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, January 23, 2023

Prayers of the People: Simply Difficult ~ 4th Sunday after the Epiphany '23 Yr A

For Sunday, January 29, 2023, Readings: Micah 6:1-8, Psalm 15, 1 Corinthians 1:18-31, Matthew 5:1-12

     [God] has told you, O mortal, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God? [Micah 6:8]
   Lord, who...may dwell upon your holy hill? Whoever leads a blameless life...does what is right...speaks the truth from his heart...[with] no guile upon his tongue...does no evil to a friend ...does not heap contempt upon his neighbor...in his sight the wicked is rejected...honors those who fear the Lord...he has sworn to do no wrong...does not take back his word...does not give his money in hope of gain...does [not] take a bribe against the innocent... [Psalm 15]
   But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world, things that are not, to reduce to nothing things that are, so that no one might boast in the presence of God. [1 Corinthians 1:27-29]
   When Jesus saw the crowds, he went up the mountain; and after he sat down, his disciples came to him. Then he began to speak, and taught them, saying: "Blessed are..." [Matthew 5:1-12]

   The Sermon on the Mount, is recorded in Matthew as the first public act of Jesus and we will follow this first sermon for the next several weeks. This week we hear the Beatitudes in concert with the words of Micah, the Psalmist, and Paul speaking to the church in Corinth, all giving an outline and direction in the ways in which to follow God as God wills and, from the Gospel, to become followers of Jesus more fully. 
   These Beatitudes, or state of blessedness, are qualities of life that describe what we are to actively work toward as we humbly submit ourselves to the will of Jesus. These eight Beatitudes are not describing eight different groups of people, but rather the states of being that we each may manifest within our lives, the attributes of true discipleship. They name our blessings and the corresponding reward for faithfulness. Jesus lets us know we are blessed in the first part of his sermon so that we are uplifted. As his teachings continue, we know we will be enfolded and sustained by these blessings whenever life turns difficult as long as we are doing all we can to live into the spirit of these states of being. Yet a part of this lesson may be overlooked. However difficult in the moments in our own times of discomfort, distress, and even despair, it is through all of life's experiences, that we can seek to discover opportunities to become a blessing to and for others. 
    As I ponder all the readings for this week, I want to experience the message of God, the Psalmist, Paul, and Jesus and actively improve the areas in my life that need some remedial work in doing justice, letting go of my judgment of others, recognizing my weaknesses, and being more constructive in peace-making, among all the other ideals listed.  
    The instructions we are given in these readings are quite simple at first glance. Do this, do that, and all will be well except that these directions seem to be more about being than doing, attitude more than activity yet all are necessary. Salvation would be so easy to attain if only it wasn’t so simply difficult to tear ourselves away from the easy path of self-comfort. A lingering question remains for me to remember, “when in my life have I found myself among the following”:

LET US, GOD’S PEOPLE, PRAY

Leader:  ~ O God on High, Source of All Life, refine and purify our hearts that we may recognize our blessings, choose to be and do with our lives as Jesus taught us, and walk with You as the embodiment of blessings for all Your people who live in hunger, sickness, fear, injustice, grief, and hopelessness.                                           

                                                 Lord of Hope and Joy
  RESPONSE:        Strengthen our trust in You

~ O God our Source, attend to those who present themselves in the temples of government in our World, in our Country, and in our Community. Fill their souls with Your wisdom, truth, and mercy, and divert them from paths of war, greed, and inhumanity. We pray especially for: add your own petitions

                                                Lord of Hope and Joy
                                                Strengthen our trust in You

~ O God our Source, we ask for Your healing for all who are seriously ill, anxious, or exhausted, and for those who tend to their needs. We now join our voices to pray aloud for those in need… add your own petitions

                                                Lord of Hope and Joy
                                                Strengthen our trust in You

~ O God our Source, the gloom of grief is lifted when our hearts know that You joyfully embrace all who live again in Your glorious and eternal Paradise. We pray especially for… add your own petitions

                                                Lord of Hope and Joy
                                                Strengthen our trust in You

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

                                                Lord of Hope and Joy
                                                Strengthen our trust in You                     

~ O God our Source, hold fast in Your embrace all who lead us in Your Church, as they guide and walk with us in Word, Sacrament, and Faith, away from false gods and always to You. We pray especially for: add your own petitions

                                                Lord of Hope and Joy
                                                Strengthen our trust in You

The Celebrant adds:  Holy Lord of the highest Mountains and the lowest Valleys, draw us close to experience Your Presence in each moment, in our success and in our failings, as we strive to seek Your favor and follow Your will in all that we are and all that we do. We ask through the blessings of Christ Jesus, our Redeemer; and the guidance of the Holy Spirit, our Counselor; who together with You are our One God, now and through eternity.  Amen.

 



All compositions remain the property of the owner of this blog but may be used with attribution and edited for local use as long as they are not sold or charged for in any way. For more information or comments, contact: Leeosophy@gmail.com


Monday, January 16, 2023

Prayers of the People: Casting Wide Nets ~ 3rd Sunday of Epiphany '23 Yr A

For Sunday, January 22, 2023, Readings: Isaiah 9:1-4, Psalm 27:1, 5-13; 1 Corinthians 1:10-18, 
Matthew 4:12-23

    The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who lived in a land of deep darkness ~ on them light has shined. [Isaiah 9:2]

    The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom then should I fear...Hearken to my voice, O Lord, when I call; have mercy on me and answer me. [Psalm 27:1a, 10]

    Now I appeal to you, brothers and sisters, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you be in agreement and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and the same purpose. [1 Corinthians 1:10]

      As [Jesus] walked by the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers...casting a net into the sea ~ for they were fishermen. And he said to them, "Follow me, and I will make you fish for people." ...Jesus went throughout Galilee...proclaiming the good news of the kingdom... [Matthew 4:18-19, 23] 
    We all know those times in this life when even the smallest amount of good news feels like a tiny ray of light in the darkness bringing a glimmer of hope that things will get better. Isaiah and the Psalmist, and a reminder in Matthew of the words of Isaiah that the Light is always there even when we feel lost and are sinking in the shadows. The Psalmist asks if the Lord is our light and our salvation whom shall we fear?  In our everyday reality, of course, we do have fears and worry and anxiety about many things in our lives and it is in such times that we are to try to summon even a vague intention to seek God’s face. Looking for that wee beam of light with a fragment of faith and a bit of faint hope we are able to begin to take a shaky step forward into the always unknown.
    Paul speaks to us in our own time through his letter to the Church in Corinth: be in agreement...no divisions among us...be united in the same mind and the same purpose and even more appropriate to now, he warns us not to divide Christ. How many Christian denominations try to out shout one another as the only source for the "true" message of Jesus? How incredibly difficult is it to heal divisions in political opinion let alone in religious? Yet it is in these often dark and scary times, in a world seemingly gone mad with violence in action and in words, that we are called to put aside our ideological differences and follow the simple message of Christ's Gospel: love God, love our neighbors as ourselves, proclaim the Gospel ~ his good news of the kingdom ~ in all we think, do, and say. The frills, bells, and whistles, or lack of, for worship are earth-bound and human-made. We must be aware and wary of creeping idolatry around individuals, the places, and the worship itself if any excludes or diminishes the very elements of our calling.
   Jesus called the soon-to-be disciples away from their fishing boats and nets to follow him and become fishers of people. Yet there is an important piece of the story that is often overlooked ~ Zebedee, father of James and John, stays behind mending the nets. It doesn’t mean that he and the others on the fishing crew didn’t believe or want to follow but rather that each of us is called to use the gifts we have been given in different ways. Some are called to teach and preach, some are called to stay behind mending the nets to catch the fish to feed and support those who are in the fields or the kitchens or elsewhere.
   Some days and weeks and months are better than others. The nets can be full or nearly empty. The fields can be brimming for harvest or drowned or dry. The car runs well or breaks down on a busy day. The death of a loved one, suddenly or expected, brings grief and turmoil. In the darkest moments of life when our inner nets are torn and faith feels weak, we can search to catch the Light within ourselves however faint and distant it seems. When we allow ourselves to be reeled into the net that Jesus has cast for us, the Word can inhabit us and begin to attract others to the splendid shore of Christ’s love. We'll catch more, or lose more, by our ways and attitudes; we don’t have to be perfect or devout, just hopeful in our search for faith. Whether in the grocery line, on Facebook, or driving in traffic, it is always better to bring the light and respond in love than to bait the hook for a snark attack. Sometimes, what annoys us about others reflects what we feel about ourselves. We trip, we fall, we get up, and then we start over. We pull in our nets, repair them, and cast them out again. Let’s begin again to repair the nets of our own thoughts and words, our judgments and frustrations by working to seek and feel the Good News of the Kingdom within ourselves. Even with only a glimmer of hope and the faintest of faith, we can begin casting wide nets to catch the true meaning of loving our neighbors AS we love ourselves and Follow again, in earnest.

LET US, GOD’S PEOPLE, PRAY

Leader:  ~ Oh Lord of Light and Joy, with You as our strength whom shall we fear? As You have caught us up in the safety of Your nets, energize us to beckon the world to Your shore, proclaiming the Good News of Salvation in our every thought, word, and action.

                                                       Lord Jesus Christ
              RESPONSE:              Unite us to You in mind and purpose

~ Oh Lord of Light and Joy, inspire and transform all who govern the peoples of this World, this Country, and this Community, to legislate with integrity not the rod of oppression, ensuring peace, equality, and sustenance for the well-being of all humanity and the protection of our planet. We pray especially for: add your own petitions

                                                       Lord Jesus Christ
                                                       Unite us to You in mind and purpose

~ Oh Lord of Light and Joy, heal the hearts, minds, and bodies of all who are ill, weary, or in anguish, and give comfort to all who offer care. We now join our hearts to pray for those in need… add your own petitions

                                                       Lord Jesus Christ
                                                       Unite us to You in mind and purpose         

~ Oh Lord of Light and Joy, the gloom of grief is lifted when our hearts know that You joyfully embrace all who live again in Your glorious and eternal Paradise. We pray especially for…add your own petitions

                                                       Lord Jesus Christ
                                                       Unite us to You in mind and purpose

~ Oh Lord of Light and Joy, we pause in this moment to offer You our other heartfelt thanksgivings, intercessions, petitions, and memorials, aloud or silently… 

                                                       Lord Jesus Christ
                                                       Unite us to You in mind and purpose                    

~ O Lord our God, hold fast in Your embrace all who lead us in Your Church as they guide and walk with us in Word, Sacrament, and Faith, away from false gods and always to You. We pray especially for: Michael, our Presiding Bishop; Kevin our Bishop; James, our Interim Rector; Clay, our Deacon; and Lloyd, our Rector Emeritus.

                                                       Lord Jesus Christ
                                                       Unite us to You in mind and purpose

The Celebrant adds: Oh Lord, our Strength and our Salvation, endow us with the faith and fortitude to find Your constant Light within us in the darkest of times. Empower us to remember and return to follow You, whenever we go off course, in the highest and lowest tides of this mortal experience. We ask through Jesus, the Captain of our ship, and the Holy Spirit, our Divine Navigator, who with You are our One God, now and forever. Amen. 




All compositions remain the property of the owner of this blog but may be used with attribution and edited for local use as long as they are not sold or charged for in any way. For more information or comments, contact:
Leeosophy@gmail.com


Monday, January 9, 2023

Prayers of the People: Our Light to the Nations ~ 2nd Sunday after Epiphany/Martin Luther King, Jr. '23 Yr A

For Sunday, January 15, 2023, Readings: Isaiah 49:1-7, Psalm 40:1-12, 1 Corinthians 1:1-9, John 1:29-42 
(see excerpts from Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. below*)

   The Lord called me before I was born, while I was in my mother's womb he named me. [Isaiah 49:1b]

    He put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God. [Psalm 40:3a] 

    ...just as the testimony of Christ has been strengthened among you -- so that you are not lacking in any spiritual gift...He will also strengthen you to the end, so that you may be blameless on the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. [1 Corinthians 1:6-7a, 8]

    "Here is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!"...The two disciples heard [John] say this, and they followed Jesus. When Jesus turned and saw them following he said to them, "What are you looking for?" [John 1:29b, 37-38a]


      “
I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: ‘We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal.’…
 Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that." [Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr]

        Fresh from his Baptism, Jesus is identified as the Lamb of God by John the Baptizer to two of John’s own disciples who then become followers of Jesus. Jesus asks them, What are you looking for? They, calling him Rabbi, ask where he is staying. Jesus answers, come and see and they spend the day listening to him. Later, Andrew, one of those men, tells his brother, We have found the Messiah. He takes his brother Simon to meet Jesus, who knows him immediately and tells him he’ll now be known as Peter.  
     We know that Peter, along with his brother Andrew, and the others who joined them, often struggled with the message of Jesus, yet even in the face of enormous obstacles, defeats, trials, and tribulations, carried on and carried the message forward. It’s easy to think the original disciples, chosen in person by Jesus, were holy and able to move through life with absolute certainty of their mission. But they, as all we humans, including Dr. King, had doubts, human imperfections, moments of uncertainty ~ and fear. A huge obstacle to living faithfully in today’s world is that there is simply TOO MUCH everything to get in the way of attending to our faith and faith development. Two thousand+ year old events don't always have much of an impact on my everyday thoughts and actions, yet the question, What are you looking for, caught my attention. Now at the beginning of a new year, in a volatile national and worldwide political and economic climate, we prepare to celebrate ~ some more than others ~ the birth of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and in that regard, to the question from Jesus, I would add, What is your dream? ~ not for the personal and material things you want or hope for, but rather for humanity itself.
     While the significance of the impact of Dr. King's work and words is undisputed, the echoes of his voice are slowly fading as we are nearly 55 years since his death. Various groups were not, and still are not, fans of this particular recognition, yet it holds.  Racism, as all people of color know, continues with a vengeance along with other hate-filled discriminations of religious beliefs, gender, sexuality, ethnic, and even physical and mental disabilities. As with Christmas and Easter, we are more likely to pay attention to a date on a calendar to be reawakened, to listen again and hear anew, to stop and consider again, and then take a step forward. This date is no exception. In many places, this "holiday" is advertised as a day of community service with opportunities to give of oneself in a Day On rather than merely a day off.
      In times such as these when certainty is upended and the status quo is now status unknown, it is as critical as ever that we carry Christ's and Dr. King's messages forward to uphold people of all colors, creeds, national origin, sexual orientation, and for any reason that any one is targeted for oppression, brutality, bullying, and discrimination. We are all equal in the Eyes and Heart of God. And, as Dr. King said, "Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter."  Jesus tells us in the Gospel of Mark [12:29-31], "Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength. The second is this: Love your neighbor as yourself. There is no other commandment greater than these."  No good action is ever wasted, and with consciousness and intent, good actions of heart, mind, and soul can become as routine as checking for "likes" on Facebook throughout the day and night. As Dr. King has said, Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.
       What is your dream for this still New Year – will you shy away from whatever discomforting challenges may be ahead, or look more deeply for ways to learn more about how to be and live in faith? How can we shine in and radiate Christ’s light? How can we muster up the love to neutralize the hate we all encounter? Maybe, if we can step up and step out in uncertainty, we will discover that what we are actually looking for is the place within ourselves where Jesus is staying and loves us as we are. Come and see, and spend some time listening to Him. And spend some time with Martin, too.

See below prayers for an excerpt and click here for a short video of the I Have A Dream speech excerpt - Martin Luther King, Jr 1963

*
An Excerpt from Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s I have a Dream speech, August 28, 1963, Washington, D.C.:

I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: "We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal."

I have a dream today.

I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plain, and the crooked places will be made straight, and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together.

This will be the day when all of God's children will be able to sing with a new meaning, "My country, 'tis of thee, sweet land of liberty, of thee I sing. Land where my fathers died, land of the pilgrim's pride, from every mountainside, let freedom ring."

And if America is to be a great nation this must become true. So let freedom ring from the prodigious hilltops of New Hampshire. Let freedom ring from the mighty mountains of New York. Let freedom ring from the heightening Alleghenies of Pennsylvania!

Let freedom ring from the snowcapped Rockies of Colorado!
Let freedom ring from the curvaceous slopes of California!
But not only that; let freedom ring from Stone Mountain of Georgia!
Let freedom ring from Lookout Mountain of Tennessee!
Let freedom ring from every hill and molehill of Mississippi. From every mountainside, let freedom ring. 

And when this happens, when we allow freedom to ring, when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God's children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual, "Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, we are free at last!"


LET US, GOD’S PEOPLE, PRAY
 
Leader:  ~ O Lord our God, in Your compassion, love, and faithfulness, teach us the way of patience and trust. Keep us mindful of the spiritual gifts we each have within us by Your grace, that we may come, see, and radiate the light of Christ to all we meet.
 
                                                       Jesus, Lamb of God
          RESPONSE:                  Our Love and Light to the Nations
 
~ O Lord our God, in these uncertain times, renew our willingness to continually exhort the ruling authorities on this Earth, in our Country, and in our Community, to ensure the dignity and well-being of every person on this planet. Fill us with the courage to work, as Your Servant Martin before us, to reveal and reverse false strength and corrupt power spent for vanity only. We pray especially for: add your own petitions
 
                                                       Jesus, Lamb of God
                                                       Our Love and Light to the Nations
 
~ O Lord our God, give comfort and healing to all who are sick, troubled, or weary of this life, and to those who care for and about them. We now join our hearts to pray for those in need… add your own petitions 
   
                                                       Jesus, Lamb of God
                                                       Our Love and Light to the Nations
        
~ O Lord our God, soothe sorrowful hearts with the knowing that You enfold our loved ones in the grace, glory, and joy of new life forever. We pray especially for… add your own petitions
 
                                                       Jesus, Lamb of God
                                                       Our Love and Light to the Nations
 
~ 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
 
                                                       Jesus, Lamb of God
                                                       Our Love and Light to the Nations
                      
~ O Lord our God, hold fast in Your embrace all who lead us in Your Church as they guide and walk with us in Word, Sacrament, and Faith, away from false gods and always to You. We pray especially for: add your own petitions
 
                                                       Jesus, Lamb of God
                                                       Our Love and Light to the Nations
 
The Celebrant adds: 
God Almighty and Everlasting, You called us before we were born and named us in our mother’s womb. Keep us seeking and finding the Love that drives out hate and the Light that drives out the darkness in ourselves and in each other. We ask through the grace of our Light ~ Jesus, our Rabbi and our Christ; and our spiritual gifts from the Holy Spirit, who together with You, live and reign, One God, today, always, forever. Amen.
 

 




All compositions remain the property of the owner of this blog but may be used with attribution and edited for local use as long as they are not sold or charged for in any way. For more information or comments, contact: Leeosophy@gmail.com


Friday, January 6, 2023

Meditation Moment: Magi-cal Gifts ~ Epiphany!

For Epiphany, January 6, 2023: Readings: Isaiah 60:1-6, Psalm 72:1-7, 10-14; Ephesians 3:1-12, Matthew 2:1-12

Arise, shine; for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord has risen upon you…Nations shall come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your dawn. [Isaiah 60:1, 3]

     For he shall deliver the poor who cries out in distress, and the oppressed who has no helper.[Psalm 72:12]

     Of this gospel I have become a servant accord to the gift of God’s grace…This was in accordance with the eternal purpose that he has carried out in Christ Jesus our Lord, in whom we have access to God in boldness and confidence through faith in him. [Ephesians 3:7a,11-12]

     “Go and search diligently for the child…” When they saw that the star had stopped, they were overwhelmed with joy. [Matthew 2:8b, 10]

     EPIPHANY IS BIG! It brings us a bright shiny and HOLY Revelation. It IS the continuing and the expanding of the celebration of the birth of our Messiah, and His importance to us all! But perhaps we are worn down after the four weeks of anticipation in Advent, the hustle and bustle of preparation for gifts and food and gatherings, the familiar rush of the time of year, followed by the pageantry and the glorious music, and then the usual “let down.” Perhaps Epiphany, the 12th Day of Christmas, has become an anti-climax, the end of the story, the time to take down the decorations (if anyone actually waits that long anymore). Yet it is in truth a beginning. We open new chapters of the Story that will take us from Jesus the Baby, to Christ our Redeemer. While we celebrate the birthday with great fanfare, the Epiphany moves us into the reason for which this Child was born of a woman, the revelation of God’s eternal purpose is upon us. A theophany then ~ the manifestation of God visible to humans ~ a re-discovery now. One definition of “epiphany” is “a sudden insight or intuitive understanding.”
      At the Nativity of Jesus, Luke tells us that the angels appeared to the shepherds who received the good news of great joy, but Luke never mentions the Magi. Matthew never mentions the shepherds or even the birth itself except for a brief phrase: "...until she had borne a son; and he [Joseph] named him Jesus." But Matthew did tell us of the "...wise men from the East..." They saw a great star revealing to them the need for a journey to pay homage to a new born king of the Jews. Herod gets involved and we begin to see the ominous cloud moving in to shadow the glorious star. But having heard this story so very many times perhaps we need to hear it or read it again? Have we tuned out rather than engaging with the experience? Or, have we re-awakened to the wonder and pondered what it could possibly mean for each of us in our own time? What sudden insight or understanding might come?   
       These three “Kings” who weren’t likely kings but rather astrologers and astronomers. Possibly, as they have been called, they were Magi, priests of Zoroastrianism from ancient Persia, who saw a sign to follow in the famous star. Traveling a thousand or more miles from the “east,” their journey would likely have taken months, not days, and they would likely have had an entourage carrying food, tents, supplies, etc. At last they found King Herod to tell him, and us all, of the significance, power, and majesty this Child brings.
       These three “Kings” who weren’t likely kings but rather astrologers and astronomers. Possibly, as they have been called, they were Magi, priests of Zoroastrianism from ancient Persia, who saw a sign to follow in the famous star. Traveling a thousand or more miles from the “east,” their journey would likely have taken months, not days, and they would likely have had an entourage carrying food, tents, supplies, etc. At last they found King Herod to tell him, and us all, of the significance, power, and majesty this Child brings.
       Today, it is a new dawn, another chance to listen to or read these Scriptures, not only on this day, but each Sunday (and weekdays, too!), especially the Gospel, and to hear, feel, and know the message deeply within. In the compression of time given in the Gospels and the Church calendar, it is a short season indeed before we begin the unfolding of the ministry, miracles, teaching, sacrificial execution, and resurrection of Jesus. It is time again to rediscover the astonishment, the amazement, the true adoration in this event.
       Hear the story as if for the very first time ~ know that we have been given an extraordinary gift, Christ, Our Lord, has been born to us! Let us be overwhelmed with joy! Let us search diligently for the child within us and around us. Epiphany is the time to seek the Magi-cal gifts in my own life that call me to pay homage, follow, and live into the light and life of Christ in boldness and confidence through faith in himArise, shine; for your light has come! Have an EPIPHANY!

“And, lo, the star, which they saw in the east, went before them, til it came and stood over where the young child was. When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceeding great joy. And when they
were come into the house, they saw the young child with Mary his mother, and fell down, and worshipped him: and when they had opened their treasures, they presented unto him gifts; gold, and frankincense and myrrh.” Matthew 2: 9-11





All compositions remain the property of the owner of this blog but may be used with attribution and edited for local use as long as they are not sold or charged for in any way. For more information or comments, contact: Leeosophy@gmail.com

Monday, January 2, 2023

Prayers of the People: Staking our Claim ~ 1st Sunday after Epiphany '23 Yr A

For Sunday, January 8, 2023, Readings: Isaiah 42:1-9, Psalm 29, Acts 10:34-43, Matthew 3:13-17

  Here is my servant, whom I uphold, my chosen, in whom my soul delights; I have put my spirit upon him; he will bring forth justice to the nations.  [Isaiah 42:1]

   Ascribe to the Lord the glory due his name; worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness. [Psalm 29:2]

   He commanded us to preach to the people and to testify that he is the one ordained by God as judge of the living and the dead.  All the prophets testify about him that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name. [Acts 10:42-43]

    And when Jesus had been baptized, just as he came up from the water, suddenly the heavens were opened to him and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting on him. And a voice from heaven said, “This is my Son, the Beloved, with whom I am well pleased.” [Matthew 3:16-17]

    We’re in fast-forward mode. Two days ago the Magi visited the Christ Child, leaving town in a hurry to avoid Herod. In between then and now Joseph received a dream that caused him to take Mary and the Child to Egypt as Herod was killing all the children under two. It was after Herod’s death that Joseph, Mary, and Jesus returned to settle in Nazareth. Of course, the “real” time for these events took several years. But the Church Calendar advances swiftly. We now pick up where we left off in Advent just after John the Baptist called the Pharisees and Sadducees a “brood of vipers” for their false piety when they presented themselves for Baptism. John is a God-sent herald to warn them to turn away from their corruption. As he says “one more powerful than I is coming” and this Sunday, Jesus, now a grown man beginning his public ministry comes to John for Baptism.
     But why ever does Jesus ask to be baptized? Even John wonders and is reluctant. After all Jesus is without sin; God’s own Son brought to human incarnation to lead Israel from the old Law of Moses into the new Way of The Great Commandment [Matthew 22:36-40]. Yet Jesus prevails ~ as he does with Peter and the foot-washing later on ~ and chooses to identify as the good Jew he was raised to be. Through Baptism he assumes his place in the Hebrew nation by participating in this communal rite of repentance and purification.
     As Jesus rises from the water, Matthew tells us that God announces from on high, "This is my Beloved Son in whom I am well pleased" and that the Holy Spirit descended as a dove to mark this man Jesus as God-sent, of God-nature, One with God, God’s own Human Image.
     In this awakening season of Epiphany, let us begin again to discover and define our own public and private ministry. With the glitter of Christmas put away, all the turmoil in every corner of the world claims our attention or repels us and it’s easy to be distracted and distanced from the calling of Jesus. Whether you were officially baptized or not, take some time to think about the ritual of Baptism and its deep significance. For many Christians, though not all, Baptism is a Sacrament of Purification, a Rite of Initiation, a formal adoption into the Christian faith. A simple definition is that the word comes from a hybrid of Latin and Greek and literally means "washing." This Sacrament is intended to be a means of and a visible form of God’s grace, just as the dove descending was for Jesus. It was, for Jesus, the beginning of his journey as Messiah.  
     You can read and pray through the ritual of the US Episcopal Church, learn or revisit its purpose and understanding at www.BCP.org and clicking Holy Baptism on the left sidebar. The five questions* are asked of and answered by either the one being Baptized or, in the case of a child, a Godparent or Sponsor. Along with the five promises* that are part of the Baptismal Covenant, these questions and promises are our operating principles, our acceptance of our charge and responsibilities as followers of Jesus. They are intensely serious and not meant as mere platitudes in a sweet ceremony. We revisit them at least five times per year in the Liturgy to remind us of what we might need to work on, a chance to reflect on how we managed at the end of a day or a month, an opportunity to renew our own commitment to Christ. One or more of them may even point to possibilities to shape our mindset for daily activities, or perhaps a new direction in vocation or volunteering as we make our way through our brief human existence.
     My favorite part of this Sacrament is near the end, after all the words have been spoken and the water has been poured. It is then that the Celebrant takes the chrism that was blessed in the prior Holy Week and anoints the forehead of the one Baptized. The words at that moment stir my heart and my self-reckoning: you are sealed by the Holy Spirit in Baptism and marked as Christ's own for ever
     Whether by actual Baptism or a Baptism of desire, whether or not officially anointed, we are each claimed as Christ’s own for ever. As mortal beings we will fail and fall away yet we can and may always return to the One who raises us with Him. Our hearts love to claim the Babe in the Manger. Let us now stake our soul’s claim to the Christ who leads us on His Way to our Salvation whatever comes during our earthly lives.

*The Questions: 
-Do you renounce Satan and all the spiritual forces of wickedness that rebel against God?       
-Do you renounce the evil powers of this world which corrupt and destroy the creatures of God?
-Do you renounce all sinful desires that draw you from the love of God?
-Do you turn to Jesus Christ and accept him as your Savior?
-Do you put your whole trust in his grace and love?

*The Promises, the answer for each is I will, with God’s help:
-Will you continue in the apostles' teaching and fellowship, in the breaking of the bread, and in
   the prayers?
-Will you persevere in resisting evil, and, whenever you fall into sin, repent and return to the
   Lord?
-Will you proclaim by word and example the Good News of God in Christ?
-Will you seek and serve Christ in all persons, loving your neighbor as yourself?
-Will you strive for justice and peace among all people, and respect the dignity of every
   human being?

LET US, GOD’S PEOPLE, PRAY

Leader:  ~ Jesus, God’s Beloved, You are the Covenant God has made with us all, the bright beacon of love that can reach into the darkest of hearts and blindest of eyes. Animate our wills to answer Your call, enter the beauty of holiness, and worship You best by our lives.

                                                         Jesus, Lord of All
RESPONSE:                 Our Hope and our Salvation 

~ Jesus, God’s Beloved, as a Light to the Nations give strength to Your people and the blessing of peace. Grant all who lead the governments of this World, this Country, and this Community, open hearts filled with mercy and justice that they may work together, and with us, to serve all Created Beings and this Earth with humility and righteousness. We pray especially for… add your own petitions

                                                       Jesus, Lord of All
                                                       Our Hope and our Salvation

~ Jesus, God’s Beloved, shower Your healing mercies upon all those who are ill or filled with worry and dread, and refreshment for those who give them careWe now join our hearts to pray for those in need… add your own petitions

                                                       Jesus, Lord of All
                                                       Our Hope and our Salvation   

~ Jesus, God’s Beloved, grant solace for those in sorrow through joy in the memories of those well-loved, now returned in eternal glory to You. We pray especially for… add your own petitions

                                                       Jesus, Lord of All
                                                       Our Hope and our Salvation

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

                                                       Jesus, Lord of All
                                                       Our Hope and our Salvation                

~ Jesus, God’s Beloved, endow all who lead us in Your Church with the grace, wisdom, and strength of spirit to shake us from the wilderness of apathy, and guide us to the fullness of faith and forgiveness in You. We pray especially for: add your own petitions

                                                       Jesus, Lord of All
                                                       Our Hope and our Salvation                                                                                                     
The Celebrant adds: Living Jesus, in Whom God’s soul delights, You rose from the waters of Baptism to bring new life to God’s people. Raise us up with You again, that through renewal and repentance to purify our souls, we may live into and give the glory due Your Name, and always claim You as our Redeemer Christ. We ask through the Holy Spirit, the Fire of our Faith; and the Creator of All That Is, who together with You are One God, now and for ever.  Amen. 


 


 

 








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