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 11, 2016

Prayers of the People: Not So Black and White... MLK, Quintin Primo, 2nd Sunday after Epiphany, Yr C

For Sunday, January 17, 2016, 2nd Sunday after Epiphany, MLK-Bp Primo*, Year  C, Readings: Isaiah 62:1-5, Ps 36:5-10, [1 Cor 12:1-11**], 
John 2:1-11

       For Zion's sake I will not keep silent, and for Jerusalem's sake I will not rest, until her vindication shines out like the dawn... [Isaiah 62:1]

      Now concerning spiritual gifts, brothers and sisters, I do not want you to be uninformed... there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of services, but the same Lord; and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who activates all of them in everyone. To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. [1 Corinthians 12:1,4-7]

     The congregation is free and the Diocese is free. And being free, we are both free to be One. What binds us together now is our common loyalty to Jesus Christ and to this branch of His Church.  [Bishop Quintin Primo from The Making of a Black Bishop*]

          When the wine gave out, the mother of Jesus said to him, "They have no wine." And Jesus said to her, "Woman, what concern is that to you or me? My hour has not yet come." His mother said to the servants, "Do whatever he tells you." [John 2: 3-5]


          As with so many Biblical anecdotes, the story of the wedding feast of Cana is so well known that through the centuries people of many beliefs and no faith have heard it. On the face of it, it seems pretty black and white, Jesus turned water into wine - his first miracle, and he didn't think he was ready. While quite an accomplishment, the setting for this first sign may not seem auspicious enough for such a pivotal event. Making wine for a wedding feast doesn't seem to serve humanity in any important way. But the volume is significant; it is an abundant amount of wine late in the celebration. It is a metaphor for the way the love and Presence of God fills us all to the brim as the new wine fills the jars. The moment made his disciples believe in him. All was clear and black and white for them at that moment: Jesus, Son of God, Worker of Miracles! Let's follow him everywhere!
          Jesus was the embodiment of God's gifts as we each are, in our own individual ways. For us mere mortals, discerning our gifts is not easy and many of us are wont to disclaim them, hide under a mask of artificial humility, mistaking confidence for conceit. We may not all have the greatness to save the world but each one of us has abilities, knowledge, and talent that makes us unique, useful, even admirable ~ if we accept them. Perhaps it is easier to hide from them as if claiming them may require some responsibility for using them appropriately. Jesus accepted his gifts and used them for teaching, preaching, and healing. Dr. King and Bishop Primo used their gifts and did change the world and, often, especially with Dr. King, at their own peril.
          But Jesus, Dr. King, and Bishop Primo were special people, called by God to do great and memorable things that are written down in stories and lists in print. "For Zion's sake I will not keep silent..." says Isaiah, and Dr. King, and Bishop Primo. What is Zion for me? What will call me from just dreaming about what I might do someday to pushing myself to action now? The Gospels are clear about what it is we are to do - aren't they? Bishop Primo said,"What binds us together now is our common loyalty to Jesus Christ..." If the Gospel message is so black and white, why are so many Christians arguing with each other? How can there be so many divisions, denominations, theological and ideological differences determining who's in and who's out and who's right and who's wrong, who should be condemned (or worse) and who should be accepted? If hierarchy cannot define a Christianity, based on the Gospels, that brings us all together, it does beg the question, "So, really, What Would Jesus Do?" Not all so black and white after all, unless, we do everything He tells us.


LET US, GOD’S PEOPLE, PRAY

Leader:  ~ O God, Most Loving and Righteous, give us ears to hear again the Spirit-charged words and voices of Your servants Martin and Quintin. Help us to activate our own spiritual gifts, that through Your loving-kindness, we may change the substance of our lives from self-serving into full-service, to be true of heart and strong in faith.

Lord of Faithfulness and Justice
RESPONSE:             In Your light our souls are free at last

~ O God, Most Loving and Righteous, let us not keep silent; let us speak loudly and continuously for those who are lost and forsaken in this life. Let us not rest until all governments and authorities, locally and globally, make The Dream into truth with peace, justice, and mercy for ALL of Your people. We pray especially for:  add your own petitions

Lord of Faithfulness and Justice
In Your light our souls are free at last

~ O God, Most Loving and Righteous, calm the hearts and minds of those who languish in the uncertainty of physical, emotional, or spiritual challenges, and lighten the load for all who attend to their needs. We now join our voices to pray aloud for those in need… add your own petitions

Lord of Faithfulness and Justice
In Your light our souls are free at last

~ O God, Most Loving and Righteous, console all who mourn with Your steadfast and priceless love that has gathered those who have gone ahead, into the joy and abundance of Your House forever. We pray especially for: add your own petitions

Lord of Faithfulness and Justice
In Your light our souls are free at last

~ O God, Most Loving and Righteous, we pause in this moment to offer You our other heartfelt intentions and petitions, aloud or silently… add your own petitions

Lord of Faithfulness and Justice
In Your light our souls are free at last

~ O God, Most Loving and Righteous, nurture the gifts of our leaders in Your Church who strive to impart Your wisdom and keep us aware of Your eternal Presence. We pray especially for:  add your own petitions

Lord of Faithfulness and Justice
In Your light our souls are free at last
                                                                                                        
The Celebrant adds:  Holy God, our Well of Life, extinguish the doubt that our hour has come to be drawn into Your light and to know the true freedom of binding together in the Spirit, as one in Christ. We ask through Jesus, Your Son, and the Holy Spirit, Your Wisdom, who together with You, reign as One God now and forever. Amen.


*A reading from The Making of a Black Bishop by the Rt. Rev. Quintin E. Primo, Jr. [1913-1998]:

          "The day of the yearly (Diocesan) Convention arrived. Presenting to the assemblage our (St. Matthew's) formal application to become a self-supporting unit of the diocese, the Rev. Canon James Birney, program developer/director for the diocese, spoke most eloquently, ''What we are doing at this moment is a symbol of what black and white people must continue to do as we offer our lives to be instruments for bringing the Kingdom of God reality on earth. For the past 122 years, the white congregations have patronizingly supported the black mission of St. Matthew's. Today, when black men everywhere are breaking the bonds of patronage which we hope are the last remnants of slavery and inequality, the people of St. Matthew's now both black and white, are freeing themselves and this Diocese from bondage to each other. Subservience and patronage are both gone. The congregation is free and the Diocese is free. And being free, we are both free to be One. What binds us together now is our common loyalty to Jesus Christ and to this branch of His Church. In this Christian context, you are demonstrating the meaning of Black Power.'"

**These Prayers of the People are commissioned by the Episcopal Church of Saints Andrew and Matthew (SsAM) in Wilmington, Delaware, who in 2016 celebrates the 20th Anniversary of the blending of a traditionally white parish - St. Andrew's, founded in 1829, and a traditionally, African-American parish, St. Matthew's, that began in 1845 in the lower level of St. Andrew's as the Robert Smith Sunday School until it became St Matthew's in its own location in 1891. Bishop Quintin Primo, then a vicar, guided St. Matthew's from mission status to parish status in 1968 and lived to see the joyous union of these two parishes into one. As many of us knew him personally, we are pleased to celebrate his life and prophetic voice this day along with the vibrant legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. The selection from Bishop Primo's biography (above) is SsAM's second reading on this Sunday in lieu of the lectionary's appointed reading from 1st Corinthians. To learn more about the historical significance and current mission of SsAM see: http://www.ssam.org/wpcontent/uploads/2015/09/WelcomeToSsAM_2015.pdf 







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