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 30, 2017

Prayers of the People: The Gift that Keeps on Giving, Pentecost Sunday, '17 Yr A

For Sunday, June 4, ..2017, Pentecost Sunday, Year A, Readings: Acts 2:1-21, Psalm 104:25-35, 37; 1 Corinthians 12:3b-13, John 7:37-39

        When the day of Pentecost had come, the disciples were altogether in one place. And suddenly from heaven there came a sound like the rush of a violent wind... Divided tongues, as of fire, appeared among them, and a tongue rested on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other languages as the Spirit gave them ability... then everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved. 
[Acts 2:1-4, 21]

        O LORD, how manifold are your works! In wisdom you have made them all...You send forth your Spirit, and they are created... [Psalm 104: 25a, 31a]

        Now there are a variety of gifts but the same Spirit...but it is the same God that activates all of them in everyone...To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good...the same Spirit, who allots to each one individually just as the Spirit chooses. For just as the body is one and has many members of the body, though many are one body, so it is with Christ. For in the one Spirit we were all baptized into one body - Jews or Greeks, slaves or free... [1 Corinithians 12:4a, 6b-7, 11]

        ...[Jesus] cried out, "Let anyone who is thirsty come to me, and let the one who believes in me drink. As the Scripture has said, 'Out of the believer's heart shall flow the living water.' Now he said this about the Spirit, which the believers were about to receive..." 
[John 7:37b-39a]

        We are now 50 days after Easter, 10 days after the Ascension. We have arrived at Pentecost, the feast of the Holy Spirit - the birthday of the Christian Church.
        The word Pentecost comes from the Greek for "fiftieth" and carries much ancient history and tradition with it besides its timing within the Christian calendar. On the Jewish calendar, this ancient feast is Shavuot and follows 50 days after Passover - but generally our mutual feasts do not overlap. Shavuot celebrates the giving of the Law to Moses on Mt. Sinai and perhaps is another reason the disciples were gathered together, in the comfort of a familiar structure of a venerable ritual, in addition to waiting for the sign promised by the resurrected Jesus only 10 days before, in his last in-person teachings.
        Remember that in the previous month and a half, they had experienced the arrest and violent execution of Jesus, his resurrection, various appearances to them, then his ascension, and their own grief and fear and uncertainty at these inexplicable turn of events. Here they are gathered together again without quite knowing what was next or when. And then suddenly a sound like a violent wind and tongues of fire resting on them gave them more than good reason to be bewildered, astonished, and amazed! And then, their ministry began in earnest, taking Christ's message far and wide.
        Today we are blasé. We know the story too well; we are immune to the thrill and amazement of a story about tongues of fire. We pack the churches at Christmas and Easter yet come Pentecost, all seems routine even if a "festival Eucharist" is celebrated. Of course Christmas, Good Friday, and Easter are all critical to our Christian history. We can't have gotten to this point at all without Christ's birth, death, and resurrection. But it was on that Pentecost's arrival of the Holy Spirit that fired up the Apostles and sent them around the known world proclaiming Christ, converting, and making the way for us to be the Church here and now, more than 2,000 years later. Without that Pentecost, would we still know about Christmas, Good Friday, or Easter?
        Today is the day to stop merely knowing the story. Today is the day to START feeling the Spirit – to be as amazed and astonished and bewildered as the Apostles - and EXCITED.  We have the Spirit within us! And God’s grace, and the love and Salvation of Christ for the wanting of it. THIS IS the day that the LORD has made! Let us rejoice and be glad and joy-filled, and alive in it! After all, what else is faith for? 
        On this fiftieth day from Easter, we are to KNOW that we, too, are filled with the Holy Spirit, to accept and welcome the extraordinary gifts and abilities bestowed on us, chosen for and unique to each of us. To be eager and enthusiastic in embracing all that a true life of faith calls us to be and to do, to live fully in the belief in Christ that we claim. We also celebrate, with our Jewish heritage, the giving of the Law on Sinai as our rules of life. On this Birthday of the Church, let us claim our heritage as children of God, equal one and all, and to use the language of love with each other as we strive to be all that Jesus has shown us. Christmas is wonderful, and lovely, and blessed but with Pentecost comes the true gift that keeps on giving!

       As the Birthday of the Church, Pentecost marks the official beginning of the ministry of the Apostles beyond their local area and into the world at large. The descent of the Holy Spirit in the form of tongues of fire imbued, instilled, and infused them, and each of us by extension, with extra-ordinary gifts to bring the message of Christ to everyone. This day is known as Whitsun/Whitsunday in Ireland and the United Kingdom, a name descending from a Gaelic celebration of medieval or perhaps even more ancient times. 


Leader:  ~ Holiest Spirit, Breath of God, agitate us out of our ordinary and propel us into calling upon the extraordinary gifts and abilities bestowed by You, unique to us each, that lead us to eager, faith-filled living in the name of Christ Jesus, our Lord.  

                                                Glorious Fire from Heaven                                                   
RESPONSE:             Enflame our souls into action

~ Holiest Spirit, Breath of God, set alight our own tongues to speak in the language of Your Truth to the leaders of this Earth, this Country, and this Community, as the voice of those crying in the wilderness of poverty, war, intolerance, and injustice. We pray especially for: add your own petitions

                                                Glorious Fire from Heaven
                                                Enflame our souls into action
~ Holiest Spirit, Breath of God, infuse Your care, comfort, and hope to all who suffer serious illness, anxiety, or addiction, and refresh all who provide support and love. We now join our voices to pray aloud for those in need… add your own petitions

                                                Glorious Fire from Heaven
                                                Enflame our souls into action
~ Holiest Spirit, Breath of God, we celebrate the wonder and joy of all who have called upon the name of the Lord and now dance in the glory of salvation forever. We pray especially for: add your own petitions 

                                                Glorious Fire from Heaven
                                                Enflame our souls into action

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

                                                Glorious Fire from Heaven
                                                Enflame our souls into action
~ Holiest Spirit, Breath of God, quicken the essence of our spiritual leaders in this life, that they may elevate the enthusiasm and energy in our own believers’ hearts to drink deeply of the Living Waters of Christ. We pray especially for: add your own petitions

                                                Glorious Fire from Heaven
                                                Enflame our souls into action

The Celebrant adds:  God of Creation, Redemption, and Wisdom, though we are many, we are one body in the one Spirit, all equal in Your eyes. May our hearts again be set ablaze to discern Your will, keep Your Commandments, and use our earthly lives for the common good of all. We ask through Jesus, our Redeemer Christ, and the Holy Spirit, our Wisdom Advocate, who together with You reign as One God, now and for eternity.  Amen.

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