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, February 12, 2018

Prayers of the People: Promises, Promises 1st Sunday in Lent '18 Yr B

For Sunday, February 18, 2018, 1st Sunday in Lent, Year B, Readings: Genesis 9:8-17, Psalm 25:1-9, 1 Peter 3:18-22, 
Mark 1:19-15

      God said to Noah and to his sons with him, "As for me, I am establishing my covenant with you and your descendants after you, and with every living creature that is with you...and every animal of the earth with you...and the waters shall never again become a flood to destroy all flesh."  [Genesis 9:9-11, 15b]

     To you, O LORD, I lift up my soul, my God I put my trust in you...for You are the God of my salvation...All the paths of the LORD are love and faithfulness...[Psalm 25: 1a, 2b, 9a]

      ...in the days of Noah...in which a few, that is, eight persons were saved through water. And baptism, which this prefigured, now saves you... [1 Peter 3:20b-21a]

      In those days Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan...And the Spirit immediately drove him out into the wilderness. He was in the wilderness forty days, tempted by Satan...and the angels waited on him...after John was arrested, Jesus came...saying...repent, and believe in the good news. [Mark 1:9,12-13, 14a, 15b]

From the receding waters of The Flood, to the baptismal waters of the Jordan, and on into the Judean wilderness, we journey this week through the various stages of God's continuing covenant through signs, symbols, and messengers
        God makes a covenant (promise) with Noah and his sons and gives the rainbow as a sign by and for God as a reminder of that promise to us all, God included. Who knew God needed a sticky note, just like the rest of us? I always marvel at rainbows and even though I know rationally it's just a refraction of light through micro water droplets, the fact that a full spectrum of color appears gives me a more mystical experience and, at the very least, I remember the story of the sign given to Noah.
          If we are feeling less than adequate in expressing our prayers, the Psalmist paves the way and reminds us of all the ways we can ask God to help us, all the ways that God does help us and, that All the paths of the Lord are love and faithfulness to those who keep his covenant and his testimonies.
         The author of 1st Peter tells us that our baptism is an appeal to God for a good conscience - in effect, we do the promising this time - and it counts even if done by others on our behalf. We can also be baptized by desire, if we haven't been through the ceremonial waters, and make the promise for ourselves. After his own baptism by John, Jesus is driven into the wilderness by the Spirit to be tempted, later returning to fulfill his vocation to bring us to God. The season of Lent mirrors the 40 days of his experience.
         The wilderness in our day can be anywhere that we feel lost and alone, isolated by others or even ourselves, or just plain unworthy, riddled with a sense of guilt for real or imagined sins. Lent is a designated opportunity to actively engage in a relationship with Jesus. By intentionally entering a sort of spiritual wilderness to repent 
(which actually means to turn toward God), we are able to examine our faith and to find ways to be more dedicated to God wherever we are in our life circumstances. It is a time to recognize and acknowledge all those earthly temptations, those temporal enticements, and everyday idols that distract us from our good intentions and draw us away from committing ourselves to a life more centered in Christ.
        We need not take this journey alone, we can walk the path together through individual and communal prayer, meditation, and reflection. Instead of just giving up chocolate, alcohol, or smoking, let's take on this wilderness journey together. Seek out and make a covenant with others for one-on-one discussions as prayer partners, or join a small group – start one yourself, there are plenty of resources around. The partnership can be face-to-face, online in real time or even through phone conversations, email or texts. Let us wait on each other as angels waited on Jesus, in our own space, in our own time, yet together in Christ. I think I'll look for a rainbow colored sticky note for my mirror as a reminder of God's promise to all of us and the promises I've made to God, as well as those good intentions of mine that have wandered away in distractions. Time again to repent and believe in the good news.


Leader:  ~ O God of our Salvation, awaken our senses to Your eternal covenant that embraces the whole of Creation from the very ground we live on, to all humankind, and every living creature. Turn us from the pursuit of temporary pleasure to seek eternal life in the Spirit, through trust and faith in You.
                                  Gracious, Loving Lord
        RESPONSE:   We lift our souls to You

~ O God of our Salvation, grant us the wisdom and willingness to speak with Christ’s voice to every political leader on this Earth, in this Country, and in this Community; and to stand with and encourage all who work diligently for justice, mercy, peace, and the health of all. We pray especially for: add your own petitions

                                 Gracious, Loving Lord
                                 We lift our souls to You
~ O God of our Salvation, ease the struggle for all who suffer the pain of illness, isolation, or desperation; and sustain the energy of those who give them care. We now join our voices to pray aloud for those in need…add your own petitions

                                 Gracious, Loving Lord
                                 We lift our souls to You
~ O God of our Salvation, even amidst the shadow of grief, we give praise and thanksgiving for those we love, who have now risen in glory, and returned to life eternal in You. We pray especially for: add your own petitions  

                                 Gracious, Loving Lord
                                 We lift our souls to You

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

                                 Gracious, Loving Lord
                                 We lift our souls to You
~ O God of our Salvation, whisper Your wisdom deep into the hearts of all who seek Your Spirit within themselves, for the guidance to draw us ever stronger into the community and communion in Your Church. We pray especially for: add your own petitions

                                 Gracious, Loving Lord
                                 We lift our souls to You

The Celebrant adds: Living Lord of Love and Faithfulness, infuse us with the desire to use this season of Lent as a time of our own spiritual wilderness for the cleansing of our hearts and souls through repentance, the examination and expansion of our faith, and the renewal of good conscience. We ask this through Christ, who suffered for the sins of us all, and the Holy Spirit, the breath of You in our souls, who together with You, reign as One God, over all Creation, forever and ever.  Amen.

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