Advent Prayers

“Darkly and dimly have we known
that you are near and everywhere.
We hear you in thunder and waterfalls.
We feel your presence in the prayer and in the dance:
with the old men under the tree,
the young men in their age group,
women in the marketplace.
In full have you participated;
darkly and dimly have we known this.
Our pale brothers from over the seas came;
with the book of life they proclaimed  the good news.
This is Him, we have felt His presence.
This is Him, we have heard in the council.
Though darkly and dimly this was Him!
For joy we shouted, this is Him!
No, said our brothers,
This was not Him.
In darkness have you been sitting:
listen to the word or you perish.
Away from the marketplace.
Away from the party and the council.
Away from the trade union.
Away, away! Away, brothers, away.
Away, away from the world.”

(Africa: Bethel . Kiplagat)

A Litany of Darkness and Light

Voice 1:
We wait in the darkness, expectantly, longingly,
anxiously, thoughtfully.

Voice 2:
The darkness is our friend.
In the darkness of the womb, we have all been nurtured
and protected.
In the darkness of the womb, the Christ-child was made
ready for the journey into light.

You are with us, O God, in darkness and in light.

Voice 1:
It is only in the darkness that we can see
the splendor of the universe –
blankets of stars, the solitary glowings of distant
It was the darkness that allowed the Magi to find the star
to where the Christ-child lay.

You are with us, O God, in darkness and in light.

Voice 1:
In the darkness of the night,
the desert peoples find relief
from the cruel relentless heat of the sun.

Voice 2:
In the blessed desert darkness,
Mary and Joseph were able to flee with the infant Jesus
to safety in Egypt.

You are with us, O God, in darkness and in light.

Voice 1:
In the darkness of sleep,
we are soothed and restored, healed and renewed.

Voice 2:
In the darkness of sleep,
dreams rise up.
God spoke to Jacob and Joseph through dreams.
God is speaking still.

You are with us, O God, in darkness and in light.

Voice 1:
In the solitude of darkness,
we sometimes remember
those who need God’s presence in a special way –
the sick, the unemployed, the bereaved, the persecuted,
the homeless; those who are demoralized and discouraged,
those who turn fear into cynicism,
those whose vulnerability has become bitterness.

Voice 2:
Sometimes in the darkness,
we remember those who are near to our hearts –
colleagues, partners, parents, children, neighbors,
We thank God for their presence and ask God to bless
and protect all that they do – at home, at school,
as they travel, as they work, as they play.

You are with us, O God, in darkness and in light.

Voice 1:
Sometimes, in the solitude of darkness,
our fears and concerns, our hopes and our visions
rise to the surface.
We come face to face with ourselves
and with the road that lies ahead of us.
And in that darkness,
we find companionship for the journey.

Voice 2:
In that same darkness,
we sometimes allow ourselves to wonder and worry
whether the human race is going to make it at all.

We know you are with us, O God,
yet we still await your coming.
In the darkness that contains both hopelessness
and our expectancy,
we watch for a sign of God’s Hope.

John Carden. A Procession of Prayers: Meditations and Prayers from Around the World. John Carden was editor of the World Council of Churches’ ecumenical prayer cycle With All God’s People. He has worked as an Anglican priest in Pakistan, Jordan and Egypt, and was Asia Secretary for the Church Mission Society. This book is a compilation of profound prayers from around the world, ecumenical, covering all seasons of the liturgical year and would be very relevant for personal, church or small group use . Link to Amazon copy is here.

I acknowledge some copyright infringement as I post these 2 prayers. Two reasons, however, prodded me to take some risk: one, the Roman Catholic Church in the United States started last Sunday, using the literal translation into English from Latin, the “new” Roman Missal and comparison with the 1973 and 1988 English translations, both censured by the Latin-loving conservatives in Vatican, show how dry and lengthy with an increase of 78 percent in average number of words for its Eucharistic prayers. Some keen observers are alarmed on how with the “new” Roman Missal, “Jesus is turned into a priest saying Mass in a church.” 🙂

And my second reason: based on the new translation, the ecumenical accent of the 1973 translation has also been jeopardized.

The Philippine Catholic Church will use this “new” Roman Missal by Advent 2012. Hope there’s a good exchange of insights and wisdom on this significant shift.


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