Music, reflections and prayers for the Advent season
“Advent is a journey towards Bethlehem.
May we let ourselves be drawn by the light of God made man.”
Prayers for Lighting the Advent Wreath Candles
All-powerful God, increase our strength of will for doing good that Christ may find an eager welcome at his coming and call us to his side in the kingdom of heaven, where he lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit one God, forever and ever. ~AMEN.
God of power and mercy open our hearts in welcome. Remove the things that hinder us from receiving Christ with joy so that we may share his wisdom and become one with him when he comes in glory, for he lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever. ~AMEN.
Lord God, may we, your people, who look forward to the birthday of Christ experience the joy of salvation and celebrate that feast with love and thanksgiving. We ask this through Christ our Lord. ~AMEN.
Father, all-powerful God, your eternal Word took flesh on our earth when the Virgin Mary placed her life at the service of your plan. Lift our minds in watchful hope to hear the voice which announces his glory and open our minds to receive the Spirit who prepares us for his coming. We ask this through Christ our Lord. ~AMEN.
Reflection: Mary's Impossible Dream
In the musical "Man of La Mancha," when Dulcinea asks Don Quixote what it means to "follow his quest," he responds by singing "The Impossible Dream." Mary, who awaited the birth of Jesus some 2,000 years ago just as we do this Advent, could have written the song. She certainly lived it.
Imagine how young Mary - probably no more than 15 or 16 years old - must have felt upon receiving the news that the impossible was about to take place within her, that she would give birth to the Savior. How could she tell her betrothed, Joseph? What would her family think? Who would believe her?
"Do not be afraid, Mary," the angel says to her. "Nothing will be impossible with God" (Luke 1:30, 37). We know the rest of the story. The impossible was indeed made possible, not only at the birth of Jesus, but in the many miracles per performed, and most of all at his Resurrection. If God could accomplish all this, imagine what God can do in your own life. Advent is the season for imagining what is possible, for dreaming new dreams, for hoping beyond hope.
But it is also the season when hope can be hardest to find, dreams hardest to believe. The days draw short, the nights are long and the air turns. Expenses may loom at a time when resources are scarce. Separation, grief, loneliness, and depression are no strangers to the season. Hope may be ins hort supply during this time. We need Mary's inspiring example of courage and trust in the face of uncertainty more than ever.
Mary can't guarantee us a smooth ride, however. Look at her own difficult journey: first, she had to travel to Bethlehem late in her pregnancy (Luke 2:1-6). Have you ever tried riding a donkey? Now imagine doing so nine month's pregnant! Later, she had to flee to Egypt with Joseph and the baby when their lives were in danger (Matthew 2:13-23).
Nor can Mary promise us a season free of anxiety and worry. Imagine how she must have worried about what was ahead for her beloved child as his messianic destiny was revealed to her, first by shepherds who left her pondering the news in her heart (Luke 2:16-19), then at the Temple by the prophet Simeon, who spoke to her of the sorrowful times ahead: "A sword will pierce your soul too" (Luke 2:22-35).
What Mary can offer us is a remarkable and inspiring example of courage in the face of adversity, patience in the face of uncertainty, and hope beyond hope that the impossible is indeed possible.
Mary stood with her son as he was crucified (John 19:25-27); she stood with his fearful followers who huddled after his death (Acts 1:13-14). She knew that the story wasn't over yet. And she was right.
Our story isn't finished, either, no matter what challenges or wounds burden us this season. All things remain possible with God. This is the miracle of Advent. We can once again dream the impossible dream - and reach the unreachable star.
God of Love, Your son, Jesus, is your greatest gift to us. He is a sign of your love. Help us walk in that love during the weeks of Advent, As we wait and prepare for his coming. We pray in the name of Jesus, our Savior.
“Are you ready for Christmas?” asked a guy I see at the train station every day. I thought of the long list of gifts I still needed to buy and the calendar crammed with holiday events and parties, and I shook my head. “Hardly,” I said, and we both laughed knowingly.
On my train ride downtown I turned off my iPod and let my mind ponder that question a little deeper. “Am I ready for Christmas?” This time I thought about the meaning of the holiday—the Son of God coming to earth to dwell among us and show us the way to eternal life. Again I shook my head and murmured to myself, “Hardly.”
It was then that I vowed to take advantage of every opportunity to prepare my heart for the coming of the Christ Child into the world—the world you and I live in.
What I discovered was that if we know what we’re preparing for, everything we encounter on the way to Christmas can prepare us for the coming of Christ, not only in Bethlehem 2,000 years ago but also into our homes, our families, our workplaces, and our communities. The usual December distractions can instead become holy moments when we find the Christ Child in our midst.
Having the right attitude and perspective on the season will help you and your family avoid the excesses that make certain Christmas preparations frantic, yet draining and disappointing. As theologian John Shea says, “The task seems to be the delicate one of learning to make the customs and traditions of Christmas serve the Spirit.”
Take a look at some of December’s demanding activities with new eyes, eyes that fully expect to find God in every moment of this season of hope.
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