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 9, 2017

Prayers of the People: Hide or Seek? 2nd Sunday after Epiphany, MLK '17 Yr A

For Sunday, January 15, 2017, 2nd Sunday of Epiphany, MLK  Yr A, Readings: Isaiah 49:1-7, Psalm 40:1-12, 1 Corinthians 1:1-9, John 1:29-42

   The Lord called me before I was born, while I was in my mother's womb he named me. [Isaiah 49:1b]

    He put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God. [Psalm 40:3a]

    ...just as the testimony of Christ has been strengthened among you -- so that you are not lacking in any spiritual gift...He will also strengthen you to the end, so that you may be blameless on the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. [1 Corinthians 1:6-7a, 8]

    "Here is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!"...The two disciples heard [John] say this, and they followed Jesus. When Jesus turned and saw them following he said to them, "What are you looking for?" [John 1:29b, 37-38a]

         Fresh from his Baptism, Jesus is identified as the Lamb of God by John the Baptizer to two of his own disciples. As he is then followed by these men, Jesus turns and asks, What are you looking for? Andrew, one of those men, spends the day listening and then takes his brother Simon to Jesus saying, We have found the Messiah. Simon, now known to us as Peter, struggled often with the message of Jesus, but even in the face of enormous obstacles, defeats, trials and tribulations, he carried on and carried the message forward along with his brother Andrew and the others who joined them. Yet as I read or listen to the Scripture passages, two thousand+ year old events don't always have much of an impact on my daily thoughts and actions. However this question, What are you looking for?, caught my attention as we are now at the beginning of this new year, with a new political climate, and as we prepare to celebrate - some more than others - the birth of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. 
         While the significance of the impact of Dr. King's work and words is undisputed, the echoes of his voice are slowly fading nearly 50 years after his death, a reason to be grateful to a Congress of the past that designated the anniversary of his birth as a Federal Holiday. And, it must be said, various groups were not, and still are not, a fan of this particular recognition, but it holds. Sometimes, as with Christmas and Easter, we are more likely to pay attention to a date on a calendar to be reawakened, to listen again and hear anew, to take a step forward.
         In times when certainty has been upended and the status quo is now status unsure, it is critical that we carry Dr. King's message forward to uphold people of all colors, creeds, national origin, sexual orientation, and for any reason that any one is targeted for oppression, brutality, bullying, and discrimination. We are all equal in the Eyes and Heart of God. And, as Dr. King said, "Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter."  Jesus, expanding on the traditional Judaic prayer, the Shema Yisrael, tells us in the Gospel of Mark [12:29-31], "The first commandment is this: Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God is the only Lord. Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength. The second is this: Love your neighbor as yourself. There is no other commandment greater than these." Nowhere in either Dr. King's writings or in the words of Jesus does it say we have to "like" everyone. But it is clear from both, that we are to care, love, and protect others from hate and hateful acts, even if there is no thanks or even appreciation. But no good action is wasted and what we give out we will receive back. 
       What is your dream for this New Year - will you hide from whatever discomforting challenges may be ahead? Or will you seek opportunities to see yourself in others, step out and step up in uncertainty, and discover that part of yourself is actually what you're looking for?



LET US, GOD’S PEOPLE, PRAY

Leader:  ~ O God of Compassion, You called us before we were born and named us in the womb. You gave us a new song and too often we sing it out of tune using our words instead of Yours. Help us to learn and live Your words and will, and keep Your Law in our hearts.
                                               
                                                Jesus, Lamb of God
RESPONSE:             Strengthen us to follow Your Words and Will

~ O God of Compassion, grant us the willingness to stand firm in the face of ruling authorities on this Earth, in our Country, and in our Community, to ensure that strength and power are not spent for vanity, but only to restore the dignity and well-being of every person on this planet. We pray especially for: add your own petitions

                                                Jesus, Lamb of God
                                                Strengthen us to follow Your Words and Will
                                               
~  O God of Compassion, send Your Holy Spirit to give hope and healing to all who are sick, troubled, or weary of this life, and to those who care for and about them. We pray especially for: add your own petitions

                                                Jesus, Lamb of God
                                                Strengthen us to follow Your Words and Will

~ O God of Compassion, lift the veil of tears from those who grieve, as Your Holy Lamb enfolds our loved ones in the grace, peace, and joy of Eternity. We now join our voices to pray aloud for those in need… add your own petitions

                                                Jesus, Lamb of God
                                                Strengthen us to follow Your Words and Will

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

                                                Jesus, Lamb of God
                                                Strengthen us to follow Your Words and Will
           
~ O God of Compassion, inspire all leaders of Your Church to know, feel, and share the dream of Your Servant, Martin, as we seek and serve the Christ in our midst and in every person inside and outside of our temples of worship. We pray especially for: add your own petitions

                                                Jesus, Lamb of God
                                                Strengthen us to follow Your Words and Will
                                                                                                        
The Celebrant adds:  Almighty God, as Jesus asks, “What are you looking for?” hasten our hearts to answer that we seek the courage to join the example of Your Servant, Martin Luther King, Jr., in his compelling certainty that together we can work for freedom from fear, oppression, and intolerance. Embolden us to carry this vision forward, to know and share the peace and freedom of Your Salvation. We ask through the grace of our Lord, Jesus Christ, and our spiritual gifts from the Holy Spirit, who together with You, live and reign, our One God, today, always, forever.  Amen.






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