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, December 10, 2018

Prayers of the People: Fire and Fruit ~ 3rd Sunday of Advent '18 Yr C

For Sunday, December 16, 2018,  3rd Sunday of Advent, Year C, Readings: Zephaniah 3:14-20, First Song of Isaiah, Philippians 4:4-7, 
Luke 3:7-18

    The Lord, your God, is in your midst...he will rejoice over you with gladness, he will renew you in his love. [Zephaniah 3:17]

      Surely it is God who saves me; I will trust in him and not be afraid…the Lord is my stronghold and my sure defense,
and he will be my Savior... [Canticle 9/Isaiah 12:2, 5]

      Rejoice in the Lord always…The Lord is near. Do not worry...And the peace of God, that passes all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.  [Philippians 4:6]

      Bear fruits worthy of repentance…One who is more powerful than I is coming…He will baptize your with the Holy Spirit and fire
[Luke 3:8a, 16b,c]

      In the midst of this otherwise reverently penitential Advent, our season of waiting for the Nativity of Jesus, we come to the Sunday of Rejoicing. The rose candle, the symbol of joy, will be lighted as a sign of our call to be joyous in the nearness of God, in the coming of Christ. Time to experience the excitement, that in Christ, we will be baptized with the Holy Spirit and the fire to spark our faith into action. The writer of Philippians is quite specific by saying Do not worry about anything, because the Lord is near with the peace that surpasses all understanding. It’s hardly easy to relax and not worry in a world seemingly mad with fear and anger, division and hate. Yet all the readings for today exhort us to rejoice, exult, and sing ~ even John the Baptizer, while issuing some serious warnings, proclaimed the good news to the people about the One who is coming.
     While enjoying the joy, we must also take the Baptizer’s message to heart and take some prayerful time to contemplate our sins. That winnowing fork of Jesus, John speaks of, will gather the faithful but send the chaff that doesn't bear good fruit ~ the unrepentant ~ to burn with unquenchable fire. As I race to hang the stockings with care, I need to consider how am I actually living into the faith that I claim? I’m guessing that my murmurs of familiar words on Sunday morning aren’t quite enough to keep me out of that burning refuse.
      Although this is the third Sunday of Advent, it’s a new moment in time. A chance to begin again, to discover that our God, our Christ, our Holy Spirit is truly in our midst, present, teaching, renewing us in love, and filling us with holy fire. Let us turn our focus toward our God ~ that is, to repent ~ to refresh our minds and hearts by worship, praise, and prayer. It is time to reconcile who we are in faith with who we want to become. What must I do differently to be thankful, joyful, and live faithfully? This is the time to look through rose-colored glasses to see the joy that lights up the darkness. Together in faith we become a spiritual orchard bearing only good fruit, gathered by Christ, our Savior, and brought Home.  Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice! [Philipians 4:4]


Leader:  ~ O God, our Stronghold, stir up our faith that our trust in You will free us from fear and worry. Renew us in Your love as we give You thanks with great rejoicing, exalting Your name by every part of our lives.

                                                   Lord, our Sure Defense              
RESPONSE:                 Guard our hearts and minds

~ O God, our Stronghold, infuse us with such joy that we may turn the tide of hatred and division into the calm waters of Your peace. Let us inspire especially, all who impose their political pathways on this world, this nation, and this community. We pray especially for: add your own petitions

                                                      O Lord, our Sure Defense
                                                       Guard our hearts and minds

~ O God, our Stronghold, restore health and hope for all afflicted with serious illness, addiction, or despair, and strengthen all who give them love and support. We now join our voices to pray aloud for those in need… add your own petitions

                                                      O Lord, our Sure Defense
                                                       Guard our hearts and minds

~ O God, our Stronghold, soothe the grieving with the comfort of knowing that You have gathered those we love into the blissful splendor Your Eternal Home. We pray especially for: add your own petitions 

                                                      O Lord, our Sure Defense
                                                       Guard our hearts and minds

~  O God, our Stronghold, 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, our Sure Defense
                                                       Guard our hearts and minds
~ O God, our Stronghold, grant special grace and enduring eagerness to all anointed to serve You in Your Church, as they draw us to You on our journey to salvation. We pray especially for: add your own petitions

                                                      O Lord, our Sure Defense
                                                       Guard our hearts and minds

The Celebrant adds:  Most Holy God always in our midst, revive our desire to bear good, worthy, and faith-filled fruit in our souls. Turn us always in Your direction, that we may receive and experience the depth of Your peace that passes all understanding. We ask through the Good News of Jesus our Christ; and the Holy Spirit, the Fire of our faith; who together with You reign as One God, in glory, now and forever.  Amen.

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