Among you stands the one who is coming after me.
Begin with a few moments of quiet.
The intention is to open yourself to the presence of God within you and among those gathered. The desire to be open to God is itself the desire of God to break through into your awareness of the presence of God within.
Invite all present to sit comfortably.
Bringing our attention to our breath…….deepening it for a moment…… we are going to do so for three full breaths, drawing the breath all the way in …. feeling it filling your body……focusing on that moment where it stops drawing in and before the body begins exhaling again….. the transition point between the end of one moment and the beginning of another……allowing it all the way out and again focusing on the transition point….the end of one moment and the beginning of another…….
Now return to breathing normally and make the sign of the cross:
In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen
Invite each person present to take a few moments to reflect on:
Where in the past week did I encounter God in my life?
Where in the past week did I inhibit God in my life?
Allow time in quiet for this and then, after a few moments, invite those present to share on this, if they are comfortable to do so. If you like to have some quiet music playing during this click below.
Introduce the Gospel
In the words of John’s Gospel, John the Baptist came as a witness, to speak for the light, the true light who was coming into the world. In this season of Advent, the Baptist points us towards the coming one and he invites us to reflect on our need of the light of Jesus in the darkness of our lives.
Darkness means many things: a sense of being lost, a lack of direction, helplessness, sin or indeed lack of faith. This Christmas, may the God who said “Let light shine out of darkness,” shine in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ (2 Corinthians 4:6).
Read the Gospel
A man came, sent by God.
His name was John.
He came as a witness,
as a witness to speak for the light,
so that everyone might believe through him.
He was not the light,
only a witness to speak for the light.
This is how John appeared as a witness. When the Jews sent priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask him, ‘Who are you?’ he not only declared, but he declared quite openly, ‘I am not the Christ.’ ‘Well then,’ they asked ‘are you Elijah?’ ‘I am not’ he said. ‘Are you the Prophet?’ He answered, ‘No.’ So they said to him, ‘Who are you? We must take back an answer to those who sent us. What have you to say about yourself?’ So John said, ‘I am, as Isaiah prophesied:
a voice that cries in the wilderness:
Make a straight way for the Lord.’
Now these men had been sent by the Pharisees, and they put this further question to him, ‘Why are you baptising if you are not the Christ, and not Elijah, and not the prophet?’ John replied, ‘I baptise with water; but there stands among you – unknown to you – the one who is coming after me; and I am not fit to undo his sandal-strap.’ This happened at Bethany, on the far side of the Jordan, where John was baptising.
Practice: O God, I Need Thee
This week I again offer you a practice from the Richard Rohr daily reflections. This one, presented on Saturday, December 13th, invites us to reflect on hope. Take time then to read it and to sit with any of the thoughts or ideas it opens for you.
The virtue of hope, with great irony, is the fruit of a learned capacity to suffer wisely, calmly, and generously. Any form of contemplation is a gradual sinking into this divine fullness where hope lives. Contemplation is living in a unified field that produces in people a deep, largely non-rational, and yet calmly certain hope, which is always a surprise. A life of inner union, a contemplative life, is practicing for heaven now.
This week’s practice is from the remarkably hope-filled book Conversations with God: Two Centuries of Prayers by African Americans. Howard Thurman contributed the following prayer-practice:
“O God, I Need Thee”
I Need Thy Sense of Time
Always I have an underlying anxiety about things.
Sometimes I am in a hurry to achieve my ends
And am completely without patience. It is hard for me
To realize that some growth is slow,
That all processes are not swift. I cannot always discriminate
Between what takes time to develop and what can be rushed,
Because my sense of time is dulled.
I measure things in terms of happenings.
O to understand the meaning of perspective
That I may do all things with a profound sense of leisure—of
I Need Thy Sense of Order
The confusion of the details of living
Is sometimes overwhelming. The little things
Keep getting in my way providing ready-made
Excuses for failure to do and be
What I know I ought to do and be.
Much time is spent on things that are not very important
While significant things are put into an insignificant place
In my scheme of order. I must unscramble my affairs
So that my life will become order. O God, I need
Thy sense of order.
I Need Thy Sense of the Future
Teach me to know that life is ever
On the side of the future.
Keep alive in me the forward look, the high hope,
The onward surge. Let me not be frozen
Either by the past or the present.
Grant me, O patient Father, Thy sense of the future
Without which all life would sicken and die.
Howard Thurman, “O God, I Need Thee,” (1951), in Conversations with God: Two Centuries of Prayers by African Americans, ed. James Melvin Washington (Harper Collins: 1994), 183.
Close the time of prayer with the Our Father
Our Father, who art in heaven,
hallowed be thy name;
thy kingdom come,
thy will be done
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread,
and forgive us our trespasses,
as we forgive those who trespass against us;
and lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil.
Take a moment now to bring to mind those you want to share peace with, family, friends, those where your relationship is broken.
Deliver us, Lord, we pray, from every evil,
graciously grant peace in our days,
that, by the help of your mercy,
we may be always free from sin
and safe from all distress,
as we await the blessed hope
and the coming of our Saviour, Jesus Christ. Amen
You can sign up for Richard’s daily reflections on the website of the Centre for Action and Contemplation (CAC) – by clicking here.
Fr. Kieran O’Mahony offers a scriptural analysis on the Readings in Written or on Video
The Spirit of God is seeking to create a newness in our lives, that calls us to a fresh wholeness that requires much letting go of what we have known, and co-creating with God an undreamt-of future for our church, for our world and for ourselves. This does not mean forgetting the past, which has brought us to the present.
The Gospel life is about a new future in God. In an incarnational, evolutionary universe nothing is complete and God is still creating. We are a central part of this creation which is happening in our midst.