Monday of Pentecost 15 – Prayer of the Week

O God, from whom all good proceeds, grant to us, Your humble servants, Your holy inspiration, that we may set our minds on the things that are right and, by Your merciful guiding, accomplish them; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. (Our devotional pattern is a little different this week. The Gospel reading appointed for this week, Matthew 18:1-20, is long and rich. We will break that reading up and read a small portion of it in conjunction with the other appointed readings and prayers throughout the week.)  When I was moving up into the third grade, the three-room, small-town Nebraska, Lutheran school I attended welcomed a new teacher into its 3rd, 4th, and 5th grade classroom, Mr. Schaffer. A new graduate from Concordia, Seward, he had a natural gift as an educator. He was a genuine blessing to me as a child. He furthered my love of reading and learning. He failed to improve my handwriting substantively despite his persistent and repeated attempts. But most of all I knew that he cared about me. He was a bright, articulate, grown-up person who cared for me. I think he was listening carefully to these words of Jesus: 1 At that time the disciples came to Jesus, saying, “Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” And calling to him a child, he put him in the midst of them and said, “Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. “Whoever receives one such child in my name receives me, but whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a great millstone fastened around his neck and to be drowned in the depth of the sea.  (Mt. 18:1-6) We pray in the prayer this week that God would inspire us to set our mind on the right thing and to accomplish it. When the disciples asked who was great (important) in the kingdom of heaven, Jesus set a small child in their midst. He spoke of just how important such children are to God. I remember that Mr. Schaffer got on the floor to read with us. He roped the quilters in the congregation into the classroom to teach us to sew. He acquired a large appliance box, we painted it with bright colors, and it became the “computer.” (This was when computers were huge devices which filled a whole room.) You could sit in there and answer math questions as the computer until you got one wrong, then it was the other kid’s turn. We all wanted to be the computer and as a result furiously memorized our multiplication tables. He found a claw-footed bathtub and some carpet remnants to make a special reading spot in the corner of the room. He was willing to think like a child. Jesus begins this important passage with an admonition to humble service. The first thing God would have us keep in mind that we too are the needy ones in our relationship with God. We need his help; he has given it. That allows us to be the helpers of those around us. Who can you help today?

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