Readings and Reflections

 

St Peter’s/St Joseph’s Bidding Prayers
28th / 29th November 2020


Priest:
Today, the first Sunday of Advent, marks the beginning of our journey towards Christmas.   Let us ask for the strength we need for this journey.

 

Reader:
We pray for those on the “front line”, helping others with the consequences of the virus:   May they receive God’s strength.                             

Lord in your mercy.

 

We pray for those struggling financially:   May we be attentive to their needs and help wherever we can.                                                           

Lord in your mercy.

 

We pray for those in spiritual desolation:   As we come together joyfully  next weekend for communal worship, let us support each other in prayer.
Lord in your mercy.

 

We pray for those who suffer from anxiety:   May they be touched by the healing presence of the God who cares for them.                     

Lord in your mercy.

 

We commend to the loving mercy of the Father in heaven those who have died recently and those whose anniversaries occur at about this time. During November we pray for our loved ones who have passed away. May they find their home in heaven.                                                            

Lord in your mercy.

In a moment of silence let us commend our own needs to the Lord.
 [After a pause]                                                                                

Lord in your mercy.

 

Mary agreed to be the mother of our Saviour: Let us ask her to intercede for us as we prepare to greet her son.                                                      

Hail Mary….

 

Priest:   Father in heaven, you sent your Son Jesus, to live in the world as a human being.     We make these prayers today in his name for he lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit for ever and ever.                                    

 Amen.

 

Reflection for the first Sunday of Advent
Sunday, 29th November 2020

 

If you do not have a copy of the missalette, you can find today’s readings at www.universalis .com

 

Today is the first Sunday of Advent.   In our church this marks the beginning of a new year and a new cycle of readings.   If you have a Sunday missal at home, you will find the readings under “Year B”.   During this year, on most Sundays, the gospel reading is taken from Mark’s gospel.

  

We can hope that this new year will hold out for us more hope than the last one, as we come together to defeat the virus that has so disrupted our lives.

 

Perhaps one of the consequences of the pandemic is to heighten the level of anxiety that affects all of us.   By now we all know someone who has suffered because of Covid-19, and many of us will know someone who has died as a consequence.   Being told that we must limit our social contacts makes us afraid that we too may catch the virus and that there might be serious consequences for our own health and the happiness of our families.   Many too are fearful for their jobs and economic wellbeing.   There will be many other casualties in this battle, in addition to the medical ones, we see on the TV every day.

 

Anxiety is a good thing if taken in due proportion.   It prevents us from taking unnecessary risks.   Sadly some people suffer from a disorder that makes them fear everything and paralyses them, preventing them from living a healthy life.   For those who suffer from OCD, living with Covid has been a hell on earth.

 

Advent begins that time where we prepare to celebrate the coming of Christ our saviour, who came to show us that we can live our lives free from fear and secure in the knowledge that the Father is always caring for us.

 

The Gospel today, our first time dipping into Mark, encourages us to be awake and ready for the Lord’s coming.   Often the Lord enters our lives at a moment we do not expect and in a way we do not anticipate.   We look forward to the working of divine action in our lives, not to be afraid that we might miss it, but so that when the time comes, we will be ready to enter into the experience in the most profound way possible.

 

When the angel came to Mary to invite her to become part of the salvation story, it was certainly a shock to the system.   It would have been impossible for her to even dream that this might happen to her.   But the first words of the angel were “do not be afraid”.   Fortunately for us, Mary trusted in these words.

 

The same with the shepherds tending their sheep on the hillside when a host of angels appeared with “Good News” about the birth of Jesus – but again their first words were “fear not”.

 

It seems that when the Lord bursts into our lives, yes he wants to take us by surprise, but no, he does not want us to be anxious about it.   Just as Mary and the shepherds were filled with joy, so our meeting with the Lord should be a profoundly uplifting experience.

 

The example given by Jesus in today’s gospel is about some servants awaiting the return of their master.   They are told to stay awake, to make sure they don’t miss the moment of his return.   This is not to fill them with fear:  “they might be punished if the master finds them asleep”, but rather, to make sure they don’t miss out on the sheer joy of celebrating the master’s return.

 

The church in her wisdom gives us four weeks to prepare spiritually for the celebration of the birth of our saviour into the world.   Each week is marked by lighting another candle on the Advent wreath.   As we begin to plan, cautiously, how we will be able to celebrate with our family and friends, we can begin the journey of preparing our hearts to celebrate this joyful moment.    May the master find us ready.