the Second Part of Advent - December 17 - 24
In the second part of Advent, the last eight days, from December 17 through Christmas Eve, our main attention shifts away from the first readings, although the Old Testament promises of God continue to be a part of each day. But now the readings return to the primary focus being on the Gospel, told by Matthew and Luke. It is Jesus' family story, and we are introduced to his mother, Mary, his cousins Elizabeth and Zechariah and their baby, John. We read of Joseph and Mary and of the birth of Jesus in Bethlehem. (More on the Two Parts of Advent.)
If we find that we didn't create the daily time for Advent prayer we had intended to, these eight days are the perfect place to begin. All it takes is a few minutes over dinner or breakfast, one lit candle or four - or none - and a moment to hold up to God the desire in our hearts.
Click here to find prayers:
When it's hard to slow down:
Loving God, the days are drawing close to the birth of your son. There is a lot we still need to "do" but help us to simply "be" and to slow down and savor these days. You know the anticipation we feel. Help us to deepen that sense and to allow it to build in our hearts. We are grateful for this great gift of your son in our lives. Continue to offer us the gentle nudge of your grace so we cherish that gratitude in the busy-ness of our days, and let it move us to be more generous to those around us.
Praying for my Family:
Jesus, let me turn and really see you and Mary and Joseph. Let me remember your ancestors as Matthew tells the story. There are kings, but not very perfect. There are women, but each of them "odd" in some way: a foreigner, a prostitute, a pregnant, unmarried mother. Yet this is your family, a sacred heritage.
Help me to love my family more freely, to find the generosity to unlock my heart and stop judging and to embrace and love to their imperfections, just as you hold my mine so closely. May the candles we light tonight, help us to remember to be the light in each other's lives.
Prayer of Awareness in this Day:
Jesus, your cousin Zechariah did not speak for many months but when his son John, was born, he spoke words of praise and thanksgiving as he finally came to trust that nothing is impossible for you. Help us to carry that kind of trust and gratitude in our hearts today. We are invited to be instruments in God's plan. Help us to hear that invitation you offer us daily, and to accept it with trust and gratitude. Help us to open our eyes and ears to those people you bring into our lives today. May the deep and lavish love you show us open our hearts to recognize those people who need our care the most.
Praying for Courage and Strength:
Oh, Jesus, what courage it must have taken Mary and Joseph to make that trip to Bethlehem. She was so near her time of delivering, and she left her family and traveled with Joseph for the census. With no place to sleep, they both must have felt some fear.
Yet over and again you offered reassurance: Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. Joseph, do not be afraid to take Mary into your home. Do not be afraid, Zechariah. And to the shepherds, Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy.
The story of your nativity is filled with comfort and courage, for them and for us. Give us the strength we need and help us to see those around us who are in fear and need our support on this day.