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.

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Prayers of the People: Believing is Seeing, 4th Sunday of Easter Yr C

for Sunday, April 17, 2016, Fourth Sunday of Easter, Readings: Acts 9:36-43, Ps 23, Revelation 7:9-17, John 10:22-30


       Peter...knelt down and prayed. He turned to the body and said, "Tabitha, get up." Then she opened her eyes and seeing Peter, she sat up...This became known...and many believed in the Lord. [Acts 9:40b-41, 42b] 

    So the Jews gathered around him and said to him...If you are the Messiah, tell us plainly. Jesus answered, "I have told you, and you do not believe...because you do not belong to my sheep. My sheep hear my voice. I know them, and they follow me.  [John 10:24-25a, 26-27]

   The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not be in want... [Psalm 23:1]


         The story of Peter raising Tabitha from the dead seems almost incongruent with the other three readings that are filled with images of shepherding. What stood out for me in the passage from Acts was that, again, many people believed in Jesus from seeing what Peter did as a direct disciple of Christ. As Jesus said about Thomas who insisted on touching his wounds to believe in the Resurrection, others are more blessed who do not see and yet believe. And then we have the contrast in John's Gospel relating the story of those who ask Jesus directly if he is the Messiah and he is clear in his response - "I have told you, and you do not believe."
          While the piece of Revelation may be too mystical for us to understand completely, we are given a clear vision of Christ ...the Lamb, robed in white...standing at the center of the Throne will be their shepherd[Revelation 7:9b, 17a] And, of course, we are given Psalm 23 with its rich and powerful descriptions of God's caring. I have often used this Psalm when praying specifically for someone using her or his name instead of "I" and changing the pronouns accordingly. For example, "The LORD is Joe's shepherd, he shall not be in want. He makes Joe lie down in green pastures and leads Joe beside still waters..." It gives me an amazing sense of triangular connection to God, to the person I pray for, and within myself. I can see and feel my faith so deeply in those moments.
           The symbolism of what is one of the most well-known pieces of Scripture across all faiths and none, is fascinating and complex. I commend to you a charming and interesting little book, A Shepherd Looks at Psalm 23 by W. Phillip Keller, himself a modern-day shepherd, for a closer look at the connections between the Psalm's imagery and real life sheep farming. I can find myself among Keller's sheep especially in those unruly moments when I wander away. In the meantime, the way these readings are connected reminds me of another Gospel, Mark 9:24, I believe; help my unbelief!  Jesus has us in his grasp, the whole world in is in God's hands, and I see when I believe. Alleluia!

LET US, GOD’S PEOPLE, PRAY

Leader:  ~ Merciful LORD, Loving Shepherd, draw us to Your comfort and spread Your table to feed our faith, so that our moments of unbelief are few, and the love in Your voice is strong and clear.

   Jesus, Most Sacred Lamb
RESPONSE:           Revive our souls and guide us

~ Merciful LORD, Loving Shepherd, strengthen our spirits to engage the leaders of this world, this country, and this community, to outline the right pathways for government in health, safety, and equality, for all the sheep of Your divine pasture. We pray especially for: add your own petitions

                                                   Jesus, Most Sacred Lamb
                                                Revive our souls and Guide us

~ Merciful LORD, Loving Shepherd, anoint the hearts of those who are in chronic pain, fighting addictions, or lost in despair, and restore the hope and energy to all who care for them. We now join our voices to pray aloud for those in need… add your own petitions

                                                   Jesus, Most Sacred Lamb
                                                Revive our souls and Guide us

~ Merciful LORD, Loving Shepherd, wipe the tears from the eyes of all who grieve, as those we have sent ahead to You, are now bathed in the springs of everlasting light and life. We pray especially for: add your own petitions

                                                   Jesus, Most Sacred Lamb
                                                Revive our souls and Guide us

~ Merciful LORD, Loving Shepherd, we pause in this moment to offer You our other heartfelt intentions and petitions, aloud or silently… add your own petitions

                                                   Jesus, Most Sacred Lamb
                                                Revive our souls and Guide us

~ Merciful LORD, Loving Shepherd, sanctify again the souls of the Apostles of our own time who confirm Your presence in our lives, our prayers, and our worship. We pray especially for: add your own petitions

                                                   Jesus, Most Sacred Lamb
                                                Revive our souls and Guide us
                                                                                                        

The Celebrant adds:  Christ, Messiah, amplify Your voice in our souls and keep us in the knowledge that You hold us close and shelter us in the shadows and valleys of earthly life. We ask through the Holy Spirit, our Comforter, and the Almighty, our Creator, who together with You reign as One God, now and forever.  Amen.



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