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, March 28, 2022

Prayers of the People: Remember to Forget ~ 5th Sunday in Lent '22 Yr C

For Sunday, April 3, 2022; Readings: Isaiah 43:16-21, Psalm 126, Philippians 3:4b-15, John 12:1-8

    Thus says the LORD, who makes a way in the sea, a path in the mighty waters...Do not remember the things of old. I am about to do a new thing; now it springs forth... [Isaiah 43:16, 18-19a]

   The LORD has done great things for us, and we are glad indeed. [Psalm 126:4]

   For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things...in order that I may gain Christ, and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own...but one that comes through faith in Christ...this one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on... [Philippians 3:8b-9, 13b-14a]

  Six days before the Passover...Mary took a pound of costly perfume made of pure nard, anointed Jesus' feet, and wiped them with her hair. The house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume...Judas Iscariot...was a thief. [John 12: 1a,3, 4a, 6b]

     In the readings for this Sunday, Isaiah and Paul don’t so much remind us that we are to forget the old ways as things are being made new, but rather they tell us directly that we must look and move – straining forward as Paul says – to what lies ahead. We are given a way and a path with our faith that guides us to the eternal life we are promised if we keep our eyes on the prize.
     We are nearing the end of our journey through Lent but much awaits us in the approach to Easter. While we know what is coming, obviously those reclining and serving at the home of Lazarus that night did not. A seemingly small moment at a gathering of friends was quite enough to kick off the deadly series of events that changed the world forever. The tension is building as if in a novel. Every thought and phrase expressed reveals a clue to what is coming – as if we didn't already know. Six days before Passover Jesus came to Bethany ~ a scant two miles' walk to Jerusalem. Mary, sister of Martha and Lazarus, anoints his feet with an expensive perfume made of nard, the cost of which sets Judas off and the Gospel writer is very clear about the thieving Iscariot's character and coming betrayal.
     The fragrant nard itself is symbolic. It was customary for the household to prepare for the feet of the guests to be washed as a practical and hospitable welcome. This particular perfume, however, was worth a fortune, as much as or more than a year's wages for an average worker and this gesture might have seemed quite excessive to anyone by normal standards. This anointing is to us, if not to them, also a symbol of the Kingship of the not yet Resurrected Christ. Jesus was clear that Mary's act of love meant more than mere hospitality; it was a foreshadowing of his soon to come death and burial. The ritual of burial involved precious spices and oils and the anointing of the body always began with the feet.  
     Pay close attention to the readings ahead. God is about to do a new thing again and there is much to hear differently and to learn anew.
     Yes, in our day and time we know what is coming, yet let us remember to forget what we think we know about these readings and go forward into all that lies ahead, through Easter and beyond, as if it were new and now, to rediscover the path of our faith yet again.

Leader:  ~ O Lord, our Way and our Path, restore the fortunes of our souls as we renew our faith, and press on in this life toward the goal of answering Your heavenly call.
                                                      O God in Christ Jesus                                                       
        RESPONSE:                  You have made us Your own
~ O Lord, our Way and our Path, guide the hearts and minds of all who govern across this world, this nation, and this community, toward principled, ethical, and humane action and legislation to revitalize every aspect of Your Creation. We pray especially for: add your own petitions
                                                       O God in Christ Jesus
                                                       You have made us Your own
~ O Lord, our Way and our Path, kindle hope in all who are poor in body, mind, or spirit, and to all who give them care. We now join our voices to pray aloud for those in need…add your own petitions
                                                       O God in Christ Jesus
                                                       You have made us Your own
~ O Lord, our Way and our Path, may those who are grieving be consoled in knowing that all now returned to the prize of life in You, are celebrated with heavenly shouts of joy. We pray especially for: add your own petitions
                                                       O God in Christ Jesus
                                                       You have made us Your own
~  O Lord, our Way and our Path, we pause in this moment to offer You our other heartfelt thanksgivings, intercessions, petitions, and memorials, aloud or silently… add your own petitions
                                                       O God in Christ Jesus
                                                       You have made us Your own
~ O Lord, our Way and our Path, enliven the spirits of those chosen to lead and accompany us on this mortal journey, sharing the joy of Christ, even in the darkest of times. We pray especially for: add your own petitions
                                                       O God in Christ Jesus
                                                       You have made us Your own
The Celebrant adds:  Almighty and Eternal God, release us from the false piety of righteousness, and pride in mere earthly achievement. Awaken us to the freedom of knowing and living each day in Christ, and the power of His Resurrection. We ask through Jesus, our Anointed Christ; and the Holy Spirit, Your Fragrant Breath; who together with You are One God, forever and ever. Amen.

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