Advent Week 4 (Year C): Look Up, There’s Love

Mary’s Magnificat is part of the Lectionary selection for week 4 of Advent. One of the most beautiful and stirring prayers in scripture, spoken by a young woman of humble origin, accepting a dangerous long-term mission with gratitude, grit, and grace.

God, you are mighty in Love
You have done great things for us:
Lifted up the lowly
Filled the hungry with good things.
You have helped us
And showed us what mercy looks like (Luke 1:52-54);

Mercy has gathered bone and sinew.
Love has taken on flesh,
Saving us from heartless wandering
And merciless suffering.

Love’s Ambassador showed up and invited us
Into the work of building outposts,
Enclaves of lovingkindness,
Starting within our own hearts.

The work begins within us:
The Community of God grows within our beings
And blossoms outward to other people,
To become a network of love,
Blanketing the world:
Each intersection a soul.

We have only to wait a bit now,
While the momentum builds.
The day is coming
When love will reach a critical mass
And its reality will overtake fear.
All our waiting and working will be complete.

We thank you, oh God,
For the gift of Love within us.

Amen


Advent Week 2 (Year C): Look Up, There's Beauty

Look, I know week 2 of Advent is usually about peace. But the lectionary passages for the day are so strongly themed with beauty, particularly the Apocryphal passage, that I couldn’t resist. Plus, it’s how we’re interpreting it this year at Peace for our Advent sermon series entitled “Look Up". So, a little beauty in your Advent mix this year.

God, it’s easy for us to get bogged down
In our to-do lists,
The problems we must solve,
The needs we must meet,
The expectations we put upon ourselves,
The crises we must manage --
And forget that beneath everything
There is the hum of beauty.

Beneath dust and decay,
There is a sheen of value.
Beneath disease and distress,
There is a sparkle of wisdom.
Beneath the appearance of death,
There is the glimmer of rebirth.
Beneath the cloak of sorrow and affliction,
There is the endless beauty of the glory from God (1).

Awaken us, oh God, to the beauty beneath,
The beauty that confronts us
With your presence and power,
Your plan and purpose.

We know that by the tender mercy of our God,
The dawn from on high will break upon us,
And the beauty of God will overwhelm our senses.
May we be alert, and looking for it.

Amen

1) Baruch 5:1


Advent Week 1 (Year C): Look Up, There’s Hope

Our Advent preaching series for this year is entitled “Look Up.” I’ve developed this years Advent litany series to play on that theme, as well as follow along with the Lectionary passages for the season. This one, the first in the series, centers on Luke 21 and Psalm 25.

God, the nations rage.
The earth shudders.
Storms, fires, and violence abound.
The people are in distress.

In the midst of turmoil,
In the midst of trouble and need,
In the midst of swirling forces
We look up.

So intent on the needs and crises before us,
We raise our downward gaze.
Shifting away from our worry and despair,
We adjust our focus.
Heavy-hearted, weighed down by the cares of this life (1),
We release our burdens.

We look up to the heavens,
To signs in the sun, moon, and stars (2).
We look up toward the horizon,
To the coming dawn,
Because you are our help.
Your paths are steadfast love and faithfulness.
Do not let us be put to shame
Because we trust in you.

We stand up and raise our heads;
Our redemption is drawing near (3).

Amen


  1. Luke 21:34

  2. Luke 21:25

  3. Luke 21:28

Advent: Year B: Litany for Real Christmas

God, we can wait our whole lives for it to look like Christmas.
We can rely on tinsel and twinkle lights;
We can conjure up nostalgia with cookies;
We can spray cans of snow on trees;
We can fill stockings with miscellany;
    We think we can buy Christmas.

But this is what real Christmas looks like:
Mother laboring in a barn;
Babe in manger, sticky from birth;
Exhaustion, and milk-drunk sleep;
Stink of cattle, dung, and hay;
Starlight shining on crisp plains.

And the lingering question:
What do we do now?
Now that the world has become quiet
Now that everything is changed,
Now that we have seen a Great Light
Now that we have Wonder?

Christmas is sweaty work
And joyful
A long push
And glorious
Traveler’s grit
And graceful.

Christmas is subtle things reverberating
Past, present, future re-made.
Christmas is small things making meaning.
Hopeful waiting and arrival.
Christmas is homeless finding refuge ...

That is the Gloria the angels sing.

AMEN


 

Advent, Year B: Week 4: Litany for Deep Love

God, in the waiting and the tension
You are teaching us
The characteristics of True Love
Like a prism, it has many faces:
Patience,
Courage,
Gentleness,
Honesty,
Kindness,
Freedom, and more.

For years, for generations, we said
“God is Love,”
When what we really thought was
“God is Wrath.”
We thought of you as moody and prickly,
Distant and disembodied.

We know better now.
The Christ has taught us.

We like to imagine the night Love became Incarnate:
Clear,
Still,
Peaceful;
Perfect conditions for Love’s emergence
Perfect timing for Love’s expansion.

It’s in quiet that love has its purest voice.
It’s in stillness that love finds its rhythm.

And indeed, Love smiled upon us that day
Its every face beaming
A tiny voice bawling out love’s insistence
A tiny heart beating out love’s cadence.

Shhh, we can still hear it:
I love you. I love. I am love.

Amen

Advent Year B: Week 3: Litany for Deep Joy

God, all kinds of feelings pass through us in this life:
From happiness to sorrow and everything in between.
We can look around and see all kinds of reasons not to feel joyful
Until we learn:
Joy is not felt
Joy is found.

We straighten our spines,
Posturing ourselves toward joy;
Needing constant rediscovery
Until it becomes our nature.

Joy in pain
Joy in transformation
Joy in journeying
Joy in growth
Joy in parting
Joy in waiting

This is the joy that wells up from us:
The intentional song
The thoughtful gift
The word of comfort
The broken thing mended
The belly filled.

This is the joy given to us:
To love and be loved
To sacrifice and be blessed
To be lost and found.

Joyful, Joyful!
Rejoice, Rejoice!

Amen

 

Advent Year B: Week 1: Litany for Deep Hope

God: as the light of day fades in the evening
We hope for the sunrise.
As leaves journey toward earth mulch
We hope for good soil.
As the winter deepens around us, hollowing to slumber
We hope for springtime.
As all around us sleep the sleep of the wrecked
We hope for healing.

We wait in wakefulness
Eyes open,
In readiness and expectation
For you to come;
For you to call us on a journey --
We wait awake.

On the dawn
Goodness comes.
With green shoots
Goodness comes.
From earliest darkness
Goodness comes.
From darkest soil
Goodness comes...

The Goodness that is dung and straw and lamb and shepherd and angel
Our God-With-Us;
The Goodness that is fresh babe -
Our Holy One;
The Goodness that is Messiah
Our humble king.

Year after year, winter after winter,
For Goodness we wait.

Amen





 

Christmas Eve: Litany for Exaltation

This litany contains phrases from several of the classic passages of scripture relating to the birth of Christ, which are represented in this week's lectionary readings.

Sing to the Lord a new song!
Sing to the Lord, all the earth! (1)
For great is the Lord
And greatly to be praised (2)

We who walked in darkness
Have seen a great light. (3)
Glory to God in the highest heaven!
And on earth, peace! (4)

For unto us is born this day in the city of David
A savior,
Who is the Messiah,
The Lord. (5)
Authority rests on his shoulders, and he is called:
    Wonderful Counselor
    Mighty God
    Prince of peace.
His authority will grow continually,
And in his kingdom will be endless peace. (6)

We exalt him with our voices.
We exalt him with our hands.
We exalt him in word and thought.
We exalt him in actions that make for peace.

Let the heavens be glad!
Let the earth rejoice! (7)
For the grace of God has appeared,
Bringing salvation to all. (8)

Amen

  1. Psalm 96:1

  2. Psalm 96:4

  3. Isaiah 9:2

  4. Luke 2:14

  5. Luke 2:11

  6. Isaiah 9:6-7

  7. Psalm 96:11

  8. Titus 2:11

Advent Week 4: Litany for Expectation

This week's Advent litany for December 18, 2016 is brought to you via the Lectionary texts for Advent Week 4, Year A. Plus a splash of Luke 1 and second Corinthians 4 for lagniappe.

God, we see the signs of your coming:
Signs of the goodness to come,
Signs that disturb, surprise, and awaken us:
    An angel’s voice
    A prophet in the wilderness
    A virgin with child
Signs we might otherwise quietly dismiss as ridiculous (1);
Signs of Immanuel, God-with-us (2)

Restore us, O God; let your face shine,
That we may be saved. (3)

Help us to see the signs that point us to You (4).
Restore us, O God.
That we may clearly hear your voice;
Restore us, O God.
That we may clearly perceive your intention;
Restore us, O God.
That we may live in expectation of your coming;
Restore us, O God.
That we may put away any fear of an uncertain future;
Restore us, O God.
That we may walk the path of peace in the light of love (5);
Restore us, O God.

Restore us, O God; let your face shine,
That we may be saved.
We expect a bounty of unpredictable grace,
A full weight of glory (6).

Amen

 

  1. Matt 1:19

  2. Isaiah 7:14

  3. Psalm 80:3

  4. Isaiah 7:11

  5. Luke 1:79

  6. 2 Corinthians 4:17


 

Advent Week 2: Litany for Anticipation

With Advent comes a new church year, the beginning of the church calendar.The Lectionary passages for week 2 of Advent, Year A are here. I have used ideas from several of the passages for this Advent litany.

In the season of Advent we remember that waiting is not always comfortable, that anticipation requires us to sit on the edge of our seats, vigilant and ready. Advent is an opportunity to enter into the not-yet, to feel the feelings of longing, waiting for God to act. And we begin to see that waiting quietly has value if we are to hear the “voice calling in the wilderness: prepare the way of the Lord!”

 

God of steadfastness and encouragement: grant that we may live in harmony with one another,
In accordance with Christ Jesus.
Grant that we may be filled with all joy and peace in believing,
So that we may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. (1)

To the voice crying out in the wilderness (2)
Give us ears to hear.
To the prophets telling of your coming

Give us ears to hear.
To the whisper of our Loving Creator
Give us ears to hear.
To the silence of anticipation
Give us ears to hear.

May you find in our hearts
Straight paths.
May you find in our minds
A prepared way.
May you find in our spirits and our communities
Fruit worthy of repentance. (3)

May we live in the spirit of Christ:
The spirit of wisdom and understanding,
The spirit of counsel and might,
The spirit of knowledge and the fear of the Lord; (4)
Whose presence is near to us,
And whose kingdom is Peace. (5)
 

 

  1. Romans 15

  2. Matthew 3:3

  3. Matthew 3:8

  4. Isaiah 11:2

  5. Isaiah 11;6-9

 

 

Advent Week 1: Litany for Preparation

The Lectionary text from the Gospels for the first week of Advent, Year A, is Matthew 24:36-44.
Traditionally, the candle of Hope is lit on week 1 of Advent. I wrote another advent series year before last; week 1 of that series can be found here. This year I will continue following along with the Lectionary texts for Year A. I've concentrated on the Matthew passage here, but woven in threads from the other Lectionary readings from Sunday.

God, we are a people in darkness.
We prepare our hearts.
For the coming of Messiah,
We prepare our hearts.
For the coming of light,
We prepare our hearts.
For the peaceful kingdom,
We prepare our hearts.

We exchange our weapons for gardening tools (1).
We look to your coming.
We exchange stone hearts for those of flesh (2).
We look to your coming.
We exchange fear for love.
We look to your coming.
We exchange guilt for forgiveness.
We look to your coming.

Let us go down now, to where the living water flows
And cleanse ourselves.
Let us set aside distractions and idols
For salvation is near (3).
Let us be alert and ready,
For the Son of Man is coming at an unexpected hour (4).

The King is coming.
We prepare our hearts.

Amen
 

 

(1)”...they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more.” Isaiah 2:4

(2) “I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.” Ezekiel 36:26

(3) “...it is now the moment for you to wake from sleep. For salvation is nearer to us now than when we became believers.” Romans 13:11

(4) “Therefore you also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an unexpected hour.” Matthew 24:44

Litany for Advent Week 3: Joy

God of heaven and earth, you sent your angels as messengers to your servants, bringing news of comfort and joy, of your plan to heal a world gone astray...

...Bringing news of Emmanuel, God-With-Us.

To Mary, you sent a message of your favor.  You chose her to carry and give birth to Jesus, the Son of the Most High.

My soul glorifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior. From now on all generations will call me blessed.

To Joseph the angel gave assurance that Mary’s son was from God, and should be named Jesus…

...Because he would save us from our sins.

To shepherds among their flocks, angels brought good news of great joy that will be for all people.

A Savior has been born to us; he is the Messiah, the Lord.

To Kings from the east, a star rose signifying the birth of Jesus.  When they saw the star they were overjoyed, and they bowed down and worshiped the Christ Child, offering costly gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.

We worship the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, and lay all our treasures at His feet.

You have brought us joy through Your Son, the Messiah.

A Savior who is Christ the King.



 

Litany for Advent Week 2: Peace

Oh Great God, we are gathered here, your people, seeking out your face and the peace that is found in your Presence.

Let us dwell always in your presence, and walk in Your peace.

When humanity opened the door to sin, we were plunged into darkness and despair.  But You, Loving God, have made peace with us and restored us to grace.

For Your infinite mercy and lovingkindness, we thank You.

You sent your son Jesus Christ, the Prince of Peace, into the world as a human to save and heal Your children who were lost.  The light of peace came into the world.

We who walked in darkness have seen a great light. Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace!

We prepare our hearts now and acknowledge that Christ's work on the cross was the beginning of Your kingdom here on earth.  Your kingdom is a peaceable kingdom, where lion and lamb may lie down together, where there is neither Jew nor Gentile, slave nor free, male nor female. We are all one in the peace of Christ.

May the peace of Christ rule in our hearts, and may we carry the light of peace wherever we go.

Amen.

 

Litany for Advent Week 1: Hope

We enter into this first Sunday of the Advent season, turning our attention to You, God. We acknowledge the darkness that is within us, and that permeates the world.
Father, forgive us.

We acknowledge the suffering, tragedy, and pain by which humanity is afflicted, which seems at times to overwhelm us.
Draw near to us, Oh God.

We consider the mystery of your ways, that you might choose to send our Savior as an innocent baby and not as a warrior or a king; as one who humbly accepted suffering and humiliation and called it glory.
Our hope is in Jesus Christ, the Messiah.

We choose in this moment to focus our attention on HOPE; the hope of Jesus Christ and all his coming represents for suffering people, the hope for restoration of all that is broken in the world, the hope of new life and resurrection.
Hope is the light we wish to see by.

Grant, Oh God, that when he comes, Christ may find us waiting in expectation, our souls quieted, our hearts soft and open.
We wait in hope for the Lord.

In Christ all things are made new, and we look forward to the day our hope is fulfilled, each heart reconciled, the work of Christ completed in all the earth.
Our hope is in Jesus Christ, the Messiah.

Amen