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, December 11, 2017

Prayers of the People: Stir Up! All is Rosy! 3rd Sunday in Advent '17 Yr B

For Sunday, December 17, 2017, 3rd Sunday of Advent, Year B, Readings: Isaiah 61:1-4, 8-11; Psalm 126, 1 Thessalonians 5:16-24, 
John 1:6-8, 19-28
      The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me; because the LORD has anointed me; he has sent me to bring good news to the oppressed, to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives and release to the prisoners... [Isaiah 61:1]
      When the LORD restored the fortunes of Zion, then we were like those who dream. Then was our mouth filled with laughter, and our tongue with shouts of joy...Those who sowed with tears will reap with songs of joy. 
 [Psalm 126: 1-2, 6]
      Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances...May the God of peace himself sanctify you entirely; and may your spirit and soul and body be kept sound and blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. [1 Thessalonians 5:16-18a, 23]
      There was a man sent from God whose name was John...[John] said, "I am the voice of one crying in the wilderness, 'Make straight the way of the Lord,'" as the prophet Isaiah said. [John 1:6, 23]

     Stir up your power, O Lord, and with great might come among us... [Book of Common Prayer, Collect for the Third Sunday of Advent, US version, page 212]

        On this Third Sunday of Advent, we light the rose-colored candle to symbolize the joy and anticipation of Christ's birth which is just in sight. In the Anglican/Episcopal Church it has an informal title of "Stir Up Sunday" because the opening Collect [a prayer that collects or gathers the themes of the day or service]  begins with the phrase: Stir up your power, O Lord... And there are some local customs that accompany the day in various places. 
      The message of this day and week is "Gaudete," [gow-day-tay] from the Latin for rejoice and it gives us a slight respite from some of the more penitential aspects of this sacred Season. For children, of course, it is the dazzle and glitter and haze of lights and sparkle, gifts from Santa and his magic reindeer, or Father Christmas, who "make the season bright." The music and decorations and increasingly frantic preparations often brings smiles to all of us as we give into our own inner child, for those of us fortunate to have memories of ourselves or our own children with wide eyes on Christmas morning. Though, I have to say, that an air-filled Grinch dressed as Santa on a neighbor's lawn doesn't quite call to my mind the "reason for the season." 
        For us as adults, this week is also a sobering moment to consider all those who are suffering in the world, near to and far from us, with the dreadful fires in California, the still terrible conditions in the places ravaged by recent hurricanes and earthquakes, those engulfed by war and terrorism, or who live in abject poverty, among many more hardships. Yet the joy of Christ's coming must not be assuaged! 
      The Baptizer's voice is back with us and John is a reminder that we must Make straight the way of the Lord. There is One who is coming, the One who, as he told us last week, will baptize us with the Holy Spirit. Let us be hopeful, eager, and joyous, in the midst of our celebrations with family and friends, but let us not abandon God's call to be faithful, giving thanks in all circumstances, as God is faithful to us in the everlasting covenant. Let us, indeed, pray without ceasing, for others and for ourselves, in thanksgiving, in petition, in intercession, in penitence, in adoration, and especially in oblation as the offering of ourselves for God's purpose and service.
        The Psalmist tells us that when God restored the fortunes of those who returned from the long exile, they were like "those who dream." In the hope of Christ everlasting the dream is always within us and all is rosy. Look for the Light that is coming and follow it with JOY!


Leader:  ~ O LORD our God, stir our hearts with boundless joy and faithfulness in the sweet anticipation of the One who is coming. Release us from the captivity of sin; cause us to pray without ceasing and hold fast to what is good in Your sight.

                                                     O God of Peace                                                    
RESPONSE:                  Sanctify us in spirit, soul, and body

~ O LORD our God, in the midst of our rejoicing and celebration, keep us ever mindful of the trials, tragedies, and struggles of Your people and Your Creation. Guide us to speak continually of justice, mercy, peace, health, and abstaining from all evil, to the powers that control the destiny of this World, this Country, and this Community. We pray especially for: add your own petitions

                                                       O God of Peace
                                                       Sanctify us in spirit, soul, and body
~ O LORD our God, renew the hope of those who suffer with chronic pain, serious illness, or despair, and lighten the burdens of all who attend to their needs.  We now join our voices to pray aloud for those in need… add your own petitions

                                                       O God of Peace
                                                       Sanctify us in spirit, soul, and body
~ O LORD our God, comfort those whose tears of sorrow reap fruits of joy for all who now live again, restored to everlasting life in Christ. We pray especially for:  add your own petitions

                                                       O God of Peace
                                                       Sanctify us in spirit, soul, and body

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

                                                       O God of Peace
                                                       Sanctify us in spirit, soul, and body
~ O LORD our God, bless, encourage, and energize all whose lives are dedicated to lead and inspire us as faithful witnesses of Your Word and Sacraments, anointed as messengers of Christ's Good News. We pray especially for: add your own petitions

The Celebrant adds:  Our Savior Christ, who was and is and ever shall be, let John’s wilderness voice permeate our consciousness through the noise and haze of dazzle and glitter. Let us hear Your call to faith as our most important Gift, as we joyfully prepare our lives and make straight the way for Your glorious return. We ask through the Unquenchable Holy Spirit, and our Eternal Creator, who together with You reign as one God, now and forever. Amen.

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