Second Sunday of Advent, Dominican Month for Peace 2018

In response to the Master General’s request this year for a Dominican Month of Peace to foster global Dominican solidarity with our brothers and sisters working to bring hope and peace to the Democratic Republic of Congo, we offer this simple ceremony integrating the Advent theme The Promise of Peace with the second of four weekly Advent Wreath lighting ceremonies.

Inspired by the readings for the Second Sunday of Advent, the specific focus for this week is

The Promise of Peace: The Return of the People

As presented here, it was written to follow the entrance procession, hymn, and opening greeting at Mass.  It should, of course, be adapted to fit the needs and circumstances wherever it is used.

Presider:         Gracious and loving God, we bless our Advent Wreath, asking that You make it a sacred sign for us, one that makes us conscious of our solidarity with our sisters and brothers in the Congo and in the Dominican family around the world. May this wreath, the light of Christ that it represents, and our Dominican solidarity deepen our longing for peace and nourish our trust in the coming of Your Reign in the Congo, in our nation, and all around Earth. We make our prayer in the name of Jesus and in the power of Your Holy Spirit where we live now and forever. Amen.

Presider:         As we begin, let’s enter into the quiet of our spirits and ask for felt solidarity with the people and the Dominican communities in the tense context of the Congo…. Listening to their experience….

[a short period of silence…]

1st Reader:      The prophet Baruch tells us:  Jerusalem, take off your robe of mourning and misery. Put on the splendor of glory from God forever, wrapped in the cloak of justice from God.  Stand upon the heights.  Look out and see your children gathered from the east and west, … rejoicing that they are remembered by God.  Led away on foot by their enemies they left you: but God will bring them back to you, … leading them in joy, with mercy and justice for company.

2nd Reader:      We hear that promise of peace as made to us: Congo, take off your robe of mourning and misery. Put on the splendor of glory from God forever, wrapped in the cloak of justice from God.  Stand upon the heights.  Look out and see your children gathered from the east and west, … rejoicing that they are remembered by God.  Led away on foot by their enemies they left you: but God will bring them back to you, … leading them in joy, with mercy and justice for company.

1st Reader:      But how can God bring them back to us? To what can they come? So many villages have been destroyed, so many thousands have been killed in the fighting? Trust among our peoples has been betrayed and is no more.

2nd Reader:      How can God bring them back to us when they’ve watched their loved ones be tortured and murdered before their eyes?  How can they come back with joy?

1st Reader:      How can God bring them back to us from the terror and trauma that have seized them and imprisoned their spirits, leaving them always at risk of exploding without warning in fear, hatred, depression or violence beyond their understanding or control, beyond our understanding and control?

2nd Reader:      How can God bring them back to us from the flashbacks of the terrible cruelties they were forced to watch and to endure?

1st Reader:      How can God bring them back to us from the flashbacks and overwhelming guilt for the terrible cruelties and killing they were forced to inflict on innocent, helpless people?

2nd Reader:      How can we trust these promises? How can we hope God will bring them back to us joyful and with mercy and justice? Why did God not remember them earlier and rescue them from being led away by our enemies with so much suffering and loss?

[brief pause…]

Presider:         Lord, Have Mercy.         Christ, Have Mercy.      Lord, Have Mercy

May almighty God have mercy on our sisters and brothers in the Congo and on us, forgive us all our sins, and bring us together to the fullness of life in peace.  Amen

In solidarity with our sisters and brothers in the Congo, touched to our depths by their questions, yet trying to support them with our own faith and hope in God’s promises, we prayerfully relight this candle of promise, this candle of hope that in the light of Christ a just leader will be given who will lead us into the Way of Christ’s peace.

[1stAdvent Wreath candle is lit]

And in solidarity, we light another candle of promise this week, a candle of prayerful hope that God will lead the people of Congo and of the world back to peace with justice and healing for all, lead us all in joy, by the light of God’s glory, with mercy and justice for company.

[2ndAdvent Wreath candle is lit]

Hymn:                        Na nzela na lola – As long as we follow

Presider:

Our loving God, We pray that You will unite us in spirit, prayer and hope with our sisters and brothers in the Congo, Your children so in need of solidarity, good leadership, healing of their communities, and peace.

We recall Your promises through the prophets to raise up for us a leader who will do what is right and just in the land, and to remember Your suffering people, freeing them and bringing them back joyful, wrapped in Your justice and peace.

Their hearts and ours desire the warmth of Your love and our minds are searching for the light of Your word to fulfill Your promises and to lead us to Your peace. Increase our longing for Christ, our true Leader, the one who trusted Your love and promises through terrible suffering, abandonment and death and then was raised up, brought back to us in Your glory.

Give us the strength to grow in love, that the dawn of his coming may find us rejoicing in his presence and welcoming the light of his truth in peace.

We ask this in the name of Jesus our brother who came to guide us into Your peace, and in the power of your Holy Spirit where we live and move and have our being, now and forever.   Amen.

Prayer arrangement by James Hug, S.J. & Karen Rossman, OP
Permission to copy and use

Photo: People Carrying Baskets by Trevor Cole on Unsplash

*Lyrics for Na nzela na lola – As long as we follow

*Video of community learning and singing Na nzela na lola – As long as we follow