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Change-the-worldThe season of Advent begins the liturgical year for the Christian Church. It is a time of inward reflection and anticipation of the coming of Christ — in the birth of Jesus, in the spiritual rebirth of Christian believers, and in the return of the Messiah in glory at a time no one can know or foresee.

“Prepare” is a central idea of this season! Prepare to be surprised by God. Prepare to open your life to divine inspiration. Prepare to listen to the stirring of the Spirit in the ordinary moments of each day. Prepare to see the glory of the coming of the Lord. Prepare for something new to break into the world!

In the Christian tradition we celebrate a meal called Holy Communion. Another term we use is Eucharist, the root meaning of which is to rejoice or show gratitude for the gifts of God.

Here is a Eucharistic Prayer I wrote for the season of Advent:

God of holy surprises,
whose dreams encircle the world,
whose wisdom enlightens creation,
whose love enthralls humankind,
be with us in this season of watching and waiting.

We are a people living in exile
in a land blinded by material comfort,
corporate greed, and military might.

We are a people living in spiritual exile
in an age confronted by rigid beliefs,
increasing intolerance, and growing unkindness.

We long for you to tear open the heavens and come down,
so that the mountains quake
and nations tremble at your presence.                                                Isaiah 64:1-2

We long for you to come at an hour or day no one knows,
and to find us awake to the possibilities your Spirit unfolds.

In the fullness of time your Son Jesus
lived and ministered upon this troubled earth –
forgiving sins,
healing broken bodies, minds and hearts,
challenging the powers that strangle and bind,
eating and drinking with sinners and friends,
loving people of every description,
walking the lonely road of authentic love.

He blessed and shared many a meal
as signs of how sacred ordinary life is.

He shared bread as his body, broken for all.
He shared wine as his blood, poured out for all.

In the fullness of time your Son Jesus gave his life,
because it is our lives – first given to us –
that are ours alone to give.

Pour out your Spirit, we pray, on us gathered here.
May we taste the sweetness of your presence.
May we be changed by the gift of your grace.
May we go from this place to be the body of Christ,
redeemed and sent out to heal and transform the world.  Amen.

Words (c) 2002 Mark Lloyd Richardson