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, December 7, 2020

Prayers of the People: Come Into the Joy ~ 2nd Sunday of Advent '20 Yr B

For Sunday, December 13, 2020, Readings: Isaiah 61:1-4, 8-11; Psalm 126, 1 Thessalonians 5:16-24, John 1:6-8, 19-28

      The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me; because the Lord  has anointed me; he has sent me to bring good news to the oppressed, to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives and release to the prisoners... [Isaiah 61:1]

      When the  Lord  restored the fortunes of Zion, then we were like those who dream. Then was our mouth filled with laughter, and our tongue with shouts of joy...Those who sowed with tears will reap with songs of joy.  [Psalm 126: 1-2, 6]

     Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances...May the God of peace himself sanctify you entirely; and may your spirit and soul and body be kept sound and blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. [1 Thessalonians 5:16-18a, 23]

   There was a man sent from God whose name was John...[John] said, "I am the voice of one crying in the wilderness, 'Make straight the way of the Lord,'" as the prophet Isaiah said. [John 1:6, 23]

          Stir up your power, O Lord, and with great might come among us... [Book of Common Prayer, Collect for the Third Sunday of Advent, US version, page 212]

         On this Third Sunday of Advent, we light the rose-colored candle to symbolize the joy and anticipation of Christ's birth which is just in sight. In the Anglican/Episcopal Church it has an informal title of "Stir Up Sunday" because the opening Collect [a prayer that collects or gathers the themes of the day or service] begins with the phrase: Stir up your power, O Lord... And there are some local customs that accompany the day in various places. 
      The message of this day and week is "Gaudete," [gow-day-tay] from the Latin for rejoice and it gives us a slight respite from some of the more penitential aspects of this sacred Season.
      For children, of course, it is the dazzle and glitter and haze of lights and sparkle, gifts from Santa and his magic reindeer, or Father Christmas, who "make the season bright." The music and decorations often bring smiles for those of us fortunate to have memories of ourselves or our own children with wide eyes on Christmas morning. Though, I have to say, that an air-filled Grinch dressed as Santa on a neighbor's lawn doesn't quite call to my mind the "reason for the season" however well the original story ends.
      For us as adults, this week is also a sobering moment to consider all those who are suffering in the world, near to and far from us, with the dreadful fires, the still terrible conditions in the places ravaged by recent hurricanes and earthquakes, those engulfed by war and terrorism, or who live in abject poverty, among many more hardships.
      And then, there’s COVID-19 and its attending miseries including fear, isolation, and impending infection and/or death for so many. Yet now is the time to experience the true joy of Christ's coming. “Celebration,” in a culture of excess, is understandably muted in dire times and so it is an opportunity to look beyond the artificial trappings, fun and exciting as they are.
      The Baptizer's voice is back with us and John is a reminder that we must Make straight the way of the Lord, and, that it’s a two-way endeavor. As we level the path, removing the obstacles for Christ’s coming to us, we are also to sweep out the cobwebs of our hearts, minds, and souls to prepare ourselves to venture back on the Way. As Christ comes to us, so must we go to Christ. 
       There is One who is coming, the One who, as John told us last week, will baptize us with the Holy Spirit. Let us be hopeful, eager, and joyous for that coming. Even as our usual celebrations are not as before, let us not abandon God's call to be faithful, giving thanks in all circumstances, as God is faithful to us in the everlasting covenant. Let us, indeed, pray without ceasing, for others and for ourselves, in thanksgiving, in petition, in intercession, in penitence, in adoration, and especially in oblation, the offering of ourselves for God's purpose and service.
       The Psalmist tells us that when God restored the fortunes of those who returned from the long exile, they were like "those who dream." In the hope of Christ everlasting, the dream is always within if we choose to know and accept it. 
       Isaiah gives us a hopeful image when he writes, For as the earth brings forth its shoots, and as a garden causes what is sown in it to spring up, so the Lord GOD will cause righteousness and praise to spring up before all the nations. Plant your spiritual garden with care and intention. Nurture, weed, and feed it with prayer, with hope, and with peace. Even when we sow with tears, in Christ we will reap an abundance of everlasting Joy.
      Now is the time to return from the exile of temporary shimmer and twinkle to glow and shine in the never-diminishing Divine Light. Come into the Joy!


 Leader:  ~ O Lord of Greatness and Mercy, stir up our hearts with rejoicing in the sweet anticipation of the One who is coming. Release us from the captivity of sin; cause us to pray without ceasing, hold fast to what is good in Your sight, and magnify Your glory in our souls.

                                                        O God of Peace
                           RESPONSE:      Sanctify us in spirit, soul, and body
~ O Lord of Greatness and Mercy, keep us ever mindful of the struggles of Your people and Your Creation. Strengthen us to speak constantly to Earth-bound Leaders, globally and locally, that we all must persist in pursuing justice, mercy, peace, health, and abstaining from evil. We pray especially for: add your own petitions

                                                        O God of Peace
                                                        Sanctify us in spirit, soul, and body

~ O Lord of Greatness and Mercy, grant relief to all who suffer with life-threatening disease, unemployment, and hopelessness; and lift the hearts of all who give support. We now join our hearts together to pray for those in need… add your own petitions
                                                       O God of Peace
                                                       Sanctify us in spirit, soul, and body
~ O Lord of Greatness and Mercy, comfort those whose tears of sorrow reap fruits of joy for all who now live again, restored to everlasting life in Christ. We pray especially for… add your own petitions
                                                       O God of Peace
                                                       Sanctify us in spirit, soul, and body

~ O Lord of Greatness and Mercy, we pause in this moment to offer You our other heartfelt thanksgivings, intercessions, petitions, and memorials… add your own petitions

                                                       O God of Peace
                                                       Sanctify us in spirit, soul, and body 
~ O Lord of Greatness and Mercy, encourage and energize our messengers of Christ's Good News, those dedicated and anointed as faithful witnesses of Your Word and Sacraments. We pray especially for: add your own petitions

                                                       O God of Peace
                                                       Sanctify us in spirit, soul, and body

The Celebrant adds: Our Savior Christ, who was and is and ever shall be, open us to allow John’s wilderness-voice to permeate our consciousness, through the noise and haze of dazzle and glitter, to joyfully prepare our lives and make straight the way for Your glorious return. We ask through the Unquenchable Holy Spirit, and our Eternal Creator, who together with You reign as one God, now and forever.  Amen.

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