Theme: What if Joseph…was afraid….
Lighting of the Advent Candle, week #4
(Mary Theresa Streck, ARCWP)
(Mary Theresa Streck, ARCWP)
All: As we light this fourth candle, we remember that we are called to create, share and be light in all our ways of relating to one another. And we commit ourselves to the works of peace and justice so badly needed in our world today and every day.
Presider: Let us kindle the light of love. (then light the four colored candles and the white one)
ALL: And let us welcome the light within each other.
Gathering Song: You Come, You Come, Emmanuel. (Words on last page; tune of “O Come, Oh Come, Emmanuel #38)
Opening Prayer. Presider: Nurturing God, you gave us a human expression of yourself in the person of Jesus. Through him, you showed us how to both discover the sacred in your creation and to express it in our yearning to be a better people on this planet Earth. We pray that you give us the blessings of faith, hope, grace to make it so. ALL: Amen.
Community Rite of Forgiveness
All: Come, Holy Spirit, renew the hearts of all of us gathered here now and those of our community who can not be with us today. Grant us your pardon and peace, so that we will be strong enough to forgive each other our failures to care for one another – your people – our brothers and sisters – your blessed people. Amen.
Liturgy of the Word
First Reading: Isaiah 7: 10-14
Psalm 24. Responsorial. ALL: Let the Holy One come in, the Holy One come in, the one who rules our hearts.
Second Reading: Romans 1: 1-17
Gospel Acclamation (ALL: Sing): Celtic Alleluia!
Gospel Proclamation: Matthew 1:18-24
Response. ALL: Glory and praise to you, Jesus the Christ!
Homily Starter for 4th Week in Advent
Liturgy Theme: What if Joseph … was afraid….
What took place in the gospel story that we just heard? Joseph found himself in a very uncomfortable position with a very difficult decision to make.
The Inclusive Lectionary describes Joseph as an “upright person.” (Other translations call him “a just man,” “ a good man,” “a righteous man.” In short, he followed the religious and social laws of the land; he followed what he was told was the right thing to do. Accordingly then, when he found out that Mary was pregnant, the Jewish Law of Moses (in the book of Deuteronomy) called for him to expose Mary publically in a divorce proceeding. In doing so, her reputation in the community would be damaged and she could even be killed. The middle of the road in Jewish law allowed a divorce that was not public, but even that would have ruined Mary’s reputation and possibly committed her to a life in poverty. But he couldn’t do that; his feelings for Mary would not let him do either the public or private divorce…he could not – and would not – follow either of the two legal laws.
That was the context of his decision at this point … “what to do?” The law said one thing; his religious instincts and learnings told him something else. What if Joseph chose.…
Then Joseph had a dream in which he received a message from an angel. The angel told him to follow his instincts, to trust what his religious practices were telling him to do. Sounds simple; but the command of the angel could have complicated his life even more. Joseph had to decide to follow what the angel (and his own regard for Mary) told him was the right thing to do…or he could rationalize his way out (and take the safe and legal alternative). What if Joseph chose…one of the divorce alternatives? What if Joseph was afraid….if he chose neither? What if…..Joseph followed the message of the angel? What if….
We know the “rest of the story.” But the questions remain unanswered: what if Joseph chose… What if Joseph did not take to heart the angel’s words — “do not be afraid” — because he was fearful of what the future might bring.
We are not Joseph, but sometimes we may have to make a choice between what we feel internally is the right thing to do and what we know somehow is the most reasonable thing to do. How do we make such a difficult decision between heart and head; might we sometimes hear an angel singing Bob Dufford’s song “Be not afraid, I go before you always…” and give us a taste of peace?
The floor is open for comments and discussions.
Profession of Faith. ALL: We believe in God, the creator and sustainer of all that exists. We believe in Jesus, the Christ, our love, our hope, and our light. We believe in the Holy Spirit, the breath of Wisdom Sophia, who keeps the Christ vision present to everyone everywhere. We believe in the communion of saints, our heavenly friends who support us on life’s journey. We believe in the partnership and equality of women and men in our church, our society and our world. We believe that we are all one in the community of creation. We believe that God calls us to live fully, love tenderly, and serve generously. Amen.
Presider: As a people of faith, we trust that our petitions are always heard by our God. And so we bring our needs, and those of our brothers and sisters, to our healing God. Our response is “Loving God, help us in our need.”
Presider: May we experience the presence of God ever anew in our lives, we pray. R.
Presider: May those who suffer from destitution and despair anywhere feel again the mothering comfort of God, we pray. R.
Presider: May the sick and sorrowful receive the nurturing, healing love of God, we pray. R.
Presider: May those who have died and passed on rest in God’s eternal embrace, we pray. R.
Presider: And for what other Intentions do we pray?
Offertory Song: “Christ, Circle Round Us“ #54,
verses 1, 4, 6.
verses 1, 4, 6.
Presider: Blessed are you, God of all life, through your goodness we have this bread (raise it), and this wine (raise it), and our (raise other arm) own lives to offer. Through this sacred meal, may we become your new creation. May we demonstrate your caring love for everyone, no exceptions
ALL: Blessed be God forever.
Presider: God is with you. ALL: And also with you. Presider: Lift up your hearts. ALL: We lift them up to God. Presider: Let us give thanks to our God. (All are welcome around the table.)
Voice: All caring God, we ask you to strengthen us to deepen our awareness of your boundless love as we gather around this table of abundant life.
Voice: Mothering God, you gave birth to all creation from your life-giving womb. Through the ages, you have blessed it all. And in time, you graced human-kind with a proof of that… you sent your Son, Jesus, to share our earthly existence. He laughed and cried, talked and walked, loved and was loved, and he lived and died.
Voice: We celebrate the birth of Jesus, our newborn brother, Emmanuel, who came to give us the fullness of life. During this holy season we share the bread of freedom and lift up the cup of salvation.
Voice: We praise you for the gift of Jesus in history and the gift of Jesus in faith. Through him, you breathe life into us. Through him, you are always with us. Your raised him up from among your people to baptize us in your Spirit.
ALL (sing): We are holy, holy, holy (3x) we are whole. You are…I am…We are…
All (with an arm extended): Come Holy Spirit, deepen our awareness of your Presence within us and in these simple gifts of bread and wine. They will become the body and blood of Christ.
Presider: Jesus then gave birth to a new covenant. While at supper with his friends, he took bread, blessed and broke it, and shared it with them saying: ALL: Take this all of you and eat it. This bread is you; this bread is me, we are one body. Do this in memory of me.
Presider: Then Jesus took a cup of wine, blessed it, and shared the cup with his friends saying: ALL: Take this all of you and drink from it, this new covenant is poured out for you and for everyone. This is my blood; we are one blood. Do this in memory of me.
Presider: Together we proclaim this mystery of faith.
ALL: Christ has died. Christ is risen. Christ lives in us in the world today.
Voice: As we wait with joyful hearts for the fulfillment of your loving presence in our lives, we remember the prophet, martyrs and saints who have gone before us: Deborah, Isaiah, Mary of Nazareth and Mary of Magdala, Peter, Martha, Bishop Oscar Romero, Ita Ford, Maura Clark, Jean Donovan and all those we honor as heroes and heroines in our church and society who inspire us today. (Community names those… living or dead.)
ALL: Through Christ, with Christ, in Christ, all praise and glory are yours, Holy God, through the power of the Spirit. Amen.
The prayer of Jesus ALL: Our Father and Mother….
Sign of Peace. Presider: Let us join our hands and hearts and pray for peace in our world as we sing “Let there be peace on earth”
Litany for the breakiing of the bread. ALL: Loving God, you call us to speak truth to power. We will do so. Loving God, you call us to live the Gospel of peace and justice. We will do so. Loving God, you call us to be your presence in the world. We will do so.
Presider: This is Jesus, Emmanuel, God who is with us and loving us forever. All are invited to partake of this sacred banquet of love. ALL: May we be who we are – the Body of Christ.
Presider: So let us share the Body of Christ with the Body of Christ! ALL: Amen.
After Communion Meditation Song: ALL:
This Little Light of Mine
Prayer after Communion. Presider: God of new beginnings, thank you for nourishing us in your sacrament. May your tender presence continue to open our hearts to the daily miracles of life that surround us each day. We make this prayer through Emmanuel, God-with-us. ALL: Amen.
Closing Blessing. ALL (with arm extended in prayer): May our loving God fill us with radiant joy. May our liberating God fill us with deep peace, and may our loving God bless us always with strength to serve our sisters and brothers who are marginalized in church and society, the poor and the broken. Amen.
Presider: Let us birth Christ anew in our world today. Go in the peace of Christ.
ALL: Thanks be to God.
Closing Song: ALL: Go Make a Difference, #504 all 3 verses.