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, April 18, 2022

Prayers of the People: Simply Prove It ~ 2nd Sunday of Easter '22 Yr C

For Sunday, April 24, 2022, Readings: Acts 5:27-32, Revelation 1:4-8, Psalm 150, John 20:19-31

The High Priest questioned [the Apostles] saying, “We gave your strict orders not to teach in this name, yet here you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching…” But Peter answered, “We must obey God rather than human authority…” [Acts 5:27b-29]
Let everything that has breath praise the Lord. Hallelujah! [Psalm 150:6]

"I am the Alpha and the Omega," says the Lord God, who is, and who was, and who is to come, the Almighty.  [Revelation 1:8]

 Then [Jesus] said to Thomas, "Put your finger here and see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it in my side. Do not doubt but believe." Thomas answered him, "My Lord and my God!" Jesus said "...Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe."  [John 20:28-29]

    The reading from Acts is perfect for this Sunday after Easter. A “what-happened-next” sequel to the drama of the Crucifixion and Resurrection narratives and a prequel to Pentecost. I would encourage everyone to read through to verse 42, as some may be surprised that the Apostles didn't just hide out until the day of Pentecost. What they were doing immediately after the Resurrection was quite courageous. But of course, a compelling piece always is the telling of the story of the Apostle Thomas. Widely known as Doubting Thomas, he is the one who simply didn’t/couldn’t/or wouldn’t accept what he was told: that Jesus had risen from the dead. He wanted proof.
      I can put myself in his place quite easily. It was a head-spinning week beginning with the glorious Palm Sunday entry into Jerusalem with crowds even more jubilant at Jesus’ arrival than ever before. As the week progressed it was time for the Passover dinner in an evening that turned strangely mysterious as Jesus shockingly washed everyone’s feet, and again said things not easily understood, then later he was suddenly arrested. The next day Thomas watched as this man he loved and admired more than any other and had given up his normal life to follow, was brutalized, degraded, and then confusingly vilified by many of the same people  who had been singing Hosannas to him just a few days before! Then he was nailed to a cross, suffered an agonizing death and was buried in a tomb with a heavy stone rolled across the entrance. Thomas must have spent the following 24 hours trying to comprehend it all – the glory, the joy, the shock, the horror, and the shiveringly cold reality of the death of one so beloved. NOW Thomas is told that Jesus has come back from the dead?! He says, Prove it.
      Perhaps it wasn’t so much that he didn’t believe but more that he had chosen not to until he had seen for himself. The crucifixion and death of Jesus was so traumatic and so very final. How could he dare to believe in the hope of such a thing as resurrection without the concurrent fear of soul-crushing disappointment? Anyone who has experienced the searing grief of significant loss will understand.
     Today we’re in an age of instant communication, “viral” social media posts, never-ending “breaking news,” overwhelming us with data that is real, slightly real, not at all real, and frequently bizarre. Like Thomas, we just want to be given answers with a little explanation so we don't have to think through all the conflicting information. It's also easier when the people or organizations we like and trust tell us what we want to hear. Yet, how do we distinguish between oft-repeated gossip and rumor that begins to sound true after the eleventeenth forward on Facebook or Twitter and actual truth? In Thomas' case, he had the benefit of seeing and touching the Resurrected Christ wounds. For us, we must rely on our sometimes-faltering faith. In the ways of our current times, it’s fine to trust your source of information yet it is prudent to keep an open mind, accepting that sometimes checking other sources might yield better data. In the ways of Christ, our information comes from the legacy of the Apostles in the writings of the New Testament that stand 2,000+ years later: "[These] are written so that you may come to believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that through believing you may have life in his name." 
    For the skeptics and atheists and those who just aren’t sure, it is true that we cannot prove the fact of the Resurrection by solid evidentiary standards. Neither can we prove that it didn’t happen. And if you do believe that God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit do not exist, I’m okay with that. If it is critically important to you that I believe in the way you do, I’d be open to a change of mind if you simply prove it.

Leader:  ~ Holy Jesus, our Christ of Earth and Heaven, in Your grace and peace we see Your living Presence through the willing eyes of our souls. Grant us such fullness of faith, that even as seeds of doubt may sprout within us, we seek and strive to follow Your Word and Witness to everlasting life in Your Name.
                                                    Risen Christ, Divine Messiah
       RESPONSE:                  You are our Strength and our Hope
~ Holy Jesus, our Christ of Earth and Heaven, fill the rulers of our Earth, our Country, and our Community with the personal courage and humility to triumph over the temptations of unjust, authority to govern with equity, integrity, and reverence for all of Creation and its inhabitants. We pray especially for: add your own petitions
                                                       Risen Christ, Divine Messiah
                                                       You are our Strength and our Hope
~ Holy Jesus, our Christ of Earth and Heaven, restore wholeness to all who suffer in body, mind, or spirit, and refresh the energy of those who give them care. We now join our hearts to pray for those in need…add your own petitions
                                                       Risen Christ, Divine Messiah
                                                       You are our Strength and our Hope
~ Holy Jesus, our Christ of Earth and Heaven, You have broken the power of earthly death, now bring light to the darkness of those who grieve, as all of heaven is alive with joy, receiving those we love into eternal bliss. We pray especially for: add your own petitions
                                                       Risen Christ, Divine Messiah
                                                       You are our Strength and our Hope
~ Holy Jesus, our Christ of Earth and Heaven, we pause in this moment to offer You our other heartfelt thanksgivings, intercessions, petitions, and memorials, aloud or silently… add your own petitions
                                                       Risen Christ, Divine Messiah
                                                       You are our Strength and our Hope
~ Holy Jesus, our Christ of Earth and Heaven, may Easter’s new fire burn brightly in the hearts of all those ordained in Your Church, to inspire and light our pathway to You. We pray especially for: add your own petitions
                                                       Risen Christ, Divine Messiah
                                                       You are our Strength and our Hope
The Celebrant adds:  Lord God in Christ, Who is, Who was, and Who is to come, release us from the limits of our earth-bound minds freeing our souls to seek our life’s fulfillment only in You, our Alpha and Omega, our Source and our Completion. We ask through the immeasurable wisdom of the Holy Spirit, and the unwavering love of our Almighty Creator, who together with You reign as One God, in glory and dominion, forever and ever. Amen.

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