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 13, 2021

Prayers of the People: Peacing Us Together ~ 4th Sunday of Advent '21 Yr C

For Sunday, December 19, 2021, Readings: Micah 5:2-5a, Canticle 15/Luke 1:46-55, Psalm 80:1-7, Hebrews 10:5-10, Luke 1:39-45

      But you, O Bethlehem... from you shall come forth for me one who is to rule in Israel, whose origin is from of old, from ancient days…when she who is in labor has brought forth; then the rest of his kindred shall return to the people of Israel...and he shall be the one of peace. [Micah 5:2, 3b, 5a]

        And it is by God’s will that we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. [Hebrews 10:10]

       My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord...for he has looked with favor on his lowly servant...He has shown the strength of his arm, he has scattered the proud in their conceit. He has cast down the mighty from their thrones and has lifted up the lowly. [Luke 1:46a, 48, 51-52]

      When Elizabeth heard Mary's greeting, the child leaped in her womb. And Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit and exclaimed with a loud cry, "Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb...And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her by the Lord." [Luke 1:41-42, 45]

     Here is yet another chance to pause in the midst of all the busy-ness. Listen deeply to the reading from Micah, as he names the very town from which the one who is to rule Israel is to come and, further he says, when she who is in labor brings forth her child the rest of Israel will return home.
     In the Letter to the Hebrews, we find the Old Testament writings of Psalm 40:6-8, Amos 5:21, and Jeremiah 6:20b remembered in verses 5-7 of Chapter 10. Christ says that the sacrifices of the Old Covenant are dismissed. Burnt and blood offerings do not please God and do not cleanse us from sin. Jesus, as the One expected from heaven, came to please God by obedience to Divine will and to teach us how to follow.   
    Another important moment to listen is in the beauty of the exchange between two kinswomen and consider who they were in their time and who they have become to us. The elder Elizabeth, was a barren woman for so many years until suddenly she is with child, a very important child, John, the Baptizer, who will prepare the way of the Lord. In her day she was likely ostracized in her community for most of her adult life, or at the very least considered a failure because of her seeming infertility. The much younger Mary, recently told by an Angel that she is bearing the Son of God, (can you imagine?!), would also bear shame in her community as well as the uncertainty of Joseph, her betrothed, because of her condition. Would he be able to come to terms with this mystery in such a time? (Of course, we already know he'll have an angelic visitation of his own in Matthew 1:18-25, and will be a loving, protective husband.)
    These women come together and speak to us, to awaken us from the haze of frantic preparations for a celebration that is increasingly more earth-bound than spiritual. In their greetings to each other we discover the unexpectedness of this moment of expectation, the message of embracing the twists and turns of life, and recognizing that God is present at all times ~ when we feel elated and when we feel shamed or anxious or uncertain. We are not alone in the darkest of times or in the happiest. Jesus comes as the face of God to sanctify and save us. Stop, sit, breathe in the peace of the quiet. Let us not race ahead, but remain in the stillness for a time, in the space between not yet and almost, savoring the expectation of Christ's birth, and finding an unexpected freshness in the joy of anticipation for the one of peace [Micah 5:5a]. In days of worry, anger, fear, grief, or any other part of life that is unsettling, let us find our inner peace by knowing that the One Who is coming is already here and ready to peace us all together as His own.

Leader:  ~ Holy and Almighty God, open our souls to proclaim Your greatness, and call upon our spirits to rise in joy, as we await the coming of the One of peace, the Light from Light begotten to sanctify and save us.
                                                    O Lord of Strength and Mercy
            RESPONSE:                 Magnify our Faith
~ Holy and Almighty God, help us to lift up the lowly in this World, in our Nation, and in our Community. Guide us in our quest to implore all earthly leaders to persevere in the cause of peace, justice, and joy for all of Your Creation’s children. We pray especially for: add your own petitions
                                                    O Lord of Strength and Mercy
                                                    Magnify our Faith
~ Holy and Almighty God, grant peace and hope to all laid low by chronic illness, poverty, or emotional anguish, and bring comfort to all who love them. We now join our voices to pray aloud for those in need… add your own petitions
                                                    O Lord of Strength and Mercy
                                                    Magnify our Faith
~ Holy and Almighty God, unburden the hearts of all who grieve with the assurance of new life for those who now rest forever in Your radiant glory. We pray especially for: add your own petitions
                                                    O Lord of Strength and Mercy
                                                    Magnify our Faith
~ Holy and Almighty God, 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 of Strength and Mercy
                                                    Magnify our Faith
~ Holy and Almighty God, bestow extra grace upon those who are anointed to bring us Your Word and Sacraments, as they guide us all to discover and act upon Your will in our lives. We pray especially for: add your own petitions
                                                    O Lord of Strength and Mercy
                                                    Magnify our Faith
The Celebrant adds: O God of Hosts, shine Your favor upon us as we make ready to receive the One who comes. Restore us to Your purpose that the fruit of our lives may be a reflection of Your infinite blessings. We ask through Jesus, our Joyful Expectation; and the Holy Spirit, Your Sacred Breath; who together with You, live and reign as One God, now and forever. Amen.


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