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 29, 2018

Prayers of the People: Take Flight! 5th Sunday after Epiphany '18 Yr B

For Sunday, February 4, 2018, 5th Sunday after Epiphany, Year B, Readings: Isaiah 40:21-31, Psalm 147: 1-12, 21c; 1 Corinthians 9:16-23, 
Mark 1:29-39

      Lift up your eyes and see...Have you not known? Have you not heard? The LORD is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth...those who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength, they shall mount up with wings like eagles... 
[Isaiah 40:26a, 28, 31]

     [The LORD] heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds. He counts the number of the stars and calls them all by their names. Great is our LORD and mighty in power; there is no limit to his wisdom. The LORD lifts up the lowly, but casts the wicked to the ground. [Psalm 147:3-6]

     I have become all things to all people, that I might by all means save some. I do it all for the sake of the gospel, so that I may share in its blessings.  
[1 Corinthians 9:22b-23]

     [Jesus] came and took her by the hand and lifted her up. Then the fever left her and she began to serve them...In the morning, while it was still very dark, he got up and went to a deserted place, and there he prayed. [Mark 1:31, 35]

     This reading from Isaiah is filled with non-judgmental, hope-filled language of restoration, rebuilding, and renewal. In it, Isaiah reminds us that we have heard this before, that God has always promised to remain with us and, as during the Exodus, God's power never fails, never grows faint or weary. The prophet calls us to lift our eyes to look at Creation and see. In a poetic turn not only are we protected by the wings of God, but God gives those in exile - and us - wings of our own to lift us out of our weakness and weariness. This part of Isaiah is known as Second Isaiah and also as the Book of Consolation, for those who were in exile from Jerusalem, and, for those of us who feel exiled in our own time and place whether from a sense of home, family, political stability, or general health and well-being.
         The Psalmist reminds us of the rebuilding of Jerusalem, the gathering of the exiles to return home, and how God recognizes and heals the wounds and broken hearts, God lifts up the lowly. 
         Paul's letter, in his not always easy way, speaks of his meeting people where they are in order to offer the way of the Gospel and salvation. What Paul is trying to tell the Corinthians - and us - is that we need to welcome, listen, and not judge. That is a true balancing act in the difficulty we all have in loving our neighbors as ourselves as well as being open and inviting about our faith.
         Jesus lifted up Simon's mother-in-law and she was freed from the fever. Her response was to honor Jesus in the best way she knew how. His response to all that had happened that day was to separate himself to pray in preparation for his next work. Isn't that what we each must do at some point each day?
         This week the readings from Isaiah, the Psalm, and the Gospel all use the word lift. Paul, by extension, is lifting up those he wants to be saved. Let us honor the gifts of God, the healings, the words, and works of Jesus, and the wisdom of the Holy Spirit, by accepting our wings, soaring to new heights of commitment, and proclaiming the message by word and example. But first, let us pray, on our own and together, for wisdom, strength, and constant renewal. It's all there for us to claim. Haven't you heard? We are lifted up ~ We can fly!


Leader:  ~ Everlasting Creator, You call us each and all by our names, and offer us wings like eagles to soar in this life and the next. Grant us the fortitude to meet others where and as they are, that together we may hear, accept, and share in the favor of Your limitless wisdom and abiding strength.

                                                     O Lord, Great and Mighty                                                      
RESPONSE:                  Lift us again to Your Service

~ Everlasting Creator, guide us to be unwavering reminders, to those in Earth-bound political authority, of the limits and transience of human power, and their absolute duty to prosper all who are living lowly in this World, this Country, and this Community. We pray especially for: add your own petitions

                                                       O Lord, Great and Mighty
                                                       Lift us again to Your Service

~ Everlasting Creator, bind the wounds and heal the hearts of those who suffer in body, mind, or spirit, and grant stamina to all who give them care. We now join our voices to pray aloud for those in need…add your own petitions

                                                       O Lord, Great and Mighty
                                                       Lift us again to Your Service
~ Everlasting Creator, we celebrate our memories and commend to You, all who have left the exile of this mortal life for Your infinite and eternal paradise. We pray especially for: add your own petitions 

                                                       O Lord, Great and Mighty
                                                       Lift us again to Your Service

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

                                                       O Lord, Great and Mighty
                                                       Lift us again to Your Service
~ Everlasting Creator, continually renew the strength of Spirit in those who preside at the sacred feast of Christ’s table, as they share with us in the work for and the blessings of the Holy Gospel proclaimed. We pray especially for: add your own petitions

                                                       O Lord, Great and Mighty
                                                       Lift us again to Your Service
The Celebrant adds:  Gracious, All-Knowing God, free and restore us from the fever of sin, that we may be raised up to serve You by our lives of faithfulness, gratitude, and constancy in prayer. We ask this through Jesus, our Healer, and the Holy Spirit, our Comforter, who live and reign with You as One God, beyond the ages of ages. Amen.

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