Advent 1 Sunday C - Liturgical Prayers

Introduction by the Celebrant:

A. Happy New Year! Yes, advent marks the beginning of the Church’s calendar. The Church once again invites us to a period of waiting, hope and expectation.

B. Waiting in Tension:  "Stand erect, hold your heads high." This is the message the Lord speaks to us on this First Sunday of Advent. There are terrible civil wars, there is famine in many parts of the world, and there are millions of refugees seeking safety. Yet our Lord assures us that we should keep up our hope and expectations, for he is still with us and near to us. Be attentive to his presence, not only here in the Eucharist but also in the life of every day. 
 C. Watchful, but not Afraid:  Much of the world is sitting in the dark of hunger and suffering and violence, and yet if we are God's people we keep up the indestructible hope that truth and goodness and justice will prevail. For we believe that Christ our Lord has come and is alive among us. We struggle, we know the road is rough, but the Lord goes with us and he tells us: Come with me, serve with me, love with me, give and share yourself with me and you will be better, and the Church and the world will be better.

 Penitential Act

-Lord Jesus, make us recognize that you are near in the people who are hungry and needy. Liberate us with your love. Lord, have mercy.

-Jesus Christ, make us discover you in those who search for peace for themselves and for their country. Bring them your lasting peace. Christ, have mercy.

-Lord Jesus, reveal yourself to us in those who grope in their night of suffering. Let your light shine on them and on us: Lord, have mercy.

 Opening Prayer

Lord our God, we are your people on the march who try to carry out the task of giving shape to your kingdom of love and peace. When we are discouraged and afraid, keep us going forward in hope. Make us vigilant in prayer, that we may see the signs of your Son's coming. Let Jesus walk with us already now on the road he has shown us, that he may lead us to you, our living God for ever and ever. R/ Amen.

 Intercessions:

Priest: In his love, our Father in heaven sent his Son into the world to fulfill all our hopes and to give us an eternal future.  

Let us pray to him: R/ Lord, you are all our hope.   

- For the community of the Church, that we may make the gospel credible by our commitment to justice and love, let us pray:
- For people without hope or courage, for those suffering from hunger and wars, that we may revive their hopes by building a better world with them, let us pray:
- For Christians everywhere, that they may not be ashamed of the gospel but speak its message of hope in the language of their own lives, let us pray:
- For all of us here, that we may not be self-satisfied but that we may remain vigilant to let God renew us in Christ and to make us live for others, let us pray:  

Priest: Lord our God, you love us and so you expect us to make your goodness and justice visible to all. Let your Son stay with us, that your and our expectations may come true, now and forever. R/ Amen.  

Intercessory Conclusion

Lord our God, you love us and so you expect us to make your goodness and justice visible to all. Let your Son stay with us, that your and our expectations may come true, now and for ever. R/ Amen.

 Prayer over the Gifts

Lord our God, as a pledge of your promises you give us your Son Jesus Christ in these signs of bread and wine. We do not ask you for a life without problems and risks, but for your Son's vision of a world in which you are present and for your Son's courage to answer with our own lives your call to build up a new world, in which your Son can be our Lord now and for ever. R/ Amen. 

PREFACE I (Advent)  
It is truly right and just, our duty and our salvation, always and everywhere to give you thanks, Lord, holy Father, almighty and eternal God, through Christ our Lord.     

For he assumed at his first coming the lowliness of human flesh, and so fulfilled the design you formed long ago, and opened for us the way to eternal salvation, that, when he comes again in glory and majesty and all is at last made manifest, we who watch for that day may inherit the great promise in which now we dare to hope.

And so, with Angels and Archangels, with Thrones and Dominions, and with all the hosts and Powers of heaven, we sing the hymn of your glory, as without end we acclaim:

All: Holy, Holy, Holy Lord God of hosts…

Deliver Us

Deliver us, Lord, from every evil. Wake us up from our sluggishness and help us to hasten the coming of your Son among people, that we may live in a world of justice without division and fear, as we prepare with joyful hope for the coming in glory of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. R/ For the kingdom... 

Prayer after Communion

Lord our God, merciful Father, you have spoken to us your word of hope and renewed our strength with the bread of life of your Son. Free our faith from banality and routine and send us out with your Son to restore integrity and love and the trust that with him we can give shape to a future beyond all human expectations, for the future belongs to you, Father, Son and Holy Spirit one God for ever and ever. R/ Amen.
Reflection:

It seems that as the world becomes supposedly less complicated through technological advances, we still find ourselves waiting. Waiting for that postman to arrive for an interview. Waiting in line at the checkout counter at the supermarket, designed to eliminate the evils of waiting. Waiting for the phone to ring. Waiting for that great job to come along. Or waiting for that elusive perfect relationship. It never ends. Researchers tell us that the average person will spend 5 years of his or her life waiting in line and six months sitting at red lights. That is over 5 and a half years of waiting, at best doing nothing, or at worst experiencing great aggravation! The bottom line is that even in our fast-paced world, with postmodern conveniences, we are all waiting for something. However, as strange as it sounds, during the Advent season, we discover a purpose to our waiting.

A basic ingredient in the attainment of freedom: adversity that brings awareness. Awareness of reality. Awareness of how God works in our lives. Meeting God in strange ways because he does come into our lives in ways that are often not our ways. 

Yes, our God is a coming God. That’s what “advent” means. He comes in many different ways. He comes in the silence of contemplative prayer. He comes in the sacraments. He comes in the people we encounter and with whom we form relationships. He comes in the events of our lives.

Sometimes God comes in the beautiful. He comes in ways which impress us, in ways which sweep us off our feet, which fill us with hope and joy. In his beautiful manifestations, God can leave us gasping for breath and gaping in awe. 

But, somehow or other, that moment, terrible as it is, brings its own grace:

* we find we have more courage than we thought;
* our family finds a new unity;
* we forgive a long-standing hurt. 

Sometimes God comes in the ugly, in the tragic. He comes in ways which shake us, cause terror, scathe our souls and crush our hearts. He sometimes comes in ways which leave us angry, hostile, almost on the edge of despair, or on the verge of disbelief.

Lord, great tragedies befall us from time to time:

* we lose our job;
* a spouse proves unfaithful;
* we discover that one of our children is on drugs;
* we fall into a sin we thought we had overcome. 

Very often God comes in ways which are a mixture of both. Apparent blessings can turn out to be tragedies because God has other plans, or because we do not understand the gift he really gave. Seeming tragedies can turn out to be blessings because they spared us from some greater ill or because we discerned a special message in them for us from God. Sometimes there are blessings which come our way and tragedies which befall us simultaneously, all because something entirely new and fresh is to emerge from the ashes of our spoiled dreams and the pain of our broken hearts.

---------
These are moments of great distress. It is as if the sun and moon and stars are no longer there in the heavens. We feel as if we are drowning, the ocean and its clamorous waves overwhelming us. The powers of heaven have been shaken and we are dying of fear as we await the future which menaces us.
But, somehow or other, that moment, terrible as it is, brings its own grace:
* we find we have more courage than we thought;
* our family finds a new unity;
* we forgive a long-standing hurt.
Jesus comes into our lives with power and great glory.
We have learnt now that we need never panic.
When these things begin to take place, we can stand erect, hold our heads high,
because a moment of grace and liberation is near at hand.


==========
Hope' is the thing with feathers—
That perches in the soul—
And sings the tune without the words
And never stops—at all—. 

Emily Dickinson's definition of hope captures what many of us have a hard time defining. Hope is not blind optimism, nor arrogant certainty, nor wishful thinking. Hope, the theme of Advent and Christmas, is the knowledge that God would not desert us, that we will endure difficult times to see a better day. Hope gives us the strength to seek peace and demand justice, and to envision the world as God intended it to be.

 The end is the gathering of all the little pieces of our scattered and fragmented lives, all our joys, all our collaborations with the grace of God, all the goodness we have sought to create, the peace we have fostered, the reconciliation that we have sought, the acts of kindness and mercy, the attempts to wit­ness to the truth in the face of falsehood or injustice. All these scattered actions are gathered into a new existence that the Christ can offer to the Father in the Spirit.

The word 'End' is a word with many sad connotations for us: the end of a relationship, the end of a film or a moment of en­joyment, the pain that is a common part of the ending of a life. We look forward to the consummation, the completion of the universe; Thus can we read in the gospel: 'then [we] will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. Now when these things begin to take place, look up and raise your heads, because your redemption is draw­ing near'
--------------------