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, February 27, 2017

Prayers of the People: Jesus, Resistor; First Sunday in Lent '17, Yr A

For Sunday, March 5, 2017, First Sunday in Lent, Year A, Readings: Genesis 2:15-17, 3:1-7; Psalm 32, Romans 5:12-19, Matthew 4:1-11

       Then I acknowledged my sin to you, and did not conceal my guilt. I said, "I will confess my transgressions to the LORD." Then you forgave me the guilt of my sin."  [Psalm 32:6-7]

      For if the many died through the one man's trespass, much more surely have the grace of God and the free gift in the grace of the one man, Jesus Christ...the abundance of grace and the free gift of righteousness... [Romans 5:15b, 17b]

      The tempter came and said to him, "If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread." But he answered, "It is written, 'One does not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.'" [Matthew 4:3-4]
      
          Here we are at the First Sunday in* Lent, a season of prayer, reflection, and repentance. The word repent in Biblical Hebrew is represented by two verbs: to return and to feel sorrow. And in the post-Resurrection New Testament of Christianity, it can be defined as: to think differently after; a change of mind and heart. Our Forty Days of Lent, mirrors Moses’ time on Mt. Sinai and Jesus' time in the Wilderness. Unlikely as it is that many of us will find ourselves in an actual wilderness for these forty days, it still is a time to take ourselves away symbolically for a few minutes or more each day. We can look for ways to simplify our wants in this temporal life, to dig down into our deepest selves to find the living Presence of God in Christ within us, to seek and experience a change in mind and heart, to feel sorrow for our sins, and to return to living as God intends. It is far less about giving up some thing/habit/piece of chocolate or beer, and more about taking on a spiritual practice to discover again, or for the first time, what true life is all about and how to live it in an authentically Christian way.  
        Today's Gospel reminds us of Jesus' confrontation with the Devil.  How many of us would be able to resist all that was offered? And later he resisted the threats and attempts at political inducements and stood firm in the face of execution. Am I that strong, do I have to be?!   
        Resistance builds on itself and looks ahead rather than in the heat of a moment. When we summon the strength through the grace of God to resist even mild temptation, we invite the spiritual growth that gives us ever increasing strength and grace to resist more, and so, to grow into the Life in Christ that beckons us. Lent is the perfect time to examine the temptations and distractions, the emptiness of some activity in our lives, and discover, through prayer and reflection, meditation, etc., within small groups or on one's own, how we can bolster our ability to resist evils small and big and bigger. Whether through a Lenten study guide online or in hand, the practice of Morning and Evening Prayer from the Book of Common Prayer or another source, or the daily reading of Scripture, among many other ways, one small step after another begins the journey. The more we resist the glitter and lure of the temporary earthly delight, the less prone we will be to sliding into the cold chill of the shadows of sin, leaving behind the warmth and grace of God's embrace and the fortitude of Christ within us. Jesus, ultimate Resistor of temptation, give me strength.

* FYI: The Sundays in the Season of Lent do not “count” in the time span of 40 days which is why the heading is the Xst/th Sunday in Lent rather than of Lent. The Sundays of Epiphany or Advent do count in the time up to their Holy occasions, Christmas and Epiphany. The Sundays beyond the Epiphany and also Pentecost are noted as the ___ Sunday after.


LET US, GOD’S PEOPLE, PRAY

Leader:  ~ O LORD, our God, persuade our souls to realize and accept the abundance of grace and the free gift of righteousness through Your Law and our Redemption by Christ. Let us praise You by our actions in faith.

                                              God of Mercy                                     
RESPONSE:             To You we confess and begin again

~ O LORD, our God, awaken the ability of those who hold leadership positions in our World, our Nation, and our Community, to forsake the temptations and vanity of the power of power, that they may govern with integrity, equity, and truth. We pray especially for: add your own petitions

                                                God of Mercy
                                                To You we confess and begin again
                                               
~ O LORD, our God, sustain the faith and dispel the despair of all who are chronically ill in body, mind, or spirit, and of all who attend to their needs. We now join our voices to pray aloud for those in need… add your own petitions

                                                God of Mercy
                                                To You we confess and begin again
           
~ O LORD, our God, ground our grief in the hope of eternal life and joy, reunited with all who now live again in glory with You. We pray especially for: add your own petitions

                                                God of Mercy
                                                To You we confess and begin again

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

                                                God of Mercy
                                                To You we confess and begin again
           
~ O LORD, our God, fortify and energize all who are anointed to bring us Your Word and Sacraments. As they  guide us in faith, we walk together toward wholeness in You. We pray especially for: add your own petitions

                                                God of Mercy
                                                To You we confess and begin again
                                                                                                        

The Celebrant adds:  Most Holy Creator, You sent Jesus into a world of temptation, trial, and travesty, not so different than our world of today. Accepting obedience to Your Law, he triumphed over all the enticements, seductions, and illusions we face each day. As we begin our own 40 days of reflection and repentance, purify our hearts and fill us with eagerness to turn our lives always toward You. We ask this in the name of Jesus, our Great High Priest, and the Holy Spirit, our Sanctifier, who reign with You, as our One God, forever and ever. Amen.



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