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, April 13, 2020

Prayers of the People: Dear Thomas ~ Second Sunday of Easter '20 Yr A

For Sunday, April 19, 2020, Readings: Acts 2:14a, 22-32; Psalm 16, 1 Peter 1:3-9, John 20:19-31

    For David says concerning him, "I saw the Lord always before me, for he is at my right hand so that I will not be shaken, therefore my heart was glad...my heart will live in hope."
[Acts 2:25-26]

     O Lord, you are my portion and my cup; it is you who uphold my lot….You will show me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy, and in your right hand are pleasures for evermore. [Psalm 16:5, 11]

     Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! By his great mercy he has given us a new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead... 
[1 Peter:3] 

     [Jesus] said to them, "Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained."...Jesus said to [Thomas], "Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe." [John 20:22b-23, 29]

          Dear Thomas, what infamy you have achieved, quite unfairly. You are saddled with all the blame for your disbelief until your eyes beheld the Risen Lord and touched his wounds. You watched him die, being taken down from the Cross, placed in the tomb. Who of us would not be doubtful of the claim of the Resurrection in that moment? You have become a label - "a Doubting Thomas"- for those who don't believe something without concrete proof. And yet, you were far from alone in your skepticism. The other Gospel accounts all tell of your companion disciples doubting. Luke 23:11 tells of them dismissing the women's account as an idle tale, and in Mark 16:11, when Mary Magdalene tells them she had seen the risen Jesus, they would not believe. My personal favorite - in defense of you - is in Matthew 28:17 that says even when they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted.
          Whenever any of us are unsure or questioning of this preeminent event in the life of Christ, despite the Gospel accounts and the significance to the whole of Christian theology and practice, we are in good company! For me the story of Thomas and the other disciples' initial disbelief, humanizes these men and brings them into this current time, as did Peter's denial of Jesus, and Judas' betrayal, remorse, and suicide. We know these people in our own lives, we are some of them when we struggle to accept and understand all that we are told in the Christian/New Testament and by those who have taught us from the pulpit or in our families. It may seem unfaithful to those who think they must accept it all on "faith." Yet key elements of true faith for me are to constantly learn more, think more, wonder more, examine more, and discuss more with others. If we aren't questioning the tenets of our faith at various times, it seems to me that we haven’t really discovered what it is that we believe and why. These Gospel moments allow us to be who we are in this present time as well as relate to the people who were with Jesus and still wondered what this movement was all about even as they moved forward with him and later. Each time I read this and the other accounts, or any part of any of the Gospels and Epistles, I discover something new and often profound.
       Whatever I believe about the Resurrection and its significance to our Christian faith, in moments of human wavering or in absolute certainty, I try to remember the message of David in Peter's quote in Acts that is paired with the appointed Psalm for this day. It is the crux of the message of Jesus, the Christ, the Messiah: I must keep the Lord before me, live in hope, and follow the path of life he has shown me, as well as I can, through all of this life's trials. There is no better time than this moment to ponder those thoughts. The Presence of Christ is within us, and our faith however shaky at times, is the vehicle that keeps us upright and guides our thoughts and actions through trial and triumph. The writer of 1 Peter reminds us quite specifically what we have been given by the resurrection: an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading... 
         Dear Thomas, I firmly believe that Jesus wasn’t scolding you, he was speaking to all present then and all of us now, in love, compassion, and the utmost understanding.
          Whether seen or unseen, the results of living in faith, as Christ teaches through the Greatest Commandment  [Matthew 22:36-40], will be a gift to others and ourselves, in our mortal time and in the time to come, by receiving the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls. [1 Peter 1:9]. I’m reminded of a title of a book by Dr. Wayne Dyer, You’ll See It When You Believe It. And even if we struggle in our beliefs, our place is saved. For now, for always, Christ IS Risen! Alleluia! 


Leader:  ~ O Christ Risen! How often have we simply walked through the penitence of Lent, the excitement of Palm Sunday, the passion of Holy Week, and the joyful celebration of Your miraculous Resurrection, taking it all for granted because it happens for us every year? In this time of trial, open our hearts to truly REJOICE as if for the first time. You have suffered, died, and Resurrected for each of us. Thomas saw and believed, let us simply believe in the gift of our salvation.

                                                         Jesus, Messiah
RESPONSE:                    Our Living and Eternal Hope

~ O Christ Risen! Grant us new courage to refresh our faith in the eternal life ahead, and the energy to strive in this life to challenge the leaders of this planet, this nation, and this community, to provide a just, safe, and merciful life for all Your people. We pray especially for: add your own petitions

                                                       Jesus, Messiah
                                                       Our Living and Eternal Hope                                            

~ O Christ Risen! Ease the hearts of those who are sick or fearful, and grant energy, strength, and resilience to all who give them care. We now join our voices to pray aloud for those in need… add your own petitions

                                                       Jesus, Messiah
                                                       Our Living and Eternal Hope
~ O Christ Risen! Our joy at Your resurrection is tempered with our grief at the loss of those we love. Yet in faith we rejoice knowing they are with You in the miracle of their own resurrections into Your eternal promise. We pray especially for… add your own petitions

                                                       Jesus, Messiah
                                                       Our Living and Eternal Hope

~ O Christ Risen! We pause in this moment to offer You our other heartfelt thanksgivings, intercessions, petitions, and memorials, aloud or silently… add your own petitions
                                                       Jesus, Messiah
                                                       Our Living and Eternal Hope
~ O Christ Risen! Refresh and renew those who guide us in Your Church as they seek and find ever more creative ways to reach us with the Good News of the miracle of our salvation. We pray especially for: add your own petitions

                                                       Jesus, Messiah
                                                       Our Living and Eternal Hope

The Celebrant adds: Creator of All, Seen and Unseen, shelter us when we retreat into doubt, remind us to seek Your Path through this life, to set You always before ourselves, and to forgive as we are forgiven by faith in the imperishable inheritance of our salvation to come. We ask this through Jesus, the Resurrection and the Life; and the Holy Spirit, Wisdom of our Souls; who together with You, reign as One God, forever and beyond.  Amen. 

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