A moment of contemplation for yourself or on behalf of others on everything from the life-altering to the mundane.


Prayer: A conversation with The Higher Other who lives within each of us. An invitation to vent, to re-think, to ask, and to rest.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Prayers of the People: The Clouds of All-Knowing ~ Transfiguration

Readings for Sunday, March 2, 2014: Ex 24:12-18; 2 Peter 1:16-21; Ps 2 or 99; Mt 17:1-9


I’ve looked at clouds from both sides now
From up and down and still somehow
It’s cloud’s Illusions I recall,
I really don’t know clouds at all
(from Both Sides Now as written/performed by Joni Mitchell)


              It’s a big week for clouds and mountains! The OT and the Gospel make significant references to the cloud, first covering and settling on Mt Sinai when Moses went up to receive The Law, and next, the cloud that overshadows those assembled on the Mount of Transfiguration and from which God spoke. These particular kinds of clouds, in which God is present, are known in Judaism as the Shekinah (Shek-in-ah) – a feminine Hebrew word for a name of God. It also translates to "settling or dwelling of the Divine Presence."  Clouds seems to have emerged as a theme for me; the refrain (above) has been replaying in my head for days. And, as we read at the parish (www.SsAM.org), lectionary study, the phrase "The Cloud of All-Knowing" hit my brain.  It is a play on the title of a famous 14th century book on contemplation, The Cloud of Unknowing, by an anonymous mystic. I read it quite a few years ago so to refresh my memory I went to Wikipedia. From a longer quote there I gleaned:

“…[L]et all our thought and desire be contained in the one small word ‘God.’ Nothing else
and no other words are needed… Let this little word represent to you God in all his fullness
and nothing less than the fullness of God.”
  (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Cloud_of_Unknowing from which you can obtain a free pdf of the book).

      A practiced contemplative person becomes comfortable with just the Presence.  Although God is "all-knowing,” it is unnecessary for us to know all – Moses was given all he needed to know and teach during his 40 days and nights within the Shekinah.  But most of us would have great difficulty trying to let go of, or un-know, the details of God, to give up intellectualizing, and just be in the fullness of the Divine Presence.  

     As for the cloud that envelopes Jesus on Mt. Tabor (the traditional site of the Transfiguration), it is from that cloud that God speaks again, as at the Baptism of Jesus, to say that Jesus is God’s beloved Son and to tell the chosen disciples (and us!) to listen to him. The 13th century Italian theologian Thomas Aquinas considered this miraculous moment as the greatest of the miracles of Jesus as it corresponds to the 5 most significant events in his life, the other 4 being: Baptism, Crucifixion, Resurrection, and Ascension.  It was at this moment, the Transfiguration of Christ, at the top of the mountain, that Human and Divine meet, when Jesus is the connector between heaven and earth, when the temporal and eternal spark a dazzling display of transcendent, Majestic Glory all in the sight of the chosen disciples who then bear witness to the prophecy confirmed.

   Our own connections to these readings and this Life in Christ are a continuing work in progress...and while we don’t have to Climb Every Mountain (from The Sound of Music by Rodgers and Hammerstein) isn’t it comforting to know that There Ain’t No Mountain High Enough (by Ashford and Simpson) to keep God from us, and, vice-versa.   (ok, so I got a little swept up in ‘60s music this week)          Meanwhile:

      Let Us, God’s People, Pray

Leader:  ~ Holy God of Glory and Light, upon Your Sacred Mountains you gave Moses the Law for our instruction and transfigured the Being of Your Son, Jesus, as our model for life. Rise in our hearts as the Morning Star, melt the ice that can chill our souls, dwell in us, and embrace us with Your Holy Cloud of All-Knowing.

                                 O God of the Highest Heights,                            
Response:       Let our prayers ascend to You. 

~ Holy God of Glory and Light, transform the hearts and minds of the leaders of this world so that their judgments are unclouded and they legislate justice tempered with mercy for all.  We pray especially for: add your own petitions 

                              O God of the Highest Heights,                            
                          Let our prayers ascend to You. 

~ Holy God of Glory and Light, help us to reassure those who are ill, weary, or anxious, that they, too, are as Beloved of You as is Jesus.  Bless those who care for the weakest of Your children and give them unfailing strength of body and heart.  We pray especially for: add your own petitions 

                              O God of the Highest Heights,                            
                          Let our prayers ascend to You. 

~ Holy God of Glory and Light, our Beacon of Hope in the dark times of mourning, help us find comfort in knowing that the souls of those who have gone before us are now bathed in the dazzling glory of the Transfigured Christ.  We pray especially for: add your own petitions 

                              O God of the Highest Heights,                            
                          Let our prayers ascend to You. 

~ Holy God of Glory and Light, rejuvenate and sustain those You have given to us as the leaders of Your Church, and help them remember that they may also follow and take refuge in Your wisdom and counsel.  We pray especially for: add your own petitions 

                              O God of the Highest Heights,                             
                          Let our prayers ascend to You. 



The Celebrant adds: O LORD our God, You bade us “listen” to the Transfigured Jesus, and Jesus told us “do not be afraid.”  Let us know and listen to the Radiant Christ in our hearts so we may follow Your Law without fear and receive Your Divine Presence with His.  We ask this in the name of Jesus Your Beloved Son, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever.  Amen.





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