Monday, March 25, 2019

Intercessions - Lent 4C (2019)

Fourth Sunday of Lent, Year C
March 31, 2019

Even before we turn to meet God’s welcome,
the divine arms are open to accept us.
Even before the human heart is softened to repentance,
God invites all to know forgiveness.
Reconciled to God and one another by the mercy of Christ,
let us lift before God the needs of both church and world,
turning our hearts to God and singing/saying:
“Remember, O Lord, your faithfulness and love.”
“Remember, O Lord, your faithfulness and love.”

God who makes us one through the waters of the Font,
we pray for the church of Christ throughout the world.
We pray for the Provinces of the Anglican Communion,
especially for the Church of the Province of the Indian Ocean
and Archbishop James Richard Wong Yin Song.
{pause for silent prayer}
That we may be signs and agents
of the reconciliation you accomplish in Christ,
we turn our hearts to you: /R/

God who pursues us in love, we pray for this congregation of N.,
for N., our Archbishop, and for N., our Pastor(s).
We pray, too, for all who prepare for baptism, especially N.,
or for the renewal of baptismal vows, especially N.
{pause for silent prayer}
Hold before us the image of our humanity created anew,
and that we may reflect your yearning love
in all our words and actions,
we turn our hearts to you: /R/

Giver of peace, we pray for those who live or serve
in areas of warfare and arenas of conflict.
We pray especially for members of the armed forces,
diplomats, relief and human rights organizations,
and all who risk their lives in the cause of peace.
{pause for silent prayer}
And that you may quicken the hunger for concord and reconciliation
in our lives and in our world,
we turn our hearts to you: /R/

Wellspring of freedom, we pray for those longing for deliverance
from fear or anxiety, sin or guilt, despair or discouragement,
illness or any other affliction, especially N. 
{pause for silent prayer}
And that we may welcome gladly
all those for whom you prepare a feast,
we turn our hearts to you: /R/

Ever Faithful One, in whom our future rests secure,
we remember before you those who have died in the peace of Christ,
and the departed whose faith is known to you alone.
We remember especially N.
{pause for silent prayer}
And that we may hold fast to the promise of life eternal,
we turn our hearts to you: /R/

The Presider concludes with the following Collect:

God of restless longing,
you await the return of the wayward and wandering
and eagerly embrace them in pardon.
Through baptism you have clothed us with the glory of Christ
and restored our inheritance.
Give us generous hearts to welcome all who seek a place
at the table of your love.
We ask this through your mercy made flesh,
Jesus Christ the Lord,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
now and forever.

“The Prodigal Son Returns,” by Soichi Watanabe. Artwork available from various sources, including

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Intercessions - Lent 3C (2019)

Third Sunday in Lent, Year C
March 24, 2019

As high as the heavens are above the earth,
so are God’s ways higher than our ways.
That all who thirst may come to the waters and be satisfied,
let us pray to the Lord singing/saying:
“Remember, O Lord, your faithfulness and love.”
“Remember, O Lord, your faithfulness and love.”

Let us pray for the church throughout the world,
especially in those places where persecution is persistent.
Let us pray for the Anglican Communion,
especially the Hong Kong Sheng Kung Hui
and its Primate, The Most Revd Paul Kwong.
That the prayer, fasting and almsgiving of Lent
may bring forth new vitality in our worship and mission,
we pray to the Lord: /R/

Let us pray for all those preparing for baptism
or for the renewal of baptismal vows, especially N.
That shaped into signs of the Kingdom in our midst,
they may inspire us in our faith,
we pray to the Lord: /R/

Let us pray for the nations and peoples of the earth, especially N.  
That the wealth of our world
may become a force for generosity rather than greed;
an agent of friendship rather than enmity,
we pray to the Lord: /R/

Let us pray for those who suffer sickness or need, especially N.
That, through the sure faithfulness of God,
they may find strength to endure want and affliction,
we pray to the Lord: /R/

Let us remember the dead, especially N.
And that with souls satisfied as at a rich feast,
our joyful lips may proclaim continually,
“Your steadfast love is better than life,”
we pray to the Lord: /R/

The Presider concludes with the following Collect:

O God, whose doing is love,
whose doing is creation,
widen our capacity to receive your grace
and mould us in the posture of humility
that we may incline our ear to you and live.
We ask this through the One
who is your steadfast love made flesh,
Jesus Christ the Lord.

The Prayers of the People provided for the Season of Lent have been composed to echo, complement, and respond to the scripture passages assigned for Year C of the Revised Common Lectionary. Congregations engaging in “Becoming the Story We Tell” may find them of particular support. These prayers may be used “as is,” or adapted according to local need.

The response suggested for the prayers remains the same for each Sunday, with the exception of Palm Sunday/Sunday of the Passion. It is hoped that the words will be readily committed to memory, whether said or sung.

For congregations wanting to use a sung refrain, #769 in Common Praise (1998) is recommended. It is an accessible refrain that uses the congregational response suggested in the prayers below.

It is recommended that only the response for the Prayers of the People be printed in the worship leaflet or provided in PowerPoint slides.

Intercessors should prepare for The Prayers of the People well before the Liturgy to ensure any particular names or places to be included are identified and pronunciations are correct.

Even if no one in the congregation is a baptismal candidate for the Great Vigil of Easter during the Christian Passover, the Day of Pentecost, or any Sunday of the Easter Season, prayers for those preparing for baptism should be included throughout Lent. The same holds true for petitions offered for those making an intentional journey of baptismal renewal over this Lenten season. The scope of the Intercessions in Liturgy is always wider than any single congregation’s concern or context.

If any in the congregation or parish are preparing for Confirmation, their names should be included with those making an intentional journey of baptismal renewal/preparing to renew baptismal vows.

Preacher's Study - Lent 3C (2019)

The Preacher’s Study

Third Sunday of Lent, Year C

Gregor Sneddon

Isaiah 55.1-9;
Psalm 63.1-8;
1 Corinthians 10.1-13;
Luke 13.1-9

Holy Manure!

“He asked them, ‘Do you think that because these Galileans suffered in this way they were worse sinners than all other Galileans? No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all perish as they did” (Luke 13:2–3).

On March 18th, 50 people lost their lives in Christchurch, New Zealand, as they knelt, in quiet, preparing for their Friday mid-day prayers. A grave tragedy highlighting the fragility of the human condition, how we are still enslaved by the reigning darkness, the king of this world.

It has always been a sore spot for me when well-meaning folk thank God for their supernatural escape from an accident, illness, or tragedy, proclaiming their blessedness or the proclamation that God ‘saved them.’ Miraculously, God sent down his magical hand and cushioned their car as it made that final roll off the cliff, defying gravity and all sense of reason to save them, his beloved. Or, astounding medical professionals and against any possible scientific explanation, the cancer disappeared from their body, a powerful act of God almighty, a response to fervent prayer.

So what about those souls who didn’t make it out of the car accident, or the patient who died too young on the operating table? How about the one born with a tragic impairment? What about those Galileans? And how about those 50 Muslim men, women and children shot dead as they prepared to glorify God? Were they somehow less favoured? Is a vengeful God punishing or is it part of some ‘divine plan?’ Everything happens for a reason — right?

This Christian thinks not.

God’s doing is love. God’s doing is creation. God’s doing is the symphony of being, the pulsing rush of new life. God does have a miraculous body to live out His will on earth — that body is you, or rather, us.

Made in the image and likeness of God, human being wears the crown of glory: freewill, a gift God never transgresses. Surely, how God acts is beyond my infinite smallness to conceive, yet I do believe “God has no hands but yours,” as St Teresa of Avila tells us. That is why we are all called to repent.

Repent is to ‘turn around’, to ‘re-orient’ your life, to be in right relationship. To repent is to choose to redirect your life, your dispersed desires, your shallow treasures, your submission to your private pharaoh. Repent is to reorient your heart away from phantom treasure to the one true source of all being, to life itself. Our ultimate purpose and meaning is to freely return to communion with this mystery, we call “God”. God freely gives us his life, as we will soon discover in the first of the great three days, a gift we can only receive freely.

Repentance is allowing ourselves to die with him — to let our addictions, our seduced wills pass through the cross, that we may be transfigured and rise with him. St. Symeon, the New Theologian (1022+), calls repentance our “second baptism.” Every time we repent we return to the waters of relationship, wet in our tears of contrition from having wandered far, and tears of joy that in such a wide mercy He still offers the invitation of return. “Do you not know,” we will hear from Paul on the third day, at the great Vigil of Resurrection, “Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life” (Romans 6:3–4).

Terrible things happen in this world. There is suffering. Humanity commits evil. Bad things happen to good people. Death, sin, decay and disease still reign, but because of that third day, they are not victorious. The heart of the matter is our choosing to yield to the divine gift which vanquishes the tomb, not how God tinkers with creation and rescues his favourites. A wise elder, Murat Yagan, once said, “you cannot pray for more grace, he has already given you everything could possibly give, including his life — pray for your capacity to receive it.” To receive the gift of life, we need to turn and ask for it: that is repentance.

“Then he told this parable: ‘A man had a fig tree planted in his vineyard; and he came looking for fruit on it and found none. So he said to the gardener, “See here! For three years I have come looking for fruit on this fig tree, and still I find none. Cut it down! Why should it be wasting the soil?” He replied, “Sir, let it alone for one more year, until I dig around it and put manure on it. If it bears fruit next year, well and good; but if not, you can cut it down’” (Luke 13:6–9).

The work of repentance is not for God, as if to placate His wounded pride; rather, repentance reforms us. Repentance creates the space, the posture, the humility to hear the invitation and to cultivate the will to yield to that surrender. Sadly, sometimes it is our own suffering that prepares us to hear and accept that invitation. Sometimes it is the stench of our own “manure” that moves us to hear (Lord knows this preacher has it in abundance). The humiliation of the discovery of our own motivations that are not quite as holy as we once thought. The loss of our convictions, righteousness or presumptions or, sometimes tragically, the loss of something held dear moves us towards that great consent. The “manure of life” becomes the holy food of regeneration. Repentance is not about our purity; rather, we bring our broken lives to God, to pass through the eye of the needle, the threshold of faith, the cross.

The invitation is always there, but we need to be ripened to hear and consent, a powerful consent that is a surrender to an infinite love that even transcends our earthly lives. A consent that bares a fruit far more than we can ask or ever imagine. Surely God weeps with us in our sorrow, surely God weeps with broken humanity, weeps for the fifty beloved Muslim souls made in His image and likeness, and for the one consumed with evil, who murdered them. God takes suffering, not because it is good or because he desires it, but takes up all suffering to be transfigured in the refining fire of love crucified that makes all things new.

We repent and freely give our broken body to God, just as God freely gives His broken body to us.

Gregor Sneddon is a Presbyter serving St Matthew's Anglican Church in Ottawa. Chair of Liturgy Canada, a council member of APLM, and a participant in the International Anglican Liturgical Consultation, he is first and foremost a Dad, husband, and undercover blues man...