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 27, 2021

Prayers of the People: Magi-cal Moments ~ 2nd Sunday after Christmas '22 Yr C

For Sunday, January 2, 2022; Readings: Jeremiah 31:7-14, Ps 84, Ephesians 1:3-6, 15-19a; Luke 2:41-52

     Then shall the young women rejoice in the dance, and the young men and the old shall be merry. I will turn their mourning into joy, I will comfort them, and give them gladness for sorrow. [Jeremiah 31:13]

           For the LORD God is both sun and shield; he will give grace and glory; no good thing will the LORD withhold from those who walk with integrity. O LORD of Hosts, happy are they who put their trust in you. [Ps 84:10-12]

         I pray that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ...may give you a spirit of wisdom and revelation...so that, with the eyes of your heart enlightened, you may know...the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance...the immeasurable greatness of his power for us who believe. [Ephesians 1:17-19a]

        In the time of King Herod, after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem asking, “Where is the child who has been born king of the Jews? For we have observed his star at its rising, and have come to pay him homage.” [Matthew 2:1-2]

        This Sunday is not the Sunday of Epiphany! The official date is January 6th and it marks the visit of the Magi (or the Wise Men or 3 Kings from the East) to the stable to see the Child Jesus. They saw his star in the East and were moved to make the journey to find him to pay homage and bring gifts that are at once extremely valuable and are also symbolic. The short version of the symbolism is: Gold for royalty as to a King, Frankincense as to a God, and Myrrh as to a Mortal.* And while this isn’t THE date, the Gospel for this Sunday is the same Gospel for the official celebration of this event.
     The word Epiphany is the name used in the western Christian churches; in the eastern orthodox Christian churches it is known as Theophany. For the Orthodox, the feast of Theophany celebrates the revelation of God incarnate as Jesus Christ. In western Christian Churches, the feast of Epiphany celebrates the revelation of Jesus as God Incarnate to the Jews but also to the Gentiles, as the Magi were not Jewish. The word Epiphany means a revelation of a divine being; also a sudden insight or intuitive understanding. The word Theophany is the appearance of God to a human. Whether Epiphany or Theophany, Christ was revealed to the Jewish and Gentile worlds as the Son of God.
     The feast is an important date on the Church Calendar. EPIPHANY IS BIG! It brings us a bright shiny and HOLY revelation! But unless it falls on a Sunday, the Feast of the Epiphany seems to be somewhat ignored in these times. It IS the continuing and the expanding of the celebration of the birth of our Messiah, and His importance to us all, but perhaps we are too worn out to listen. We have come through the four weeks of anticipation in Advent, the hustle and bustle of preparation for gifts and food and gatherings, the familiar rush of the time of year, followed by the pageantry and the glorious music, and then the usual “let down.” Perhaps Epiphany, the 12th Day of Christmas, has become an anti-climax, the end of the story, the time to take down the decorations. Yet it is in truth a beginning. We open new chapters of the Story that will take us from Jesus the Baby, to Christ our Redeemer. While we celebrate the birthday with great fanfare, the Epiphany moves us into the reason for which this Child was born, the revelation of God’s eternal purpose is upon us. A theophany then ~ the manifestation of God visible to humans ~ a re-discovery now.
      At the Nativity of Jesus, Luke tells us that the angels appeared to the shepherds who received the good news of great joy, but Luke never mentions the Magi. Matthew never mentions the shepherds or even the birth itself except for a brief phrase: "...until she had borne a son; and he [Joseph] named him Jesus." But Matthew did tell us of the "...wise men from the East..." They saw a great star revealing to them the need for a journey to pay homage to a new born king of the Jews. Herod gets involved and we begin to see the ominous cloud moving in to shadow the glorious star. But having heard this story so very many times are we listening as it is read again? Have we tuned out rather than engaging with the experience? Or is it possible that we are able to be re-awakened to the wonder of that moment and what it could mean for each of us in our own time?
      These three Kings have trekked long distances to tell Herod, and us all, of the power and majesty this Child brings. It is now a new dawn, another chance to listen and to hear the message deep within ourselves. In the compression of time given in the Gospels and the Church calendar, it is a short season indeed before we begin the unfolding of the ministry, miracles, teaching, death, and resurrection of Jesus. It is time again to rediscover the astonishment, the amazement, the true adoration in this event.
       In The Synthesis Commentary of 1997, there is a still significant and timely quote in their reflection on this Gospel that brings us directly to the need to know this story again and again:
            We understand from this familiar story how much the
            Light of Christ was needed in those early days ~ and
            no less by us today ~ as the world has hardened itself
            to the poor and needy, the young and the frail, and
            where personal egos rule kingdoms -- and hearts.

      Hear the story as if for the very first time ~ know that we have been given an extraordinary gift, Christ, Our Lord, has been born to us! Let us be overwhelmed with joy! Let us search diligently for the child within us and around us. Epiphany is the time to seek the Magi-cal moments and spiritual gifts in my own life that call me to pay homage, follow, and live into the light and life of Christ. Our mourning turned into joy...gladness for sorrow...Our God is both sun and shield giving grace and glory, and happy are [we] who put our trust in [God]. Let us pause and be overwhelmed with joy as we realize the Child Jesus, who becomes our Redeemer Christ, lives within us every moment of every day. Now that IS an Epiphany!

*For a fascinating and deeper look into the Magi's Gifts click here: Symbolism of the Magi's Gifts


Leader:  ~ Holy Messiah, Heartbeat of God, as we arise in the shining Light of Your glory, help us to come together as Your people, to seek the joy that You bring to us again and again, and to share in Your eternal promise.

                                                       Jesus, Light of Heaven                              
 RESPONSE:            Our Strength and our Redeemer 

~ Holy Messiah, Heartbeat of God, guide all nations to come to Your light, and all leaders of governments to the brightness of Your dawn. Let us model the very compassion and peace needed in the world to reverse the damage of violence, oppression, and injustice in our own time. We pray especially for: add your own petitions

                                                       Jesus, Light of Heaven
                                                       Our Strength and our Redeemer

~ Holy Messiah, Heartbeat of God, deliver from distress all who suffer in body, mind, or spirit, and comfort all who give them care. We now join our voices to pray aloud for those in need… add your own petitions

                                                       Jesus, Light of Heaven
                                                       Our Strength and our Redeemer

~ Holy Messiah, Heartbeat of God, lift the hearts of those lost in grief and turn their mourning into joy, as those we love are surrounded forever by the boundless treasures of eternal life. We pray especially for: add your own petitions 

                                                       Jesus, Light of Heaven
                                                       Our Strength and our Redeemer

~  Holy Messiah, Heartbeat of God, we pause in this moment to offer You our other heartfelt thanksgivings, intercessions, petitions, and memorials, aloud or silently…add your own petitions

                                                       Jesus, Light of Heaven
                                                       Our Strength and our Redeemer       

~ Holy Messiah, Heartbeat of God, lavish special blessings upon the wise women and men who lead us in Your Church, as they prayerfully bring us Your words, works, and wonders on our life’s path toward Redemption. We pray especially for: add your own petitions

                                                       Jesus, Light of Heaven
                                                       Our Strength and our Redeemer
The Celebrant adds:  Most Holy Christ, God’s Eternal Purpose, grant us Your grace and glory, a spirit of wisdom, and an enlightened heart. Guide us to know the hope to which we are called and the immeasurable greatness of Your power for us who believe. We ask with deep humility and trust in the Almighty Creator, our Sun and Shield; in the Holy Spirit, the Counselor of our souls; Who together with You are One God, now and forever. Amen.

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