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 27, 2023

Prayers of the People: The Advent-ure Begins ~ 1st Sunday of Advent, RCL, '23 Yr B

For Sunday, December 3, 2023, Readings: Isaiah 64:1-9, Psalm 80:1-7, 16-18; 1 Corinthians 1:3-9, 
Mark 13:24-37
  O that you would tear open the heavens and come down, so that the mountains would quake at your presence - as when fire kindles brushwood and the fire causes water to boil...Yet, O Lord, you are our Father; we are the clay, and you are our potter; we are all the work of you hand... O Lord do not remember iniquity forever. Now consider, we are all your people. [Isaiah 64:1-2a, 8, 9b]

   Restore us, O God of Hosts; show the light of your countenance, and we shall be saved...And so will we never turn away from you; give us life, that we may call upon your name[Psalm 80:7, 17]

          I give thanks to my God always for you because of the grace of God that has been given you in Christ Jesus; for in every way you have been enriched in him, in speech and knowledge of every kind - just as the testimony of Christ has been strengthened among you...as you wait for the revealing of our Lord Jesus Christ...He will also strengthen you to the end. [1 Corinthians 1:4-6, 7b, 8a]

   Then they will see the 'Son of Man coming in clouds' with great power and glory. Then he will send out the angels, and gather his elect from the four winds...Beware, keep alert; for you do not know when the time will come...Therefore, keep awake - for you do not know when the Master of the House will come...or else he may find you asleep when he comes suddenly. [Mark 26-27, 33, 35a, 36]

   Welcome to Advent, a season of hopeful waiting, and the beginning of a new Liturgical year, Year B in the three year cycle of Sunday readings. Think of it as a time to see and hear the same readings differently, with fresh eyes and ears; to not just focus on the end of this time, but on each reading of each Sunday so as to know them for the first time. The name advent comes from the Latin adventus, meaning "arrival" or "coming," especially the coming of something of great importance.  We are to spend the four weeks before Christmas, preparing ourselves and our souls in hope and with repentance for our sins, as we await the birth of Jesus, our Redeemer Christ. Yet this Advent preparation is about far more than waiting for a sweet baby to be announced by a chorus of angels and welcomed by shepherds. The sacred Birth would have been long forgotten were it not for the intervention of God in the form of Jesus who became the Christ, the Messiah, the one anointed by God. Christ, anglicized from the Greek, has more or less become the last or surname of Jesus instead of his “title” or his Human-Divine position and role within the Trinity.
    Jesus in his earthly time came to teach us, warn us, and show us how to prepare for the Second Coming, the Parousia [pahr-oo-see-uh, from the Greek for coming], the Last JudgmentIt’s not as warm and fuzzy a concept and is far less exciting for many of us to anticipate than the pretty tree with lights, sparkling decorations, beautifully wrapped gifts, and the wide-eyed wonder of little ones.
    Liturgical rituals for this time in some denominations include marking the beginning of each week by the lighting of a candle in an Advent Wreath with a prayerful reflection before the Liturgy [the Mass or the Service] begins. Even at home, families and individuals may use a wreath or an Advent Calendar for daily or weekly reflection. Each of the four candles represents a theme from the readings of that week.
    This week’s theme is Hope. In a year where our world has seen the heavens torn open, mountains quakefire kindling brushwood all across this Earth, and adding in hurricanes, all decimating the lives of millions, and then the violence wrought by humans in weapons small and large, on our streets, in schools, and shopping malls, and especially in wars new and ongoing that are killing people in the tens of thousands. It does give pause and perhaps a deep inhalation of breath and wonder. But the Prophet Isaiah is reminding God that we are the clay, God is our potter, and we are the work of God’s hands. So please, God, says Isaiah, do not remember iniquity forever...we are all your people. The Psalmist also speaks to and asks God to restore us so that in the hope of God's light we will be saved. We can call upon God’s name any time and we will be heard.
    Paul, in 1 Corinthians, tells us that we are not lacking in any spiritual gifts and Jesus will strengthen us, if we let him.
    Jesus, the true Master of the House, also gives us hope with a few warning signs that will signal the Son of Man coming in clouds with great power and glory...But...Beware, keep alert; for you do not know when this time will come. Not the angels nor the Son himself know the time, only God knows the day and the hour. Jesus even seemed to be saying that those he was speaking to would not pass away until all these things have taken place, yet here we are 2000+ years later. Perhaps he meant that their souls would not pass away. Every generation since the time of Christ has seen and interpreted signs that seem to be saying the end is near. Yet, so far, we are still here. But the message is clear, we must not assume that because it hasn’t happened yet, it won’t happen in our time. We must be eternally vigilant about who we and our priorities are. Our Hope truly is in the name of the Lord, and, in our willingness to turn the thoughts and actions of our lives toward the light of God's enduring, continuous presence. 
     It's definitely not easy to get back on the right course, especially at this time of year with all the glitter that is a welcome distraction from woes and worries. But that can also obscure our inner vision and divert us from our good intentions. The cloud cover on our path forward begins to lift when we are sincere in our desire to dedicate our lives to Christ, always ready to be gathered from the four winds and claimed for eternity.
     Just as a New Year's resolution starts well and means well, Advent is the opportunity to be intentional about preparing for and renewing our commitment to Jesus as our Savior. Each season of the Liturgical Year is designed to help us to remember, continuously renew, and re-commit ourselves to our faith and to Christ. Here's a new beginning to get back into good habits of faith building and faith in action. Our cultural use gives us one definition of adventure as something unusual and exciting.
   Instead of walking in spiritual mindlessness through the next few weeks, let us stride with intention as an exciting and unusual Advent-ure begins!


Leader:  ~ O Creator God, we are Your clay, we are all Your people, each of us molded by the work of Your Hand. Gather us from the four winds and restore us, that we may be relieved of our unbelief, awakened by Your Light, and never again turn away from You.

                                        O Lord of Hosts                                        
                   RESPONSE:      Keep us alert and prepared          

~ O Creator God, enlighten the souls and steady the hearts and minds of all who govern across this Earth. Straighten the path to peace and unity with local, national, and international friends and adversaries alike, guiding the path to justice, mercy, humanitarian, and planetary care. We pray especially for: add your own petitions

                                                       O Lord of Hosts
                                                       Keep us alert and prepared

~ O Creator God, embrace and sustain all who are seriously ill or facing desperate times, that they, and those who give support, may know Your warmth, light, and encouragement within. We now join our hearts to pray for those in need…add your own petitions

                                                       O Lord of Hosts
                                                       Keep us alert and prepared

~  O Creator God, console and inspire us with the knowing that Your Kingdom is welcoming with glory all who are now entering Your gates, and Your embrace of all who will soon transition from this life. We pray especially for… add your own petitions

                                                       O Lord of Hosts
                                                       Keep us alert and prepared

~ O Creator God, we pause in this moment to offer You our other heartfelt thanksgivings, intercessions, petitions, and memorials…add your own petitions

                                                       O Lord of Hosts
                                                       Keep us alert and prepared

~ O Creator God, rekindle our hope in this waiting time, especially in all who are anointed in Your Name, to lead us to Your Truth that is our Christ. We pray especially for: add your own petitions

                                                       O Lord of Hosts
                                                      Keep us alert and prepared


The Celebrant adds:  O Son of Man, Master of the House, keep us awake with joyful anticipation, preparing our souls  through prayer and repentance, for the sudden unknown time of Your return to claim us for eternity. We ask through the Holy Spirit, our Heavenly Advocate; and the Divine Architect of all that is, who together with You reign as One God, forever and for always.  Amen.

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