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, April 9, 2018

Prayers of the People: Winter, Spring, Summer, or Fall ~ 3rd Sunday of Easter, '18 Yr B

For Sunday, April 15, 2018, 3rd Sunday of Easter, Year B, Readings: Acts 3:12-19, Psalm 4, 1 John 3:1-7, Luke 24:36b-48

      And by faith in his name, his name itself has made this man strong, whom you see and know; and the faith that is through Jesus has given him this perfect health in the presence of all of you. [Acts 3:16]

      Many are saying, "Oh, that we might see better times!"...You have put gladness in my heart...for only you, Lord, make me dwell in safety. [Psalm 4, 6a, 7a, 8b]

      You know that he was revealed to take away sins, and in him there is no sin. No one who abides in him sins...Everyone who does what is right is righteous, just as he is righteous. [1 John 3:5-6a,-7b] 

      ...Jesus himself stood among the disciples and said to them, "Peace be with you"...Then he opened their minds to understand the scriptures, and he said to them,"Thus it is written, that the Messiah is to suffer and to rise from the dead on the third day, and that repentance and forgiveness of sins is to be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things." [Luke 24: 36b, 45-48]

         It must have been so much easier for the Disciples when Jesus was fully alive, again, and able to speak to and eat with them, answer their questions in person, and explain the plan. In those "simpler times" all they really had to deal with was fear for their lives in an adverse political climate, uncertainty in their futures, and the probable disbelief of what they were actually experiencing.
       So much for simpler times. There are so very many in today's world, even in this country, who are facing daily violence and persecution just for being who they are and what they believe in, without having Jesus visible in their midst, strengthening their faith that all would be well. And who of us are not unsure of our futures? 
       We, in the midst of the uncertainties of our current times, have not had the real-time experience of the Risen Christ just after his very public execution. We rely on the Scriptures to tell us how things were so that we also may believe as the original disciples did. And yet we may slide into some complacency given our familiarity of the readings. How can we bring those Scriptures alive and into our consciousness anytime, anywhere, any season? 
       The season of Eastertide is a good time (one of many!) to think about my relationship with Christ - what has it been, what do I want it to be, what concerns me about it? When I drift away, how do I turn back? We know the word Repent but it is such a bristle-y word - didn't we finish with it in Lent? Not quite. It's simple meaning is to turn toward. When I turn away from Christ, I need to turn toward him again, and in so doing, I am forgiven. How then to turn toward? Let me digress briefly...
      Many years ago on an Army base far away from here, a Roman Catholic Priest (a duly Commissioned Army Chaplain and Officer) raised more than eyebrows with his Sunday evening Masses as we sat around on the floor inside the darkened Sanctuary or wherever we could in what came to be a packed church, each of us with lighted votive candles in paper cups to light our holy space. He used the coffee table from his office as the altar and his stereo as the source of music. As he went through the Liturgy, he played and we sang, recordings of contemporary love songs. He told us that any love song can be a prayer to God. When it came time for Communion, it was passed from person to person via a dish with consecrated oyster crackers and in the background was Barbra Streisand's Evergreen. To this day, when I hear that song in particular, or get a package of oyster crackers with my restaurant soup, I'm instantly transported to a sacred space and the prayer that bubbles up into my head and heart.
     And what about that task to "Witness" and "Proclaim" that Jesus is about repentance and forgiveness, you ask?  Here's a quick first step, an easy prayer-form. Simply call out the name of Jesus and he's there, with you, immediatelyThat's it – and, you can even sing it! Pick out a love song in rock, soul, rap, heavy metal - whatever suits you. You might know the lyrics to that old James Taylor song: Just call out my name, and you know wherever I am, I'll come running, to see you again! Click here to sing your prayer: James Taylor - You've Got a Friend and he'll be there, yeah, he'll be there. And what you feel inside will show outside and that will be your witness and your proclamation that leads you to turn toward Christ with strengthened faith, trust, and new life. Winter, Spring, Summer, or Fall!  


Leader:  ~ Jesus, our Christ, our Peace, as You stood among the disciples then, You stand among us still, and call us together to the hope and love that will purify our souls. Release us from the doubts and temptations that lure us from Your presence, that we may dwell in spiritual safety and know we are forgiven.

                                                    O Lord, O God                                         
RESPONSE:                  Strengthen us in faith and trust

~ Jesus, our Christ, our Peace, in these times on this Earth, on the part of our elected, appointed, or self-declared leaders who would chart the course of our lives on our Planet, in our Nation, and in our Community, there is no room for indignity, dishonor, or inhumane action. Infuse them with wisdom, compassion and the ways of justice and mercy. Fill us with courage to hold You in our hearts as we hold them accountable. We pray especially for: add your own petitions

                                                       O Lord, O God
                                                       Strengthen us in faith and trust
~ Jesus, our Christ, our Peace, calm the fears and pain for all suffer through physical or mental illness, addiction or despair, and grant respite to those who give them care. We now join our voices to pray aloud for those in need…add your own petitions

                                                       O Lord, O God
                                                       Strengthen us in faith and trust
~ Jesus, our Christ, our Peace, ease grieving hearts and minds with the knowledge and comfort that those who have joined You in the glory of Resurrection, now dwell in the eternal gladness and freedom of Salvation. We pray especially for:  add your own petitions

                                                       O Lord, O God
                                                       Strengthen us in faith and trust

~ Jesus, our Christ, our Peace, 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, O God
                                                       Strengthen us in faith and trust
~ Jesus, our Christ, our Peace, the best of our leaders in Your Church today, as the Apostles in their time, give witness to the truth of Your words and the fullness of life in following You. Energize their message to charge us with their fervor that we may stride confidently into each day together, proclaiming You by thought, word, and action. We pray especially for: We pray especially for: add your own petitions

                                                       O Lord, O God
                                                       Strengthen us in faith and trust
The Celebrant adds:  God of the Beginning, the Now, and of all that is to Come, raise us as You raised our Christ, into the faithfulness of heart, mind, and soul that leads us to the better times, in the glory and the joy of everlasting life with You. We ask through the name of Jesus, our Risen Savior, and the Holy Spirit, our Sanctifier, who reign together with You as One God, forever. Amen.

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