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, December 14, 2015

Prayers of the People: Unexpected Expectation, 4th Sunday of Advent, Yr C

For Sunday, December 20, 2015, 4th Sunday of Advent, Year C, Readings: Micah 5:2-5a, Canticle 15 (Lk 1:46-55), Hebrews 10:5-10, Luke 1:39-45

       But you, O Bethlehem... from you shall come forth for me one who is to rule in Israel, whose origin is from of old, from ancient days. [Micah 5:2]

       My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord...for he has looked with favor on his lowly servant...He has shown the strength of his arm, he has scattered the proud in their conceit. He has cast down the mighty from their thrones and has lifted up the lowly. [Luke 1:46a, 48, 51-52, Song of Mary]

       When Elizabeth heard Mary's greeting, the child leaped in her womb. And Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit and exclaimed with a loud cry, "Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb...And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her by the Lord." [Luke 1:41-42, 45]

      The familiar scene is set, the familiar and beautiful words are spoken. Are we listening or are we pondering all that needs to be done over the next few days? 
      Some of the words of Elizabeth, mother of John the Baptist, are spoken millions of times a day all over the world as part of the prayer known as the Hail Mary (Ave Maria in Latin). Although we are hearing them now at the final Sunday of Advent, the remaining few days before the birth of Jesus, the Episcopal Church actually celebrates this meeting on May 31st as the feast of The Visitation of Mary. Fewer of us are paying attention in May! 
      Here is a chance to pause in the midst of all the busy-ness. A moment to listen to the beauty of this exchange between these two kinswomen and consider who they were and who they have become to us. The elder Elizabeth, was a barren woman for so many years until suddenly she is with child, a very important child. In her time she was likely ostracized or at the very least considered a failure for her infertility. The much younger and virginal Mary, recently told by an Angel that she is bearing the Son of God, of all things, is also bearing the shame and uncertainty of her betrothed because of her condition (even though we know he'll have an angelic visitation of his own [Matthew 1:18-25]). They come together and speak to us, to awaken us from the haze of frantic preparations for a celebration that is far more earth-bound than spiritual. In their greetings to each other we discover the unexpectedness of this moment of expectation, the message of embracing the twists and turns of life, and recognizing that God is present at all times ~ when we feel elated and when we feel shamed or anxious or uncertain. We are not alone in the darkest of times or in the happiest. Blessed is s/he who believes that Jesus is the fulfillment of God's Promise. Jesus comes to be the face of God. Let us not race ahead to the end of this moment but remain in the stillness, savoring the expectation of Christ's birth, and finding an unexpected freshness in the joy of anticipation. 

LET US, GOD’S PEOPLE, PRAY

Leader:  ~ Holy God, Ancient of Days, scatter our pride, elevate our desires, arouse our hunger for the One who is coming, and feed us all with Your good things.

                                                  Lord of Strength and Mercy
RESPONSE:           Speak to our souls and purify our hearts 

~ Holy God, Ancient of Days, grant us the strength of Your arm as we lift up the mighty in this World, in our Nation, and in our Community, and stand for peace, justice, and joy for all of the children of Abraham. We pray especially for: add your own petitions

Lord of Strength and Mercy
Speak to our souls and purify our hearts

~ Holy God, Ancient of Days, come to the help of all who are laid low by chronic illness, poverty or emotional anguish, and bring comfort to all who love them. We now join our voices to pray aloud for those in need… add your own petitions

Lord of Strength and Mercy
Speak to our souls and purify our hearts

~ Holy God, Ancient of Days, lighten the hearts of those weighed down by sorrow, as those we love are now with You in the eternal majesty of Your heavenly kingdom. We pray especially for: add your own petitions

Lord of Strength and Mercy
Speak to our souls and purify our hearts

~ Holy God, Ancient of Days, we pause in this moment to offer You our other heartfelt intentions and petitions, aloud or silently… add your own petitions

Lord of Strength and Mercy
Speak to our souls and purify our hearts

~ Holy God, Ancient of Days, bestow extra grace upon those who are anointed to bring us Your words and promise, as they guide us all to discover and act upon Your will in our lives. We pray especially for: add your own petitions

Lord of Strength and Mercy
Speak to our souls and purify our hearts
                                                                                                        

The Celebrant adds: Almighty and Abiding God, sanctify and look with favor upon us as we make ready to receive the One who comes, that the fruit of our lives may magnify and proclaim Your infinite greatness. We ask through Jesus, our Joyful Expectation, and the Holy Spirit, Your Sacred Breath, who together with You, live and reign as One God, now and forever. Amen.




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