Dance for us, O Advent skies.
Erupt with pink and purple hue.
With light’s last gift, defy the night,
Creator’s love alive in you.
Dance in us, O Cosmic Christ,
Who moves in time with sky and sea.
With pulsing wisdom stir in us
Your surging creativity.
Flow through us, O Spirit soar,
Deep energy of dance divine.
Enflame our hearts with restless joy.
In us, God’s vibrant love abides.
Mid-Advent, Gaudete Sunday
An earlier version of this prayer originally appeared on this blog in December 2011.
The third Sunday of Advent (celebrated this coming Sunday, December 14), is known as Gaudete Sunday. In Latin, “Gaudete” means “rejoice.” The words “rejoice” and “joy” appear prominently in the readings and liturgical texts of the day. For example, at St. Michael’s (Canton, OH), our opening song will include the words, “Heaven and earth, rejoice! Salvation is drawing near.” (Emmanuel by Steve Angrisano, OCP), which reflects St. Paul’s exhortation to “Rejoice in the Lord always; again, I say, rejoice. Indeed, the Lord is near.” (Philippians 4:4-5, Traditional Entrance Antiphon for Third Sunday of Advent).
The joyful color pink (or rose) is sometimes used liturgically on this Sunday as we await with joy the imminent celebration of Christmas, with the faith that Christ has already been born into our world and is transforming our world. Even today, we can dance for joy!
Cross that leads us into glory,
Cross that bears a mystery:
Love outpoured and life exalted,
Tender grace that sets us free.
Grace that feeds us with affliction,
Bread of tears and saving cup.
Your life’s thirst, to serve your people,
Bending down, you are raised up.
Raised up high, your people scatter.
Arms outstretched, a welcome sign.
Life’s last breath, words that gather:
“You are each other’s, you are mine.”
Holy Thursday/Good Friday
God of all time,
In your great love, you have created all things,
And in all seasons your works praise you:
Flowing water and rushing wind find joy in your strength.
The sun’s warmth sings of the kindness of your love.
In the harvest time, all of creation is gathered into your care.
And in winter’s chill, the world waits in silence for your new life.
Your people join creation in praising you, O God.
We praise you for your light which shines in every one of us,
In every season of our lives.
God of our time,
Sometimes the winds and rains signal destruction, not refreshment.
Sometimes the sun’s heat leaves us with fire and drought.
Too often, harvest abundance gives way to careless consumption,
And in our winter waiting, we dwell, in peril, alone.
God of light,
In seasons of joy, and seasons of fear,
Awaken our eyes and hearts,
That we might see your reflection imprinted on each one of us,
That we might see strangers as sisters and brothers,
That we might be light for one another.
May your light, O God, shine through all our days,
Breaking through every shadow.
May its radiance be our hope,
Until at last we come to that final season of your glory,
When you will scatter all darkness.
An earlier version of this prayer was originally written for the youth Kairos community of St. Norbert and Our Lady of the Brook (Northbrook, Illinois).
God of Glory,
All of creation shines with your presence and dazzling love.
We praise you for your loving energy,
a holy breath sweeping over water and earth,
Forming and renewing mountains, glaciers, and seas.
In your wisdom, you breathe this same powerful breath into all your children,
woman and man.
You are source of glory in our humanity and holiness in our brokenness.
We give thanks to you for the mountain-top experiences of our lives,
Life-changing experiences when we could not help but feel, see, and rejoice in your presence.
We give thanks for your loving care in those times when we have lived in life’s valleys,
for those who have cared for us during times of grief,
for moments of hope and endurance during times of despair.
And in the mundane grind of our daily lives, we give thanks for your quiet presence,
for we know that your breath is always flowing through us,
A source of peace when we are anxious,
a source of holy dignity for our ordinary days,
a source of guidance along life’s path.
By the power of your Spirit, your holy breath,
Enflame our hearts with love for all your people.
Lead us down the mountains of our own lives into the valleys of our world,
that our journeys might give life to the journeys of others,
that our concern might be transformed into justice for those who are oppressed,
that your Spirit might renew the face of the earth.
Second Sunday of Lent (February 24)
Readings: Roman Catholic (USCCB)
On the second Sunday of Lent, the Roman Catholic lectionary features the story of the Transfiguration of Jesus on the mountain. For those churches that used the Revised Common Lectionary, “Transfiguration Sunday” is typically celebrated the last Sunday before Lent.
PHOTO: 8#X (flickr)
A few winters ago, an interesting post-Christmas commercial appeared on my non-HD TV. In this commercial, a dejected man stands looking at his suburban home, adorned with the brightest Christmas lights imaginable, complete with music and moving Christmas characters. In an act of sad resignation, the man unplugs his loud display: Christmas is over. But then, his neighbor delivers a message of joy: there are still Christmas deals to be had at the stores! (A particular electronics store of course!) Christmas goes on! And, with new purpose, the man plugs everything back in.
Naturally, this commercial reminded me that I’d really like a high-definition television. Quickly, I admitted to myself that, even on sale, an HDTV wouldn’t fit into my family’s budget. Yet the commercial has continued to stay with me as a reminder of how we postmodern folk mark our Christmas-time, and as an invitation to allow Christmas to linger and then lead us into the rest of the year.
Is it possible that, after years of hawking “Christmas deals” in October, the advertising calendar has – in its own way – caught up with churchy calendars, where the Christmas season stubbornly hangs on well into January? In my own Roman Catholic tradition, the Christmas season only wrapped up today, the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord, after celebrating Epiphany last week. Likewise, many Christians in other denominations have also moved from Epiphany to Baptism of the Lord, but will retain the name “Epiphany season” until Ash Wednesday (February 13, this year). What sense can we make of this, we who have already boxed away our Christmas decorations, or who really should, and are looking forward to the seasons called “post-lockout hockey” or “Spring semester” or even “Valentine’s Day?” Read the rest of this entry