Thursday, November 26, 2015

The Advent Garden: A Contemplative Service for Advent 1 (29 November 2015)

It is the custom of Saint Faith's to begin Advent with a contemplative service of the Word at 10.00 on Advent 1.  In place of a traditional sermon we invite congregants to walk a labyrinth formed from pine boughs and, along the way, to leave a lit candle.

May our rite be a blessing for others.

The First Sunday of Advent
29 November 2015

The Gathering of the Community

Thanksgiving for the Light

The Deacon begins the liturgy by reading the following.

                 1 In the beginning when God created the heavens and the earth, 2 the earth was a formless void and darkness covered the face of the deep, while a wind from God swept over the face of the waters.  3 Then God said, Let there be light; and there was light. 

A single candle is lit in the midst of the Advent Garden.  After the candle is lit, the Deacon continues as follows.

4 And God saw that the light was good; and God separated the light from the darkness.  5 God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night.  And there was evening and there was morning, the first day.

The Presider then begins the Thanksgiving for the Light.

Arise, shine, our light is coming;
the glory of the Lord is rising upon us.
Though night still covers the earth
and darkness covers the nations,
over us with the Lord arise,
over us will the glory of God appear.

Let us give thanks to the Lord our God.
It is right to give our thanks and praise.

Blessed are you, O Lord our God,
ruler of the universe, creator of light and darkness.
In this holy season,
when the sun’s light is swallowed up
by the growing darkness of the night,
you renew your promise to reveal among us
the splendour of your glory,
enfleshed and visible to us in Jesus Christ your Son.
Through the prophets
you teach us to hope for his reign of peace.
Through the outpouring of his Spirit,
you open our blindness to the glory of his presence.
Strengthen us in our weakness.
Support us in our stumbling efforts to do your will
and free our tongues to sing your praise.
For to you all honour and blessing are due,
now and for ever.  Amen.

After the Thanksgiving the Community is invited to lit their own candles to bring light into the space as they walk the Labyrinth.  During the lighting of the candles appropriate music will be played.  When all are finished, the Hymn is sung.

Hymn of Light

‘O Come, O Come, Emmanuel’  Common Praise #89 vv. 1, 2, 3

Opening Prayer

The Presider leads the Community in the following prayer.

Let us pray.

God of justice,
as your kingdom dawns,
turn us from the darkness of sin
to the light of holiness,
so that we may be ready to meet you
in our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ.  Amen. [i]

The Proclamation of the Word

The First Reading

A reading from the prophet Jeremiah (33.14-16).

            The days are surely coming, says the Lord, when I will fulfill the promise I made to the house of Israel and the house of Judah. In those days and at that time I will cause a righteous Branch to spring up for David; and he shall execute justice and righteousness in the land.  In those days Judah will be saved and Jerusalem will live in safety.  And this is the name by which it will be called:  “The Lord is our righteousness.”

Hear what the Spirit is saying to the Church.
Thanks be to God.

The Psalm

Psalm 25.1-9 with refrain from Songs for the Holy One

Refrain (sung twice):  Glorious Majesty, to you we lift up our hearts.

1  To you, O Lord, *
            I lift up my soul;
2  my God, I put my trust in you; *
            let me not be humiliated,
            nor let my enemies triumph over me.
3  Let none who look to you be put to shame; *
            let the treacherous be disappointed in their schemes.
4  Show me your ways, O Lord, *
            and teach me your paths.

Refrain:  Glorious Majesty, to you we lift up our hearts.

5  Lead me in your truth and teach me, *
            for you are the God of my salvation;
            in you have I trusted all the day long.
6  Remember, O Lord, your compassion and love, *
            for they are from everlasting.
7  Remember not the sins of my youth and my transgressions; *
            remember me according to your love
            and for the sake of your goodness, O Lord.
8  Gracious and upright are you, O Lord; *
            therefore you teach sinners in your way.
9  You guide the humble in doing right *
            and teach your way to the lowly.

Refrain:  Glorious Majesty, to you we lift up our hearts.

The Second Reading

A Reading from Paul’s first letter to the Thessalonians (3.9-13).

How can we thank God enough for you in return for all the joy that we feel before our God because of you?  Night and day we pray most earnestly that we may see you face to face and restore whatever is lacking in your faith.

            Now may our God and Father himself and our Lord Jesus direct our way to you.  And may the Lord make you increase and abound in love for one another and for all, just as we abound in love for you.  And may he so strengthen your hearts in holiness that you may be blameless before our God and Father at the coming of our Lord Jesus with all his saints.

Hear what the Spirit is saying to the church.
Thanks be to God.

The Gradual Hymn

‘Come, O Lord, and Set Us Free’  Common Praise #113

The Gospel

The Lord be with you.
And also with you.
The Holy Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ according to Luke (21.25-36).
Glory to you, Lord Jesus Christ.

            [Jesus said,] “There will be signs in the sun, the moon, and the stars, and on the earth distress among nations confused by the roaring of the sea and the waves.  People will faint from fear and foreboding of what is coming upon the world, for the powers of the heavens will be shaken.  Then they will see ‘the Son of Man coming in a cloud’ with power and great glory.  Now when these things begin to take place, stand up and raise your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.”

            Then he told them a parable:  “Look at the fig tree and all the trees; as soon as they sprout leaves you can see for yourselves and know that summer is already near.  So also, when you see these things taking place, you know that the kingdom of God is near.  Truly I tell you, this generation will not pass away until all things have taken place.  Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.

            “Be on guard so that your hearts are not weighed down with dissipation and drunkenness and the worries of this life, and that day does not catch you unexpectedly, like a trap.  For it will come upon all who live on the face of the whole earth.  Be alert at all times, praying that you may have the strength to escape all these things that will take place, and to stand before the Son of Man.”

The Gospel of Christ.
Praise to you, Lord Jesus Christ.

Hymn of the Day

‘Lo, He Comes with Clouds Descending’  Common Praise #114

The Prayers of the Community

Intercessions, Petitions and Thanksgivings

The appointed person leads the following intercessions, petitions and thanksgivings.

Let us offer our intercessions, petitions and thanksgivings, saying,
‘O God of hosts, show us the light of your countenance.’
O God of hosts, show us the light of your countenance.

Holy One of Israel, rouse us from sleep
and make us attentive to the nearness of Christ.
O God of hosts, show us the light of your countenance.

May we discover your word in every sound of this world,
your touch in every human embrace and
your love in every gesture of self-sacrifice among us.
O God of hosts, show us the light of your countenance.

May your divine energy and holy grace bring our hearts to vigilance
and make us see with uncovered eyes the Christ
who suffers in your people’s agonies.
O God of hosts, show us the light of your countenance.

May we recognize in our holy assembly gathered for prayer
that Jesus the Christ is with us here
to make our songs of praise and pleading his own.
O God of hosts, show us the light of your countenance.

May your coming into the days and years of our human history
be always new, always brimming with light
to drive all darkness away.
O God of hosts, show us the light of your countenance.

Make our hearts ready for your coming, O Lord,
and receive our prayers in the name of the One who is coming,
your Beloved, Jesus the Christ.  Amen. [ii]

Offertory Hymn

‘Awake!  Awake!  Fling Off the Night’  Common Praise #599

Prayer over the Gifts

After the Gifts have been collected, the Presider leads the Community in the following prayer.

Let us pray.

God of abundance,
we bring before you
the precious fruits of your creation,
and with them our very lives.
Teach us patience and hope
as we care for all those in need
until the coming of your Son,
our Saviour and Lord.  Amen. [iii]

The Lord’s Prayer

As our Saviour taught us, let us pray,
Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,
your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread.
Forgive us our sins
as we forgive those who sin against us.
Save us from the time of trial,
and deliver us from evil.
For the kingdom, the power,
and the glory are yours,
now and for ever.  Amen. [iv]

The Sending Forth of the Community

The Exchange of the Peace

The Deacon sends the Community with these words.

The peace of the Lord be always with you.
And also with you.

The Community exchanges the Peace with one another.

[i] Liturgy Task Force, ‘Trial Use Collects and Seasonal Prayers over the Gifts and after Communion for Year C:  Advent 1 through Epiphany 6’, 1.

[ii] Intercessions for the Christian People (1988, 1990), 73 alt.

[iii] Liturgy Task Force, ‘Trial Use Collects and Seasonal Prayers over the Gifts and after Communion for Year C:  Advent 1 through Epiphany 6’, 12.

[iv] The Book of Alternative Services (1985), 918.

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