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, January 26, 2015

Prayers of the People: Fear and Awe-fulness, 4th Sunday of Epiphany

for Sunday February 1, 2015, Epiphany 4, Year B, Readings: Deuteronomy 18:15-20, Ps 111, 1 Cor 8:1-13, Mark 1:21-28    

 
Jesus...entered the synagogue and taught. They were astounded at his teaching, for he taught them as one having authority and not as the scribes...They were all amazed... 
[Mark 1: 21a, 22, 27a]

The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom. [Ps 111:10a]


       
       When was the last time you were astounded or amazed  by Jesus?
       Do you ever "fear the LORD" ?

          It is difficult to admit to myself that I don't actually remember the last time I was amazed or astounded by Jesus. I've been very moved during a retreat, in Sunday worship, by hymns and readings, in my personal prayer, and in other ways - but I'm suddenly aware that, whether through unconscious assumptions, a mild case of apathy, perhaps even some complacency, my sense of amazement and wonder is seriously lacking. I've been taking it all for granted, as if it's all easily understood, as if "I've got this."
          As for the "fear" that the Psalmist speaks of, I do remember that as a child I was afraid of God, terrified at times, that my misbehavior was grounds for eternal damnation. It's hard to distance oneself from that kind of image and language. So how can I begin to have wisdom if I am frightened of my Creator who loves me and who I am supposed to love?
         This fear of God or "of the LORD" isn't meant to be the kind of fear we associate with being scared and worried, or afraid of being in trouble. Rather, the ancient sense of the word tells us that in being filled with love, respect, and awe, we will fervently desire to be so faithful in our daily lives  that we will strive to avoid offending God through our thoughts and actions. It's the kind of "fear" we have when we don't want to upset or anger anyone we truly love.
         If we consciously engage with and love God more, if we sincerely want to know God the Creator, Jesus the Son, and the Holy Spirit, from whom all things are, and for whom we all exist [1 Cor 8:6], our wisdom will increase and our amazement will rebound. With faithfulness and awe of God as our life's primary work, our little forays into eating in the temple of an idol [1 Cor 8:10] , that is, giving in to the earthly temptations and everyday distractions that surround and pull us away from God, will be easier to overcome.
        It is time once again to find that amazement, to be astounded at the life and work and words of Jesus, to open our daily life and frequent prayers with true wonder, love, and praise. What can happen? I bet it's pretty awe-ful... Here's a way to begin, just sing with gusto:

O Lord my God, When I in awesome wonder,
Consider all the worlds Thy Hands have made;
I see the stars, I hear the rolling thunder,
Thy power throughout the universe displayed.
Then sings my soul, My Saviour God, to Thee,
How great Thou art, How great Thou art.  
[composed by Carl Gustav Boberg in Sweden in 1885, translated into English by British missionary Stuart K. Hein]
 
LET US, GOD’S PEOPLE, PRAY

Leader:  ~ Gracious, Compassionate Lord of All, we believe we know better yet we can easily succumb to alluring temptations in an earthly life. Awaken our hearts to rediscover our sense of awe in Your truth, equity, and righteousness.     

 God Almighty and Everlasting             
RESPONSE:  Clean our spirits; call us back to Your love and wisdom. 

~ Gracious, Compassionate Lord of All, even as we want to follow and love Jesus our Christ, let us be conscientious in wanting to boldly insist, of those in authority over all of God’s people, that the fulfillment of basic needs, economic justice, and mercy for everyone, is a fundamental necessity for peace, human rights, and the ethical survival of our souls. We pray especially for: add your own petitions

God Almighty and Everlasting
Clean our spirits; call us back to Your love and wisdom.

~ Gracious, Compassionate Lord of All, warm the spirits of those whose hearts, minds, and bodies are wearied with illness, severe weather, and loneliness, and enliven the energy of those who give them care. We pray especially for: add your own petitions

God Almighty and Everlasting
Clean our spirits; call us back to Your love and wisdom.

~ Gracious, Compassionate Lord of All, as You clothe the newly departed with Your garments of heavenly glory, embrace the hearts of those who mourn, and give them the spiritual solace of Your peace. We pray especially for: add your own petitions

God Almighty and Everlasting
Clean our spirits; call us back to Your love and wisdom.

~ Gracious, Compassionate Lord of All, we pause in this moment to offer You our other heartfelt intentions and petitions, aloud or silently…

God Almighty and Everlasting
Clean our spirits; call us back to Your love and wisdom.

~ Gracious, Compassionate Lord of All, grant that Your words be especially placed into the voices of those who lead us in the Church, that they may speak to us as Your true prophets; and also grant us ears to hear only what is of You, and the spirits to heed. We pray especially for: add your own petitions

God Almighty and Everlasting
Clean our spirits; call us back to Your love and wisdom.

The Celebrant adds: Supreme, All-Powerful, Boundless God, from whom all things are, and for whom we all exist, ignite in us the desire to seek Your truth to fulfill the longing in our souls, to be amazed again by the breadth and depth of Your Power and Glory, and to more easily relinquish our dabbling in the empty glamor of the temples of idols. This we ask through Christ Jesus, our Messiah, and the wisdom of the Holy Spirit who together live and reign with You as One God, infinite and eternal, now and forever. Amen.



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