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, November 30, 2020

Prayers of the People: Seek to be Found ~ 2nd Sunday of Advent '20 Yr B

For Sunday, December 6, 2020, Readings:  Isaiah 40:1-11, Psalm 85:1-2, 8-13; 2 Peter 3:8-15a, Mark 1:1-8

  "Then the glory of the LORD shall be revealed, and all people shall see it together, for the mouth of the LORD has spoken..." He will feed his flock like a shepherd; he will gather the lambs in his arms, and carry them in his bosom, and gently lead the mother sheep. [Isaiah 40:5, 11]

          You have been gracious to your land, O LORD...Mercy and truth have met together; righteousness and peace have kissed each other. Truth shall spring up from the earth, and righteousness shall look down from heaven. [Psalm 85:1a, 10-11]  

       The Lord is not slow about his promise...but is patient with you, not wanting any to perish, but all to come to repentance...in accordance with his promise, we wait for new heavens and a new earth, where righteousness is at home. [2 Peter 3:9, 13]  

      As it is written..."See I am sending my messenger ahead...the voice of one crying in the wilderness: 'Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight.'" And people from the whole Judean countryside, and all of the people of Jerusalem were going out to [John] and were baptized...confessing their sins. [Mark 1:2a, 3, 5]

       The Advent season, as does every Liturgical season of the Christian Church, brings a variety of symbols that aid our intentional prayer and reflection. The use of the Advent wreath was begun in the time of Martin Luther, the prime initiator of the Protestant Reformation in the 16th century. How it is used differs among the many traditions that employ it. For most, now, there are at least four candles on a wreath of evergreen that is shaped in a perfect circle to symbolize the eternity of God. The lighting of the candles represents the coming of Christ with a different theme each week highlighting the four virtues Jesus brings to us: Hope, Love, Joy, and Peace. The Christ candle, in the center of the wreath, is lighted on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day to remind Christians that Jesus is the light of the world.
       Last week Hope was the focus and this week, it is Love and both candles will be lightedKeeping Hope in and Love of Christ is a way to prepare ourselves and keep our own paths uncluttered in these unsettled, uncertain times.
      Things weren't so very different in John the Baptizer's times, except no one knew the story of Jesus as we do now. Their lives were also filled with wars, pestilence, racial hatred, poverty, and oppression, and then here comes this rather wild-looking and sounding person direct from the desert telling them to straighten up and straighten out ~ the way of the Lord must be prepared! Also, the arrival of Jesus really was imminent as Jesus, the man, was literally on his way to them as he was beginning his earthly ministry. These days we’re more complacent. We conveniently forget the admonishment that the time of Christ's return will come like a thief, and that all is according to God’s time, not human calendars. We have set aside imminence for: whatever, whenever. I do wonder: if I didn't know then what I know now about Jesus, how would I have responded to John and his message? What do you think about your own response then and now?
       Today our planet is filled much the same as John's, with life-threatening disease, racial hatred, oppression, and more, yet from the first chapter of the first Gospel ever written, John is still the voice crying...in the wilderness, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. John is the embodiment of Isaiah’s prophecy. Are we listening and heeding or is it just that same old familiar refrain we hear on the way to a sparkly Christmas? We may not be in our mortal body for the full-on End Time of the Great Judgment. We have no idea when this human life we’ve been given is done to dust. How are we preparing ourselves to be the path of and for Christ?
       Advent is a time of beginning, of refreshment, and a re-awakening of our souls that long to be faithful. It is a moment to be mindful, intentional, and conscious about discovering for ourselves: am I increasingly more caught up in the soul-less wilderness of a secular society than in presenting my best self to God? It is again, still, always, time for some soul-searching and sincere repentance.
      To repent means to "turn from" or to "turn toward" those thoughts and actions ~ sin ~ that we have chosen to take us away from God. It is never God who leaves. Through our self-examination, reflection, and a willingness to change, we can choose to leave the spiritual wilderness we make for ourselves and turn toward and improve upon the path that Christ travels to our consciousness.  
     Through the waters of baptism we are forgiven, cleansed, and the fire of sin is doused. Let us turn from sin, turn toward Jesus, and reclaim the forgiveness and cleansing of our baptism. As it is said, it is more blessed to give than to receive, now is the time to give ourselves by preparing for the Coming of Christ, who paradoxically is already within us. We have to declutter the path, ourselves, to let Him through. 
     The Road of Life is brief and full of detours, road-blocks, grief, joy, and always the unexpected. Even with the best map we make a wrong turn now and then. Advent is a time to review the map, the directions, and rid ourselves of as many obstacles as we can that block ourselves from knowing that Christ is here, now. We each are to prepare the way of the Lord, to make his path to our souls as straight as possible for the imperfect beings we are. 
     Take a breath, open your mind, your heart, and your soul, and turn toward the Light within. As the 2nd Letter to Peter says, Therefore, beloved, while you are waiting for these things, strive to be found by him at peace, without spot or blemish; and regard the patience of the Lord as salvation. Seek with love to be loved as found.


Leader:  ~ Loving Lord, Forgiving and Gracious, draw us out from the spiritual wilderness we make for ourselves by our daily neglect of You, and help us listen as You speak peace to the faithful. Grant us courage to prepare the way and make straight the path for a new heaven and a new earth, as we await the unknown time until our Savior, Christ returns.

                                                       Jesus, Emmanuel                                                
              RESPONSE:                  Come, ransom us again

~ Loving Lord, Forgiving and Gracious, our tumultuous world is rife with conflict through the dismantling of compassion and empathy by unchecked power and unrelenting greed. In this sacred waiting time, make Your Truth spring up from this Earth and fill all who govern across this Planet, with the hunger to comfort Your people by a renewal of mercy, righteousness, and peace. We pray especially for: add your own petitions

                                                       Jesus, Emmanuel                                               
                                                       Come, ransom us again

~ Loving Lord, Forgiving and Gracious, gather in Your arms all who suffer through illness, addiction, or despair; and bestow special grace upon those who provide support. We now join our hearts together to pray for those in need… add your own petitions

                                                       Jesus, Emmanuel                                               
                                                       Come, ransom us again

~ Loving Lord, Forgiving and Gracious, calm the tears of all who grieve, as Heaven now celebrates each soul that has entered eternal bliss, away from earthly woes, into a peace beyond our understanding. We pray especially for… add your own petitions

                                                       Jesus, Emmanuel                                               
                                                       Come, ransom us again

~ Loving Lord, Forgiving and Gracious, we pause in this moment to offer You our other heartfelt thanksgivings, intercessions, petitions, and memorials… add your own petitions

                                                       Jesus, Emmanuel
                                                       Come, ransom us again

~ Loving Lord, Forgiving and Gracious, energize and excite all who lead us in Your Church, that together in this holy season, we may re-ignite our faith-filled wonder and eager anticipation, turning our hearts, minds, and lives back to You. We pray especially for: add your own petitions

                                                       Jesus, Emmanuel
                                                       Come, ransom us again

The Celebrant adds: Jesus, Lord at thy Birth, let us repent of our sins in the silent nights of our souls, that we may feel the approach of Your redeeming grace, and seek the dawn of indescribable joy through life and love everlasting in You. We ask through the Holy Spirit, our Advocate; and the Creator, Most High; who together with You, are our One God, on earth, as in heaven, forever.  Amen.



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