Friday, 25 November 2016

Confounding conspiracy

Daniel 6:6-28

So the presidents and satraps conspired and came to the king and said to him, “O King Darius, live forever! All the presidents of the kingdom, the prefects and the satraps, the counselors and the governors are agreed that the king should establish an ordinance and enforce an interdict, that whoever prays to anyone, divine or human, for thirty days, except to you, O king, shall be thrown into a den of lions. Now, O king, establish the interdict and sign the document, so that it cannot be changed, according to the law of the Medes and the Persians, which cannot be revoked.” Therefore King Darius signed the document and interdict.
Daniel in the Lions’ Den
Although Daniel knew that the document had been signed, he continued to go to his house, which had windows in its upper room open toward Jerusalem, and to get down on his knees three times a day to pray to his God and praise him, just as he had done previously. The conspirators came and found Daniel praying and seeking mercy before his God. Then they approached the king and said concerning the interdict, “O king! Did you not sign an interdict, that anyone who prays to anyone, divine or human, within thirty days except to you, O king, shall be thrown into a den of lions?” The king answered, “The thing stands fast, according to the law of the Medes and Persians, which cannot be revoked.” Then they responded to the king, “Daniel, one of the exiles from Judah, pays no attention to you, O king, or to the interdict you have signed, but he is saying his prayers three times a day.”
When the king heard the charge, he was very much distressed. He was determined to save Daniel, and until the sun went down he made every effort to rescue him. Then the conspirators came to the king and said to him, “Know, O king, that it is a law of the Medes and Persians that no interdict or ordinance that the king establishes can be changed.”
Then the king gave the command, and Daniel was brought and thrown into the den of lions. The king said to Daniel, “May your God, whom you faithfully serve, deliver you!” A stone was brought and laid on the mouth of the den, and the king sealed it with his own signet and with the signet of his lords, so that nothing might be changed concerning Daniel. Then the king went to his palace and spent the night fasting; no food was brought to him, and sleep fled from him.
Daniel Saved from the Lions
Then, at break of day, the king got up and hurried to the den of lions. When he came near the den where Daniel was, he cried out anxiously to Daniel, “O Daniel, servant of the living God, has your God whom you faithfully serve been able to deliver you from the lions?” Daniel then said to the king, “O king, live forever! My God sent his angel and shut the lions’ mouths so that they would not hurt me, because I was found blameless before him; and also before you, O king, I have done no wrong.” Then the king was exceedingly glad and commanded that Daniel be taken up out of the den. So Daniel was taken up out of the den, and no kind of harm was found on him, because he had trusted in his God. The king gave a command, and those who had accused Daniel were brought and thrown into the den of lions—they, their children, and their wives. Before they reached the bottom of the den the lions overpowered them and broke all their bones in pieces.
Then King Darius wrote to all peoples and nations of every language throughout the whole world: “May you have abundant prosperity!
I make a decree, that in all my royal dominion people should tremble and fear before the God of Daniel:
For he is the living God,
enduring forever.
His kingdom shall never be destroyed,
and his dominion has no end.
He delivers and rescues,
he works signs and wonders in heaven and on earth;
for he has saved Daniel
from the power of the lions.”
So this Daniel prospered during the reign of Darius and the reign of Cyrus the Persian.

Plotters, conspirers, those who thrive on the misfortune of others
Come to this table
The faithful, the gentle, all who feel put upon or used
Come to this table
Bystanders, onlookers, those who observe but don't get involved
Come to this table
Christ who took on flesh, who encountered all of these
invites you to eat at this table
to be fed the living bread
and to be changed from the inside out.

Foretold by prophets all through the ages
Longed for by the oppressed down through the years
Looked for in the stars
Sought in the palace
The living God took on flesh
and dwelt among a people unprepared
to be confronted with the word of life.
The Son of God walked among prophets
confronted the authorities
sat down with the outcasts
ate with sinners.
And, the night before he died,
He taught his friends about life and death
and gave them a sign by which to remember him:
He took bread, gave thanks and shared it among them saying:
This is my body, broken for you
Do this in memory of me.
He took the cup and, sharing, said
This cup makes possible a new relationship with God
Drink this and remember me.
And so we, the righteous, the sinners, the outcasts, the prophets,
do as our Lord Jesus commanded.
We take bread and wine and, with God's blessing, share in this sacramental meal.

Prayer of thanksgiving
God as you look upon us now
seeing into our hearts
As you look upon us 
missing no one and nothing
As you look upon us in love
remind us that none of us are beyond your redemption
or out of the reach of your saving grace.
You welcome all to your table
The sinners, the outcasts, the persecutors, the oppressors,
the spiteful, the meddlers, the do-gooders, the conspirators,
alongside the faithful, the perplexed, the hurt and the downtrodden.
You welcome all.
And you feed us with the bread of life.
You welcome us to your table
with love and forgiveness and with comfort and understanding
and your unconditional acceptance 
of us just as we are
thaws our hearts
heals our hurts
and changes our lives.
Send down your Spirit on these gifts before us
So, that as we taste your goodness here
we may make space
at our tables 
and in our lives
for all those forgotten or rejected
by society today
and be moved to share
all you have given us
for the sake of your kingdom.
Come, Lord Jesus, Come.

(Taking bread)
Here is your Lord, approaching you with arms outstretched in welcome
His body broken for you

(Taking wine)
Here is your Lord, offering you a new relationship with God
Love poured out for you

Do this to remember him

Prayer after Communion
Lord we have feasted on your goodness
Take us now into the world
filled with your love
inspired by your giving
ready to share all that we have received from you.

No comments:

Post a Comment