Entrance Song    Come To Us O Emmanuel (Marty Haugen)
All sing: Come to us, O Emmanuel

Welcome to our Advent Service where we have gathered to begin our Advent journey together, to be companions along the road. As in every journey we can only start from where we are. This is the invitation God gives us – to come as we are, not as we would like to be. Before we start off, we must first come home to ourselves. Be honest about your hopes, your expectations, your disappointments, your concerns, your fears. Simply acknowledge that they are there. This is who you are.

But this evening we also acknowledge something else. The theme for this year is “Follow the Star.” This is a time to acknowledge the hope that lies in our hearts, the seeds of future possibilities planted within each of us by God. Advent is a time for us to nourish those seeds, to trust the stirring deep within us. It is a time for reawakening and honouring our ideals, our hunger, our longing, remembering that their fulfilment has been promised, for God is coming. During Advent we allow our star, our ideals, our hunger, our dreams, to lead us.

The readings of Advent tell us to “throw away the cloak of despondency, take off your dress of sorrow and distress… Rejoice, exult with all your heart. The Lord is in your midst, a victorious warrior. He will exult with joy over you, he will renew you by his love.”

We begin our journey by kindling a flame, a light – a light that we know will grow brighter throughout our journey as we open ourselves to God. 

Advent Candle Procession Warm The Time of Winter (Lori True)
All sing: Holy light, warm our night, warm the time of winter

Holy light, warm our night, warm the time of winter

Instrumental will continue to play softly in background

Blessing of Advent Wreath
My brothers and sisters, today we begin the season of Advent. We open our hearts to God’s love as we prepare to welcome Christ into our lives and homes. The candles of this wreath remind us that Jesus Christ came to conquer the darkness of this world and to lead us into the light of his glorious kingdom. And so we pray:

Prayer of Blessing
Lord God,

help us to prepare a space for you throughout this Season.
Open our hearts to your light and your love,
that we may gradually awaken to the joy of your presence.
May what is dark and wounded within us be healed by your light,
May what is cold may be warmed by the fire of your love.
Let your blessing come upon us as we light the candles of this wreath.
May the wreath and its light be a sign of Christ’s promise to bring us salvation. May he come quickly and not delay.
We ask this through Christ our Lord. All: Amen

First candle is held before celebrant for a very simple blessing (sign of cross) and then placed on wreath. Meanwhile chorus resumes:

All sing: Holy light, warm our night, warm the time of winter
Holy light, warm our night, warm the time of winter

Reading Zephaniah 3
He will renew you by his love 

Shout for joy, daughter of Zion,
Israel, shout aloud!
Rejoice, exult with all your heart.
The Lord is in your midst,
You have no more evil to fear.
Do not let your hands go limp,
The Lord God is in your midst.
He will exult with joy over you,
He will renew you by his love;
He will dance with shouts of joy for you
As on a day of festival

Song: Word of the Father (The Iona Community)

Celebrant: Advent, spirituality ultimately about waiting, giving Christ time and room to act – making a space, a welcoming space for Christ, and simply inviting, waiting patiently. The prayer of the early Church was captured in one single word: maranatha, Come Lord Jesus. During this Advent we make that prayer our own, inviting Christ into our hearts, our families, our world. “Come Lord Jesus Come.”

 Reflection Maranatha

Response:Come Lord Jesus Come

Come amongst us, O God
You who cast the planets into space and cradle the sparrow in her nest. (R)

Come amongst us, O God
You who bless the whole and broken and stand by the sad and strong. (R)

Come amongst us, O God
You who dance in the silence and shine in the darkness. (R)

Come amongst us, O God
You whose hand holds all the universe and who shaped the spider’s weaving. (R)

Come amongst us, O God
You who knew us and formed us before time who holds us tenderly and leads us on. (R)

Song: Wait for the Lord (Taizé)
All sing: Wait for the Lord his day is near

Wait for the Lord be strong take heart.

Reading Isaiah 40:1-5, 9-11
“Console my people, console them’ says your God.

‘Speak to the heart of Jerusalem and call to her.’
A voice cries in the wilderness, prepare a way for the Lord, make his paths straight.
Every valley will be filled in, every mountain and hill be laid low,
winding ways will be straightened and rough roads made smooth.
And every single person in all of humanity will see the salvation of God.
Shout without fear, ‘Here is your God.’
Here is the Lord coming with power.
He is like a shepherd feeding his flock, gathering lambs in his arms,
holding them to his breast and leading to their rest the mother ewes. 

Song: My Soul In Stillness Waits (Marty Haugen)
All sing: For you, O Lord, my soul in stillness waits Truly my hope is in you

On our Advent journey we are asked to let go – to let go of our own agenda, our own expectation of what we think should happen, of what we think needs to change, of how we think God should reveal himself to us. Sometimes we can have a sense of disappointment because what we expect to happen doesn’t. But perhaps it is our expectations that frustrate God, not allowing him to work in the ways he wants to. Prayer is ultimately about surrender – surrender to the hidden work of God. In this Mary is our inspiration, for her simple words express perfectly the attitude we need to have – “Let it be done to me as you have said.” That is all we need to do – the rest is up to God. As we remember Mary’s “yes,” let’s say our own “yes” to God – “Let it be done to me as you have said.” We have God’s promise that he will not disappoint us.

Song: Behold A Virgin Bearing Him (Ronan McDonagh)

 Gospel Acclamation Hurry the Lord Is Near (Ernest Sands)
All sing: Alleluia, Alleluia, Alleluia, Alleluia, Alleluia

Gospel Luke 1:26-38     

In a few moments we will sing the magnificat, the song of joy and fulfilment of the woman who could say “let your will be done”, who trusted in the message of an angel, who gave herself to Christ, who nourished that life growing slowly within her, who brought Christ into the world. Her song of fulfilment. Reminds us of the words of the prophet Isaiah: in a short time, a very short time, shall not Lebanon become fertile land and fertile land turn into forest. No longer shall Jacob be ashamed, no more shall his face grow pale, for he shall see what my hands have done in his midst. (Is 29:17-24)

Magnificat My Soul Rejoices (Owen Alstott)
All sing: My soul rejoices in God my Saviour,

My Spirit finds its joy in God the living God 

Intercessions O Lord Heal Us (Christopher Walker)
  O Lord, heal us, O Lord, heal us, Jesus Saviour of the world. 

Celebrant: We turn to the Lord, asking his blessing on ourselves, our loved ones, and on our world this Advent. 

Sung Response

For those who have an abundance of good things in this life, that they may be mindful of the world’s poor. (R)
For those who carry hurts and angers and dark memories, help them to find the peace which only you can give. (R)
For those whose faith has grown dim and who feel lost and confused on their journey through life, touch them with the warmth of your presence. (R)
For those who are tired, weary, worn from generous giving of their lives for others, bring them rest and enkindle within them a deep spark of light and happiness. (R)
For those who grieve the loss of a loved one and whose hearts are lonely, touch them with dear memories and with a vision of what lies beyond this time and space. (R)
For those who live in the darkness of hunger and want, in the fear of violence or pain, be a light of hope for them, bringing the promise of a new tomorrow (R)
For all of us on our journey through life, keep our hearts full of wonder and openness (R)

God our Father, our hope and our light, bless our world,

open our eyes to your presence among us
and open our hearts to the joy of welcoming you
and of serving you in each other.
We ask this though Christ Our Lord.

As we carry forward the lights that will brighten our Advent star, we commit ourselves to welcoming Christ’s light into our lives, to nourishing the seeds he has planted within us, and to fan the flame of hope in our hearts.

Procession of light: (background rhythm of Ullmhaigí accompanies reflection and procession. When reflection over break into words)         

One song can spark a moment,

One flower can wake the dream.
One tree can start a forest,
One bird can herald spring.

One smile begins a friendship,
One handclasp lifts a soul.
One star can guide a ship at sea,
One word can frame the goal.

One vote can change a nation,
One sunbeam lights a room.
One candle wipes out darkness,
One laugh will conquer gloom.

One step must start each journey,
One word must start each prayer.
One hope will raise our spirits,
One touch can show you care.

One voice can speak with wisdom,
One heart can know what’s true,
One life can make the difference,
You see, it’s up to you!

Song: Ullmhaígi Bóthar an Tiarna (Máire Ní Dhuibhir)
All sing: Ullmhaígí Bóthar an Tiarna, Alleluia, Alleluia.

Blessing of Christmas Fare:
Lord, we ask you to bless this Advent fare,

symbols of hospitality and sharing,
of family and friends gathered together,
of all those who offer us welcome and warmth in Christ’s name.
We also remember in our Trocaire gifts the call to share with those who have very little.
We ask the Lord to bless them, through Christ our Lord. Amen

Words of thanks

Advent Blessing
Bow your heads and pray for God’s Blessing
You believe that the Son of God once came to us;

you look for him to come again.
May his coming bring you the light of his holiness
and free you with his blessing. Amen

May God make you steadfast in faith,
joyful in hope, and untiring in love
all the days of your life. Amen

You rejoice that our Redeemer came to live with us as man.
When he comes again in glory,
may he reward you with endless life. Amen

May almighty God bless you,
The Father, and the Son and the Holy Spirit.

Recessional O Come, O Come Emmanuel (Medieval French)
All sing: Rejoice, Rejoice, O Israel, to you shall come Emmanuel

O Come, O Come Emmanuel,
To free your captive Israel,
That mourns in lonely exile here,
Until the Son of Man appear.

Rejoice, Rejoice, O Israel, to you shall come Emmanuel

O come great daystar radiance bright
And heal us with your glorious light,
Disperse the gloomy clouds of night
And death’s dark shadows put to flight.

Rejoice, Rejoice O Israel, to you shall come Emmanuel

O key of David’s city, come,
And open wide our heavn’ly home
Make safe the way that leads above
Protect us ever by your love.

Rejoice, Rejoice, O Israel, to you shall come Emmanuel