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 22, 2018

Prayers of the People: Awe-Fully Lacking? 4th Sunday after Epiphany '18 Yr B

For Sunday, January 28, 2018, 4th Sunday after Epiphany, Year B, Readings: Deuteronomy 18:15-20, Psalm 111, 1 Corinthians 8:1-13, 
Mark 1:21-28

       I will put my words in the mouth of the prophet, who shall speak to them everything that I command. Anyone who does not heed the words that the prophet shall speak in my name, I myself will hold accountable. [Deuteronomy 18:18b-19]

      The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom; who act accordingly have a good understanding; his praise endures forever. [Psalm 111:10]

     ...we know that "all of us possess knowledge." Knowledge puffs up, but love builds up...anyone who loves God is known by him...for us there is one God...from whom are all things and for who we exist, and one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom are all things and through whom we exist. [1 Corinthians 8:1, 2b, 6]

      Jesus...entered the synagogue and taught. They were astounded at his teaching...Just then there was a man with an unclean spirit, and he cried out...But Jesus rebuked him...and the unclean spirit came out...they were all amazed... [Mark 1:21b, 22b, 23, 24a, 26a, 27]

        In the intervening time since I first wrote this piece (prior Yr B) I realize that I have lapsed yet again into rote worship with a mildly inattentive, and perhaps slightly soiled spirit. Thankfully our Lectionary schedule revives and retrieves the awareness of my detachment for me. Time to breathe in, savor, and begin, again:
        It is difficult to admit to myself, let alone anyone else, that I don't actually remember the last time I was amazed or astounded by Jesus. I've been very moved during a retreat, in Sunday worship, by hymns and readings, in my personal prayer, and in other ways - but I'm suddenly aware that, whether through unconscious assumptions, a mild case of apathy, perhaps even some complacency, my sense of amazement and wonder is seriously lacking. Jesus has been a part of my life for so very long, I've been taking it all for granted, as if it's all easily understood, as if "I've got this."
       As for the "fear" that the Psalmist speaks of, I do remember that as a child I was afraid of God, terrified at times and threatened that my misbehavior was grounds for eternal damnation. It's hard to distance oneself from that kind of image and language. So how can I begin to have wisdom if I am frightened of my Creator who loves me and who I am supposed to love?
      This fear of God or "of the LORD" isn't meant to be the kind of fear we associate with being scared and worried, or afraid of being in trouble. Rather, the ancient sense of the word tells us that in being filled with love, respect, and awe, we will fervently desire to be faithful in our daily lives, offering ourselves to God through our thoughts and actions. It's the kind of "fear" we have when we don't want to upset, offend, or anger anyone we truly love.
      If we consciously engage with and love God more, if we sincerely want to know God the Creator, Jesus the Son, and the Holy Spirit, from whom all things are, and for whom we all exist [1 Cor 8:6]our wisdom will increase and our amazement will rebound. With faithfulness and awe of God as our life's primary work, our little forays into eating in the temple of an idol [1 Cor 8:10], that is, giving in to the earthly temptations and everyday distractions that surround and pull us away from God, will be easier to overcome.
      It is time once again to find that amazement, to be astounded at the life and work and words of Jesus, to open our daily life and frequent prayers with true wonder, love, and praise. What can happen? I bet it's pretty awe-ful... Here's a way to begin, start well and just sing out with gusto:

O Lord my God, When I in awesome wonder,
Consider all the worlds Thy Hands have made;
I see the stars, I hear the rolling thunder,
Thy power throughout the universe displayed.
Then sings my soul, My Saviour God, to Thee,
How great Thou art, How great Thou art.  

[composed by Carl Gustav Boberg in Sweden in 1885, translated into English by British missionary Stuart K. Hein]


Leader:  ~ O God, Almighty and Everlasting, arouse and provoke us to rediscover amazement and awe in Your truth, equity, and righteousness. Turn us away from the puffery of mere knowledge and the empty glamor in temples of idols, to full engagement and accountability in the work You have given us to do.

                                                       Compassionate Lord                                          
RESPONSE:               You know us by our Love

~ O God, Almighty and Everlasting, embolden our resolve to demand of those in authority in this World, in this Country, and in this Community, the fulfillment of basic needs, economic justice, and mercy for all Your people, as the fundamental necessities for peace, human rights, and the moral and ethical survival of our souls. We pray especially for: add your own petitions

                                                       Compassionate Lord
                                                       You know us by our Love
~ O God, Almighty and Everlasting, warm the spirits of all who are confined by illness, severe weather, or loneliness, and re-kindle the energy of all who give them care. We now join our voices to pray aloud for those in need…add your own petitions

                                                       Compassionate Lord
                                                       You know us by our Love
~ O God, Almighty and Everlasting, help our hearts rejoice as You clothe the newly departed with Your garments of heavenly glory and infinite abiding peace. We pray especially for:  add your own petitions

                                                       Compassionate Lord
                                                       You know us by our Love

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

                                                       Compassionate Lord
                                                       You know us by our Love
~ O God, Almighty and Everlasting, place Your Voice in the words of all who lead us in the Church, to speak to us as Your true prophets that we may hear and heed Your wisdom and commands. We pray especially for: add your own petitions

                                                       Compassionate Lord
                                                       You know us by our Love

The Celebrant adds:  O God of Truth and Equity, from Whom all things are and for Whom we all exist, free our spirits from all that is unclean and build us up in love. Re-ignite our desire to be Your faithful and faith-filled servants, constantly astounded by the breadth and depth of Your Power and Glory. This we ask through Christ Jesus, our Messiah, and the Counsel of the Holy Spirit, who together with You live and reign as One God, infinite and eternal, now and forever.  Amen.

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