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, March 23, 2020

Prayers of the People: Unbind and Distantly Gather ~ 5th Sunday in Lent '20 Yr A

For Sunday, March 29, 2020 ~ Readings: Ezekiel 37:1-14, Psalm 130, Romans 8:6-11, John 11:1-45

       The hand of the LORD came upon me...He said to me "Mortal, can these bones live?" I answered, "O Lord GOD, you know." Then he said to me, "Prophesy to these bones and say to them: O dry bones hear the word of the Lord...I will cause breath to enter you and you shall live. I will lay sinews on you...and put breath in you, and you shall live; and you shall know that I am the LORD." [Ezekiel 37:1a, 3-5, 6b]

                     Out of the depths have I called to  you, O LORD; LORD, hear my voice...For there is forgiveness with you...I wait for the LORD; my soul waits for him; in his word is my hope. 
[Psalm 130: 1, 3a, 4]

                 But if Christ is in you, though the body is dead because of sin, the Spirit is life because of righteousness. If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will give life to your mortal bodies also through his Spirit that dwells in you. 
[Romans 8:10-11]

               Martha said to him, "I know that he will rise again in the resurrection on the last day." Jesus said to her, "I m the resurrection and the life. Those who believe in me, even though they die, will live, and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die." 
[John 11:24-26]

       I know people who have had to hunker down in full-on desert sandstorms in Iraq. They tell me it's blinding, abrading, choking, and all-around frightening. The dunes shape-shift so swiftly as to bury and lay bare concurrently. When the particles settle, the air is so dry it's nearly electric. Without shelter and protection, flesh peels off limbs in sheets and, in the aridity of the desert, you cannot tell the old bones from the new.
       The bones of Ezekiel's valley were very dry, empty, and scattered, each from the other. I’m sure even in his vision, Ezekiel had difficulty in imagining them re-connected, re-fleshed, and re-animated, yet through God’s instructions and Ezekiel’s obedience in prophesying, they were. We, as Christians, see this as a foreshadowing of Christ’s Resurrection from the dead. The Pharisaic teaching, that Martha and Mary knew, was that all the righteous would be raised on “the last day.”
        Martha and Mary must have felt scattered and lost at the death of their beloved brother; so painful a loss that Jesus also wept. Who among us cannot understand that while shedding an ocean of tears in the midst of immediate grief, there can be a sense of emptiness that feels as vast, as dry, and as deep as the sands of the Sinai? They wondered why Jesus, who could have saved Lazarus, didn’t come sooner. The teaching of the time was that a soul lingered nearby for 3 days after death. Mary was clear to Jesus that Lazarus was now dead 4 days. All was truly lost, until…       
        We don’t expect or believe that Jesus will call our loved ones out of the grave and restore them to full life and health, certainly not in this life. We hope for it, perhaps dream about it. But the reality of the earthly loss arrives very quickly and never leaves. Yet Paul reminds us that setting our minds on the flesh of this life is death to eternal life. We are to set our minds on the Spirit which is life and peace. No, it definitely isn't easy, especially in the times of life when we feel blown about as in a sandstorm; frightened of the next few days or weeks or months as in these times of a pandemic. Some of us are covered over and some of us laid bare. But no matter the age or wellness of our bones, hope is always the best antidote to despair and the best place to find hope is in a community of faith.
          A community exists even when we are at a distance from each other, as many of us are right now. We must work harder to find other ways to communicate ~ telephone for those who aren’t able to use or receive electronic or social media. Write a simple note ~ letters are so underutilized in the age of the internet. If your church has an online service or there is one on tv or radio ~ call someone and put your phone on speaker so to share the time ~ even pray together. It's an interesting thought that while we "pray together" in church, we may still feel comfortably separate. Now is a great time to find comfort in praying with each other.
         We all believe and hope in different ways for different outcomes, but as a community in these solitary and arid times, we must gather our bones and come alive together in whatever new ways we can discover. The psalmist says in his word is my hope. The Word of the Gospel can re-animate our hope as we seek the Spirit of Christ within us. We are not alone, even at a distance from each other whether across deserts, oceans, or one street, as long as we choose hope and reach out to each other in love. In Christ fear is unbound, the Light fills and surrounds us, distance fades as we gather ~ even distantly ~ in faith. 


Leader:  ~ Most Merciful GOD, unbind us from the desires and fears that dry our souls, our hearts, and our bones. Set our minds on the Spirit of life and peace, that we may seek, believe, and follow Christ Jesus, who is the Resurrection and the Life.

                                                     O Lord, our GOD                                  
RESPONSE:                              Rest Your hand upon us

~  Most Merciful GOD, endow those who govern with the capacity, foresight, and willingness to act decisively for the benefit of all Your people throughout this Community, this Nation, and this Planet. We pray especially for: add your own petitions

                                                       O Lord, our GOD                
                                                       Rest Your hand upon us

~ Most Merciful GOD, bestow Your healing touch upon all in ill-health, emotional turmoil, or despair; and for those who give them care, rest for today and hope for tomorrow. We now join our voices to pray aloud for those in need… add your own petitions

                                                       O Lord, our GOD                
                                                       Rest Your hand upon us
~ Most Merciful GOD, let our tears be dried and our grief released, for as Jesus called Lazarus from his tomb, You call our loved ones to the joy of new and eternal life. We pray especially for… add your own petitions

                                                       O Lord, our GOD                
                                                       Rest Your hand upon us

~ Most Merciful GOD, 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 GOD                
                                                       Rest Your hand upon us
~ Most Merciful GOD, hearten the spirits of those sent to us to lead Your Church as they prophesy Your Word, and bring us together into the Light of Christ. We pray especially for: add your own petitions

                                                       O Lord, our GOD                
                                                       Rest Your hand upon us
The Celebrant adds: O Lord our GOD, breathe into our mortal bones and awaken us from the death of sin, as our waiting souls turn toward the radiance of Your mercy, forgiveness, and everlasting life. We ask through Jesus, our Redeemer Christ; and the Holy Spirit, our Compass and our Guide; who together with You are One God, now and forever. Amen. 


All compositions remain the property of the owner of this blog but may be used with attribution as long as they are not sold or charged for in any way. For more information or comments, contact: Leeosophy@gmail.com

No comments:

Post a Comment