Prayer of the Unemployed, based on Matthew 20

Summer in the Scriptures (4)Prayer Based on Matthew 20:1-16
The Parable of the Generous Employer

The pandemics of COVID and racism share common space with the pandemic of systemic poverty.

As I read the parable, I imagined myself the laborer who waited all day. Far too many are waiting because they are unemployed or underemployed, waiting for access to training for better jobs, waiting for transportation or tools needed for their trade, waiting for childcare, waiting for a living wage. Who are you praying for?

I also imagined business owners who want to be as generous as the employer in the parable, but they can’t. They wonder if their business will survive. Who are you praying for?

I then imagined business owners and leaders who have the power to be generous but won’t. Who are you praying for? 

Quote from PoorPeoplesCampaign.Org
“Now is the time to organize towards collective action to enact a moral agenda that lifts all people by challenging the interlocking injustices of systemic racism, poverty, militarism, ecological devastation, and the distorted moral narrative that ties it all together. ‪The fact that there are 140 million poor and low-income people in the richest country in the history of the world is morally indefensible, constitutionally inconsistent, and economically disastrous.”

My hope rises with the sun
I want to be hired, to be useful
I need the work

The day is passing
I need to be hired
I need to work
I have responsibilities and debts
I need to work to care for myself and my loved ones

The day is nearly gone
I have skills to offer, yet no one sees them
Why am I not valued?
Why am I not wanted?
The idleness eats my soul

The day is nearly done, as is my hope
Yet, you see me
You want me
You come for me

I give you what I have
The sweat of my brow
The labor of my limbs
The dreams of my heart
The weight of my needs
The hole of my soul

Help me to trust you in this lean time
Help me to trust worthy work is coming soon
With a boss as generous and honorable as you
Help me trust there is work to be done
all are wanted
all are needed
all are chosen

Help me hold on to hope
Stay here soul
Stay here

_________________________

For the next few months, I’m reading a chapter from the Gospels each day. This is part of the Summer in the Scriptures reading plan sponsored by the Florida Conference of the United Methodist Church. Click Here for the reading plan.

You’re most welcome to read along and to join the Facebook discussion group, Summer in the Scriptures. You don’t need to be a Methodist or attend a Methodist church. All are welcome and all means all.

As part of the Facebook group, I’ve been supplying prayers based on the day’s reading. Feel free to post your prayers and observations based on the readings here or there as well.

May the grace of the Gospels, the challenge, and the call, inspire us to great faith and great good works in Jesus’ name. – Lisa <><

Prayer of the Unemployed (Matthew 20) © 2017, 2020 Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia
You are welcome to use this work in a worship setting with proper attribution.
Please leave a comment for information and permission to publish this work in any form.

Prayer: Strive (Luke 12.29-32)

StriveFather, you know how I strive
Strive to please
Strive to keep up appearances
Strive to finish the to-do list
Strive to accomplish

I strive even in prayer

There’s a hustle within me to prove my worth
Lord, heal me

Show me the difference between
striving and mission and focus and ambition
They’re all bound up together

I see the passionate faithful
and the apathetic
and those that are clear and still and fruitful

What should I be?
How should I be?
Show me how
Show me how to live
How to trust
How to strive for your Kingdom
Your Kin-dom
that good gift you delight in giving

Luke 12:29-32
Jesus said, “Do not keep striving for what you are to eat and what you are to drink, and do not keep worrying. For it is the nations of the world that strive after all these things, and your Father knows that you need them. Instead, strive for his kingdom, and these things will be given to you as well. Do not be afraid, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.”

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Prayer: Strive © 2020 Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia
You are welcome to use this work in a worship setting with proper attribution.
by Lisa Degrenia (www.revlisad.com)
Please contact Lisa for information and permission to publish this work in any form.

Prayer for Labor Day

The Carpenter by Nathan Greene

A hundred times a day I remind myself that my inner and outer life depend on the labors of other people, living and dead, and that I must exert myself in order to give in the full measure I have received and am still receiving.
– Albert Einstein

An extended quote from All for Jesus
by Charles Spurgeon
To a man who lives unto God nothing is secular, everything is sacred.

He puts on his workday garment and it is a vestment to him.

He sits down to his meal and it is a sacrament.

He goes forth to his labor, and therein exercises the office of the priesthood. His breath is incense and his life a sacrifice.

He sleeps on the bosom of God, and lives and moves in the divine presence.

To draw a hard and fast line and say, “This is sacred and this is secular,” is, to my mind, diametrically opposed to the teaching of Christ and the spirit of the gospel…

Peter saw a sheet let down from heaven in which were all manner of beasts and four-footed creatures, which he was bidden to kill and eat, and when he refused because they were unclean, he was rebuked by a voice from heaven, saying, “What God hath cleansed that call not thou common” [Acts 10:15; 11:9].

The Lord hath cleansed your houses, he has cleansed your bed chambers, your tables… He has made the common pots and pans of your kitchens to be as the bowls before the altar – if you know what you are and live according to your high calling.

You housemaids, you cooks, you nurses, you ploughmen, you housewives, you traders, you sailors, your labor is holy if you serve the Lord Christ in it, by living unto Him as you ought to live.

The sacred has absorbed the secular.

Prayer for Labor Day
VOICE ONE: Almighty God, Maker of Heaven and Earth, you declared your work good and so do we. Empower us to continue your good work through the labor of our minds and hands.

VOICE TWO: This Labor Day Weekend, pour out again your blessing and strength on all who work. On those who make it possible for us to have food on our tables:
Farm workers, truckers, grocers, cooks, and restaurant employees
ALL: Bless and strengthen, O Lord

VOICE ONE: On those who work to keep us healthy:
Doctors, nurses, technicians, researchers, and medical manufacturers
ALL: Bless and strengthen, O Lord

VOICE TWO: On those who inspire us and lead us to greater good:
Inventors, explorers, religious leaders, teachers, writers, artists, and mentors
ALL: Bless and strengthen, O Lord

VOICE ONE: On those who facilitate needed products and services:
Office workers, managers, and administrators
Retail workers, bankers, lawyers, politicians, and accountants
ALL: Bless and strengthen, O Lord

VOICE TWO: On those who make our lives easier and safer by the sweat of their brow:
Warehouse workers, construction workers, janitors, and sanitation workers
Police officers, fire fighters, and those who serve in the armed forces
ALL: Bless and strengthen, O Lord

VOICE ONE: On those who work with the poor, the abused,
the dangerous and the dying
Social workers, counselors, and therapists
Hospice workers and corrections officers
Those who work in shelters, soup kitchens, and halfway houses
ALL: Bless and strengthen, O Lord

VOICE TWO: Gracious God, help all workers, especially those in authority over other workers, to carry themselves with honor and integrity. Keep them safe from harm, prejudice, and injustice. Provide the opportunities, benefits, and pay needed to sustain them and their loved ones.

Those who are looking for employment are invited to stand. Persons may also stand on behalf of a friend or loved one who is looking for employment. Those seated around them lay a hand of blessing and support on them for the remainder of the prayer.

VOICE ONE: Strong and Merciful One, we also commend to your blessing and care those who are unemployed or underemployed. Guard them against discouragement and discrimination. Relieve them of worry and anxiety. Meet their needs for hearth and home and health. Come quickly with a fulfilling job with a trustworthy employer.

VOICE TWO: God of Life, deliver us and all people from greed, corruption, and predatory business practices. Open eyes to sustainable and just solutions so workers of all nations will mutually prosper. Lead us as we work, so nothing we do is for self alone, but for the common good and for your glory.

VOICE ONE: We ask all this in the strong name of Jesus, the Carpenter of Nazareth, the Rabbi of Galilee, who taught us to pray

Close with all praying the Lord’s Prayer

____________________________________
Click here for an excellent Labor Day Prayer by Steve Garnaas Holmes.

Click here, for more information on the beautiful work of today’s featured artist, Nathan Greene

Prayer for Labor Day © 2011 Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia
You are welcome to use this work in a worship setting with proper attribution. Please leave a comment for information and permission to publish this work in any form.

Prayer for Labor Day

The Carpenter by Nathan Greene

A hundred times a day I remind myself that my inner and outer life depend on the labors of other people, living and dead, and that I must exert myself in order to give in the full measure I have received and am still receiving.
– Albert Einstein

An extended quote from All for Jesus
by Charles Spurgeon
To a man who lives unto God nothing is secular, everything is sacred.

He puts on his workday garment and it is a vestment to him.

He sits down to his meal and it is a sacrament.

He goes forth to his labor, and therein exercises the office of the priesthood. His breath is incense and his life a sacrifice.

He sleeps on the bosom of God, and lives and moves in the divine presence.

To draw a hard and fast line and say, “This is sacred and this is secular,” is, to my mind, diametrically opposed to the teaching of Christ and the spirit of the gospel…

Peter saw a sheet let down from heaven in which were all manner of beasts and four-footed creatures, which he was bidden to kill and eat, and when he refused because they were unclean, he was rebuked by a voice from heaven, saying, “What God hath cleansed that call not thou common” [Acts 10:15; 11:9].

The Lord hath cleansed your houses, he has cleansed your bed chambers, your tables… He has made the common pots and pans of your kitchens to be as the bowls before the altar – if you know what you are and live according to your high calling.

You housemaids, you cooks, you nurses, you ploughmen, you housewives, you traders, you sailors, your labor is holy if you serve the Lord Christ in it, by living unto Him as you ought to live.

The sacred has absorbed the secular.

Prayer for Labor Day
VOICE ONE: Almighty God, Maker of Heaven and Earth, you declared your work good and so do we. Empower us to continue your good work through the labor of our minds and hands.

VOICE TWO: This Labor Day Weekend, pour out again your blessing and strength on all who work. On those who make it possible for us to have food on our tables:
Farm workers, truckers, grocers, cooks, and restaurant employees
ALL: Bless and strengthen, O Lord

VOICE ONE: On those who work to keep us healthy:
Doctors, nurses, technicians, researchers, and medical manufacturers
ALL: Bless and strengthen, O Lord

VOICE TWO: On those who inspire us and lead us to greater good:
Inventors, explorers, religious leaders, teachers, writers, artists, and mentors
ALL: Bless and strengthen, O Lord

VOICE ONE: On those who facilitate needed products and services:
Office workers, managers, and administrators
Retail workers, bankers, lawyers, politicians and accountants
ALL: Bless and strengthen, O Lord

VOICE TWO: On those who make our lives easier and safer by the sweat of their brow:
Warehouse workers, construction workers, janitors and sanitation workers
Police officers, fire fighters, and those who serve in the armed forces
ALL: Bless and strengthen, O Lord

VOICE ONE: On those who work with the poor, the abused,
the dangerous and the dying
Social workers, counselors, and therapists
Hospice workers and corrections officers
Those who work in shelters, soup kitchens, and halfway houses
ALL: Bless and strengthen, O Lord

VOICE TWO: Gracious God, help all workers, especially those in authority over other workers, to carry themselves with honor and integrity. Keep them safe from harm and injustice. Provide the opportunities, benefits and pay needed to sustain them and their loved ones.

Those who are looking for employment are invited to stand. Persons may also stand on behalf of a friend or loved one who is looking for employment. Those seated around them lay a hand of blessing and support on them for the remainder of the prayer.

VOICE ONE: Strong and Merciful One, we also commend to your blessing and care those who are unemployed or underemployed. Guard them against discouragement and discrimination. Relieve them of worry and anxiety. Meet their needs for hearth and home and health. Come quickly with a fulfilling job with a trustworthy employer.

VOICE TWO: God of Life, deliver us and all people from greed, corruption, and predatory business practices. Open eyes to sustainable and just solutions so workers of all nations will mutually prosper. Lead us as we work, so nothing we do is for self alone, but for the common good and for your glory.

VOICE ONE: We ask all this in the strong name of Jesus, the Carpenter of Nazareth, the Rabbi of Galilee, who taught us to pray

Close with all praying the Lord’s Prayer

____________________________________
Click here for an excellent Labor Day Prayer by Steve Garnaas Holmes.

Click here, for more information on the beautiful work of today’s featured artist, Nathan Greene

Prayer for Labor Day © 2011 Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia
You are welcome to use this work in a worship setting with proper attribution. Please contact Lisa for information and permission to publish this work in any form.

For more information on the art and the use of this prayer in other settings, please refer to the copyright information page.

Sermon Recording – Money Management (Luke 12.13-21)

Message: Money Management
Scriptures: Luke 12:13-21
Message 3 of 4 to accompany the study Earn, Save, Give by Rev. James A. Harnish. Offered 1/28/18 at Trinity United Methodist Church, Sarasota Florida.

oseola mccartyOseola McCarty was born in Hattiesburg Mississippi in 1908, the child of rape. She was raised by her grandmother and aunt who were washerwomen. She joined them in the family business at age 8, learning to wash clothes by hand over an open fire. Oseola left school in the 6th grade to care for her beloved aunt and work full time. She never went back to school and served her neighbors as a washerwoman for 74 years. She never married, never had a child, and never owned a car. When it became possible for her to use a washing machine, she tried it and went back to handwashing clothes. The machine didn’t do as good of a job as she could.

As a child, she began putting some of her small earnings into savings. First, in her doll carriage and later in a savings account she opened herself. In time, she decided to establish a scholarship at the University of Southern Mississippi with $150,000 she’d saved.  She did this at a school that would not have admitted her in the days of segregation.

When asked why, Oseola said, “I’m too old to get an education but they can. I can’t do everything but I can do something to help somebody. And what I can do I will do. I wish I could do more.”

When asked how she accumulated that much money, she said, “It wasn’t hard. I didn’t buy things I didn’t need. The Lord helped me, and he’ll help you, too.”

“I start each day on my knees, saying the Lord’s Prayer. Then I get busy about my work,” McCarty told one interviewer. “You have to accept God the best way you know how and then He’ll show Himself to you. And the more you serve Him, the more able you are to serve Him.”

Look how powerful it can be for a follower of Jesus to be in right relationship with money. Think of the legacy she’s leaving, for future students and as a witness to faithful living. Oseola valued:
1. Hard, honest work
2. The meaningful connection between work, money, and faith
3. That work and managing money wisely are both a blessing, are good for us, are good for the community we live in, and good for the Kingdom of God

Now, look at our scripture for today, Luke 12:13-21. It is a cautionary tale, an example not to follow. The Rich Farmer/Fool’s relationship with money is a twisted trap, the opposite of Oseola’s relationship.

What do you see? Someone who is self-centered

  • Notice the repetition of the words I/my: 10 times in 3 verses
  • Doesn’t think about the common good
  • Literally has a conversation with himself with no regard for discussing plans with his family, business partners, a wise friend, or God
  • Doesn’t attribute his success to anyone else, including his employees or God

There are times when what our society values blends easily with the ways of Jesus. There are times when they bump against one another.

instant gratification cartoonOur society values instant gratification

  • I can have everything I want and I can have it now
  • More, More, More      Mine, Mine Mine
  • $$, Stuff, Consuming = happiness
  • This leads to spending as: a means of entertainment, a pick me up for a bad day, a way of self-medicating and denying hard realities, a way to look successful or “normal”
  • This leads to overspending, living beyond our means
  • Instead of using healthy debt as a tool, we feel crushed by debt, enslaved to debt
  • We experience the burden of too much stuff: how do I store it, care for it, protect it
  • Many live in constant stress because they are one paycheck away, one unexpected expense away from financial disaster.  Many are setting aside little to nothing for emergencies, their future, or the work of God. God gets tips, rather than a tithe.

earn save give cover

Oseola models a different way of living, a better way. John Wesley and the Bible’s thoughts on Money
John Wesley, in his sermon entitled The Use of Money, wrote, “Having, first, gained all you can, and, secondly saved all you can, then give all you can.”

To put it another way, Hard Honest Work partners with Stewardship, the careful, farsighted management of money. The word for that is prudent, like Prudential Insurance.

1. Stewardship
As followers of Jesus, we believe none of it belongs to us. We are caretakers for God’s belongings to use as God would choose.

Jim Harnish puts it this way, “… everything we are and have is a gift from God. That is, the stuff I have—my money, my possessions, my talents, my body—are not my own. They belong to God, the giver of “every good and perfect gift” (James 1:17 KJV). They are given to me by the God who trusts me to use everything I am and have in ways that are consistent with the will and way of God.”

2. Careful, Farsighted Money Management (Prudent)
Prudent is not prudish, cheap, stingy, or miserly. It wasn’t wise money management for rich Ebenezer Scrooge to only live in one room of his large house eating gruel every night just as much as it isn’t wise money management to be careless and wasteful like the Prodigal Son.

spending budget percentage dave ramseyPractical Application

  • Be wise and face the facts of your financial situation. Take an honest inventory of what you earn and what you spend.
  • Chose to be a steward. Manage what God’s entrusted to you. Paying attention to it and direct it’s use making wise choices.
  • Embrace the good gifts of simplicity and thrift.
  • Eliminate unhealthy debt
  • Use the guide to establish a healthy, faithful budget

For followers of Christ, the tithe is an essential practice of faithful stewardship. We acknowledge it all already belongs to God. The tithe is to money what Sabbath is to work. In their practice, our words and actions and beliefs align. God, I trust you to provide. I trust you know what is best for me.

We remember Oseola’s testimony like we remember the widow at the treasure, the little boy giving Jesus his lunch, the woman with the costly jar of perfume anointing Jesus. They saved and used those savings as a lasting legacy. Think how we could be telling your story of faithfulness years from now.

monopolyJim Harnish relates the following: I remember the first time I heard John Ortberg tell a story that later became the title of one of his best-selling books. It’s the story of the day he beat his grandmother in Monopoly. He said it happened at Marvin Gardens, where he wiped her off the board. His grandmother had taught him to play the game, and now he had outplayed her. As he relished his victory, she taught him a far more important lesson with these words: When the game is over, it all goes back in the box.18 All the money, properties, houses, and hotels he had acquired weren’t really his. They had been in the box before he played, and they would be there after he stopped. At the end of the day, it all goes back in the box.

Be a wise, faithful steward. Leave a testimony and a legacy.

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I’m excited to now offer mp3’s of my Sunday messages. A huge thank you to Sean and my brothers and sisters at Trinity United Methodist Church, Sarasota for all their help in making this possible. If you’re ever in Sarasota, please drop by for worship Sundays at 9am or 10:30am, or join us live on our Facebook page at 9am Sundays, or drop by during the week for a chat or small group. You and those you love are always welcome.

sermon © 2018 Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia
Contact Lisa for posting and publication considerations.