A prayer on the twenty-sixth Sunday of ordinary time

God-

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If I were home today, I’d be praying a little and preaching a little. I’d have to study, have to write, have to pray.

But Dan is handling all those things for me today. reading your words, praying your words, reflecting out loud on your words.

“Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs. But you, [Timothy], flee from all this, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance and gentleness.”

It’s part of a letter, God, that you encouraged Paul to write to Timothy, to remind him of what you and Paul knew would matter most to his work.

I wonder, God, whether Timothy felt the itch to work hard because he knew lack from growing up in a single parent home. I wonder whether he worried about not working, whether he struggled with vacation because it meant that he wasn’t making anything, that he was depending on the good will of other people. I wonder whether that urge for responsibility ever edged into being eager for money.

But God, it doesn’t matter why you and Paul cautioned him. What matters is what you set in front of him to run toward. To be devoted to. Boundaries to guide his decisions. Quests to guide his imagination. Missions to structure his whole life.

Righteousness. Godliness. Faith. Love. Endurance. Gentleness.

Character elements to build the way Andrew built endurance for his race, the way Hope builds depth of flavor and color in cakes. With diligence and devotion and occasional delight.

God, this week, could you help me, help my friends, see small forward steps in gentleness in particular, but your righteousness, faith, and love as well. Help us to be like you, help us to last all week long.

Amen.