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.

Saturday, February 25, 2023

Meditation Moment in Lent ~ Day 4, Give Up, Take On, Pray

February 25, 2023 

    Life moves at warp speed for many of us. So many have-to's, so many must-do's, so many want-to's, so many didn't do's...so many shoulds, coulds, woulds...so little time. How do we know how to prioritize what is most important?  How can we stop doing so much and find time to just be?"

   Mystic/Trappist Monk/Author Thomas Merton (1915-1968) wrote:

We are so obsessed with doing that we have no time 
or no imagination left for being.  
As a result men [sic] are valued not for what they are 
but for what they do or what they have 
~ for their usefulness.

Dearest Holy Parent, 
today I will give up trying to be everywhere and do everything and live into everyone else's wants and expectations for my life. Today I will take on stealing time from my worldly life to spend with You ~ my God ~ as a way to build up my spiritual life. I pray for Your Presence as I start with just 5 minutes each day breathing deeply with intention, even if I have to do it hiding in the bathroom or behind the garage. I do want to be more faithful in my prayer life. To that end, I will take small slow steps starting with a pause in my busy-ness for deep breathing several times a day, and move toward small, short prayers ~ while breathing ~ just to say, "Hello, God, this is me, I'm glad we're here in this moment together. I'll come back more often, I promise."  amen.


(Start with 3 deep breaths in and then out and slowly work up to 6 and then to 10 as you wake, at mid-day, and before bed and then add another time or two whenever you think of it. Hold your hands and arms together in a prayer position, up in front of your face, the tips of your fingers at your forehead. Imagine filling a balloon in your abdomen/belly by pushing it out on the inhale while raising your arms at the elbows and keeping your hands together. Hold the air in for a count of 3. Then, with your hands together, close your elbows, using them as a bellows to exhale the breath, counting to 3 as you pull in your abdomen/belly to empty. Breathe through your nose on the inhale and through your mouth on the exhale. Soon you'll be deep breathing in and out regularly without realizing it, but still stop intentionally, using your arms and counting on inhale and exhale several times a day. Another breath prayer can be something like, on inhale: Jesus be with me now; on the exhale: and I will be with you. There are no right or wrong words!)

Here's a link on how to do deep breathing properly. This says to lie down or sit. Personally I find it easier to stand or sit most of the time except when I first wake up:


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Friday, February 24, 2023

Meditation Moment in Lent ~ Day 3, Give Up, Take On, Pray '23

For Friday, February 24, 2023

   The Season of Lent
 conjures up a dreary and lengthy period of time centered around self-denial, fasting, and hours on your knees.  But, as said here yesterday, let's fast from more than just food or addictive substances during this time. Let us voluntarily give up conscious and discover our unconscious habits that are physically and spiritually unhealthy. We can seek ways to take on a new daily spiritual activity in this Lenten season, even if we already have a regular practice. Trying out different forms of prayer or meditation, reading a biography of or the writings of a current or classic biblical scholar or authors on different forms of spiritual/prayer practices can give us ideas for fresh ways of living our faith. Look for a variety of inspirational quotes or readings in and out of Christianity for a broader perspective. People such as Dietrich Bonhoeffer, the Dali Lama, Amy-Jill Levine, the poet Rumi, Pema Chodron, mystic monk Thomas Merton, or Evelyn Underhill, to name a very few. Start slowly. This soul work isn’t meant to be difficult or overwhelming but rather to spend a few minutes a day to whet our appetites for continuing to grow in Christ. As we dedicate those acts to God for the benefit of our spiritual life, we can pray as we go that, by the end of this Lent, we will find new ways of living a more positive and fulfilling Christian life beyond these 40 days.


Dear God of Us All, 

     Every day “civilization” seems to be getting ever more crass and distasteful. Even TV entertainment seems to revolve around the "reality" of watching people's "real lives" crash and burn, with no dignity attached. Illegal “outlaw” activities, 90 day relationships, easy online gambling, lots of naked and nearly, and so much more. Even the commercials are mostly 30 second sound bites or full-on infomercials with explicit details of intimate self-care and every conceivable “clinically tested but not FDA approved" remedy for everything. But if big football heroes, tv doctors hawking their own expensive brands, and aging actors approve… I wonder, in what basement is that “clinic?” What does this do to the souls of those participating or my own if I watch beyond the previews? 
    For today, I'm going to give up tv and take on gathering those usable clothes and household things that I’ve been meaning to donate and actually do it. I'll pray for those who will use them and spend time in prayers of thanksgiving for all the blessings of life that I have. I'll also work on reducing the amount of time I spend on thinking mean thoughts about people on certain types of tv, oh, and especially those people I encounter while I'm driving. amen.


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Tuesday, February 21, 2023

Meditation Moment in Lent: Spring Cleaning ~ Lent Begins, Ash Wednesday 2023

Ash Wednesday, February 22, 2023

I do not think you should get rid of your sin
until you have learned what it has to teach you.
  [Richard Rohr, O.F.B*] 

          Here we are again at Ash Wednesday as Lent begins the Christian 40-day journey to Easter. Some will give up chocolate, junk food, or alcohol as an expression of penitence. Others will take on a new prayer or meditation discipline for the period, and some will be well-intentioned, begin in good faith, but falter along the way - not unlike "New Year's Resolutions." Some, of course, won't give Lent any particular attention.
        Some of us will receive ashes on our foreheads - which can be a stark and somber emblem of our individual and collective mortality - from dust we came and to dust we will return. It is also a graphic symbol of our faith commitment, our team logo, a temporary tattoo of our family crest, the sign of the Presence of Christ, the Light of the World. 
        Let's not make this Lent a dark and dreary trudge through the wilderness of gloom and doom. Life is a gift of God, a treasure, a miracle. While we must take the time to examine our sins and acknowledge the everyday idols that lead us astray, let us also do as Fr. Richard Rohr suggests - learn what our sins can teach us about ourselves. We go through much of life unconsciously and we can't get rid of something we don't know we have. Lent is a time to look closely and discover what we've been hiding in basement of our souls. Just like Spring cleaning - or Fall if you're in the southern hemisphere - it's time to awaken to the best of ourselves, re-discover what it means to commit our lives to Christ, and throw the sin out with the trash. Let us repent with eagerness, with attention and intention, let us turn toward the Light and thrive. (by the way, repent actually means to have a change of heart, a new consciousness, and more importantly, to turn toward God)

Create in me a clean heart, O God,
and renew a right spirit within me.

Cast me not away from your presence
and take not your Holy Spirit from me.

Give me the joy of your saving help again
and sustain me with your bountiful Spirit.

~ Psalm 51:11-13


*Fr. Richard Rohr [1943- ] is a Franciscan priest, the inspirational author of more than 20 books of practical books on contemplative prayer, Christian mysticism, spirituality, the Perennial Tradition, etc., and is internationally recognized as an ecumenical teacher and speaker having shared presentations with Sr. Joan Chittister, The Rev. Cynthia Bourgeault, the Dali Lama, Pastor Rob Bell, and so many others. He is the founder of the Center for Action and Contemplation in Albuquerque, New Mexico where he resides.  See http://www.cac.org for more information.

All compositions remain the property of the owner of this blog but may be used with attribution and edited for local use as long as they are not sold or charged for in any way. For more information or comments, contact: Leeosophy@gmail.com

Monday, February 20, 2023

Prayers of the People: With Opened Eyes ~ First Sunday "in" Lent '23 Yr A

For Sunday, February 26, 2023, Readings: Genesis 2:15-17; 3:1-7Psalm 32Romans 5:12-19Matthew 4:1-11

   Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew they were both naked; and they sewed fig leaves together and made loincloths for themselves. [Genesis 3:7] 

    Then I acknowledged my sin to you, and did not conceal my guilt. I said, "I will confess my transgressions to the LORD." Then you forgave me the guilt of my sin."  [Psalm 32:6-7]

    For if the many died through the one man's trespass, much more surely have the grace of God and the free gift in the grace of the one man, Jesus Christ...the abundance of grace and the free gift of righteousness... [Romans 5:15b, 17b]

   The tempter came and said to him, "If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread." But he answered, "It is written, 'One does not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.'" [Matthew 4:3-4]

     This day, in some Christian denominations, is the First Sunday in* Lent, a season of prayer, reflection, and repentance. While Lent officially began last week on Ash Wednesday, we now begin in earnest over forty days, symbolic of both Moses’ time on Mt. Sinai and Jesus’ temptations in the wilderness. Temptation is the theme that undergirds this season. Genesis tells us about the man and woman, later known as Adam and Eve, who succumb to the temptation offered by the serpent, thinking they understood the consequences. With their eyes wide open after partaking of the forbidden fruit, they are suddenly aware of being naked. Paul reflects on the difference between the couple in the Garden and how Jesus stood firm on the mountain. Matthew’s Gospel is more explicit about Jesus' confrontation with the Devil.  
    Temptation is, simply, the lure of the wanted, the desired. Our mortal time is filled with unlimited varieties of attractions that entice and stimulate our appetites. Temptation is as small as an unhealthy sugary delight, a second glass of wine, or a third helping at the buffet table, and as large as a forbidden relationship, abuse of power, or murder. Russell Moore, a Southern Baptist theologian, ethicist, and preacher once said: Temptation starts with a question of identity, moves to a confusion of the desires, and ultimately heads to a contest of futures. In short, there’s a reason you want what you do not want to want. Temptation is embryonic, personality specific, and purpose directed.** We cannot free ourselves of it which is why we have this season – and beyond – to consciously examine what triggers the desires, and what, as in the case of Adam and Eve, keeps pulling us to the knowing “fall” into the clutches of the wanted-not-wanted. That brings us to repentance and a renewed desire to improve our resistance to those enticements.
      The word repent in Biblical Hebrew is represented by two verbs: to return and to feel sorrow. In the post-Resurrection New Testament of Christianity, it can be defined as: to think differently after; to make a change of mind and heart.  Unlikely as it is that many of us will find ourselves in an actual wilderness for these forty days, it still is an opportune time to take ourselves away symbolically for a few minutes or more each day. We can look for ways to simplify our wants in this temporal life, to dig down into our deepest selves to find the living Presence of God in Christ within us. We can seek and experience a positive change, to feel sorrow for our sins, and with open eyes, return to the conscious work of living as God intends. It is far less about giving up a piece of chocolate/beer/or bad habit, and more about taking on a spiritual practice to discover again, or for the first time, what true life is all about and how to live it in an authentically Christian way.  
      Resistance builds on itself and looks ahead rather than in the heat of a momentas having a spare tire in the trunk of the car. When we summon the courage through the grace of God to resist even mild temptation, we invite the spiritual growth that gives us ever increasing strength and grace to resist more, and so, to grow into the Life in Christ that beckons us. Moore tells us further: Don’t let your urges scare you. Let them instead drive you to pray for the wisdom to see what you were created to be and to do…seek to direct your appetites toward the ways in which the Word of God…tell us they can be fulfilled.   
      Lent is the perfect time to examine the temptations and distractions, the emptiness or even destructiveness of some activity in our lives, the nakedness in our souls. Through prayer and reflection, meditation, etc., within small groups, on one's own, or both, or even with a pastoral counselor or spiritual director, we can discover ways that bolster our ability to resist evils small and big and bigger. Whether through a Lenten study guide online or in hand, the practice of Morning and Evening Prayer from the Book of Common Prayer or another source, or the daily reading of Scripture, among many other ways, one small step begins the journey. The more we resist the glitter and lure of the temporary earthly delight, the less prone we will be to sliding into the cold chill of the shadows of sin, leaving behind the warmth of God's embrace. We can build on the fortitude of Christ within us. Yes, we’ll fail, often, and perhaps spectacularly. So fill that spiritual trunk with the spare tire of prayer and repentance and begin again and again. You won’t be turned away. 
      Jesus, ultimate Resistor of Temptation, give me strength to walk consciously on the path toward You with opened eyes, as my grace-filled heart and soul seek renewal and strength of faith in each step and each moment of each day.

*FYI: The Sundays in the Season of Lent do not “count” in the time span of 40 days which is why the heading is the x/th Sunday in Lent rather than of Lent. The Sundays of Epiphany or Advent do count in the time up to their Holy occasions, Christmas and Epiphany. The Sundays beyond the Epiphany and also Pentecost are noted as the # Sunday after...

**from ”Tempted and Tried” by Russell D. Moore, President of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, the public-policy arm of the Southern Baptist Convention


Leader:  ~ Creator Lord, You have given us eyes to see ourselves as we truly are and the heart to accept Your free gift of grace through Christ. Fill us now with the courage to step forward in faith, to repent of our sins, and to turn the life we have been given to Your guidance and to Your service.

                                                         O God of Mercy
RESPONSE:                  We now confess and begin again

~ Creator Lord, impel the political leaders in our World, in our Nation, and in our Community, to rally to Your call and forsake the temptations and vanity of the power of power, and to govern with integrity, equity, and truth. We pray especially for: add your own petitions

                                                       O God of Mercy
                                                       We now confess and begin again                                       
~ Creator Lord, sustain the faith and dispel the despair of all who are chronically ill in body, mind, or spirit, and of all who attend to their needs. We now join our hearts to pray aloud for those in need… add your own petitions

                                                       O God of Mercy
                                                       We now confess and begin again 

~ Creator Lord, lift us from our grief into the hope of eternal life and joy, reunited with all who now live again in glory with You. We pray especially for… add your own petitions

                                                       O God of Mercy
                                                       We now confess and begin again

~ Creator Lord, 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 Mercy
                                                       We now confess and begin again  
~ Creator Lord, fortify and energize all who are anointed to bring us Your Word and Sacraments. As they shepherd us in faith, we walk together toward wholeness in You. We pray especially for: add your own petitions

                                                       O God of Mercy
                                                       We now confess and begin again                                                                                            
The Celebrant adds: Most Holy God, You sent Jesus into a world of temptation and trials not so different from our world of today. Accepting obedience to Your Law, he triumphed over it all to save us. Shield us from the lures of false prophets as we begin our own 40 days of reflection to keep our hearts true and trusting in Your Eternal Grace. We ask this in the name of Jesus, our Great High Priest; and the Holy Spirit, our Sanctifier; who reign with You, as One God, forever and ever.  Amen. 


All compositions remain the property of the owner of this blog but may be used with attribution and edited for local use as long as they are not sold or charged for in any way. For more information or comments, contact: Leeosophy@gmail.com

Monday, February 13, 2023

Prayers of the People: Dazzle in the Clouds ~ Last Sunday after the Epiphany '23 Yr A

For Sunday, February 19, 2023; Readings: Exodus 24:12-18, Psalm 99, 2 Peter 1:16-21, Matthew 17:1-9

  The Lord said to Moses, "Come up to me on the mountain... and I will give you the tablets of stone, with the law and the commandment, which I have written for their instruction...The glory of the Lord settled on Mount Sinai, and the cloud covered it for six days... [Exodus 24: 12, 16a]

  Mighty King, lover of Justice, you have established equity; you have executed justice and righteousness in Jacob. Extol the Lord our God; worship at his footstool. Holy is he! [Psalm 99:4-5]

   For [Jesus] received honor and glory from God...We ourselves heard this voice come from heaven...So we have the prophetic message more fully confirmed. You will do well to be attentive to this as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the morning star rises in your hearts...no prophecy ever came by human will, but men and women moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God. [2 Peter 1:17a, 18a, 19, 21]

        Six days later, Jesus...led them up a high mountain...and he was transfigured before them and his face shone like the sun, and his clothes became dazzling white...While [Peter] was still speaking, suddenly a bright cloud overshadowed them, and from the cloud a voice said, "This is my Son, the Beloved; with him I am well pleased; listen to him!" ...they fell to the ground...overcome by fear. But Jesus...touched them saying, "Get up and do not be afraid." [Matthew 17:1a, 2, 5, 6b, 7]

    We begin the readings for this Sunday with a taste of the Moses story of his ascending Mt. Sinai to await the tablets containing God’s instructions. After waiting for the call for 6 days, he entered the blazing cloud of God’s glory that had covered the mountain and could be seen by those below. What comes later in Exodus is Moses veiling his face after his divine encounter as his own radiance is nearly blinding to the Israelites on his return.  
    As with Moses and the stone tablets, the Transfiguration of Jesus is at once mystery, miracle, and milestone. Jesus became a dazzling, shining, glowing, gleaming, shimmering beam of radiant glory! A momentary, visible metamorphosis of form and appearance. At the top of the mountain, Jesus becomes the connection, the conduit between human and divine ~ between God and us. Another cloud of God in glory overshadowed them and again, God spoke to say, as at his baptism, “This is my Son, my Beloved…” and most importantly for Peter, James, John, and us: listen to him!  These particular kinds of clouds in which God is present, are known in Judaism as the Shekinah [sheck-in-nah] ~ a feminine Hebrew word for a name of God. It also translates to "settling or dwelling of the Divine Presence."
     We are quite familiar with the miracles Jesus performs through the Spirit of God along the way of his ministry ~ changing water to wine, healing the blind, the lame, casting out demons, raising the dead. But this is unique among them as this is a miracle of God within Jesus, unmistakably transforming him in the sight of others. Even if not completely understood, it was, for the disciples with him, a tiny sample of divine radiance.
     The milestone is glorious yet subtly somber. Moses and Elijah were speaking with Jesus about his departure which he was about to accomplish in Jerusalem. This comes just 6 days after Jesus tells the disciples that he will undergo suffering as will those who choose to follow. Peter was rebuked by Jesus for arguing the point and now he is a witness to the extraordinary Being that is Jesus. And now, Jesus says, Do not be afraid.
     It was only a few weeks ago we birthed him, baptized him, and heard him preaching in parables, and challenging the conventional norms. Now, already, Moses and Elijah speak of his departure from his human existence. How time flies in the Lectionary! We are about to enter a time of reflection, faith exploration, choosing between repentance and following Jesus or taking the easier path of mortal enticement. Lent is upon us.
    For us in our time, such readings may seem all too familiar as we know that we are heading into the solemn preparation for Good Friday and joy and celebration of Easter Sunday. Even if it is difficult to get our culturally jaded, multi-media savvy, western minds around this sublime moment in the life of our Redeemer, let us remember the voice that comes from the cloud to tell us that Jesus is indeed the Son of God, His Beloved, His Chosen.
    Let us choose to listen. After the seriousness of Lent, the dazzle of the Transfiguration will be completely outshone by the indescribable glory of the Resurrection, if we open ourselves to knowing it again, differently. When we can nearly see and almost experience the dazzle in the clouds from these readings, it will be a new beginning for our journey to our own transfiguration and transformation as true listeners and followers of Jesus our Christ.


Leader:  ~ O God of Majestic Glory, transfigure our souls to radiate as the light of Jesus, shining through the darkness in this mortal life. May Your Holy Spirit rise in our hearts as the morning star each dawn, to make known the power, the presence, and the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.

                                                     Loving Lord, our God
           RESPONSE:               May our faith be strong and unafraid 

~ O God of Majestic Glory, grant wisdom to kings and all rulers of the Earth, this Nation, and this Community, that they will bow to Your will, mandate, and legislate justice tempered with mercy for all. We pray especially for: add your own petitions

                                                       Loving Lord, our God
                                                       May our faith be strong and unafraid

~ O God of Majestic Glory, embrace all who are seriously ill, weary, or anxious, and bless those who give them care. We now join our voices to pray aloud for those in need… add your own petitions

                                                       Loving Lord, our God
                                                       May our faith be strong and unafraid?    

~ O God of Majestic Glory, comfort us in knowing that the souls of those who have gone before us, are now enfolded in the dazzling radiance of the Transfigured Christ forever. We pray especially for… add your own petitions

                                                       Loving Lord, our God
                                                       May our faith be strong and unafraid 

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

                                                       Loving Lord, our God
                                                       May our faith be strong and unafraid             

~ O God of Majestic Glory, ignite the spirits of all who lead us in Your church, as the men and women who reveal Your Will to us through Word, Sacrament, and guidance on the Way. We pray especially for: add your own petitions

                                                       Loving Lord, our God
                                                       May our faith be strong and unafraid                                      

The Celebrant adds: Mighty King, Lover of Justice, You enjoin us to listen to Your Beloved Son who told us do not be afraid. Strengthen us to know the Radiant Christ in our hearts, striving to follow Your Law in faith, with courage and conviction. We ask in the name of the Resurrected Jesus; and the Holy Spirit, Your Divine Voice; who lives and reigns with You as One God, forever and ever. Amen. 

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Monday, February 6, 2023

Prayers of the People: Word Power ~ 6th Sunday after Epiphany '23 Yr A

For Sunday, February 12, 2023, Readings: Sirach 15:15-20 [Deuteronomy 30:15-20], Psalm 119:1-8, 1 Corinthians 3:1-9, Matthew 5:21-37

  If you choose, you can keep the commandments, and to act faithfully is a matter of your choice. He has placed before you fire and water; stretch out your hand for whichever you choose[Sirach 15:15-16]

 [Choose life so that you and your descendants may live, loving the Lord your God, obeying him, and holding fast to him, for that means life to you and length of days, so that you may live in the land that the Lord swore to give to your ancestors, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob.” [Deuteronomy 30:19b-20]]

   Happy are they whose way is blameless, who walk in the law of the Lord! Happy are they who observe his decrees and seek him with all their hearts! I will thank you with an unfeigned heart... [Psalm 119:1-2, 7a]

    I could not speak to you as spiritual people, but rather...infants in Christ. Even now you are still not ready, for you are still people of the flesh...So neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but only God gives the growth. The one who plants and the one who waters have a common purpose...For we are God's servants, working together; you are God's field, God's building.  [1 Corinthians 3:11b, 2b-3, 7-9]

    So when you are offering your gift at the altar, if you remember that your brother or sister has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go; first be reconciled to your brother or sister, and then come and offer your gift...If your right eye causes you to sin tear it out...and if your right hand causes you to sin, cut if off and throw it away... [Matthew 5:23, 29a, 30a]

*You must before your God appear to Give an account of your transactions, And how you spent your time, when here.” [The Rev. Absalom Jones  1746-1818]

        Life is about our choices. We all have soul choices and faith decisions to make in and for this life, even in the midst of unforeseen circumstances. The reading from the Book of Sirach, also known as Ecclesiasticus, gives those in his time (about 2nd century BCE) and us, the reality that we ourselves can choose to keep the Commandments and to act faithfully. The other Old Testament reading choice for today, Deuteronomy, similarly outlines our choices and emphasizing that by observing the commandments, decrees, and ordinances and by loving God, we choose life and the “if this/then that” of our actions with their consequences: I set before you today life and prosperity, death and adversity. The Psalmist chimes in with the incentives of faithfulness by telling us how happy they are who observe the Law of the Lord, our God.
       Paul lays it out to the Church at Corinth ~ they were not ready to hear what he had to say ~ and he spoke to them as infants in Christ because they were still of the flesh. He also tells them/us that working together in community, with a common purpose, serves our God. There are planters and waterers in God’s fields, and we are each called in to till, fertilize, or manage. Yet with all we are to do, only God provides the growth. 
       We also may not be ready to hear the message. It’s so easy to be led astray, to bow to the many gods in the gardens of life’s idol and idle distractions ~ the idolatries of social media, of celebrities, of mega-wealth, of choosing the “correct” side of multiple political issues while fomenting exponentially increasing outrage ~ our own and others; or trying to be around the “right” kind of people while judging and excluding, or worse, "those other" kinds of people.
       In this third continuation of the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus furthers the idea of community with a list do’s and don’ts regarding our behaviors with and toward others. In one sense, it sounds as though he’s replacing The Law with his own, but read carefully. In his use of You have heard…but I say…Jesus is not reducing but expanding the scope of God’s Law. Most of us avoid murder, for example, but Jesus is warning us that our anger and insult can be a form of violence and subject to God’s judgment. In that vein, it is not a surprise that he says first, be reconciled to your brother or sister.
       There is so much depth to each of Christ’s admonitions. These commandments are not simply a basic morality checklist. They are individually and collectively organized around love, trust, and commitment to God through how we are with one another. We must look beyond the literal statements and understand that each and every one of these are intent on us flourishing in this life. By understanding and living into the full expanse of these commandments, we are then able to experience the transformative power of spiritual and relational wholeness. No, not everyone will welcome the love but it’s how we respond that is the crux of the call. We all fail in relationships at one time or another and we have to decide what to do about it. Being reconciled to our brothers and sisters may simply mean I have sincerely offered to work things out. Some will accept, some will not join me in returning to the altar of God. As we hear Jesus say in Mark’s Gospel, the Greatest Commandment is to love God with all of yourself and love your neighbor as (if she/he/they were) yourself ~ if we do all that then we ARE following the Commandments, we ARE living the Law, we ARE reconciled to God and humanity, and we do Choose Life ~ eternal life ~ spiritual nourishment, with an open and unfeigned heart
       As the Episcopal Church in the US honors The Rev. Absalom Jones on February 13, his words also echo all of the readings and lay out the bottom line for our choice: You must before your God appear to give an account of your transactions, and how you spent your time, when here.  The clear message of the combined readings that I hear is that God gives us free will to choose the path we take and tells us what results to expect. Take it or leave it. Face the consequences. Be reconciled. Are you still an infant in Christ?  Grow up! Be in, with, and for Christ or, not. The power of these words within us gives us the clear options, the choice is ours to make, for this life and the next. 

* The Rev. Absalom Jones was born into slavery in Sussex County, Delaware in 1746 and had an extraordinary life in ministry and beyond. He became the first African-American priest in the Episcopal Church in the US, founded several churches, multiple organizations to aid freed and runaway slaves, and a Literary Circle. He is celebrated on the calendar of the US Episcopal Church each February 13. For more information, click here: Prayers of the People: The Rev Absalom Jones

Leader:  ~ O God of Blessing and Promise, inject our spirits with a conscious inner hunger that drives us away from human idolatries, to follow Your ways and to choose the soul-saving path of Your Law.
                                                          O Lord, our God                                            
            RESPONSE:                  We place our trust in You
~ O God of Blessing and Promise, may those who govern in our names throughout this world, this country, and this community, be earnest in observing Your decrees and keeping Your statutes faithfully, in good conscience, for the well-being of all Your people and all of Your Creation. We pray especially for: add your own petitions
                                                      O Lord, our God
                                                     We place our trust in You
~ O God of Blessing and Promise, we ask your blessings for those who are dangerously ill, distraught, or life-weary, and for all who serve their needs. We now join our hearts to pray for those in need… add your own petitions
                                                       O Lord, our God
                                                      We place our trust in You
~ O God of Blessing and Promise, hold close the hearts in sorrow, as we celebrate the gifts of all who have departed for new life in Your complete love and perfect peace. We pray especially for… add your own petitions
                                                       O Lord, our God
                                                      We place our trust in You
~ O God of Blessing and Promise, we pause in this moment to offer You our other heartfelt thanksgivings, intercessions, petitions, and memorials, aloud or silently… add your own petitions
                                                       O Lord, our God
                                                      We place our trust in You
~ O God of Blessing and Promise, may all who serve Your Church feel affirmed and encouraged in guiding us toward growth and grace in You, while we work together as the planters and waterers among Your fields. We pray especially for: add your own petitions
                                                       O Lord, our God
                                                      We place our trust in You
The Celebrant adds: Holy and Mighty God, turn our hearts away from the distractions of earthly existence and stretch out our hands to choose Life Eternal with You. Grant us courage to reconcile with one another, even in disagreement, and to begin each day with love, determined to carry out the vows we have made in Baptism. As Your Servant, The Rev. Absalom Jones reminds us, we give gratitude for Your blessings and will one day give our account to You for how we used our time in this life. We ask through Jesus, our Redeemer Lord; and the Holy Spirit, our Divine Counselor; who together with You are One God, now and forever. Amen. 

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