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, 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.    





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