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 27, 2020

Prayers of the People: Now Presenting! ~ The Presentation of Jesus, 4th Sunday after the Epiphany '20 Yr A

For Sunday, February 2, 2020, Readings: Malachi 3:1-4, Ps 27:7-10, Hebrews 2:14-18, Lk 2:22-40

   Thus says…the Lord of Hosts…I am sending my messenger…For he is like a refiner’s fire…and purifier of silver, and he will purify the descendants of Levi…until they present offerings to the Lord in righteousness. 
[Malachi 3:1a, 2b, 3]

     Lift up your heads, O gates; lift them high, O everlasting doors; and the King of glory shall come in. “Who is this King of Glory?” “The Lord, strong and mighty…The Lord of hosts…is the King of glory.” [Psalm 24:7-8a, 10]

    Since God’s children share flesh and blood Jesus himself shared the same things…he had to become like his brothers and sisters…that he might be a merciful and faithful high priest in the service of God…Because he himself was tested by what he suffered, he is able to help those who are being tested. 
[Hebrews 2:14a, 17a, 18]

     …when the parents brought in the child Jesus to do for him what was customary under the law, Simeon took him into his arms and praised God, saying…for my eyes have seen your salvation, which you have prepared in the presence of all peoples…a light for revelation…and for glory…also a prophet Anna…she came, and began to praise God and to speak about the child to all who were looking for the redemption of Jerusalem…The child grew and became strong, filled with wisdom; and the favor of God was upon him. [Luke 2:22, 28, 30-32, 36a, 38]

40 Days Later...  Sunday, February 2, 40 days after Christmas, is packed with theological and liturgical significance. A special Feast day in the Church calendar, it is often overlooked when, as in most years, it falls on a weekday. The official name is: The Presentation of Our Lord Jesus Christ in the Temple. It is also recognized as The Purification of Mary because the Law of Moses required that she ~ like the Infant Jesus ~ participate in a rite of purification 40 days after childbirth. Its importance underscores that Mary and Joseph raised Jesus in faithful observance of his ancestral religion, a point of significance in his ministry to come.
      Some Christians marks this as the official end of the Christmas season ~ because beyond the “12 Days of Christmas” between Christmas Day and the Epiphany ~ this day concludes the 40 Days of the Incarnation. In some practices, the day is also Candlemas, a traditional time to bless candles for liturgical use. And of course, the period of time of “40” in itself is frequently used throughout the Hebrew and Christian Testaments of The Bible and Christian practice to highlight auspicious activities such as the Israelites wandering 40 years before reaching the Promised Land, and the 40 days of Jesus in the wilderness to prepare for his active ministry. In some Christian denominations we employ 40 days of repentance and fasting in the period of Lent before the Resurrection.
       The focus of today’s readings for us is the Infant's Presentation in the Temple in Jerusalem ~ a fulfillment of prophecy, a revelation. The prophet Simeon, whose name means “God has heard,” is an aged, righteous, and devout man waiting for the promised sight of the Messiah before he will know death. The Holy Spirit has guided him to this moment and as he takes this Child in his arms, his joy is palpable. Another aged prophet, Anna, whose name means “full of grace,” breaks out in praise of God and tells everyone about this special Baby. We, too, can easily get caught up in this moment ~ remember the excitement of special births, baptisms or christenings in your family?
      Then in the midst of the all the elation, Simeon gives Mary a hint of things to come when he says, “This Child is destined for the falling and rising of many in Israel…a sign that will be opposed…a sword will pierce your own soul too.” Given all that Mary and Joseph have experienced so far ~ Angel announcements, the difficult journey to Bethlehem, the birth in less than ideal circumstances, shepherds, heavenly choruses, Wise Men, and prophetic dreams…one can barely imagine what the young new mother, Mary, is thinking. Perhaps Cornish poet Charles Causley’s words gives voice to Mary’s thoughts and to every parent’s hopeful yet anxious wish:

Vivid upon her tongue
Unspoken prayers
That she may not outlive
The life she bears.

         We know what is coming in the life of Jesus. May our prayers be spoken through our thoughts, words, and actions, bringing consolation, courage for the tests we shall encounter, and the light of salvation to enlighten the world around us in service to our God in Christ. 


Leader:  ~ Jesus, our Light and our Salvation, we present ourselves to You as pilgrims on the Way seeking favor as Your servant messengers. Fill our hearts, minds, and souls with the joy of Simeon for the constant presence of Your wisdom and strength.

                                                         O Lord of Hosts
RESPONSE:                    Refine and purify our faith

~ Jesus, our Light and our Salvation, enlighten the nations and those who govern to establish God’s promised peace, and to faithfully rule in righteousness with justice and mercy. 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.

                                                       O Lord of Hosts
                                                       Refine and purify our faith                                                    

~ Jesus, our Light and our Salvation, we ask Your healing and hope for all who are tested through illness, fear, or desperation, and stamina for those who tend to their needs. We now join our voices to pray aloud for those in need… 

                                                       O Lord of Hosts
                                                       Refine and purify our faith
~ Jesus, our Light and our Salvation, grant peace in our deserts of sorrow, as the ones whose loss we mourn, enter the everlasting doors of Heaven, welcomed by our strong and mighty Lord. We pray especially for…

                                                       O Lord of Hosts
                                                       Refine and purify our faith

~ Jesus, our Light and our Salvation, we pause in this moment to offer You our other heartfelt thanksgivings, intercessions, petitions, and memorials, aloud or silently…
                                                       O Lord of Hosts
                                                       Refine and purify our faith
~ Jesus, our Light and our Salvation, open all who guide us in Your Church to Your continuing and pure revelations that lead us all to the glory in life everlasting. We pray especially for: Michael, our Presiding Bishop; Kevin our Bishop; David, our Rector; Lloyd, our Rector Emeritus; Emily and Peter, our Associate Priests.
                                                       O Lord of Hosts
                                                       Refine and purify our faith

The Celebrant adds: O Lord, King of Glory, we, the humble stewards of Your message of salvation, rejoice with Simeon and Anna, Mary and Joseph, and prepare ourselves for the many risings and fallings yet to come in our own lives. Faithfully, freed from the fear of earthly death, we re-dedicate ourselves to You on this day and ask Your blessings for strength and integrity through Jesus, our Christ and our Redeemer; and the Holy Spirit, our Divine Guide; who live and reign with You as one God, now and for eternity. Amen. 

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