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, October 26, 2015

Prayers of the People: The Saints Among Us, Season of Creation IV

For All Saints’ Sunday, November 1, 2015, Season of Creation IV, Readings: Ephesians 4:1-6, Ps 107: 1-7, 33, 37; Parker J. Palmer*, Matthew 5:1-12

I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beg you to lead a life worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, making every effort to maintain the unity of the Spirit... [Ephesians 4:1-6]

[We] can transform our culture only as we are inwardly transformed. — Parker J. Palmer [1939- ]

How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world. — Anne Frank [1929-1945]

          The word “saint” comes from the Greek word hagios, which means “consecrated to God, holy, sacred, pious." The people we think of as "saints" or who have been given the official title of saint, all seem to be all of that definition and more. Special people who are set apart for a special purpose and given all they need to accomplish God's purpose, those are saints. Well, except that God has called ALL of us to be saints, to be sanctified (made holy) in Christ, to build up the Body of Christ, and to seek and serve Christ in all persons. Too bad we can't just leave the work to those who are beatified or canonized by an official Church process. The Beatitudes in Matthew 5:1-12 give us a comprehensive list of those who will be blessed by God. It also gives us a clear direction on what attributes to adopt in our own lives to draw on all of our God-given gifts and self-developed flaws, to be a part of the total Creation, and to seek to be accepted into the great reward that is heaven. The award-winning poet, Mary Oliver says it thusly:

When it’s over, I want to say:  all my life I was a bride married to amazement.
I was the bridegroom, taking the world into my arms.
When it’s over, I don’t want to wonder if I have made of my life something particular, and real.
I don’t want to find myself sighing and frightened, or full of argument

I don’t want to end up simply having visited this world.

So, let us Sing a Song of the Saints of God and all mean to be one, too.


Leader:  ~ Holy Lord of Compassion and Grace, on this day we celebrate all Saints who have opened their hearts to use their divine gifts and human flaws on behalf of all Creation. Guide us to recognize and act on any saintly moments that appear in each day, as we honor all who give of themselves entirely to Your calling.

O God of Enduring Mercy
RESPONSE:  Break open our hearts to answer Your call   

~ Holy Lord of Compassion and Grace, grant us the courage to continually raise our voices to the leaders of the World, our Country, and our Community, to be the change-agents to eradicate violence, injustice, and poverty everywhere. We pray especially for: add your own petitions

O God of Enduring Mercy
Break open our hearts to answer Your call

~ Holy Lord of Compassion and Grace, deliver from distress those whose spirits languish in illness of body, mind, or spirit, and endow those who give them care, with patience, gentleness, and love. We pray especially for: add your own petitions

O God of Enduring Mercy
Break open our hearts to answer Your call

~ Holy Lord of Compassion and Grace, soothe the pain of those who grieve as those who have left us now rejoice to enter the glory of eternity with You, welcomed by the Communion of Saints. We pray especially for: add your own petitions

O God of Enduring Mercy
Break open our hearts to answer Your call

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

O God of Enduring Mercy
Break open our hearts to answer Your call

~ Holy Lord of Compassion and Grace, continue to bless and inspire those who intentionally live into Your Call to guide us to inwardly transform our lives. May we then work together to transform all Creation, bearing with all others and ourselves in unity and love. We pray especially for: add your own petitions

O God of Enduring Mercy
Break open our hearts to answer Your call

The Celebrant adds: God of all Saints and Sinners, in all humility, even as we often fail, help us to continue to try to live our lives worthy of Your calling and act on those qualities of saintliness that will bring us to Your eternal life. We ask through Jesus, our Redeemer, and in the Unity of the Holy Spirit, who with You are One God above all, through all, and in all, for ever and ever.  Amen.

*A reading from Parker J. Palmer: from The Politics of the Brokenhearted: On Holding the Tensions of Democracy/The Broken-Open Heart

        There are at least two ways to picture a broken heart, using heart in its original meaning not merely as the seat of the emotions but as the core of our sense of self. The conventional image, of course, is that of a heart broken by unbearable tension into a thousand shards—shards that sometimes become shrapnel aimed at the source of our pain. Every day, untold numbers of people try to “pick up the pieces,” some of them taking grim satisfaction in the way the heart’s explosion has injured their enemies.
        Here the broken heart is an unresolved wound that we too often inflict on others. But there is another way to visualize what a broken heart might mean. Imagine that small, clenched fist of a heart “broken open” into largeness of life, into greater capacity to hold one’s own and the world’s pain and joy. This, too, happens every day. Who among us has not seen evidence, in our own or other people’s lives, that compassion and grace can be the fruits of great suffering? Here heartbreak becomes a source of healing, enlarging our empathy and extending our ability to reach out.
        Broken-open hearts are in short supply these days, at least in politics. Formed—or deformed—by an impatient and control-obsessed culture, many of us do not hold social and political tensions in ways that open us to the world. Instead, we shut our hearts down, either withdrawing into fearful isolation or angrily lashing out at the alien “other”: the alien at home becomes unpatriotic, the alien abroad, an enemy. Heartbroken and heavily armed, we act in ways that diminish democracy and make the world an even more dangerous place. 
        The capacity to hold tensions creatively is the key to much that matters— from a life lived in love to a democracy worthy of the name to even the most modest movement toward peace between nations. So those of us who care about such things must work to root out the seeds of violence in our culture, including its impatience and its incessant drive toward control. And since culture is a human creation, whose deformations begin not “out there” but in our inner lives, we can transform our culture only as we are inwardly transformed. 
        As long as we are mortal creatures who love other mortals, heartbreak will be a staple of our lives. And all heartbreak, personal and political, will confront us with the same choice. Will we hold our hearts open and keep trying to love, even as love makes us more vulnerable to the losses that break our hearts? Or will we shut down or lash out, refusing to risk love again and seeking refuge in withdrawal or hostility? In personal life and politics, one thing is clear: when the heart breaks in ways that lead us to retreat or attack, we always give death dominion. 

Parker J. Palmer [1939- ], a member of the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers) is an author, educator, and activist who focuses on issues in education, community, leadership, spirituality and social change. The founder and Senior Partner of the Center for Courage & Renewal, Parker lives with his wife in Madison, Wisconsin.

**  click on words in light blue above for links to more information
*** for more information on the origin and application of the Season of Creation see: http://prayersofthepeople.blogspot.com/2015/10/prayers-of-people-in-beginning1st.html

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