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Advent Prayer Service: Longing For Light In The Darkness

Prepared by Donna Wuhrer

Photo Credit: Marie-Claire Dugas

Introduction

Leader:  During Advent, we are called to seek the light of Christ,

                even in the midst of darkness.  The prophets assure us

                that the darkness will not overcome us.  They call us to

                watch for the light.  We are called to wait, to hope, to

                trust in God.

                As we make this Advent journey in faith, we invite God’s

               light to dispel the darkness.  We ask for the grace to let go

               of any burdens or barriers that we may carry in our hearts

               as we search for the light.  We ask for the gift of

               attentiveness that we may truly see God’s loving presence within and among us.

              May our faith we renewed so that we might be light for others.

Song:     O Come, O Come, Emmanuel

              O come, O come, Emmanuel and ransom captive Israel

                That mourns in lonely exile here until the Son of God appear

                Refrain:  Rejoice!  Rejoice!  Emmanuel shall come to thee, O Israel

              O come, Thou Wisdom from on high and order all things, far and nigh

                To us the path of knowledge show and teach us in her ways to go

Opening Prayer

Leader:  Let us all pray together….

All:        God who dispels all darkness,

              Come to be with us, in each one of our situations;

              Come to live among us, live with us and in us;

              Come to reconcile us with You and with one another.

              God of Light, open our hearts to the mystery of Your love and the invitation of Your

              grace.  Let our complacency give way to conversion and our judgments to

              compassionate acceptance of others.  Turn oppression to justice and transform conflict

              to peaceful accord.  We ask this in the name of Jesus, who lives and reigns with You

              and the Holy Spirit, one God forever and ever.  Amen.

Lighting of the Advent Wreath

Leader:     As we light the Advent wreath, we bring to mind all the people and places in the

                  world that are in need of God’s light this day.  (pause)

                   *After the wreath is lit, readers begin. 

Reader 1:  We bring to mind those places in the world where families and countries are torn

                   apart by conflict, violence or war, and ask for the Light of Peace to break through

                    the darkness. (pause)

Reader 2:  We bring to mind all those places in the world where people have been forced from

                    their homes and are separated from their families and ask for the Light of Hope to

                   break through.  (pause)

Reader 4:  We bring to mind all those places in the world where people are suffering from

                  disease or illness, and ask for the Light of Healing to break through. (pause)

Reader 5:  We bring to mind all those places in the world where people are held captive by

`                 poverty, hunger, slavery, prejudice, and isolation and ask for the Light of Freedom

                    and Abundant Life to break through. (pause)

Reader 6:  We bring to mind all those places in the world where the Earth and her

                    creatures have not been lovingly cared for and respected and ask for the Light of

                    Love and Holiness to break through. (pause)

All:  May our prayers encircle the world and offer light in places of darkness.  May we work as

        one body to bring justice for the poor, peace for the afflicted, and healing for our world.

        Enkindle hope in our darkened world and announce the dawn of your kingdom once again. 

        We ask this in Jesus’ name.  Amen.

Readings

A reading from the Holy Gospel according to Matthew 5:14-16

“You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.”____________________________________________

(Pause)

An excerpt from an Angelus Message given by Pope Francis - February 9, 2014

What does it mean to be Christian?  It means to look to the light, to continue to practice the profession of faith in the light, even when the world is wrapped in night and darkness.

Christians are not exempt from external and even internal shadows. They do not live outside of the world, however; by the grace of Christ received in Baptism they are “oriented” men and women: they do not believe in darkness, but in the dim light of day; they do not succumb to the night, but hope in the dawn; they are not defeated by death, but yearn to rise again; they are not cowered by evil, because they always trust in the infinite possibilities of good. And this is our Christian hope: the light of Jesus, the salvation that Jesus brings to us with his light that saves us from the darkness….

We must carry the light of Christ with the witness of a genuine love.  The Christian must be a luminous person who carries the light, a light that comes from one that is not his or her own, but a gift of God, a gift of Jesus…

I want to ask you now, how do you want to live? As a lamp that is lit, or one that is off?  A Christian carries the light!  He or she is a lit lamp.  Always forward with the light of Jesus!______

 (Pause)

An excerpt from an letter to the Sisters and Associates written by Agnes Campbell, CND (Advent, 2016)

We are blessed at this time in our history to have calls from our Chapter that have the potential of helping us to loosen up the soil around our roots and to allow our roots to go even deeper.  These calls have what it takes to reenergize us as we move forward in our journey.

Live interculturality….Intercultural living is not something that has to be lived in another country or having someone from another country live with us.  We each bring our own individual cultural background to whatever community or relationship we share with others…It is important to take time to cultivate relationships. To build day by day trust and confidence, risking being vulnerable and at times, even being fragile.

We can observe Jesus (how he lived the intercultural dimension in his life, as told so beautifully in the Gospels). It is all about relationships and his way of entering into relationship with the “other”.  The quality of the encounters lived speak eloquently of respect and equality.

Go to the peripheries…Our lives sometimes involve living on the edge and participating in the struggles, the insecurities of the peripheries.  Sometimes, due to circumstances, our involvement can be different.  Just imagine, if each sister and associate reach out in some way, even to a few persons on the margins, how the margins would be transformed.  If we connect with others, whatever their situations, Pope Francis said, our humanity is “greatly enriched.”

Honor and respect our “common home”... “As a spiritual work of mercy, care for our common home calls for a grateful contemplation of God’s world (Laudato Si, 201) which allows us to discover in each thing a teaching which God wishes to hand on to us. (Ibid, 85)  As a corporal work of mercy, care for our common home requires simple daily gestures which break with the logic of violence, exploitation and selfishness and makes itself felt in every action that seeks to build a better world.”  (Ibid, 230-31)

This Advent gives us time to loosen up the soil around our roots and to move deeper into contemplation and the love of God.  May we become so immersed in this love that we become a sign of God’s love to all around us.

(Pause)

Contemplative Reflection (15 to 20 minutes)                                                                    

  1. What are the words, phrases, or images that touch into who I am this Advent?
  2. Am I being called to be a “lamp lit” in my family, in my workplace, in my community or church, in a particular relationship/situation, or in the Associate Relationship?
  3. How can I be more mindful to live interculturality, to go to “the other” on the peripheries, or to care for and respect our common home during this Advent season?
  4. During Advent, we light the candles of Hope, Peace, Joy and Love on our wreaths.  Do I need God’s hope, peace, joy or love to shine in a particular area of my life at this time?                                                 

Sharing

Intentions

Closing Prayer (by Rev. Jerry Chism) 

Oh Immanuel, God with us, truly in this Advent season we celebrate that you are not hidden in some faraway cloud, but you chose to be with us in the blur and mystery of our lives.

In the midst of lists and rush, you are with us as a song that echoes in our minds, as the light of a candle, as a card from a friend. They are signs of your presence.

We turn to you this season and pray that you would birth joy and healing, blessing and hope in us.  Let something wonderful begin in us — something surprising and holy.

May your hand be upon us.   Let your light shine around us and within us. Let your love fill us. Let your joy overwhelm us.  Let our longing for you be met on a coming holy night. Immanuel with us once again.  Amen.

Song:  We are the Light of the World

  Blessed are they who are poor in spirit, theirs is the kingdom of God.

  Bless us, O Lord, make us poor in spirit; Bless us, O Lord, our God.

                Refrain:  We are the light of the world, may our light shine before all,

                that they may see the good that we do and give glory to God.

              Blessed are they who bring peace among us, they are the children of God.

                Bless us, O Lord, may your peace be with us; Bless us, O Lord, our God

 

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