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, February 1, 2021

Prayers of the People: Light Lifting ~ 5th Sunday after the Epiphany '21 Yr B

For Sunday, February 7, 2021, Readings: Isaiah 40:21-31, Psalm 147: 1-12, 21c; 1 Corinthians 9:16-23, 
Mark 1:29-39

    Lift up your eyes and see...Have you not known? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth...those who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength, they shall mount up with wings like eagles... [Isaiah 40:26a, 28, 31]

           [The Lord] heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds. He counts the number of the stars and calls them all by their names. Great is our Lord and mighty in power; there is no limit to his wisdom. The Lord lifts up the lowly, but casts the wicked to the ground. [Psalm 147:3-6]

        I have become all things to all people, that I might by all means save some. I do it all for the sake of the gospel, so that I may share in its blessings. [1 Corinthians 9:22b-23]

     [Jesus] came and took her by the hand and lifted her up. Then the fever left her and she began to serve them...In the morning, while it was still very dark, he got up and went to a deserted place, and there he prayed. [Mark 1:31, 35]

         The book of the prophet Isaiah introduces the readings for today ~ more specifically, in scholarly/theological terms ~ this piece is from Deutero-Isaiah [doo-ter-oh] or Second Isaiah. The book of this prophet is written in three distinct parts and most likely by three distinct authors. This piece is sometimes called the "Book of Consolation" as it speaks to an audience of those in a long exile out of Jerusalem which for some was not too bad and for others just terrible, not unlike our current state of pandemic. This piece is filled with non-judgmental, hope-filled language of restoration, rebuilding, and renewal. I like the parental tone of the opening: Have you not known? Have you not heard? [as if “Hello, I’ve said this before, remember?!”] God has always promised to remain with us and, as during the Exodus, God's power never fails, never grows faint or weary. The prophet calls us to lift our eyes to look at Creation and see. In a poetic turn not only are we protected by the wings of God, but God gives those in exile ~ and us ~ wings of our own to lift us out of our weakness and weariness, a profound gift that offers us renewal of strength.         
          The Psalmist reminds us of the rebuilding of Jerusalem, the gathering of the exiles to return home, and how God recognizes and heals the wounds and broken hearts as God lifts up the lowly. We are all to sing praises, sing with thanksgiving, make music upon the harp for all that God has bestowed upon us. 
          Paul's letter, in his not always easy way, speaks of his meeting people where they are to offer the way of the Gospel. What Paul is trying to tell the Corinthians ~ and us ~ is that we are to welcome, listen, and not judge. That is a true balancing act and always difficult as we work on loving our neighbors as ourselves and attempt to be open and inviting about our faith. At first glance it may seem that Paul is being deceptive when he says I have become all things to all people, as if playing a false role to entice others. His intent is not only to show them the way to discover a saving relationship with God, he also wants to understand their lives and reveal his own weaknesses to them as imperfect as we all are in service to God. He offers the message of the Gospel to them free, without charge, no contributions or any financial support.
         And Jesus, lifted up Simon's mother-in-law and she was freed from the fever. Her response was to honor Jesus in the way she knew how, a ministry of hospitality. And then he and the disciples moved on to the neighboring towns to proclaim the message and show us the way to follow. Isn't that what we each must do?  
       Let us honor the gifts of God, the healings, words, and works of Jesus, and the wisdom of the Holy Spirit, by accepting our wings, soaring to new heights of commitment, and proclaiming the message. There are many directions in this life, but only One Way. 
        There's a lot of lifting going on in these readings but we only have the light work. Haven't you heard? Just lift up your eyes and see!


Leader:  ~ Everlasting Creator, You call us each and all by our names, and offer us spiritual wings like eagles to soar in this life and the next. Grant us the humility to lift our eyes to see, to meet others where and as they are, to share the blessings of the Gospel, and to understand the gracious favor of Your limitless wisdom and mighty power.

                                                     O Lord, Great and Mighty
                          RESPONSE:    Lift and renew us again

~ Everlasting Creator, guide us to be unwavering reminders, to those in Earth-bound political authority, of the limits and transience of human power, and their absolute duty to prosper all who are living lowly in this World, this Country, and this Community. We pray especially for: add your own petitions

                                                       O Lord, Great and Mighty
                                                       Lift and renew us again

~ Everlasting Creator, bind the wounds and heal the hearts of those who suffer in body, mind, or spirit, and grant stamina to all who give them care. We now join our hearts together to pray for those in need… add your own petitions

                                                       O Lord, Great and Mighty
                                                       Lift and renew us again    

~ Everlasting Creator, we celebrate our memories and commend to You, all who have left the exile of this mortal life for Your infinite and eternal paradise. We pray especially for: add your own petitions

                                                       O Lord, Great and Mighty
                                                       Lift and renew us again

~ Everlasting Creator, 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, Great and Mighty
                                                       Lift and renew us again
~ Everlasting Creator, continually renew the strength of Spirit in those who preside at the sacred feast of Christ’s table, as we share with them in the work for and the blessings of the Holy Gospel proclaimed. We pray especially for: add your own petitions

                                                       O Lord, Great and Mighty
                                                       Lift and renew us again

The Celebrant adds:  Gracious, All-Knowing God, free and restore us from the fever of sin, that we may accept Your call to serve You in faithfulness, gratitude, and constancy in prayer. We ask this through Jesus, our Healer; and the Holy Spirit, our Comforter; who live and reign with You as One God, now and beyond the ages of ages. Amen.

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