life came the very real possibility that theirs would be taken from them.
Dietrich Bonhoeffer, 20th century Lutheran martyr, called this the “cost of discipleship.” Ours is not a yippy-skippy faith, success upon success. Ours is a servant faith that puts aside our own needs for the sake of the other. Thus, the prayer of the day that caught my attention.
Please join us Sunday as we attempt to make peace with the demands of what we have agreed to do. Inserted in the middle of the liturgy will be a joyous event—the Affirmation of Marriage Vows for Margaret Price and Guillermo Guidino, who were married in Lima, Peru in March.
Though our lives of faith are not nearly as complex or dangerous as those of the first disciples, there is no question that faithfulness to the call of Christ requires a great deal of us—all those things we ask in the Prayer of the Day. Know that it is a privilege for me to serve with you, to suffer whatever cost or wound, weariness or labor comes as a result of our bond to one another and to Christ.
Following as faithfully as I can,
Pastor JoAnn Post