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, March 20, 2017

Prayers of the People: Amazing Mud, 4th Sunday in Lent, '17 Yr A

For Sunday, March 26, 2017, 4th Sunday in Lent, Year A, Readings: 2 Samuel 16:1-13, Psalm 23, Ephesians 5:8-14, John 9:1-41

        But the LORD said to Samuel, "Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him; for the LORD does not see as mortals see; they look on the outward appearance, but the LORD looks on the heart." [1 Samuel 16:7]

        Surely your goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever. [Psalm 23:6]

        Once you were in darkness, but now in the Lord you are light. Live as children of light - for the fruit of the light is found in all that is good and right and true. [Ephesians 5:8-14]

        "...As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world." When [Jesus] said this, he spat on the ground and made mud with the saliva and spread the mud on the [blind] man's eyes saying to him, "Go, wash in the pool of Siloam" (which means Sent). Then he went and washed and came back able to see. [John 9:5-6]

       The mud that Jesus used on the blind man's eyes made me ponder once, if Jesus knew he could make the blind man see, why not snap his fingers or simply say "you can see now"? But then, symbolism - when recognized or at least intuited - is important even if not always understood completely. (Do you ever wonder if any of the Pharisees tried this mud idea later?). 
       Although Jesus explains that this man had not sinned, nonetheless his eyes were opened to sight after he washed clean - perhaps as in the waters of Baptism washing us clean of sin? The name Siloam, we are told means Sent, as Jesus was and is sent by God to open our eyes to see the light, to believe and follow the life God calls us to. None of us is perfect but we are forgiven - as is David who, as we know from his later story, was far from perfect (and so there is hope for me!).
       The choosing of David by God, in the passage from 1 Samuel, is merely the beginning of the compelling story of this man. The "blind man" is unnamed and his story is brief, but David begins his reign fresh from his pastures as a young shepherd and has a long and often muddled life. The Psalm appointed for this week is attributed by some traditions to David himself, but surely whoever authored it understood the divine symbolism inherent in shepherding.
       Paul speaks to the Ephesians, and ultimately to us, exhorting us to awaken from the sleep of the darkness, live as children of light, and try to find out what is pleasing to the Lord. Things are always easier to see in the light though not necessarily more clearly. The Pharisees used a different lens to "see" what Jesus was trying to tell them - they didn't seem to get the whole picture. God tells Samuel that the LORD does not see as mortals see...the LORD looks on the heart. 
       This is a good week to try to see what is in my heart, what blinders are on my eyes, and what darkness I invite into my life. I can use this Psalm as a personal prayer and plea as I speak the "my, and the I, and the me" for myself, and then I can take those personal pronouns and replace them with the name of someone else as a prayer for her or him or them. It might also be a good week to change up a familiar hymn a little. How about something along the lines of:
Amazing Grace Mud, how sweet the feel of Christ massaging my eyes. I once was lost but now am found, was blind but now I see.
       
*I commend you to a wonderful little book titled, A Shepherd Looks at Psalm 23 by W. Phillip Keller who, as a real contemporary shepherd, unpacks all that the psalm speaks of in relation to how a shepherd cares for sheep as God cares and (tries to) lead us.


LET US, GOD’S PEOPLE, PRAY

Leader:  ~ Eternal Shepherd, Merciful and Just, You chose David in his youth and us from the womb, knowing our full potential and looking on all we hold in our hearts. Lead us from the blindness of self-pride to the clarity of eyes opened to life in You.

                                                O God of Truth and Light
RESPONSE:             Deliver us from the blindness of sin

~ Eternal Shepherd, Merciful and Just, awaken the inner vision of those who lead us in this World, this Country, and this Community, so they will see themselves as You see them, and begin to shepherd their own flocks with compassion, integrity and principle. We pray especially for: add your own petitions

                                                O God of Truth and Light
                                                Deliver us from the blindness of sin
                                               
~ Eternal Shepherd, Merciful and Just, comfort and revive the souls of all who suffer with physical or emotional trials, and impart Your calming spirit to those who give them care. We now join our voices to pray aloud for those in need… add your own petitions

                                                O God of Truth and Light
                                                Deliver us from the blindness of sin
           
~ Eternal Shepherd, Merciful and Just, soothe the hearts of all who grieve as our departed loved ones now live again in the delight of endless green pastures, dwelling in Your House forever. We pray especially for: add your own petitions

                                                O God of Truth and Light
                                                Deliver us from the blindness of sin

~ Eternal Shepherd, Merciful and Just, we pause in this moment to offer You our other heartfelt intentions and petitions, aloud or silently… add your own petitions

                                                O God of Truth and Light
                                                Deliver us from the blindness of sin
           
~ Eternal Shepherd, Merciful and Just, set Your Spirit upon all who are anointed to guide Your Church along right pathways, as we walk together seeking the fruit of the light. We pray especially for: add your own petitions

                                                O God of Truth and Light
                                                Deliver us from the blindness of sin
                                                                                                        

The Celebrant adds:  O LORD our God, Your goodness and mercy overflows our cup of life when we choose the blessings You set before us. Release us from the darkness we make for ourselves to see the eternal table of love that You have prepared for us. We ask this through Jesus our Christ, True Light from True Light, and the Spirit of all that is Holy, who live and reign with You, 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


Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Prayers of the People: WWYD? 3rd Sunday in Lent, '17 Yr A

For Sunday, March 19, 2017, 3rd Sunday after Epiphany, Year A, Readings: Exodus 17:1-7, Psalm 95, Romans 5:1-11, John 4:5-42

       Moses said to them, "Why do you quarrel with me? Why do you test the LORD?"...The LORD said to Moses...I will be standing there in front of you on the rock at Horeb. Strike the rock, and water will come out of it, so the people may drink." [Exodus 17:2b, 5a, 6a]

       Come, let us sing to the LORD, let us shout for joy to the Rock of our Salvation. [Psalm 95:1]

       Since we are justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have obtained access to this grace in which we stand; and we boast in our hope of sharing the glory of God. [Romans 5:1-3]

      Jacob's Well was there and Jesus tired out by his journey, was sitting by the well...A Samaritan woman came to draw water, and Jesus said to her, "Give me a drink."...The Samaritan woman said to him, "How is it that you, a Jew, ask a drink of me, a woman of Samaria?" (Jews do not share things in common with Samaritans.) Jesus answered her, "If you knew the gift of God...he would have given you living water....God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth." [John 4:6a, 7a, 9-10, 24]

       In this Gospel reading, Jesus is traveling in a part of the country where no respectable Jew would strike up a conversation with one of those people, who is of all things, also a woman! The Samaritans were not happy with the rebuilding of the Temple after the Jews returned from exile in Babylonia, partly because it centralized the worship of God in Jerusalem. Also it seems the Jews would neither eat nor drink with Samaritans - perhaps it was the Jewish purity laws, we don't actually know that or what other issues divided them. But this passage - while highlighting Jesus' willingness to have this conversation and to offer the coming time when worship for all will be very different for the true believers - also underscores many of the issues of the other in our current life and times. 
       Differences in culture, dress, religion, food and drink, accents, even among those of our own nation - not to mention skin color - separate us, narrowing our human experiences, creating deep and ancient, or at least very old prejudices, handed down through generations without explanation or understanding. The Hatfields and McCoys of life and legend in our land, for one example. The layers of mistrust continue to deepen and solidify, turn to un-examined hate, and all too often, violence. Us vs. Them, is a prevailing human issue - if you're one of them you cannot be one of us; we can't discuss the whys and wherefores because understanding each other might taint what we've been taught to believe and our beliefs have been sustained by the continual distraction and propaganda from those who profit from our divisions. 
       WWYD? What Would You Do - if you were desperately thirsty in a place you don't feel you belong in, or your car broke down in a strange location, or you witnessed someone unlike you being harassed or worse?  How have we fostered the isolating of ourselves and the marginalizing of others by what we have done and by what we have left undone* because in the communal desert of our own making, we falsely believe that it keeps us being us and them away from us which makes everything better for us? I have to put myself in time out now and then to examine my reactions and the in-my-head responses to think and wonder why I am for it or against it, whatever it is and to whom it is directed and by whom I accept as my authority on the matter. Lent is a moment to think about our desert moments in life. Is God in Jesus my Living Water for consolation, hope, compassion, and love of my neighbor as if s/he is myself, or just the One I blame and complain to? Jesus told the Samaritan woman that God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth. 
       What WILL You Do to find the spirit and truth of God, the Creator of ALL life in all its shapes, forms, cultures, colors, genders, genomes, and faiths?

*from the Confession in the Book of Common Prayer pg 360:

Let us confess our sins against God and our neighbor.
Most merciful God,
we confess that we have sinned against you
in thought, word, and deed,
by what we have done,
and by what we have left undone.
We have not loved you with our whole heart;
we have not loved our neighbors as ourselves.
We are truly sorry and we humbly repent.
For the sake of your Son Jesus Christ,
have mercy on us and forgive us;
that we may delight in your will,
and walk in your ways,
to the glory of your Name. Amen.


LET US, GOD’S PEOPLE, PRAY

Leader:  ~ O God of Grace and Peace, drive us from the desert of discouragement we lead ourselves into by our wayward hearts and selfish grumblings. Guide us back to the saving water from the Rock of Faith that washes away all fear, anguish, and uncertainty. 

                                                Lord of Living Water                                      
RESPONSE:             Quench the thirst of our souls

~ O God of Grace and Peace, transform and inspire the hearts and minds of the leaders of this World, this Nation, and this Community to turn their efforts into a cooperative spirit of common purpose for the health, safety, and prospering of all Your people everywhere. We pray especially for: add your own petitions

                                                Lord of Living Water
                                                Quench the thirst of our souls
                                               
~ O God of Grace and Peace, pour Your love and enduring hope into those who are seriously ill, desperately poor, or victimized by violence, and strengthen all who minister to their needs.  We now join our voices to pray aloud for those in need… add your own petitions

                                                Lord of Living Water
                                                Quench the thirst of our souls
           
~ O God of Grace and Peace, bathe the hearts of the mournful with Your healing mercy as those who have departed this life now dance with joy in the fountains of eternity with You. We pray especially for: add your own petitions

                                                Lord of Living Water
                                                Quench the thirst of our souls

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

                                                Lord of Living Water
                                                Quench the thirst of our souls
           
~ O God of Grace and Peace, refresh the spirits of those anointed for leadership for Your Church. May their faith in You course so strongly in their hearts that they are sustained, renewed, and energized by the courage of their convictions. We pray especially for: add your own petitions

                                                Lord of Living Water
                                                Quench the thirst of our souls
                                                                                                        
The Celebrant adds:  LORD of Heaven and of All the Earth, Christ among us is the proof of Your love for us and the model for how to live as an inclusive community of faith. Let us now do the work to rid the world of prejudice and hate by reconciling ourselves with others, planting seeds of kindness and tolerance, and returning real or perceived insults and injuries with forgiveness. We ask this through Jesus, the Rock of our Salvation, and the Holy Spirit, the Sustainer of our souls, who live and reign with You, One God, Fount of all that is infinite and eternal.  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


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.





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