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, January 16, 2023

Prayers of the People: Casting Wide Nets ~ 3rd Sunday of Epiphany '23 Yr A

For Sunday, January 22, 2023, Readings: Isaiah 9:1-4, Psalm 27:1, 5-13; 1 Corinthians 1:10-18, 
Matthew 4:12-23

    The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who lived in a land of deep darkness ~ on them light has shined. [Isaiah 9:2]

    The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom then should I fear...Hearken to my voice, O Lord, when I call; have mercy on me and answer me. [Psalm 27:1a, 10]

    Now I appeal to you, brothers and sisters, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you be in agreement and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and the same purpose. [1 Corinthians 1:10]

      As [Jesus] walked by the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers...casting a net into the sea ~ for they were fishermen. And he said to them, "Follow me, and I will make you fish for people." ...Jesus went throughout Galilee...proclaiming the good news of the kingdom... [Matthew 4:18-19, 23] 
    We all know those times in this life when even the smallest amount of good news feels like a tiny ray of light in the darkness bringing a glimmer of hope that things will get better. Isaiah and the Psalmist, and a reminder in Matthew of the words of Isaiah that the Light is always there even when we feel lost and are sinking in the shadows. The Psalmist asks if the Lord is our light and our salvation whom shall we fear?  In our everyday reality, of course, we do have fears and worry and anxiety about many things in our lives and it is in such times that we are to try to summon even a vague intention to seek God’s face. Looking for that wee beam of light with a fragment of faith and a bit of faint hope we are able to begin to take a shaky step forward into the always unknown.
    Paul speaks to us in our own time through his letter to the Church in Corinth: be in agreement...no divisions among us...be united in the same mind and the same purpose and even more appropriate to now, he warns us not to divide Christ. How many Christian denominations try to out shout one another as the only source for the "true" message of Jesus? How incredibly difficult is it to heal divisions in political opinion let alone in religious? Yet it is in these often dark and scary times, in a world seemingly gone mad with violence in action and in words, that we are called to put aside our ideological differences and follow the simple message of Christ's Gospel: love God, love our neighbors as ourselves, proclaim the Gospel ~ his good news of the kingdom ~ in all we think, do, and say. The frills, bells, and whistles, or lack of, for worship are earth-bound and human-made. We must be aware and wary of creeping idolatry around individuals, the places, and the worship itself if any excludes or diminishes the very elements of our calling.
   Jesus called the soon-to-be disciples away from their fishing boats and nets to follow him and become fishers of people. Yet there is an important piece of the story that is often overlooked ~ Zebedee, father of James and John, stays behind mending the nets. It doesn’t mean that he and the others on the fishing crew didn’t believe or want to follow but rather that each of us is called to use the gifts we have been given in different ways. Some are called to teach and preach, some are called to stay behind mending the nets to catch the fish to feed and support those who are in the fields or the kitchens or elsewhere.
   Some days and weeks and months are better than others. The nets can be full or nearly empty. The fields can be brimming for harvest or drowned or dry. The car runs well or breaks down on a busy day. The death of a loved one, suddenly or expected, brings grief and turmoil. In the darkest moments of life when our inner nets are torn and faith feels weak, we can search to catch the Light within ourselves however faint and distant it seems. When we allow ourselves to be reeled into the net that Jesus has cast for us, the Word can inhabit us and begin to attract others to the splendid shore of Christ’s love. We'll catch more, or lose more, by our ways and attitudes; we don’t have to be perfect or devout, just hopeful in our search for faith. Whether in the grocery line, on Facebook, or driving in traffic, it is always better to bring the light and respond in love than to bait the hook for a snark attack. Sometimes, what annoys us about others reflects what we feel about ourselves. We trip, we fall, we get up, and then we start over. We pull in our nets, repair them, and cast them out again. Let’s begin again to repair the nets of our own thoughts and words, our judgments and frustrations by working to seek and feel the Good News of the Kingdom within ourselves. Even with only a glimmer of hope and the faintest of faith, we can begin casting wide nets to catch the true meaning of loving our neighbors AS we love ourselves and Follow again, in earnest.


Leader:  ~ Oh Lord of Light and Joy, with You as our strength whom shall we fear? As You have caught us up in the safety of Your nets, energize us to beckon the world to Your shore, proclaiming the Good News of Salvation in our every thought, word, and action.

                                                       Lord Jesus Christ
              RESPONSE:              Unite us to You in mind and purpose

~ Oh Lord of Light and Joy, inspire and transform all who govern the peoples of this World, this Country, and this Community, to legislate with integrity not the rod of oppression, ensuring peace, equality, and sustenance for the well-being of all humanity and the protection of our planet. We pray especially for: add your own petitions

                                                       Lord Jesus Christ
                                                       Unite us to You in mind and purpose

~ Oh Lord of Light and Joy, heal the hearts, minds, and bodies of all who are ill, weary, or in anguish, and give comfort to all who offer care. We now join our hearts to pray for those in need… add your own petitions

                                                       Lord Jesus Christ
                                                       Unite us to You in mind and purpose         

~ Oh Lord of Light and Joy, the gloom of grief is lifted when our hearts know that You joyfully embrace all who live again in Your glorious and eternal Paradise. We pray especially for…add your own petitions

                                                       Lord Jesus Christ
                                                       Unite us to You in mind and purpose

~ Oh Lord of Light and Joy, we pause in this moment to offer You our other heartfelt thanksgivings, intercessions, petitions, and memorials, aloud or silently… 

                                                       Lord Jesus Christ
                                                       Unite us to You in mind and purpose                    

~ O Lord our God, hold fast in Your embrace all who lead us in Your Church as they guide and walk with us in Word, Sacrament, and Faith, away from false gods and always to You. We pray especially for: Michael, our Presiding Bishop; Kevin our Bishop; James, our Interim Rector; Clay, our Deacon; and Lloyd, our Rector Emeritus.

                                                       Lord Jesus Christ
                                                       Unite us to You in mind and purpose

The Celebrant adds: Oh Lord, our Strength and our Salvation, endow us with the faith and fortitude to find Your constant Light within us in the darkest of times. Empower us to remember and return to follow You, whenever we go off course, in the highest and lowest tides of this mortal experience. We ask through Jesus, the Captain of our ship, and the Holy Spirit, our Divine Navigator, who with You are our One God, now and forever. Amen. 

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