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, November 28, 2016

Prayers of the People: Branching Out, Second Sunday of Advent, Yr A

For Sunday, December 4, 2016,  Second Sunday of Advent, Year A, Readings: Isaiah 11:1-10; Ps 72:1-7, 18-19; Romans 15:4-13; Matthew 3:1-12

       A shoot shall come out from the stump of Jesse, and a branch shall grow out of his roots. The spirit of the Lord shall rest on him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and the fear of the Lord. [Isaiah 11:1-2]

      May the God of steadfastness and encouragement grant you to live in harmony with one another...May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. [Romans 15:5a, 13]

      In those days John the Baptist appeared in the wilderness of Judea, proclaiming, "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near." This is the one of whom the prophet Isaiah spoke when he said, "The voice of one crying in the wilderness: 'Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight...He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.'" [Matthew 3:1-3, 11b]


       Isaiah begins this week's readings with: “A shoot shall come out from the stump of Jesse, and a branch shall grow out of his roots.”  Having not grown up with a "Jesse Tree" tradition, the reading would usually zip through my ears with no particular impact until I decided to look deeper into this hint of family history.
     There's been a serious uptick in the field of genealogy over the last decade or so with online access to family records and even DNA kits that allow one to explore geographical heritage. Discovering the branches of one's family tree is fascinating, even addicting, and can also be frustrating when one limb is missing or the records stop short of fully revealing the information sought. Yet even the smallest detail can add depth and connectedness to the relationship with those who have gone before us. And so it is with the family tree of Jesus. 
      Jesse was the grandson of Ruth (of “whither thou goest, I will go” fame) and her husband, Boaz. We first hear of Jesse in the Book of Ruth [Ruth 4:13-18] as the son of their son, Obed. Jesse grows to be a farmer with eight sons [1 Samuel 16], the youngest of which is David who becomes King of the Israelites. It is through Jesse’s family tree that this root, this Branch, flowers into Jesus. 
     The secular spectacle of christmas [intentional lower "c"] has, for so many, replaced the spiritual celebration and worship in Christ's Mass with the frenzy of over-shopping, garish outdoor decorating with clashing colors of lights, and inflated cartoon characters on lawns that go flat in the morning, as a sort of metaphorical anti-climax.  
      Yet even in this environment Isaiah tells us that this ...root of Jesse shall stand as a signal to the peoples...Paul wants us to abound in hope, and the Gospel of Matthew brings us the very direct and not shy voice of John the Baptist. Jesus is indeed the reason for the season; the reason for our Christ-mas - our act of worship of the One we call Messiah, the Anointed Son of God.
      New Testament scholar, theologian, and author Marcus Borg tells us that Advent…is a season of anticipation, yearning and longing for a different kind of life and a different kind of world. In this second week of Advent, one way to prepare the way of the Lord is by contemplating: What kind of life, what kind of world am I longing for? Where is God, where is Jesus, in my family tree? Am I too far out on a limb or can I decorate my branch with hope, peace, and joyful anticipation? 
       
LET US, GOD’S PEOPLE, PRAY

Leader:  ~ Encouraging and Steadfast God, in restless anticipation, we await the flower of our Salvation that will bloom again from the Root of Jesse. Give us the courage to recognize and repent of our sins, and sweep away the debris of intolerance, despair, and judgment from our hearts and souls.
                                                               
RESPONSE:         Most Holy, Lord Christ
     Let us prepare the Way of Your Kingdom

~ Encouraging and Steadfast God, we pray for those who govern on this Earth, in our Country, and in this Community.  Grant them wisdom, good counsel, and knowledge, so that we all may live in harmony and peace. We pray especially for: add your own petitions

                                                Most Holy, Lord Christ
                                                Let us prepare the Way of Your Kingdom
                                                               
~ Encouraging and Steadfast God, bless and heal all who are ill or downhearted that all their pain and distress may be relieved; and strengthen those who provide needed care. We now join our voices to pray aloud for those in need… add your own petitions

                                                Most Holy, Lord Christ
                                                Let us prepare the Way of Your Kingdom
               
~ Encouraging and Steadfast God, teach us to give the gift of listening and comfort to all who mourn, as we lift up with thanksgiving, all who now live again with You in Eternal Glory. We pray especially for: add your own petitions

                                                Most Holy, Lord Christ
                                                Let us prepare the Way of Your Kingdom

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

                                                Most Holy, Lord Christ
                                                Let us prepare the Way of Your Kingdom
               
~ Encouraging and Steadfast God, enfold and guide those who lead Your Church as they walk in faith with us, into uncertain, ever-changing tides and times.  We pray especially for: add your own petitions

                                                Most Holy, Lord Christ
                                                Let us prepare the Way of Your Kingdom
                                                                                                                                           

The Celebrant adds:  O God of Harmony and Hope, open us to hear again Your call for repentance and conversion, to prepare ourselves for the Way of Truth and Mercy, with all the joy and peace of believing. We ask through Jesus, our Present and Coming Savior, and the Holy Spirit, the Fire of our Faith, who together with You are One God, now and forever. Amen.





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