Saturday, August 21, 2010

prayer and grace

Good morning sisters and brothers,
Today's reading concludes the Letter to the Hebrews with some comforting words and with greetings for the community. The author mentions Timothy, which led to a tradition that this letter comes from Paul. Most scholars don't think this is the case, and even in the second century there were teachers who admitted that they didn't know who had written this letter. That makes it hard to understand the context for it, but the letter reveals enough that we can understand what it said to its first readers and what it has to say to us today.

I love how the author encourages the readers to pray for him so that he will be able to accomplish God's calling for him. The prayers of the community are powerful. Sometimes we think religious leaders are the ones who are supposed to pray, and certainly we are supposed to pray, but the calling to pray is universal. I've heard it said, "If you want a better pastor, pray for the one you have." That's sort of what this leader is saying. Those in leadership need the prayers of the community for their leadership and ministry to be effective. For any ministry to succeed prayer is important. Prayer can do surprising things because we serve a surprising God. The author reminds us that God brought Jesus back from the dead to be our great shepherd and to bring us into the new covenant. God can raise the dead and God can give us power in our ministry today.

God bless,

PS: As we're talking about prayer I would encourage you to keep our Muslim brothers and sisters in prayer as they observe Ramadan this month (started August 11). This is a challenging time of year to fast all day, but that is what many of them are doing. Pray that God would give them strength in and through their fasting and that the time to reflect on the Qur'an would bring each of them closer to God.

Hebrews 13:18-25
18Pray for us; we are sure that we have a clear conscience, desiring to act honorably in all things. 19I urge you all the more to do this, so that I may be restored to you very soon. 20Now may the God of peace, who brought back from the dead our Lord Jesus, the great shepherd of the sheep, by the blood of the eternal covenant, 21make you complete in everything good so that you may do his will, working among us that which is pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be the glory forever and ever. Amen. 22I appeal to you, brothers and sisters, bear with my word of exhortation, for I have written to you briefly. 23I want you to know that our brother Timothy has been set free; and if he comes in time, he will be with me when I see you. 24Greet all your leaders and all the saints. Those from Italy send you greetings. 25Grace be with all of you.

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