[PRIEST] We have prepared these past four weeks of Advent for the coming of our Saviour. Now, we come together on this dark but glorious night, to hail redemption’s dawn, to hasten with the shepherds to see the wondrous sight, and, after some 2000 years, to kneel with them again in adoration and love before the Word made Flesh. Jesus comes, Son of God and Son of Mary, to share our humanity and weakness, so that we may share forever His divinity and life. Tonight of all nights, the night of the Incarnation, we rejoice, for Love came to live among us for all time and beyond. So let us, as the Angels told the shepherds, come, see, and celebrate.
PENITENTIAL RITE: [PRIEST]
It is right to rejoice this night … but we need to recognise the dark shadows that fall across our joy. The dark night with the bright star foreshadows the darkness of the third hour on the Cross, when Jesus died that love might overcome hate, and so to reconcile sinners to God and all people. The cold stable cave of the Nativity echoes the death cold tomb waiting to be transformed into Resurrection and life. Let us leave behind the sin and pain of this past year, and embrace God’s New Beginning of Grace that can bring Hope to our torn world.
[READER] Father, who sent your Son to be our Redeemer,
come and speak Your Word of Forgiveness to every human heart:
forgive us for closing our heart to Jesus’ brothers and sisters,
and free us by your forgiveness …
LORD HAVE MERCY…
Jesus, come and speak Your Word of Peace into the violence and war of our world:
for the angers within us, for every injustice that makes others victims,
for being so slow to work for ‘peace on earth’…
CHRIST HAVE MERCY…
Holy Spirit, overshadowing Mary long ago in order to renew the face of the Earth,
come and breath Your Love upon a world that forgets how to accept each other:
for every refusal to love, to heal, to give with compassion and sacrifice …
LORD HAVE MERCY…
[PRIEST] May the Father who so loved the world
that He sent His beloved Son embrace us with forgiveness;
May the Son and Saviour Jesus who died to reconcile us all
touch our hearts with pardon and peace;
May the Holy Spirit who hovers over this night more brightly than the Star
fill our lives with light and healing;
and May our God who is with us bring us and all the world to everlasting life…
[PRIEST] Now reconciled, we are ready to approach, like the shepherds, the birthplace of the great Shepherd, there to adore Him and offer the gift He seeks … ourselves!