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.

Tuesday, December 17, 2019

Prayers of the People: Good News of Great Joy! ~ Christmas Eve & Christmas Day Yr A '19

For December 24/25, 2019 , Readings: Year C, Readings: Christmas Eve ~ Luke 2:1-20 at Creche, Isaiah 9:2-7, Ps 96, Titus 2:11-14, John 1:1-14; 
Christmas Day ~ Isaiah 9:2-7, Ps 96, Titus 2:11-14, Luke 2:1-20

       The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light...For a child has been born for us, a son given to us...and he is named Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. [Isaiah 9:2a, 6]

          Sing to the Lord a new song; sing to the Lord, all the whole earth. Sing to the Lord and bless his Name; proclaim the good news of his salvation from day to day. [Psalm 96:1-2]

        The grace of God appeared, bringing salvation to all, training us to renounce…worldly passions, and in the present age to live lives that are self-controlled, upright, and godly… [Titus 2:11-12]

       In that region there were shepherds living in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. Then an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid; for see I am bringing you good news of great joy...to you is born this day in the city of David, a Savior, who is the Messiah...and suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host, praising God... [Luke 2:8-11, 13]

        In the beginning was the Word…What has come into being in him was life, and the life was the light of all people. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it…The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world…And the Word became flesh and lived among us… [John 1:1a, 3b-5, 9, 14a]

For us and for our salvation he came down from heaven:
by the power of the Holy Spirit,
he became incarnate from the Virgin Mary,
and was made man.
[from The Nicene Creed] 

          There is something almost magical, perhaps mystical is a better word, that occurs within me when I hear the words from Luke 2, especially when we get to: In that region there were shepherds living in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night... I become expectant. I become my 6 year old self, hearing the resonant voice of a familiar narrator. I am hope-filled. All is calm and bright in the world...for this moment
        Every Christmas someone asks, "If only we could stay this way all year." The spell cast by the words and the music, the glitter of ornaments and lights, and the chatter of little ones and bigger ones ripping paper to reap the reward, breaks all too soon. Our precious Infant has a far and difficult road to travel in only the few months between now and Easter. What part of it will we travel with him as the moment spins into what we call reality? What part of the reality of others in our community and in the world at large ~ poverty, violence, war, greed, and disasters natural or human made ~ do we shun, dismiss, ignore or, throw money to, all while decrying the lack of Christ in Christmas?
         Most of the readings for this sacred season are so familiar that even non-Christians will know them. Yet what stands out for me is the short lesson from the Letter of Paul to Titus that often gets lost in the sparkle of the others. In particular, I was engaged by a phrase in the first of this only two-sentence reading: The grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all, training us to renounce impiety and worldly passions, and in the present age to live lives that are self-controlled, upright, and godly… [emphasis added]. Jesus, our personal trainer, in our own time!
         We are trained by parents as children, by teachers in school, for the jobs we hold, the exercise we need, and even the volunteer work we do. How is it we – or at least I – forget to be “in training” every day with Jesus for the roles we are to play in our own and others’ lives?
         We are so often ~ in our own time ~ bedazzled by the glamor of this season, in stark contrast to the humble surroundings of the birth of our Redeemer and of so many in the world with us. It’s time to reawaken to the Gift we are given this day and all days. I am quite drawn to the concept of Jesus training us in the present age. The Gospels give us more than just advice, more than just reminders, more than just checklists of nice things to do, even more than teaching. Jesus is our trainer, if we accept Him and if we acknowledge our need for Him. He will keep us on track, pushing us to go well beyond the comfortable, to reach a potential of faith in action that we didn’t ever consider or, because we fear the risks, in renouncing all that is earthbound. No easy path, but with Christ as my trainer, my faith will begin to shape up, become toned, and strengthened. My conscious thoughts and actions as a CHRISTian will become more confident and natural. For me, now, the question isn’t “what is Christmas all about” but rather “what does Christmas begin in my life?”
         Christ is always in CHRISTmas...let's remember to keep Christ in Mondays, Thursdays, in February, and August. Let us truly Sing to the Lord and bless his name and proclaim the good news of his salvation from day to day to ourselves first! Let us live out what we believe in. Feel the JOY! The Light shines again and always. Suit up, the training begins now! 


Leader:  ~ O Holy Jesus, God’s True Light, You come at last, our Wonderful Counselor and Mighty God who shines upon us through the darkness. Let our joy be unbounded for the arrival of our Glorious Child, One in Being with God and the Holy Spirit, who redeems and claims us for the work of Heaven on Earth.

                                                   Glory to God in the Highest Heaven
                        Response:        Peace on Earth to All

~ O Holy Jesus, God’s True Light, remain within us and give us Your strength, as we give voice to Your Truth, Justice, and Righteousness in all places of Governing power throughout this World, this Nation, and this Community. We pray especially for: Donald, our President; Tom, Chris, and Lisa, our Members of Congress; John, our Governor; Matt, our County Executive; and Mike, our Mayor.

                                                   Glory to God in the Highest Heaven
                                                   Peace on Earth to All

~ O Holy Jesus, God’s True Light, we ask You, who were homeless as you entered this world, to enfold all who are homeless, hungry, sick, and downhearted, that they may know Your loving embrace on this Day of Days and always. We now join our voices to pray aloud for those in need… 
                                                   Glory to God in the Highest Heaven
                                                   Peace on Earth to All
~  O Holy Jesus, God’s True Light, lift up our hearts in the joy and the hope of the Love that never ends, as we remember and celebrate all who now live forever with You in holy splendor.  We pray especially for…

                                                   Glory to God in the Highest Heaven
                                                   Peace on Earth to All

~ O Holy Jesus, God’s True Light, we pause in this moment to offer You our other heartfelt thanksgivings, intercessions, petitions, and memorials, aloud or silently…

                                                   Glory to God in the Highest Heaven
                                                   Peace on Earth to All
~ O Holy Jesus, God’s True Light, excite the hearts of all who lead us in Your church bringing the Good News of Salvation in the Word made Flesh, and training us for godly living. We pray especially for: Michael, our Presiding Bishop; Kevin our Bishop; David, our Rector; Lloyd, our Rector Emeritus; Emily and Peter, our Associate Priests.

                                                   Glory to God in the Highest Heaven
                                                   Peace on Earth to All
The Celebrant adds: Most High Lord Jesus, the Word, the Imprint, the Incarnate Grace of God sent to live among us, we sing to You a new song of rejoicing. Let each breath we take draw You into ourselves, that we may give out Your glory and praise in all that we are, and all that we do. Guide us, guard us, goad us to live by Your Divine Will. We ask through You, our Prince of Peace; and the Holy Spirit, the Fire of our Souls; who together with the Almighty Creator, live and reign as One God, now and forever.  Amen. 

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