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 21, 2019

Prayers of the People: Gathering ~ 3rd Sunday after the Epiphany Yr C '19

For Sunday, January 27, 2019, 3rd Sunday after the Epiphany, Year C, Readings: Nehemiah 8:1-3, 5-6, 8-10; Psalm 19, 1 Corinthians 12:12-31a, Luke 4:14-21

            Accordingly, the priest Ezra brought the law before the assembly, both men and women and all who could hear with understanding.    [Nehemiah 8:2a]

              By [the statutes of the LORD] also is your servant enlightened...cleanse me from my secret faults...O LORD my strength and my redeemer. [Ps 19: 8a, 11 a, 12 b, 14b]

           Just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body ~ Jews or Greeks, slaves or free ~ and we were all made to drink of one Spirit. [1 Cor 12:12-13]

    [Jesus, filled with the power of the Spirit,] stood up to read, and the scroll of the Prophet Isaiah was given to him. He  and unrolled the scroll and found the place where it was written: "The Spirit of the Lord is upon me...he has anointed me to bring good news to the poor...proclaim release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind..."  [Luke 4:14a, 16b, 17-18a]

           The prophet Nehemiah tells us that the people of Israel gathered together to hear again the law of Moses which God had given them. Ezra read the law of God, with interpretation, with the sense of it given so the people understood and the day was declared holy to our Lord. The people were sent on their way and told to send portions of their feast to those for whom nothing is prepared. The Psalmist tells us the heavens declare the glory of God and reminds us that God's law is perfect and God's statutes are just and rejoice the heart. And there is the verse from the Psalm and the Book of Common Prayer: Let the meditations of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O Lord, my strength and my redeemer. 
          Comforted and bolstered by the knowledge of the Lord's presence within us, we can imagine the members of the Church in Corinth gathering to listen to Paul's letters. He begins with the reminder that we were all baptized into one body...and made to drink of one spirit. 
         Continuing on from last week's reading of the gifts of the Spirit, Paul takes us further into the anatomy of the Body of Christ as created by God. He dissects our non-hierarchical arrangement of parts, well, except for God giving the greater honor to the inferior member. So very many members ~ digits, organs, and limbs ~ all created in the image of God, and all one body ~ all ordinarily the same and each extraordinarily different. ALL parts of the body ~ individually and corporately, locally and planetarily ~ are created and arranged by God, the ultimate and pre-eminent Architect, Electrical, Chemical, Plumbing, and Systems Engineer. We are endowed from before birth with different gifts that are not our own, but in our human lives are to be given out to and received from each other, so as to have the same care for another...if one member suffers, all suffer...if one member is honored, all rejoice together in it. 
           And then, in the Gospel, we move to the gathering in the Synagogue as Jesus returns to his home town, to his home congregation, and was asked to read the words of Isaiah. Quite an honor? Perhaps a test? He unrolled the scroll, read from it, and then rolled up the scroll...and sat down. He just sat down! Everyone was watching and so he told them, "Today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing." Today is the key word, the principle concept. He was reading Isaiah's words The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me... He just announced his ministry, designating himself through the words of Isaiah to the congregation where he grew up. Is that an audible gasp travelling through the millennia? 
         As we gather together to listen to God's Law and Word, let we who hear with understanding be conscious of the Spirit within us. Let us seek the gifts that are unique to us as individuals and honor the gifts of others. The waters of Baptism flow in a variety of ways and directions and the entire Body has been given the waters of the Spirit to hydrate our souls, to cleanse our hearts even of its secret faults, and to purify our intentions whether known or unknown to the other members. Let us gather often, drink deeply of one Spirit again, experience the Good News while we strive for the greater gifts as living members of the Body of Christ. 


Leader:  ~ O Lord of Strength and Glory, fill us with the power of Your Spirit to bring Your Good News to all we meet. Cleanse us from our secret faults and enlighten the workings of our bodies, minds, and souls to be mindful instruments of Your justice and honor.

                                                   O Christ, our Teacher    
RESPONSE:                 We are Your Hands, Your Feet, and Your Voice

~ O Lord of Strength and Glory, grant us Your acceptable and heartfelt words to reach the hearts and minds of all who govern the countries of this world, our nation, and our local community. Endow them with the courage and compassion to act now on behalf of the poor, the blind and the sick, and to free those who are oppressed and held captive. We pray especially for: add your own petitions

                                                       O Christ, our Teacher
                                                       We are Your Hands, Your Feet, and Your Voice

~ O Lord of Strength and Glory, relieve the pain of those who suffer from illness, anxiety, or addiction, and refresh all who provide care and comfort. We now join our voices to pray aloud for those in need…add your own petitions

                                                       O Christ, our Teacher
                                                       We are Your Hands, Your Feet, and Your Voice

~ O Lord of Strength and Glory, lift the heavy weight of mourning, as those who have now left us in this life, rejoice and dance in Your everlasting light. We pray especially for: add your own petitions

                                                       O Christ, our Teacher
                                                       We are Your Hands, Your Feet, and Your Voice

~ O Lord of Strength and Glory, we pause in this moment to offer You our other heartfelt thanksgivings, intercessions, petitions, and memorials, aloud or silently…add your own petitions

                                                       O Christ, our Teacher
                                                       We are Your Hands, Your Feet, and Your Voice
~ O Lord of Strength and Glory, we give You thanks and praise for all who are anointed in the Spirit to lead us in Your Church, opening the scrolls of Your Word, and guiding us toward the fulfillment of our purpose in You. We pray especially for: add your own petitions

                                                       O Christ, our Teacher
                                                       We are Your Hands, Your Feet, and Your Voice

The Celebrant adds:  O God of Freedom and Favor, overflow us with the desire to drink deeply of the Spirit and to seek and use the unique gifts bestowed upon us for Your purpose. Teach our hearts, again, to care for and honor each other as the Body of Christ, as we strive to be ever greater in Your service. We ask through Jesus, our Master and Ideal; and the Holy Spirit, the Fount of our Wisdom, who together with You are One God, forever, and ever. Amen.

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