by Ken Sehested
First Sunday advent
Blessed be your name, Beloved, who makes a way out of no way. Draw near unto us, for we live in a season of darkened sun, veiled moon, scattered stars, embattled news. Heaven itself shudders. Our bread is kneaded with sighs, and tears fill our cup. Let the light of your countenance return, with the grain and the grape, communion’s feast whereby we remember your purpose, your promise, your provision, and we again rejoice in your illuminating presence and resplendent glory.
Second Sunday of Advent
Blessed be your name, Holy Comforter, who enters every desolation to make straight a highway to Heaven’s abode. Command every depth to ascend, every height to plummet, every rough way willowed. Bring us again to that encounter with the Baptizer’s honey-smeared beard and Jordan’s penitential wake. Supple every hardened heart. Relax every clinched hand. Tune our ears to the rustle of angels’ feet hastening to declare glad tidings in a land of fretful recoil.
Third Sunday of Advent
Blessed are you, Anointed One, maker of gladness in a season of gloom, release to every captive, defender of the desperate, drier of every tear. Renew the barren land with your streams of pardon. May every sorrowed voice be turned again to joyful exultation. May the sound of Mother Mary’s Magnificat echo the shout of praise that lifts the indigent and subverts the builders of endless barns. Strengthen our weak knees, and still our restless hands. Unleash speech in the silenced and restore sight for the obscured. Let the hills break forth in song, the trees in applause.
Fourth Sunday of Advent
Blessed be your name, Mighty One, whose light is promised only to those who sit in darkness, whose providence rests among the humiliated, whose promise breaks forth from history’s shambles and every dispirited corner, announcing deliverance to the least, the lost, the disappeared; and threat to gangsters, banksters, and all who barter justice to the highest bidder. Fear not, the season of fraud shall be eclipsed by Glad Tidings of earth’s reclamation amid Heaven’s rejoicing.
Blessed be your name, Mystery of the Ages, smuggled into a backwater province of imperial vanity, incarnating history in the womb of a peasant, threat to each lordly regent and every claim of privilege, star-guiding those considered alien to the Covenant’s boundary, announcing Heaven’s alert to lowborn hirelings, reversing antiquity’s logic of predestined rule. Grant us the power of assent to Mary’s rebellious submission.
Epiphany (centering the Magi)
Blessed be your name, O Ancient of Days, brooder over Creation’s bud, blossomed in delight, enduring history’s blight, reaching into the cosmos to anoint a star of brilliant light to alert supplicants in distant land, beyond Sinai’s boundary and Hebrew lineage, to bear witness to the Promised One of God’s favor and threat to Herod’s imperial sway. We give thanks for the Magi of every age who transgress the borders of tribe and clan, the barriers of every imperious claim to divine fame and favor. May Mary’s welcome be our own.
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These prayers are reprinted with permission from “Sacred Seasons: Advent – Christmastide,” worship resource 2023-04, published by Seeds of Hope Publishers, Katie Cook, ed.