Prayer Needs from Elizabeth Ministry for the Month of September, 2015
• Continued healing for Jeannie H., founder of Elizabeth Ministry, following her stroke, especially her eyesight, her ability to read, and the effects of unbalanced eyesight on the rest of her body.
• For 14-year-old Brad who suffers from Crohn’s Disease. Brad is the son of Elizabeth Ministry office manager, Abbi; for the Lord Jesus’ protection from Satan’s attacks against their family. Brad was expecting to undergo surgery but his health was too precarious!
• For RECLAiM students, for their persistence in rooting out the use of pornography and other unhealthy sexual practices from their lives.
• For the RECLAiM staff’s efforts in continuing program development.
• For the spiritual and moral protection of teachers and students returning to school.
• For those discerning or entering seminaries and religious orders.
• For wisdom to parents of teens, especially in matters of moral, sexual, and developmental maturity.
• For families struggling with difficult pregnancies or infertility, or grieving a loss through miscarriage or infant death.
• For marriages and those who are engaged or living together, that their situations would change to reflect Christian moral behavior and chaste living.
• For the World Meeting of Families in Philadelphia, September 22-25 and the visit of Pope Francis September 26-27, and his safety as he visits various locations in the US.
• In thanksgiving, Lord Jesus, for the many ways You have protected and helped us in the past!
LORD JESUS, HEAR THESE AND ALL THE PRAYERS
THAT YOUR PEOPLE ADDRESS TO YOU;
WE NEED YOU IN OUR LIVES, OUR COUNTRY, AND OUR WORLD!
Benedictus: Blessed be the Lord!
Elizabeth Ministry, 1995. RECLAiM Sexual Health, 2012. Two halves of a single gift from God: God’s healing for women and God’s healing for men. How amazing it is that in our lifetime, today, God is doing the same thing that he was doing two thousand plus years ago: God is breaking into our culture to continue the healing and the sanctification of humanity!
Two thousand years ago God used an elderly couple, Elizabeth and Zachary, and a young unmarried couple, Mary and Joseph, to bring God-With-Us into time and space!
And how amazing is it that God uses equally ordinary people such as Jeannie or Bruce, you or me! (If something good can come from Nazareth, it also follows that something good can come from Kaukauna, Wisconsin, your town or mine!)
OK, it’s not the same order of magnitude, but the thought is there: God delights in starting small! And God delights in using ordinary people. God is continuing his work even in our time and place, as he did in the ordinary people of long ago!
Luke is the only evangelist to give us any information about the months before Jesus’ birth. Luke presents the aged Zachary and Elizabeth, simple but faith-filled people, reminding us of Abraham and Sarah, charter members of the Hebrew scriptures, who were also unable to conceive, to set the stage for a Grand Finale.
This is Luke’s way of saying: Something Exceptional Is Happening Here! Pay Attention!
Luke tells us that much excitement was generated “throughout the hill country of Judea” (Luke 1:65-66) by the exceptional birth of John. Luke jumps to a similar visit from an angel: the annunciation of Jesus’ birth to Mary. Since Mary is far more important, we follow the story of Mary briefly, as she visits Elizabeth, with the silent and reflective Zachary listening in the wings. Elizabeth — or actually the unborn John — leaps for joy as he recognizes the unborn Messiah in the womb of Mary, helping us to follow the story and build up suspense for the birth of this One-To-Come.
Again, says Luke: Something Big is Coming; stay tuned!
We hear from the lips of Mary the beautiful Magnificat, “My soul magnifies the Lord..!”, with a hint of more-to-come. The story of Zachary and Elizabeth concludes with Zachary’s final statement: Benedictus! “Blessed Be the Lord!” Zachary, who has had several months of silence, now speaks eloquently, reflecting on what God has done in his life: God promised! God promised!! The Lord God of All Creation has kept his promise!! And even more amazingly, The Lord God of All Creation has chosen to use me and my son!
But the infant John is still only the prelude!! In a crescendo of praise, we should hear in our hearts a sung version of Zachary’s Canticle, with the richness of Handel’s “Hallelujah” Chorus from Messiah, but sung by a multitude of angels rather than earthly voices. This Canticle (taken from the same Latin root as chant or cantor) of Zachary concludes his part of the story, and points us to the ultimate of miraculous births: the Birth of Jesus, The Son of God, the Most High, born of a Virgin!
We will speak of the Magnificat in another entry. For now, let’s look at what God’s Spirit places on the long silent lips of Zachary:
Blessed be the Lord, the God of Israel;
He has come to his people and set them free.
He has raised up for us a mighty savior,
born of the house of his servant David.
Through his holy prophets he promised of old
that he would save us from our enemies,
from the hands of all who hate us.
He promised to show mercy to our fathers
and to remember his holy covenant.
This was the oath he swore to our father Abraham:
to set us free from the hands of our enemies,
free to worship him without fear,
holy and righteous in his sight
all the days of our life.
You, my child, shall be called the prophet of the Most High;
for you will go before the Lord to prepare his way,
to give his people knowledge of salvation
by the forgiveness of their sins.
In the tender compassion of our God
the dawn from on high shall break upon us,
to shine on those who dwell in darkness and the
shadow of death,
and to guide our feet into the way of peace.
Zachary speaks for each of us. As we begin each day, let us pray these same words, as do those who pray the Divine Office, the “Liturgy of the Hours,” the Official Prayer of the Church. Let us look forward — even as Zachary and Elizabeth did, to the presence of this One-To-Come, even as He comes into our lives to also use us today and each day: Jesus Christ the Lord!