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, March 7, 2017

Prayers of the People: Box of Chocolates or Can of Worms? 2nd Sunday in Lent, '17 Yr A

for Sunday, March 12, 2017, 2nd Sunday in Lent, Year A, Readings: Genesis 12:1-4a, Psalm 121, Romans 4:1-5, 13-17; John 3:1-17 


      So Abram went, as the LORD had told him... [Genesis 12:4a]

      I lift my eyes to the hills; from where is my help to come? My help comes from the LORD; the maker of heaven and earth. [Psalm 121:1-2]

      Abraham believed God, and it was reckoned to him as righteousness...For the promise that he would inherit the world did not come to Abraham...through the law but through the righteousness of faith. [Romans 4:3b, 13]

      If I have told you about earthly things and you do not believe, how can you believe if I tell you about heavenly things?...For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but have eternal life. [John 3:12, 16]

            Just what is Faith? In secular terms it can be defined as belief in something without evidence, confidence in something or someone, a specific set of religious beliefs... The linguistic roots of the word are loyalty and trust. Blind Faith is often seen as lacking in understanding or perception, acceptance without question, even an unwillingness to question for fear of confusion. Yet what is faith without examination? How do I know if I have faith, enough faith, the right kind of faith - is it enough to accept what the priest, minister, rabbi, guru, televangelist tells me? It must have been easier for Abram who became Abraham - God said "Go" and he went. God told Abraham (later on) to sacrifice his son Isaac, and he prepared to do just that.   
         Prophets of Old and Theologians from then til now from every type, kind, sect, or denomination of religion or personal practice with "religious" overtones, have been doing the hard work of study and interpretation in order that we might understand our own level of faith when we listen to sermons, read a daily meditation, or just believe because. Paul, in his various letters, has clarified and confounded what it means to have faith. In the 11th chapter of his letter to the Hebrews he outlines the meaning of faith by giving examples of the actions of those who believed. But we know from the study of plain ol' history, that people of faith - Christians, Jews, Muslims, or any group outside and contrary to the plans of a ruling authority, have suffered - and continue to suffer - mind-boggling inhuman tortures. That alone is enough to dispel, for me, the notion of a magic God who is in complete control and relieves me of any responsibility to think or question. But even when I'm attempting to discern the difference between faith and superstition, myth and history, doctrine and dogma, the only thing I'm certain of is uncertainty as to the specifics of how, when, where, why I'm here and the planet/universes/cosmos exists - that said, I am certain that there are forces beyond my comprehension at work. Scientific, sure; Divine, I think so but I am wary of creating God in my own image, making it easier for me to accept or dismiss depending upon my mood on a given day. It's been said that if I can define God, that god is too small.  I am also sure that living either in unfailing faith or with total lack thereof is impossible for anyone who awakens in the morning. It's hard work, this faith stuff, an epic rabbit hole. If I ask for proof am I not doubting?  If I don't see it can I believe it? Ask Thomas (John 20:24-29).
      So, one conclusion is that faith, at best, is a conundrum. What it may be for you is likely not what it is for me - and as one tries to explain or merely understand, it may be described either as a box of chocolates or a can of worms. I know what I prefer but on the other hand, chocolate makes everything taste better, especially in Lent. 

LET US, GOD’S PEOPLE, PRAY

Leader:  ~ O LORD, our Maker and our Help, sustain us in our flawed and uncertain attempts in faith, that we may be intentional in our efforts and earnest in our desire to live in this life as preparation for eternal life with You.

                                                God of All that is                                         
RESPONSE:           Deliver us from doubt

~ O LORD, our Maker and our Help, we implore You to guide the leaders of all governments across this Earth, this Nation, and this Community to genuine clarity of judgment and sincere charity of spirit. We pray especially for: add your own petitions

                                                God of All that is
                                                Deliver us from doubt
                                               
~ O LORD, our Maker and our Help, we lift our eyes to You and ask relief for those who are ailing in body, mind, or spirit, for Your encouragement for all who will take their first breath and those who will take their last, and for respite for those who give care. We now join our voices to pray aloud for those in need… add your own petitions


                                                God of All that is
                                                Deliver us from doubt
           
~ O LORD, our Maker and our Help, comfort grieving hearts with a foretaste of the joy and celebration now enfolding those who have crossed over into new life, forever abiding in You. We pray especially for:  add your own petitions

                                                God of All that is
                                                Deliver us from doubt

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

                                                God of All that is
                                                Deliver us from doubt
           
~ O LORD, our Maker and our Help, nourish all who lead Your Church with the unchangeable Truth of Your Presence within and without, as they guide and walk with us toward Salvation through Christ. We pray especially for: add your own petitions
                                                God of All that is
                                                Deliver us from doubt
                                                                                                        

The Celebrant adds: Living and Eternal God, You promise us life unending and love without limit for the mere price of our enduring faith. Instill in us a willingness to examine, deepen, and expand our faith in these reflective days of Lent and beyond in any and all lands to which we are called. We ask this through Your Son, our Savior, Jesus Christ, and Your Holy Spirit, our Sanctifier, who live and reign with You, One God, now and for evermore.  Amen.





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