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, May 2, 2022

Prayers of the People: Get Up and Follow ~ 4th Sunday of Easter '22 Yr C

For Sunday, May 8, 2022, Readings: Acts 9:36-43, Psalm 23, Revelation 7:9-17, John 10:22-30

   Peter...knelt down and prayed. He turned to the body and said, "Tabitha, get up." The she opened her eyes and seeing Peter, she sat up...This became known...and many believed in the Lord.  [Acts 9:40b-41, 42b]

   The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not be in want... [Psalm 23:1]

     “…for the Lamb at the center of the throne will be their shepherd, and he will guide them to the springs of the water of live, and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.” [Revelation 7:9-17]

    So the Jews gathered around him and said to him...If you are the Messiah, tell us plainly. Jesus answered, "I have told you, and you do not believe...because you do not belong to my sheep. My sheep hear my voice. I know them, and they follow me.  [John 10:24-25a, 26-27]

     A few days before Peter’s arrival in Joppa, he, in Christ’s name, healed a paralyzed man named Aeneas, nearby. It may be that disciples heard the news and sent for Peter to come and heal their beloved Tabitha, though she had died before his arrival. The power in these miracles is less about a paralytic who then walks, or Tabitha – Dorcas in Greek – rising from the dead, but about the effect of those who witnessed the results and told others who told others and who then believed in Jesus as Lord.
     It is significant that he sent people from the room and then prayed – he was not attempting to act on his own power – and also that he then commanded ­Tabitha to get up. He didn’t ask her, he told her with the authority of and full faith in Jesus within him. As a result, many believed in the Lord. What Peter did had an impact – not just for Aeneas and Tabitha – but for all who heard or saw. Just as today they will know we are Christians by our love, says the hymn; what we do in the name of Christ can draw near or repel the faith of others. In claiming our faith we must also claim the wider impact of our faith: what we do, what we say, the actions we take are noticed and likely considered as a measure, a reflection of that faith we claim. A burden, perhaps, yet offset by what we are given in return.
     In the lyrical and mystical readings from Revelation, the 23rd Psalm*, and John’s Gospel** we see Jesus as Lamb and Christ as Shepherd, and, Jesus as human. The Lamb at the center of the throne, says Revelation, will be their shepherd, and he will guide them to springs of the water of life… As the human Jesus, he tells the gathered in John, I have told you, and you do not believe.  This line  often requires me to stop, think, and question just what do I believe? Am I a step removed, as were those who were beyond Joppa and only heard about Peter’s miracles and believed? Or, am I with Thomas and still need to “see” something for myself?
    It also might be that in this human sojourn we forget that our faith isn’t just about what is to come in the eternal pasture of Heaven as long as we are reasonably well-behaved. We are to live now as followers of Christ Resurrected, in the peaks and valleys of life, the light and the dark, the days of more faith and the nights of less. Lutheran Pastor Bobby Morris puts it quite beautifully saying: We look eagerly to experience resurrection life beyond the grave. But let us not overlook the resurrection life – the very refreshing of our souls – that the risen Christ offers daily to those who follow him. [emphasis added]
     Jesus was gently adamant when he said My sheep hear my voice. I know them and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish. No one will snatch them out of my hand. Let us allow our souls to be revived, to fear no evil, to know that goodness and mercy are following us all the days of this life. We are in the grasp of Jesus from whom we cannot be taken away. Let us live the resurrection life we have been given and rest in the knowing that God will wipe away every tear. Now get up, Follow our Shepherd, and live!

         * The symbolism of what is one of the most well-known pieces of Scripture across all faiths and none, is fascinating and complex. I commend to you a charming and interesting little book, A Shepherd Looks at Psalm 23 by W. Phillip Keller, who himself was a modern-day shepherd, for a closer look at the connections between the Psalm's imagery and real-life sheep farming. I can certainly find myself among Keller's sheep, especially in those unruly moments when I wander away.  

      ** While Tabitha/Dorcas is less familiar to us than others spoken of in Scripture, she certainly continues to have an impact. While little is known but her good works and acts of charitytunics and other clothing she had made, there is today an organization that uses her Greek name to help those in need of immigration services, legal, education, path to citizenship, and a clothing collaborative. While not a faith-based organization, the impact of Dorcas continues. Click here to see more: Dorcas International


Leader:  ~ Jesus, Holy Lamb, awaken our desire to follow Your voice through the peaks and valleys of our human sojourn. Teach us to live the resurrection life now, through words and actions of goodness with mercy, and Your refreshment of our souls each day, until we dwell again in Your Heavenly House.

                                                      Risen Lord                                  
RESPONSE:               Our Shepherd, our Shelter 

~ Jesus, Holy Lamb, revive the souls of all who govern across this Earth, this Country, and this Community. Strengthen their spirits as You guide us all along right pathways for the health, safety, and equality of every sheep of Your pasture. We pray especially for: add your own petitions

                                                       Risen Lord
                                                       Our Shepherd, our Shelter

~ Jesus, Holy Lamb, anoint the hearts of all in chronic pain, in the woes of addiction, or lost in despair, and restore hope and energy to all who give them care. We now join our hearts together to pray for those in need…add your own petitions

                                                       Risen Lord
                                                       Our Shepherd, our Shelter

~ Jesus, Holy Lamb, wipe the tears from those who mourn as those who have died now drink from the springs of new life in You, forever. We pray especially for: add your own petitions

                                                       Risen Lord
                                                       Our Shepherd, our Shelter

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

                                                       Risen Lord
                                                       Our Shepherd, our Shelter         

~ Jesus, Holy Lamb, we give You thanks and ask Your blessings for the chosen Disciples of our own time who spread Your table before us, feeding our faith and confirming Your presence in our lives. We pray especially for: add your own petitions

                                                       Risen Lord
                                                       Our Shepherd, our Shelter

The Celebrant adds: O Christ, our Messiah, grant us the faithfulness to awaken each day with You first in our thoughts, then inspired by Tabitha and others, to live in deep devotion to You. May our own prayers, good works and acts of charity among Your flock, fill us with such depth of faith, that our moments of unbelief are few. We ask through the Holy Spirit, our Comforter; and the Almighty, our Creator; who together with You reign as One God, now and forever.  Amen.

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