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, May 16, 2017

Prayers of the People: Truth and Consciences, 6th Sunday of Easter, Yr A '17

For Sunday, May 21, 2017, 6th Sunday of Easter, Year A, Readings: Acts 17:22-31, Psalm 66:7-18, 1 Peter 3:13-22, John 14:15-21

      The God who made the world and everything in it...gives to all mortals life and breath...From one ancestor he made all nations to inhabit the whole earth...so that they would search for God...though indeed he is not far from each one of us. [Acts 17:24a, 25b-26a, 27]

      Bless our God...who holds our souls in life...who has not rejected my prayer, nor withheld his love from me. [Psalm 66:7a, 8b, 18b]

      Now who will harm you if you are eager to do what is good? But even if you do suffer for doing what is right, you are blessed. Do not fear what they fear...And Baptism...now saves you - not as a removal of dirt from the body, but as an appeal to God for a good conscience, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ... [1 Peter 3:13-14a, 21]

      Jesus said, "If you love me, you will keep my commandments and I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate, to be with you forever. This is the Spirit of Truth...You know him because he abides with you, and he will be in you. I will not leave you orphaned; I am coming to you." [John 14:15-18]

      This week's readings begin with reminders of the work of God in Creation, who, in addition to making the world, gave us life and breath and holds our souls in life. God is known to us and although life is often difficult, God is with us throughout it all. God doesn't need anything as he made everything but part of God's plan, Paul tells the Athenians, and now us, is that we are to search for God and find him. And if for no other reason, God's gift of life to us seems reason enough to seek a living with good conscience, yet Peter takes us farther to say that our Baptism saves us as an appeal for a good conscience thanks to the resurrection of Jesus.
      The words Jesus speaks in John's Gospel this week are from the Last Supper after Jesus has washed the disciples' feet and tells of his coming betrayal and Peter's denial. In last week's passage, just before this one, Jesus says Do not let your hearts be troubled and this week he tells of asking God, on our behalf, for another Advocate who is within us, the Spirit of Truth. He reassures the disciples, who don't yet understand at this point - and us who now know what was to come - that he will not leave us orphaned; we will see him again. 
      When we combine these passages, we find another powerful reminder - the constancy of our ever-present God in Three Persons, Creator, Savior, Advocate.  And the truth is, when we actively work to build and keep a good conscience, recognize and call upon the Trinity within us, we are more and more able to relinquish the strong hold of earthly distractions, fears, and griefs as we walk through our human existence on our Way to eternal life with our Living Christ.

LET US, GOD’S PEOPLE, PRAY

Leader:  ~ Lord Creator of Heaven and Earth, we live and move and have our being in You, who gave us life and breath. You have overlooked our ignorance and never withheld Your love. Quicken our desire to search and find You, repent, and pledge our love and obedience to Your commandments.

                                                Blessed be our God
RESPONSE:             Who heeds our every prayer

~ Lord Creator of Heaven and Earth, grant us the words and wisdom to urge an accounting of actions from the political leaders of our world, our country, and our community, in the service of mercy and justice for all Your peoples and the health of this planet, our earthly home.  We pray especially for: add your own petitions

                                                Blessed be our God
                                                Who heeds our every prayer
                                               
~ Lord Creator of Heaven and Earth, deliver comfort and hope to all who are sick, anxious, or fearful, and to those who worry and attend to their needs. We now join our voices to pray aloud for those in need… add your own petitions

                                                Blessed be our God
                                                Who heeds our every prayer
           
~ Lord Creator of Heaven and Earth, we commend to Your eternal embrace all who have left this mortal life for everlasting joy and glory in You.  We pray especially for: add your own petitions

                                                Blessed be our God
                                                Who heeds our every prayer

~ Lord Creator of Heaven and Earth, we pause in this moment to offer You our other heartfelt intentions and petitions, aloud or silently… add your own petitions

                                                Blessed be our God
                                                Who heeds our every prayer
           
~ Lord Creator of Heaven and Earth, excite the spirits of all who lead us in Your church, that they may guide us to a place of spiritual refreshment and renewal in Your Word and Sacraments. We pray especially for: add your own petitions

                                                Blessed be our God
                                                Who heeds our every prayer
                                                                                                        

The Celebrant adds:  Loving Creator God, who holds our souls in life, free us from earthly fears, and steady us on our journey to enter Your house, as we offer prayer and sacrifice for good conscience, in thanksgiving for the Resurrection of Christ. We ask through Jesus our Living Savior, and the Spirit of Truth, our Holy Advocate, who live and reign with You, as One God, forever and ever.  Amen




All compositions remain the property of the owner of this blog but may be used with attribution as long as they are not sold or charged for in any way. For more information or comments, contact: Leeosophy@gmail.com


Monday, May 8, 2017

Prayers of the People: Stones on The Way, 5th Sunday of Easter Yr A '17

For Sunday, May 14, 2017, 5th Sunday of Easter, Year A, Readings: Acts 7:55-60, Psalm 31:1-5, 15-16; 1 Peter 2:2-10, John 14:1-14

       While they were stoning Stephen, he prayed, "Lord Jesus, receive my spirit." Then he knelt down and cried out in a loud voice, "Lord, do not hold this sin against them." When he had said this, he died. 
[Acts 7:59-60]

       In you, O Lord, have I taken refuge...lead me and guide me...for you are my tower of strength...Into your hands I commend my spirit, for you have redeemed me, O Lord, O God of truth. [Psalm 31:1a, 3b, 5b]

       Like newborn infants, long for the pure, spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow into salvation...Come to him, a living stone...and like living stones, let yourself be built into a spiritual house...you are a chosen race...God's own people, in order that you may proclaim the mighty acts of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. [1Peter 2:2 4a, 5a, 9a,b]

       Jesus said, "Do not let your hearts be troubled. Believe in God, believe in me also...Jesus said to [Thomas], "I am the way, and the truth, and the life...If you know me, you will know my father also...Very truly I tell you, the one who believes in me will also do the works that I do and, in fact, will do greater works than these..." [John 14:1, 6a,b; 12a]


      Stephen has the distinction of being Christianity's First Martyr yet we hear little else about him in the lectionary. His story - there isn't a whole lot - is in the prior chapter and verses, and a few more words beyond his death. The Book of the Acts of the Apostles is Luke's summary account of the activities of the original and newer Apostles from the Ascension of Jesus through Paul's final imprisonment in Rome. Stephen's story begins briefly in chapter 6:5 and carries through from 6:8 until 8:3 where we find Saul, who becomes Paul, ravaging the church because people lamented Stephen's deathThe more success the Apostles - Stephen among them - became at attracting disciples to join them, even some of the priests, the angrier became the High Priest and Council who saw these Jesus-followers as a threat to their established order. A political/religious narrative that carries through to our own day.
       Stephen's commitment to Jesus mirrors Jesus' commitment on the cross, and, he asks for those who have stoned him to be absolved, as Jesus did. The recurring theme in all these readings for this Sunday, for me, is commitment. What is the state of my commitment to Christ? Should I be, need I be willing to be a martyr for Christ? Yes, no, maybe, sort of? Jesus tells us not to let our hearts be troubled yet it is troubling to wonder where, what, and who I am supposed to be as a Christian when the messages from various sects and denominations seem contradictory and sometimes less than Jesus-like. But it was the same in Jesus' time and this is where we hit the stones on The Way. We may never be certain that we believe as fully and completely as we want or know as much as we think we’re supposed to but Jesus is that strong rock, the precious cornerstone that holds our spiritual house in place. When we truly turn our hearts and commit our spirits to him, when we speak our belief in him through our words and actions, it will be a rocky road on more than a few occasions. It is by walking together in a faith community, that our foundation is strengthened and our hearts untroubled a little more each day. We will trip and fall, be ignored or outright rejected, but if we get this far on faith, it is because we have become the living stones drinking deeply of the pure, spiritual milk that will nourish us all the way into salvation.
  

 LET US, GOD’S PEOPLE, PRAY

Leader:  ~ Jesus, our Strong Rock, You are the Cornerstone of our spiritual house, the purest Milk for our spirits, our Way, our Truth, and our Life. Lead us into the fullness of God’s merciful light and out from the darkness of sin.

                                                O Lord, O God of Truth                                            
RESPONSE:             Our Guide and our Refuge

~ Jesus, our Strong Rock, endow us with the courage of Stephen to speak Your Truth through our words and actions, especially to those in political power across this world, this nation, and this community, to strengthen the cause of peace and to decry violence and inhumanity. We pray especially for: add your own petitions

                                                O Lord, O God of Truth
                                                Our Guide and our Refuge
                                               
~ Jesus, our Strong Rock, walk with all who are seriously ill and those who see to their comfort, as they each seek shelter in the stronghold of Your love.  We now join our voices to pray aloud for those in need… add your own petitions

                                                O Lord, O God of Truth
                                                Our Guide and our Refuge
           
~ Jesus, our Strong Rock, we give You praise and thanksgiving for receiving the spirits of all who ask and who now dwell with You forever, in the peace and splendor of God’s holy house. We pray especially for: add your own petitions 

                                                O Lord, O God of Truth
                                                Our Guide and our Refuge

~ Jesus, our Strong Rock, we pause in this moment to offer You our other heartfelt intentions and petitions, aloud or silently… add your own petitions

                                                O Lord, O God of Truth
                                                Our Guide and our Refuge
           
~ Jesus, our Strong Rock, grant our anointed leaders the fortitude, the patience, and the desire to help us strive to be as Living Stones, obedient to the Word, and with faith as a firm foundation for everything we do. We pray especially for: add your own petitions

                                                O Lord, O God of Truth
                                                Our Guide and our Refuge
                                                                                                        
The Celebrant adds:  Creator God, our Tower of Strength, nourish our faith as You shine Your face upon us, that we may fully commit our spirits into the hands of Christ from now, hold no sins against others, and grow into salvation through our spiritual sacrifices. We ask through Jesus, our Lord and Savior, and the Holy Spirit, Sanctifier of our souls, who live and reign with You, as One God, forever, for eternity. Amen.    





All compositions remain the property of the owner of this blog but may be used with attribution as long as they are not sold or charged for in any way. For more information or comments, contact: Leeosophy@gmail.com



Monday, May 1, 2017

Prayers of the People: On the Lamb, 4th Sunday of Easter, '17 Yr A

For Sunday, May 7, 2017, 4th Sunday of Easter, Year A, Readings: Acts 2:42-47, Psalm 23, 1 Peter 2:19-25, John 10:1-10

      Those who had been baptized devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. [Acts 2:42]

      The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not be in want. He makes me lie down in green pastures and leads me beside still waters. He revives my soul and guides me along right pathways for his Name's sake. [Psalm 23:1-2]

      But if you endure when you do right and suffer for it, you have God's approval. For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you should follow in his steps...When he was abused, he did not return abuse; when he suffered, he did not threaten...by his wounds you have been healed...For you were going astray like sheep but now you have returned to the shepherd and guardian of your souls. [1 Peter 2:20b-21, 23, 24b-25]

      Jesus said, "...the one who enters by the gate is the shepherd of the sheep. The gatekeeper opens the gate for him, and the sheep hear his voice. He calls his own sheep by name...and the sheep follow him because they know his voice...Very truly I tell you, I am the gate for the sheep...Whoever enters by me will be saved, and will come in and go out and find pasture. [John 10:2-3a, 4b, 7, 9]

       For Episcopalians, the reading from Acts this week is infused with one of the promises made by us or for us in our Baptismal Covenant: "They devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers..."  The three statements of belief and the five promises of the Covenant are a quick refresher and guide to the basics of true Christian living and always worth reviewing regularly whether or not you are of this denominational heritage. [see the Book of Common Prayer pages 304-5, click here: BCPonline]  
      Psalm 23 is, without doubt, the best-known piece of Scripture in the world among multiple religions, denominations, sects, the believers and the non- . The poetic language, ascribed to David, a shepherd in his youth, gives us the most pastoral image of Christ and draws from the real activities of actual shepherds.* In the lesson from 1st Peter, we are given the difficult reminder that we are to suffer what we must but, as Jesus in his Passion, we are not to return abuse in kind. We are to realize that by the wounds of Jesus we are healed because we were going astray like sheep, but you have now returned...  The Gospel also carries the Shepherd theme and comforts us with another serene image, that of Christ as the divine Gate for all we sheep to have salvation in a safe, and abundant pasture. 
      Sometimes the familiar is too comfortable and we must listen again with fresh ears, hearts, and minds. The comfort of the Shepherd in Psalm 23 is easily zoned in on and the other readings more easily left behind. But even this calming pastoral narrative comes with a price. We who want to know ourselves as true and faithful Christians must rouse ourselves from our sheepdom and listen for the Voice that calls, and then follow, in earnest and in confidence. All we "have" on this earthly plain is temporary.  Let us not go astray like sheep, but rely only on the Lamb of God, Jesus the Christ, Risen and Eternal.

*I commend to you a charming and interesting little book, A Shepherd Looks at Psalm 23 by W. Phillip Keller, for a closer look at the connections between the Psalm's imagery and real life sheep farming.


LET US, GOD’S PEOPLE, PRAY

Leader:  ~ Shepherd of our Souls, You are our Holy Gate to where we find a calm pasture to shelter and nourish our spirits, where You know us each by our names. Let us hear Your voice deep within us and follow You to salvation and abundant life eternal.
                                               
                                                By Your blood we are reconciled
RESPONSE:             By Your wounds we are healed

~ Shepherd of our Souls, as you stood peaceably in front of the political authorities of Your mortal time, grant us courage and confidence to peacefully but persistently urge political leaders of this Earth, this Nation, and this Community, to legislate compassion, equity, and mercy, as well as safety, economic, and environmental justice for all people. We pray especially for: add your own petitions

                     By Your blood we are reconciled
                     By Your wounds we are healed
                                               
~ Shepherd of our Souls, anoint the hearts, restore the hope, and give rest from anxiety to all who are enduring illness and suffering of all kinds, and for those who see to their daily needs.  We now join our voices to pray aloud for those in need… add your own petitions

                     By Your blood we are reconciled
                     By Your wounds we are healed

~ Shepherd of our Souls, we entrust the souls of all who have left this life to Your own care, in the consolation of knowing that they now dwell in the light of Your House forever. We pray especially for: add your own petitions 

                     By Your blood we are reconciled
                     By Your wounds we are healed

~ Shepherd of our Souls, as Your representatives in our time, our pastoral shepherds consecrate Your Body and Blood to bring You to us in the Apostles’ teaching, prayer, and fellowship, with glad and generous hearts. Help us to support them in their work with faith and goodwill, that together we, and all Your sheep, may be fed by Your goodness and mercy. We pray especially for: add your own petitions

                     By Your blood we are reconciled
                     By Your wounds we are healed
                                                                                                        

The Celebrant adds:  O God of Highest Heaven, we are called into Your mystical pasture to live and thrive on the Divine Bread of Life, given by the sacrifice of Christ Jesus. Revive our souls and rekindle our desire to follow You along the right paths of this life and enter into Your glorious and infinite kingdom. We ask this through Jesus the Christ, our Guardian and Shepherd, and the Holy Spirit, Sanctifier of our souls, who together with You, reign as One God, forever, and through all eternity.  Amen.





All compositions remain the property of the owner of this blog but may be used with attribution as long as they are not sold or charged for in any way. For more information or comments, contact: Leeosophy@gmail.com