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, November 28, 2022

Prayers of the People: The Root of Love ~ 2nd Sunday of Advent '22 Yr A

For Sunday, December 4, 2022: Readings: Isaiah 11:1-10, Psalm 72: 1-7, 18-19; Romans 15:4-13,
Matthew 3:1-12

       A shoot shall come out from the stump of Jesse, and a branch shall grow out of his roots. The spirit of the Lord shall rest on him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and the fear of the Lord.  [Isaiah 11:1-2]

          Give the King your justice, O God, and your righteousness to the King’s son…to defend the needy…[and] rescue the poor.  [Psalm 72:1, 4]

           May the God of steadfastness and encouragement grant you to live in harmony with one another...May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. [Romans 15:5a, 13]

           In those days John the Baptist appeared in the wilderness of Judea, proclaiming, "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near." This is the one of whom the prophet Isaiah spoke when he said, "The voice of one crying in the wilderness: 'Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight...He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.'" [Matthew 3:1-3, 11b]

Oh, come O Rod of Jesse's stem,
From ev'ry foe deliver them
That trust your mighty pow'r to save,
Bring them in vict'ry through the grave.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to you, O Israel!

      The beautiful prose of this passage of Isaiah begins this week's readings with: “A shoot shall come out from the stump of Jesse, and a branch shall grow out of his roots.”  Having not grown up with a "Jesse Tree" tradition, the reading would usually zip through my ears with no particular impact until I decided to look deeper into this hint of family history.
     There's been a serious uptick in the field of genealogy over the last decade or so with online access to family records and DNA kits that allow one to explore both lineage and geographical heritage. Discovering the branches of one's family tree is fascinating, even addicting, and can also be frustrating when one limb is missing or the records stop short of fully revealing the information sought. Yet even the smallest detail can add depth and connectedness to the relationship with those who have gone before us. And so it is with the family tree of Jesus. 
      Jesse was the grandson of Ruth (of “whither thou goest, I will go”) and her husband, Boaz. We first hear of Jesse in the Book of Ruth [Ruth 4:13-18] as the son of their son, Obed. Jesse grows to be a farmer with eight sons [1 Samuel 16], the youngest of which is David who becomes King of the Israelites. It is through Jesse’s family tree that this root, this Branch, ultimately flowers into Jesus. The coming of Jesus is the reason we contemplate in Advent, celebrate at Christmas, and rejuvenate in Lent.
     The secular spectacle of christmas [intentional lower "c"] has, for so many, replaced the spiritual celebration and worship in Christ's Mass with the frenzy of over-shopping, garish outdoor decorating with clashing colors of lights, and inflated cartoon characters on lawns that go flat in the morning in a metaphorical anti-climax. Yet even in this environment Isaiah tells us that this ...root of Jesse shall stand as a signal to the peoples...Paul wants us to abound in hope, and the Gospel of Matthew brings us the very direct and un-shy voice of John the Baptist. 
      This is the first appearance of John, cousin to Jesus, with his prophesying voice in the wilderness. In his own time, he was unconventional in many ways and then, as now, his message is at once compelling and disturbing. Nonetheless, it is John who ushers in the public ministry of Jesus and takes the Pharisees and Sadducees to task for their faithless presumptions of self-importance. Calling them vipers was more than just name-calling, it was a serious slur! Likening people to animals in those times was akin to calling them heathens or pagans ~ that is, having no accepted/biblically based religion. While his warnings are dire, our hopeful understanding is that the possible unquenchable fire will only be for those who deem any form of remorse as unnecessary  in their lives. Our merciful God of steadfastness and encouragement knows our hearts and gives us every opportunity to adjust our intentions to bear fruit worthy of repentance however well we accomplish or fail in our life’s mission.
      And so we light the second candle of Advent, the candle of Love. New Testament scholar, theologian, and author Marcus Borg tells us that Advent…is a season of anticipation, yearning and longing for a different kind of life and a different kind of world. In this second week of Advent, one way to prepare the way of the Lord is by contemplating: What kind of life, what kind of world am I longing for? Where is God, where is Jesus, in my family tree? Am I too far out on a limb or can I decorate my branch with hope, peace, joyful anticipation, and, of course, unending Divine Love? Jesus is indeed the reason for the season; the reason for our Christ-mas - our act of worship of the One we call Messiah, the Anointed Son of God, the very embodiment and root of Love itself. The wolf shall live with the lamb, the leopard shall lie down with the kid, the calf and the lion and the fatling together, and a little child shall lead them… [Isaiah 11:6]


Leader:  ~ Blessed Lord God, we restlessly await the branch that shall come again from the roots of Jesse. Open us to hear and heed the wilderness voice, as we prepare the way within ourselves, bearing fruit worthy of repentance.

      Present and Coming Christ
                        RESPONSE:     Bind us together in peace

~ Blessed Lord God, impose justice and righteousness on the hearts of all who govern in this World, this Nation, and this Community, that they may decide with equity for the meek, defend the needy, and rescue the poor, and us all, from oppression and evil. We pray especially for: add your own petitions

                                                        Present and Coming Christ
                                                       Bind us together in peace              

~ Blessed Lord God, relieve pain and distress from all who are ill or downhearted, and strengthen all who give needed care. We now join our voices to pray aloud for those in need… add your own petitions

                                                       Present and Coming Christ
                                                       Bind us together in peace       

~ Blessed Lord God, help us to be calmly present with those who mourn even as we rejoice with all who now live again in Your Eternal Glory. We pray especially for… add your own petitions

                                                       Present and Coming Christ
                                                       Bind us together in peace

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

                                                       Present and Coming Christ
                                                       Bind us together in peace                      

~ Blessed Lord God, enfold and guide those who lead Your Church as they walk in faith with us, into uncertain, ever-changing tides and times. We pray especially for: add your own petitions

                                                       Present and Coming Christ
                                                       Bind us together in peace                                                

The Celebrant adds: Steadfast, Encouraging God, grant us harmony and hope and turn us toward You again, to follow the Way of Truth and Mercy. Fill us with all the joy and peace of believing in the glory that is and is to come. We ask through Jesus, our Living Redeemer; and the Holy Spirit, the Fire of our Faith; who together with You are One God, now and forever.  Amen. 




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