An Advent Prayer
Begin tonight by sitting in darkness, remembering the
places within that need to come home.
Light a Candle -- Open with Psalm 61
Jeremiah 31:1-23 "Come home…"
1"At that time," declares the LORD , "I will
be the God of all the clans of Israel, and they will be my people."
2 This is what the LORD says: "The people who survive the
sword will find favor in the desert; I will come to give rest to
Israel." 3 The LORD appeared to us in the past, saying:
"I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with
loving-kindness. 4I will build you up again and you will be
rebuilt, O Virgin Israel. Again you will take up your tambourines and go
out to dance with the joyful. 5Again you will plant vineyards
on the hills of Samaria; the farmers will plant them and enjoy their
fruit. 6There will be a day when watchmen cry out on the hills
of Ephraim, 'Come, let us go up to Zion, to the LORD our God.' " 7This
is what the LORD says: "Sing with joy for Jacob; shout for the
foremost of the nations. Make your praises heard, and say, 'O LORD , save
your people, the remnant of Israel.' 8See, I will bring them
from the land of the north and gather them from the ends of the earth.
Among them will be the blind and the lame, expectant mothers and women in
labor; a great throng will return. 9They will come with
weeping; they will pray as I bring them back. I will lead them beside
streams of water on a level path where they will not stumble, because I am
Israel's father, and Ephraim is my firstborn son. 10"Hear
the word of the LORD , O nations; proclaim it in distant coastlands: 'He
who scattered Israel will gather them and will watch over his flock like a
shepherd.' 11For the LORD will ransom Jacob and redeem them
from the hand of those stronger than they. 12They will come and
shout for joy on the heights of Zion; they will rejoice in the bounty of
the LORD - the grain, the new wine and the oil, the young of the flocks
and herds. They will be like a well-watered garden, and they will sorrow
no more. 13Then maidens will dance and be glad, young men and
old as well. I will turn their mourning into gladness; I will give
them comfort and joy instead of sorrow. 14I will satisfy the
priests with abundance, and my people will be filled with my bounty,"
declares the LORD .15This is what the LORD says: "A voice
is heard in Ramah, mourning and great weeping, Rachel weeping for her
children and refusing to be comforted, because her children are no
more." 16This is what the LORD says: "Restrain your
voice from weeping and your eyes from tears, for your work will be
rewarded," declares the LORD . "They will return from the land
of the enemy. 17So there is hope for your future,"
declares the LORD . "Your children will return to their own land. 18"I
have surely heard Ephraim's moaning: 'You disciplined me like an unruly
calf, and I have been disciplined. Restore me, and I will return, because
you are the LORD my God.
19After I strayed, I repented; after I came to understand, I
beat my breast. I was ashamed and humiliated
because I bore the disgrace of my youth.' 20Is not Ephraim my
dear son, the child in whom I delight? Though I often speak against him, I
still remember him. Therefore my heart yearns for him; I have great
compassion for him," declares the LORD . 21"Set up
road signs; put up guideposts. Take note of the highway, the road that you
take. Return, O Virgin Israel, return to your towns. 22How long
will you wander, O unfaithful daughter? The LORD will create a new thing
on earth- a woman will surround a man."
23This is what the LORD Almighty, the God of
Israel, says: "When I bring them back from captivity, the people in
the land of Judah and in its towns will once again use these words: 'The
LORD bless you, O righteous dwelling, O sacred mountain
The Word Became Flesh
John 1:1-18 "God sent the Word to make a
home among us."
1In the beginning was the Word, and the Word
was with God, and the Word was God. 2He was with God in the
3Through him all things were made; without him
nothing was made that has been made. 4In him was life, and that
life was the light of men. 5The light shines in the darkness,
but the darkness has not understood it. 6There came a man who
was sent from God; his name was John. 7He came as a witness to
testify concerning that light, so that through him all men might believe. 8He
himself was not the light; he came only as a witness to the light. 9The
true light that gives light to every man was coming into the world.
10He was in the world, and though the world was
made through him, the world did not recognize him. 11He came to
that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. 12Yet
to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the
right to become children of God -- 13children born not of
natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband's will, but born of
God. 14The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We
have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the
Father, full of grace and truth. 15John testifies concerning
him. He cries out, saying, "This was he of whom I said, 'He who comes
after me has surpassed me because he was before me.' " 16From
the fullness of his grace we have all received one blessing after another.
17For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came
through Jesus Christ. 18No one has ever seen God, but God the
One and Only, who is at the Father's side, has made him known.
The Escape to Egypt
13When they had gone, an angel of the Lord
appeared to Joseph in a dream. "Get up," he said, "take the
child and his mother and escape to Egypt. Stay there until I tell you, for
Herod is going to search for the child to kill him." 14So
he got up, took the child and his mother during the night and left for
Egypt, 15where he stayed until the death of Herod. And so was
fulfilled what the Lord had said through the prophet: "Out of Egypt I
called my son." 16When Herod realized that he had
been outwitted by the Magi, he was furious, and he gave orders to kill all
the boys in Bethlehem and its vicinity who were two years old and under,
in accordance with the time he had learned from the Magi. 17Then
what was said through the prophet Jeremiah was fulfilled: 18"A
voice is heard in Ramah, weeping and great mourning, Rachel weeping for
her children and refusing to be comforted, because they are no more."
The Return to Nazareth
19After Herod died, an angel of the Lord
appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt 20and said, "Get
up, take the child and his mother and go to the land of Israel, for those
who were trying to take the child's life are dead." 21So
he got up, took the child and his mother and went to the land of Israel. 22But
when he heard that Archelaus was reigning in Judea in place of his father
Herod, he was afraid to go there. Having been warned in a dream, he
withdrew to the district of Galilee, 23and he went and lived in
a town called Nazareth. So was fulfilled what was said through the
prophets: "He will be called a Nazarene."
God of exiles, reveal to us the part of ourselves in
exile, the part that is wandering and needs to come home. As we experience
this Advent, we trust that you will guide us to our true self where you
God of exiles, hear the cries and groaning of the
homeless, the orphaned, the refugees, and the imprisoned of the earth.
Keep us closely united to them through our compassion and our actions.
God of exiles, help us to see more clearly the aspects of
our own culture that keep us captive. Grant us vision, courage, and the
strength to stand up for the values of the gospel.
God of exiles, be the clear voice that calls the church
home to truth and justice. Give our leaders compassionate hearts and open
minds so that on one needs to be in exile.
God of exiles, keep calling us home. You know the
yearnings of our hearts. You also know how easily we can lose our way. May
this Advent season be a time of coming home to the best of who we are. Amy
our personal homecomings influence all the earth. We walk this day wit
hopeful hearts, believing that your justice and compassion will bring
comfort and freedom to all who are in exile. AMEN.