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.

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.


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.


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