November 27, 2020

Advent Confessions

In the *German Reformed liturgy of 1999, there's a section entitled †Opening Prayers with Confession of Sin. I have adapted the four Advent prayers under this section for use in my English-speaking setting, and here they are...

First Sunday of Advent
Lord Jesus Christ, the time of preparation has begun. 
We look forward to your coming—
the outpouring of yourself on our behalf—
and yet we remain self-centered. 
We hear your word and sing your praises, 
but our hearts are not filled with Advent hope. 
You cry out to us from the meager light of a stable, 
but we forget the many whose lives are lived in darkness. 
Forgive us, we pray. 
Bring us closer to you. 
Grant us your Spirit 
so that we may not just hear, 
but listen to your word and receive it in our hearts, 
and that we, like Mary, 
may be transformed by your presence. 
We pray this in your Name. Amen.

Second Sunday of Advent
O merciful Prince of Peace, 
we long to open our lives to you,
that you might enter in 
and create change within us and among us. 
But your peace remains a foreign concept, 
for there is little room in us 
for you or your transforming word. 
We can think only of what remains to be done, 
and are distracted by our responsibilities. 
In the end, 
we are often more exhausted than fulfilled 
by the promise of your peace. 
Send us, therefore, we pray, your Holy Spirit, 
so that we can find the right balance 
between prayer and action, 
listening and speaking, 
contemplation and service. 
In your Name we pray. Amen.

Third Sunday of Advent
O God of our salvation, 
how happily we would lose ourselves in the joy of Christ’s birth. 
How gladly we would believe 
in the One who brings justice to the poor, 
redemption to the oppressed, 
and peace on earth. 
Yet again and again, 
a suffering world cries out to us and we do not hear. 
Again and again we are disillusioned by evil, 
but are not moved to act. 
Behold our longing. 
Have mercy upon us, O God; 
heal our conflict; 
and send your Spirit to work within us 
to bring about justice on earth. 
In Christ’s Name we pray. Amen.

Fourth Sunday of Advent
Merciful God, we thank you for the depth of your love. 
Through your incarnation in Jesus Christ, 
you make our lives rich and precious. 
So forgive us for our selfishness, 
and help us to share your love more freely. 
This Advent season, 
may we nourish the hope of the Christ Child 
by bringing more warmth into our cold world; 
in his Name we pray. Amen.

The Advent song, •Make High the Door, the Gates Open Wide, is hymn No. 1 in the German Protestant hymnal. In this video is sung stanzas 1, 2 & 5:

†German: Eingangsgebete mit Sündenbekenntnis.
Fling Wide the Door, Unbar the Gate in the hymnal of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. Lift Up Your Heads, Ye Mighty Gates uses this tune in the hymnal of the formal Evangelical & Reformed Church.