Opening Hymn

Introduction:

  • We have come together today at the beginning of our liturgical year to remind ourselves of the Good News at the heart of Christ’s message
    • The Good news of God’s love and forgiveness as the foundation of our lives.
  • Our lives since Spring have been defined and shaped by
    • The Covid-19 global pandemic, lockdown, and all that they have taught us about ourselves and our nation.
    • And by the bitterly divisive politics and culture of these times in our nation and in the larger human community.
  • They have taken a heavy toll on our ways of living together and on our spirits.
    • This is a time to reflect on how we have responded:
      • Grateful for the graces in ourselves and the people we observe — graces that guided and strengthened us,
      • Sorry for the ways we have not been faithful to the example and teaching we cherish in Christ,
      • Accepting again and acknowledging God’s love of us each and patient forgiveness,
      • Renewing our commitment to respond with greater healing wisdom and love, resolving to walk more fully in Christ’s Way this Advent and year ahead, guided by the Holy Spirit.

“Acolyte”  brings the flame from the Paschal Candle and lights the Advent candles….

  • As we re-light the Advent candles, let’s enter into the quiet of our spirits…. Asking for a living sense of God’s love and forgiveness….  A felt sense of belonging with God….  Of warm welcome and inner peace….

Our loving, forgiving God, we know deep within as we begin today that we are already forgiven and that You love us deeply and cherish us.

As we rest, reassured of Your loving acceptance, help us to see with clarity ways that we have not responded with love to the demands that have come at us these weeks and months.

Open our minds and imaginations to ways that we can more clearly and lovingly bring your redeeming and healing life to birth in these times.

We make our prayer in the name of Jesus and in the power of your Holy Spirit where we live now and forever.   Amen.

A reading from Letter of Saint Paul to the Colossians

Brothers and sisters:
Put on, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved,
heartfelt compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience,
bearing with one another and forgiving one another,
if one has a grievance against another;
as the Lord has forgiven you, so must you also do.

And over all these put on love,
that is, the bond of perfection.
And let the peace of Christ control your hearts,
the peace into which you were also called in one Body.

And be thankful.
Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly,
as in all wisdom you teach and admonish one another,
singing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs
with gratitude in your hearts to God.

And whatever you do, in word or in deed,
do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus,
giving thanks to God the Father through him.

The Word of God  (Colossians 3:12-17)

Prayer:         Gracious and loving God, as we reflect back on these last months, help us to see more clearly Your presence, Your action, Your desires for us as individuals and as community.

Plant the seeds of new invitations in our imaginations in this time of quiet reflection and discernment.  Deepen our resolve and courage to live more fully the life into which You’re guiding us.  We ask this through Christ the Lord.   Amen.

Examination of Conscience              

Reader 1:     In this time of Pandemic

  • What have I found stressful? How have I cared for myself in responding to the stress?
    • My physical health – exercise? Rest?   Food?    Drink?
      • Are there ways I feel called to change, to improve?
      • Can I ask for that grace?
    • My psychological health? What am I doing to stay focused, centered?  What do I do to support my peace of mind?
      • Are there ways I feel called to change, to improve? Can I ask for that grace?
    • How have I cared for my spiritual life, my relationship with God in this time?
      • What is God showing me about our relationship through this pandemic experience? About my prayer? … About loss of control?  …  About vulnerability?  …  About facing death?  …  About trust?
        • Are there ways I am feeling called to change, to grow, to improve in this Advent time?
        • What growth in my relationship with God do I want to ask for?
        • What growth in our community’s relationship with God do I want to ask for?

Sung Kyrie

Reader 2:     In this time of pandemic

  • How have I attended to and responded to others?
    • Have I been sensitive to the impact of life during the pandemic on those around me, those who are showing signs of depression, anxiety? Have I reached out to support and encourage and respond to their struggles and needs?
      • How have I responded to those I love – wherever they may be?
      • Are there ways I feel drawn to grow and improve?
    • … Have I been sharing this journey of faith with companions?
  • For what in my faith response to the pandemic am I grateful?
  • For what in my faith response to the pandemic am I sorry?
  • What grace in moving forward do I want to ask?

  Sung Kyrie

Reader 1:     In the Words of Pope Francis:          Have I allowed myself to be touched by others’ pain during these months?

  • Have I entered into the pain of communities of color as we have learned of the disproportionate illness, suffering, and death they are experiencing?
    • Have I attended to and tried to understand better the systemic racism and systemic inequality within which we live?
    • Have I grown in my understanding of the privilege from which I have benefitted? Within which I and we still live?
    • How have I failed in recognizing their pain? In responding to it?
  • Have I entered into the pain of communities of color as we have seen the instances of hatred, brutality and violence play out in the news reports?
    • … the pain of refugees and migrants – adults and children – at our borders?
    • How have I failed in recognizing their pain? In responding to it?
    • Am I open to the grace of being outraged at the injustices?
  • How am I being drawn to grow and to respond with compassion in the Advent time ahead?

  Sung Kyrie

Reader 2:     In this time of such deep and bitter divisions in our nation….

  • Have I contributed to the divisions? How?
    • Have I sought to understand those on the other side of painful issues?
    • Have I treated those with whom I differ with respect? Have I reached out respectfully to engage them, seek better understanding?  Dialog?  Reconciliation?
  • Are there ways I am feeling called to change, to grow, to improve in this Advent time?
    • Am I open to asking the grace to be a healer, a reconciler?
    • How might I and we as community enter into the healing of the nation?

  Sung Kyrie

Celebrant:             

Our loving God Who is infinitely merciful
Is in Advent waiting, waiting for us to see anew, to love anew,
To repent and be more deeply united with God and with each other.

God waits, eager to pardon and to protect us from our guilt
Confident in God’s goodness and mercy,
Let us ask forgiveness of all our sins as we confess together with sincerity of heart.

 

ALL: 

I confess to almighty God
and to you , my brothers and sisters,
that I have sinned in my thoughts and in my words,
in what I have done and in what I have failed to do.

Therefore I ask blessed Mary ever-virgin, all the Angels and Saints,
and you, my brothers and sisters,
to pray for me to the Lord our God.

Celebrant:   We have acknowledged our sins,
and laid our burdens down
at the feet of Jesus.

AMEN.

Lord’s Prayer

Sign of Peace

 Celebrant:   Go forth, with your hearts prepared to welcome Christ!