Christmas Eve: Jesus Is Born for You, for Us, for the World – Luke 2:1-14 (15-20)

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Gospel Luke 2:1-14 (15-20)

1In those days a decree went out from Emperor Augustus that all the world should be registered. 2This was the first registration and was taken while Quirinius was governor of Syria. 3All went to their own towns to be registered. 4Joseph also went from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to the city of David called Bethlehem, because he was descended from the house and family of David. 5He went to be registered with Mary, to whom he was engaged and who was expecting a child. 6While they were there, the time came for her to deliver her child. 7And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in bands of cloth, and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.

8In that region there were shepherds living in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. 9Then an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. 10But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid; for see — I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people: 11to you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is the Messiah, the Lord. 12This will be a sign for you: you will find a child wrapped in bands of cloth and lying in a manger.” 13And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host, praising God and saying,
14  “Glory to God in the highest heaven,
          and on earth peace among those whom he favors!”

15When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let us go now to Bethlehem and see this thing that has taken place, which the Lord has made known to us.” 16So they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the child lying in the manger. 17When they saw this, they made known what had been told them about this child; 18and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds told them. 19But Mary treasured all these words and pondered them in her heart. 20The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them.

  • Light a candle to remember Christ’s presence with you.
  • Sit in silence five to fifteen minutes inviting the light of the candle to guide you.
  • Treasure these words:
  • Do not be afraid.
  • I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people.
  • To you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is the Messiah, the Lord.
  • This will be a sign for you: you will find a child wrapped in bands of cloth and lying in a manger.
  • Glory to God in the highest heaven,
    and on earth peace among those whom he favors!
  • Like Mary, ponder these words in your heart.
  • Jesus is born this day for you.
  • What is God’s invitation for you?
  • Give thanks to God for this time of new life and for any new insights you have received.
  • Share as you feel led in the reply box below.

Revised Common Lectionary Readings for Thursday, December 24, 2020,  Christmas Eve Year B 

Isaiah 9:2-7
Psalm 96:1-13
Titus 2:11-14
Luke 2:1-14 (15-20)

If you use these prayers in other groups, please give credit to author. Permission to use in not-for-profit settings.  (c) 2020 The Rev. Dr. Lil Smith, DASD

Rev. Dr. Lil Smith is a trained spiritual director, supervisor, and co-founder of Retreat House Spirituality Center in Richardson, TX.  Upon completion of her spiritual direction training, Lil began Praying the Lectionary in 2011 as a spiritual practice for her morning prayer time.  Instead of reading about someone else’s experience of God, it was important for her to create a prayer practice that would encourage felt sense experience of the Holy emerging from within.  It dawned on her others might enjoy the practice, as well.  So she began to share them on this site.

As you experience the practice of Praying the Lectionary, adopt a loving, caring, and compassionate stance.  If the end of your prayer and meditation time is not pointing to love and hope, there is more work to do.  Keep wrestling.  God is faithful to your journey.  Love and hope will emerge.  Be gentle with yourself and befriend any judgment that arises in you.

Photo credit: Mary and Joseph kneel at the crib of the infant Christ in this detail of an icon from the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem. The Dec. 25 Christmas feast commemorates the birth of Christ. The Christmas season begins with the Dec. 24 evening vigil and ends on the feast of the Baptism of the Lord, Jan. 13 in 2008. (CNS photo/Debbie Hill) (Nov. 27, 2007)

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Christmas Eve: He Is Coming to Love the Earth and All Its People – Psalm 96:1-13

PSALM 96:1-13

1   O sing to the LORD a new song;
sing to the LORD, all the earth.
2   Sing to the LORD, bless his name;
tell of his salvation from day to day.
3   Declare his glory among the nations,
his marvelous works among all the peoples.
4   For great is the LORD, and greatly to be praised;
he is to be revered above all gods.
5   For all the gods of the peoples are idols,
but the LORD made the heavens.
6   Honor and majesty are before him;
strength and beauty are in his sanctuary.
7   Ascribe to the LORD, O families of the peoples,
ascribe to the LORD glory and strength.
8   Ascribe to the LORD the glory due his name;
bring an offering, and come into his courts.
9   Worship the LORD in holy splendor;
tremble before him, all the earth.

10  Say among the nations, “The LORD is king!
The world is firmly established; it shall never be moved.
He will judge the peoples with equity.”
11  Let the heavens be glad, and let the earth rejoice;
let the sea roar, and all that fills it;
12       let the field exult, and everything in it.
Then shall all the trees of the forest sing for joy
13       before the LORD; for he is coming,
for he is coming to judge the earth.
He will judge the world with righteousness,
and the peoples with his truth.

  • Light a candle to remember Christ’s presence with you.
  • Sit in silence five to fifteen minutes embracing the great light that shines before you.
  • Worship the Lord in holy splendor.
  • Let a new song arise within you.
  • Emmanuel, God with us, he is coming.
  • He is coming to love the earth.
  • Sing for joy!
  • What truth arises within you?
  • What is God’s invitation for you?
  • Give thanks to God for this time of new life and for any new insights you have received.
  • Share as you feel led in the reply box below.

Revised Common Lectionary Readings for Thursday, December 24, 2020, Christmas Eve (Year B)
Isaiah 9:2-7
Psalm 96:1-13
Titus 2:11-14
Luke 2:1-14 (15-20)

If you use these prayers in other groups, please give credit to author. Permission to use in not-for-profit settings.  (c) 2020 The Rev. Dr. Lil Smith, DASD

Rev. Dr. Lil Smith is a trained spiritual director, supervisor, and co-founder of Retreat House Spirituality Center in Richardson, TX.  Upon completion of her spiritual direction certification, Lil began Praying the Lectionary in 2011 as a spiritual practice for her morning prayer time.  Instead of reading about someone else’s experience of God, it was important for her to create a prayer practice that would encourage felt sense experience of the Holy emerging from within.  It dawned on her others might enjoy the practice, as well.  So she began to share them on this site.

As you experience the practice of Praying the Lectionary, adopt a loving, caring, and compassionate stance.  If the end of your prayer and meditation time is not pointing to love and hope, there is more work to do.  Keep wrestling.  God is faithful to your journey.  Love and hope will emerge.  Be gentle with yourself and befriend any judgment that arises in you.

Let God Rise Up – Psalm 68:1-10, 32-35

Psalm 68:1-10, 32-35

1   Let God rise up, let his enemies be scattered;
let those who hate him flee before him.
2   As smoke is driven away, so drive them away;
as wax melts before the fire,
let the wicked perish before God.
3   But let the righteous be joyful;
let them exult before God;
let them be jubilant with joy.

4   Sing to God, sing praises to his name;
lift up a song to him who rides upon the clouds —
his name is the LORD —
be exultant before him.

5   Father of orphans and protector of widows
is God in his holy habitation.
6   God gives the desolate a home to live in;
he leads out the prisoners to prosperity,
but the rebellious live in a parched land.

7   O God, when you went out before your people,
when you marched through the wilderness,                 Selah
8   the earth quaked, the heavens poured down rain
at the presence of God, the God of Sinai,
at the presence of God, the God of Israel.
9   Rain in abundance, O God, you showered abroad;
you restored your heritage when it languished;
10  your flock found a dwelling in it;
in your goodness, O God, you provided for the needy.

32  Sing to God, O kingdoms of the earth;
sing praises to the Lord,                                                       Selah
33  O rider in the heavens, the ancient heavens;
listen, he sends out his voice, his mighty voice.
34  Ascribe power to God,
whose majesty is over Israel;
and whose power is in the skies.
35  Awesome is God in his sanctuary,
the God of Israel;
he gives power and strength to his people.

Blessed be God!

  • Light a candle to remember Christ’s presence with you.
  • Sit five to fifteen minutes in silence bringing your attention to the Breath.
  • How do you desire God to be present to you today?
  • Allow the divine spark in you to arise from within you.
  • Notice how you need God’s power and strength.  Absorb.
  • Notice how you need to hear God’s voice.  Listen.
  • Notice how you need to be nurtured.  Eat and drink.
  • Notice the ego part of you that needs to melt away.  Lament.
  • Notice how you need to be transformed.  Breathe.
  • What is your message from God?
  • Give thanks to God for this time in prayer and for any new insights you have received.
  • Share as you feel led in the reply box below.

Revised Common Lectionary Readings for Sunday, May 24, 2020, the Seventh Sunday of Easter (Year A)

Acts 1:6-14
Psalm 68:1-10, 32-35
1 Peter 4:12-14, 5:6-11
John 17:1-11

If you use these prayers in other groups, please give credit to author. Permission to use in not-for-profit settings.  (c) 2020 The Rev. Dr. Lil Smith, DASD

Rev. Dr. Lil Smith is a trained spiritual director, supervisor, and co-founder of Retreat House Spirituality Center in Richardson, TX.  Upon completion of her spiritual direction training, Lil began Praying the Lectionary in 2011 as a spiritual practice for her morning prayer time.  Instead of reading about someone else’s experience of God, it was important for her to create a prayer practice that would encourage felt sense experience of the Holy emerging from within.  It dawned on her others might enjoy the practice, as well.  So she began to share them on this site.

As you experience the practice of Praying the Lectionary, adopt a loving, caring, and compassionate stance.  If the end of your prayer and meditation time is not pointing to love and hope, there is more work to do.  Keep wrestling.  God is faithful to your journey.  Love and hope will emerge.  Be gentle with yourself and befriend any judgment that arises in you.

Good Friday: Psalm 22:1-31 – My God, My God, Why Have You Forsaken Me?

Psalm 22:1-31

1   My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?
Why are you so far from helping me, from the words of my groaning?
2   O my God, I cry by day, but you do not answer;
and by night, but find no rest.

3   Yet you are holy,
enthroned on the praises of Israel.
4   In you our ancestors trusted;
they trusted, and you delivered them.
5   To you they cried, and were saved;
in you they trusted, and were not put to shame.

6   But I am a worm, and not human;
scorned by others, and despised by the people.
7   All who see me mock at me;
they make mouths at me, they shake their heads;
8   “Commit your cause to the LORD; let him deliver —
let him rescue the one in whom he delights!”

9   Yet it was you who took me from the womb;
you kept me safe on my mother’s breast.
10  On you I was cast from my birth,
and since my mother bore me you have been my God.
11  Do not be far from me,
for trouble is near
and there is no one to help.

12  Many bulls encircle me,
strong bulls of Bashan surround me;
13  they open wide their mouths at me,
like a ravening and roaring lion.
14  I am poured out like water,
and all my bones are out of joint;
my heart is like wax;
it is melted within my breast;
15  my mouth is dried up like a potsherd,
and my tongue sticks to my jaws;
you lay me in the dust of death.

16  For dogs are all around me;
a company of evildoers encircles me.
My hands and feet have shriveled;
17  I can count all my bones.
They stare and gloat over me;
18  they divide my clothes among themselves,
and for my clothing they cast lots.

19  But you, O LORD, do not be far away!
O my help, come quickly to my aid!
20  Deliver my soul from the sword,
my life from the power of the dog!
21       Save me from the mouth of the lion!

From the horns of the wild oxen you have rescued me.
22  I will tell of your name to my brothers and sisters;
in the midst of the congregation I will praise you:
23  You who fear the LORD, praise him!
All you offspring of Jacob, glorify him;
stand in awe of him, all you offspring of Israel!
24  For he did not despise or abhor
the affliction of the afflicted;
he did not hide his face from me,
but heard when I cried to him.

25  From you comes my praise in the great congregation;
my vows I will pay before those who fear him.
26  The poor shall eat and be satisfied;
those who seek him shall praise the LORD.
May your hearts live forever!

27  All the ends of the earth shall remember
and turn to the LORD;
and all the families of the nations
shall worship before him.
sup>28  For dominion belongs to the LORD,
and he rules over the nations.

29  To him, indeed, shall all who sleep in the earth bow down;
before him shall bow all who go down to the dust,
and I shall live for him.
30  Posterity will serve him;
future generations will be told about the Lord,
31  and proclaim his deliverance to a people yet unborn,
saying that he has done it.

  • Light a candle to remember Christ’s presence with you.
  • Sit five to fifteen minutes in silence bringing your attention to the Breath.
  • As you walk the Via Dolorosa, the Way of Suffering, with Jesus, what is the cry that shouts out from the very depth of your being?
  • Oh, Lord, do not be far away!
  • As you walk the Via Dolorosa, the Way of Suffering, with Jesus, what part of you shouts, “Crucify”?
  • Oh, Lord, do not be far away!
  • As you walk the Via Dolorosa, the Way of Suffering, with Jesus, what part of you shouts, “But he is innocent!”
  • Oh Lord, do not be far away!
  • As you walk the Via Dolorosa, the Way of Suffering, with Jesus, what part of you is dying with Jesus on the cross?
  • Oh, Lord, do not be far away!
  • I need you.
  • What is your message from God?
  • Give thanks to God for this time in prayer and for any new insights you have received.
  • Share as you feel led in the reply box below.

Revised Common Lectionary Readings for Friday, April 10, 2020, Good Friday (Year A)

Isaiah 52:13-53:12
Psalm 22:1-31
Hebrews 10:16-25
John 18:1-19:42

If you use these prayers in other groups, please give credit to author. Permission to use in not-for-profit settings.  (c) 2020 The Rev. Dr. Lil Smith, DASD

Rev. Dr. Lil Smith is a trained spiritual director, supervisor, and co-founder of Retreat House Spirituality Center in Richardson, TX.  Upon completion of her spiritual direction training, Lil began Praying the Lectionary in 2011 as a spiritual practice for her morning prayer time.  Instead of reading about someone else’s experience of God, it was important for her to create a prayer practice that would encourage felt sense experience of the Holy emerging from within.  It dawned on her others might enjoy the practice, as well.  So she began to share them on this site.

As you experience the practice of Praying the Lectionary, adopt a loving, caring, and compassionate stance.  If the end of your prayer and meditation time is not pointing to love and hope, there is more work to do.  Keep wrestling.  God is faithful to your journey.  Love and hope will emerge.  Be gentle with yourself and befriend any judgment that arises in you.

Ash Wednesday Love

Genesis 3:19 You are dust, and to dust you shall return. (NRSV)

 

I am dust.

I am fragile.

I can be blown places I do not want to go.

Sometimes I leave marks I don’t want to leave.

 

I am dust.

I am temporary.

But, I matter.

And, my voice matters.

Some try to silence the truth.

The truth lives in the dust.

Let the Breath of Life reveal the truth.

 

I am dust.

 

I will return.

I will return to the One who created me.

The One who will give me strength.

The One who goes before me and with me and behind me.

The One who forgives me and forgets.

 

I am dust.

I will return.

(c) 2019 Rev. Dr. Lil Smith

Ash Wednesday: Teach Me Wisdom – Psalm 51:1-17

Psalm 51:1-17

1   Have mercy on me, O God,
according to your steadfast love;
according to your abundant mercy
blot out my transgressions.
2   Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity,
and cleanse me from my sin.

3   For I know my transgressions,
and my sin is ever before me.
4   Against you, you alone, have I sinned,
and done what is evil in your sight,
so that you are justified in your sentence
and blameless when you pass judgment.
5   Indeed, I was born guilty,
a sinner when my mother conceived me.

6   You desire truth in the inward being;
therefore teach me wisdom in my secret heart.
7   Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean;
wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.

8   Let me hear joy and gladness;
let the bones that you have crushed rejoice.
9   Hide your face from my sins,
and blot out all my iniquities.

10  Create in me a clean heart, O God,
and put a new and right spirit within me.
11   Do not cast me away from your presence,
and do not take your holy spirit from me.
12  Restore to me the joy of your salvation,
and sustain in me a willing spirit.

13  Then I will teach transgressors your ways,
and sinners will return to you.
14  Deliver me from bloodshed, O God,
O God of my salvation,
and my tongue will sing aloud of your deliverance.

15  O Lord, open my lips,
and my mouth will declare your praise.
16  For you have no delight in sacrifice;
if I were to give a burnt offering, you would not be pleased.
17  The sacrifice acceptable to God is a broken spirit;
a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.

  • Light a candle to remember Christ’s presence with you.
  • Sit five to fifteen minutes, bringing your attention to the Breath.
  • Invite God to teach you wisdom in your sacred heart.
  • What false teachings need to be cleaned and removed to make room for the wisdom God has for you?
  • Embrace this wisdom.
  • Wear the sign of the cross to show this wisdom.
  • If you are not able to attend a service today to receive the imposition of ashes, make the sign of the cross on your own forehead.
  • You wear the sign of the broken spirit.
  • You wear the sign of the broken spirit being made new.
  • You wear the sign of the broken spirit being made new and ushering hope into the world.
  • What is God’s message for you?
  • Give thanks to God for this time in prayer and for any new insights you have received.
  • Share as you feel led in the reply box below.

Revised Common Lectionary Readings for Wednesday, February 26, 2020, Ash Wednesday Year A

Joel 2:1-2, 12-17
Isaiah 58:1-12
Psalm 51:1-17
2 Corinthians 5:20b-6:20
Matthew 6:1-6, 16-21

If you use these prayers in other groups, please give credit to author. Permission to use in not-for-profit settings.  (c) 2020 The Rev. Dr. Lil Smith, DASD

Rev. Dr. Lil Smith is a trained spiritual director, supervisor, and co-founder of Retreat House Spirituality Center in Richardson, TX.  Upon completion of her spiritual direction training, Lil began Praying the Lectionary in 2011 as a spiritual practice for her morning prayer time.  Instead of reading about someone else’s experience of God, it was important for her to create a prayer practice that would encourage felt sense experience of the Holy emerging from within.  It dawned on her others might enjoy the practice, as well.  So she began to share them on this site.

As you experience the practice of Praying the Lectionary, adopt a loving, caring, and compassionate stance.  If the end of your prayer and meditation time is not pointing to love and hope, there is more work to do.  Keep wrestling.  God is faithful to your journey.  Love and hope will emerge.  Be gentle with yourself and befriend any judgment that arises in you.