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, February 27, 2023

Prayers of the People: Rebirthing ~ 2nd Sunday in Lent '23 Yr A

For Sunday, March 5, 2023, Readings: Genesis 12:1-4a, Psalm 121, Romans 4:1-5, 13-17; John 3:1-17

So Abram went, as the LORD had told him... [Genesis 12:4a]

 I lift my eyes to the hills; from where is my help to come? My help comes from the LORD; the maker of heaven and earth. [Psalm 121:1-2]

 Abraham believed God, and it was reckoned to him as righteousness...For the promise that he would inherit the world did not come to Abraham...through the law but through the righteousness of faith. [Romans 4:3b]

  Jesus answered...no one can enter the Kingdom of God without being born of water and Spirit...If I have told you about earthly things and you do not believe, how can you believe if I tell you about heavenly things?...For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but have eternal life. [John 3:3, 12, 16]

       Faith takes center stage in the readings for this week. God commands Abram to leave all he knows behind and go to a new land where God will make of him a great nation. Abram went. Later in Genesis, God commands Abraham – formerly Abram – to sacrifice his son Isaac, and he prepares to do just that before the reprieve. Abraham had faith; righteous faith, that is, he was right with God. He trusted God and that trust was demonstrated by his obedience. Some of the stories of Abram/Abraham are overwhelming in terms of the magnitude of his willingness to just obey God, seemingly without question. Farther along in Genesis, we discover that neither Abraham nor his wife, Sarah, were perfect in all ways.
       Paul helps us along by opening us up to the understanding that anyone/all of us can be in right relationship with God even in our less-than-perfect ways. Righteousness of faith and obedience are less about the defined commandments given to Noah and more about commitment and attitude.
      Nicodemus engages Jesus for the first of three times in John’s Gospel in this reading. A high-status member of the Great Sanhedrin, the governing council of the Jews at that time, Nicodemus stands firm in and for Jewish orthodoxy/the Law. Yet something about Jesus and his unconventional path as a religious teacher draws Nicodemus to seek Jesus out, although only at night. It is in this passage that the famous John 3:16, seen on placards at sporting events, For God so loved the world that he gave his only son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but have eternal life is foundMartin Luther describes this passage as “the Gospel in miniature.” We aren’t deserving but God is giving us every opportunity to bring our penitent hearts and imperfect faith to this relationship. 
      Following on in John 3:17, Jesus tells Nicodemus that God did not send the Son…to condemn the world, but…that the world might be saved through him. Coming to Jesus begins when we take stock of the earthly “values” that separate us from God and one another and opens us to the realization of the Spirit already shining within us. That awakening is as a new birth and the brilliance within begins to show through us. It deepens our faith and commitment and strengthens us to attempt more obedience, have more trust, and be more faithful to the life that Christ is teaching us to follow. We leave behind the notion of a vengeful god only wanting us to be punished and draw near to the love of God who never leaves us behind.  
      Faith can be shaken and still endure. Faith can be sought even if not understood. Thomas Aquinas, 13th century theologian/philosopher, whose influence still pervades Christian thought today, said, “To one who has faith, no explanation is necessary. To one without faith, no explanation is possible.” To move deeper into faith and commitment is to journey as Abraham – new land, new language, new life. With the baptism of the Spirit we are reborn, we take new steps in faith, and follow Christ. We aren’t called to be perfect but we are perfectly called by a love greater than mere human words can express, it is our rebirthing that gives us true life.


Leader:  ~ O Lord, our Maker and our Help, sustain us in our flawed and uncertain attempts with faith as we seek to know the grace of new birth through Your Holy Spirit. Guide our efforts to be earnest in the desire to live this life as preparation for eternal life with You.

                                                O God of Constant Mercy                                         
RESPONSE:         Deliver us from doubt       

~ O Lord, our Maker and our Help, we lift our eyes to You, in these confusing and unsettled times, to guide us and the leaders of all governments across this Earth, this Nation, and this Community to genuine clarity of judgment and charity of heart. We pray especially for: add your own petitions 

                                                O God of Constant Mercy
                                                Deliver us from doubt 

~ O Lord, our Maker and our Help, calm the distress of those who are ailing in body, mind, or spirit, and grant stamina to those who give care. We now join our hearts to pray for those in need… add your own petitions

                                                O God of Constant Mercy
                                                Deliver us from doubt     

~ O Lord our Maker and our Help, comfort those who grieve with a foretaste of the joy and celebration enfolding all who now live forever with You. We pray especially for… add your own petitions

                                                O God of Constant Mercy
                                                Deliver us from doubt

~ O Lord our Maker and our Help, 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 of Constant Mercy
                                                Deliver us from doubt                   

~ O Lord, our Maker and our Help, fortify the souls of all who are anointed to lead Your Church as they strive to impart to us the faith of Abraham and the willingness to seek only the heavenly things of salvation through Christ. We pray especially for: add your own petitions

                                                O God of Constant Mercy
                                                Deliver us from doubt    
The Celebrant adds: Living and Eternal God, for the mere price of our enduring faith, You promise us life unending and love without limit. May these reflective days of Lent turn our hearts to repentance as we examine and deepen our commitment to You. We ask this through Your Only Son, our Savior, Jesus Christ; and Your Holy Spirit, our Sanctifier; who live and reign with You, as One God, now and for evermore.  Amen. 


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