Third Sunday of the Year B – Christian Unity Sunday

PRIEST:     At the heart of this Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, we listen to Christ call his disciples to follow him closely: to walk his path of unity and love, and become his light in a world darkened by oppression, injustice, conflict and divisions.  Like Jonah before Him, His word is ‘Repent…’. And Paul tells us that this is the ‘kairos’ – the appointed time and God’s call is urgent! Sadly our disunity wounds and disempowers the Church’s Mission to the world; it casts shadows upon the Light of Christ shining through us:  let us embrace the Lord’s forgiveness, that he may heal the wounds of division in His Body, the Church.

READER:        For not having the courage to leave behind
                              our familiar and comfortable traditions and divisions,
                              for being afraid to adventure with risk to a new unity

                                            LORD HAVE MERCY …

                              For being impatient with our brothers and sisters of different traditions
for not welcoming them,
and not listening to them and receiving their gifts

                                            CHRIST HAVE MERCY …

                             When we do not seek to understand forms of thought,
                             of witness to the Gospel, of spirituality and prayer  different from our own;
                             for not having the courage to blend love with the search for truth

                                            LORD HAVE MERCY …

PRIEST:      May the God of perfect unity, Father, Son and Holy Spirit,
                        fill us with mercy, clothe us with forgiveness,
and empower us with reconciliation,
                        that together we may heal the Church
                        and build a world of unity and peace,
bringing all to everlasting life…

                                              AMEN!

SECOND SUNDAY OF THE YEAR B – PEACE SUNDAY

PRIEST:  On this Peace Sunday we listen to John the Baptist pointing to Jesus that we might follow him closely, for to walk his path of truth and love is to become his light in a world darkened by war, conflict and divisions.  We are called to ‘come and see’ how Jesus lives, and walk close with him all our days. Then we become true Disciples and Servants of God bringing the hope of peace and justice to the nations. But how can we be true disciples and bearers of peace if  in our own lives or in God’s Church there are petty warring, conflicts and divisions.  Let us embrace the Lord’s forgiveness, that he may heal the wounds of division in His Body, the Church and build peace upon the earth.

READER:        When we give up hope that Peace is possible;
When we do not shine Light into the evil of oppression around us…

                                               LORD HAVE MERCY…

                               When we choose evil rather than good
choose silence rather than protest;
leave the darkness of evil unchallenged by the Light of Truth..

                                               CHRIST HAVE MERCY…

                                When we will not serve but rather selfishly demand;
when we will not model ourselves upon Jesus, Light of the Nations;
when we will not sacrifice for peace as Jesus the Lamb of God does…

                                               LORD HAVE MERCY…

PRIEST:       May the God of perfect Peace, Father, Son and Holy Spirit,
                         fill us with mercy, clothe us with forgiveness,
                         and empower us with reconciliation,
                        that together we may build a world of unity and peace,
                        bringing all to everlasting life…

                                             AMEN!

FEAST OF THE BAPTISM OF THE LORD (when Baptism is not celebrated)

PRIEST: Today the Christmas Season draws to a close as we celebrate that holy day when Jesus sanctified the waters of baptism by his own humble baptism in the Jordan River at the hands of his servant and prophet, John. Jesus committed himself to be forever the sign of the Father’s Love, His Word of Liberating Truth, and the Servant of His Kingdom. Today, we call to mind our own baptism, and we say ‘yes’ once more to being the same Love, speaking the same Truth and serving the same Kingdom.  And we welcome that Holy Water that affirms and strengthens the outpouring of the Holy Spirit that is ours by baptism.

                                                          [the blessing of water]

Loving Father, you sent Your Beloved Son to make Your Word dwell among us. And you washed Him in Jordan’s water, and filled Him with Your Spirit of Love so that His Word would bring freedom, and His touch healing. Bless + this water, and sanctify + this community, that filled with the same Spirit, we may live the Baptism we have embraced and serve the Kingdom we proclaim.

READER:     Knowing that we are sinners, but confident in the forgiveness
Baptism has brought us, we commit ourselves afresh
                          to the journey of holiness as disciples of Christ Jesus…

                                                             WE COMMIT OURSELVES TO CHRIST

Aware of our many failures, but ready to begin again,
we commit ourselves again to proclaim the Word that is Christ,
                          by our lips and by our lives…

                                                             WE COMMIT OURSELVES TO CHRIST

Acknowledging our lack of courage and our many compromises,
                          we nevertheless commit ourselves in the Holy Spirit
                          to build the Kingdom of the Beatitudes in our society,
                          and to serve the needs of all our sisters and brothers in the world…

                                                             WE COMMIT OURSELVES TO CHRIST

                                               [water is sprinkled as we sing Taizé Kyrie]

PRIEST:     May our loving Father forgive our sins,
                       send us the freedom of Christ and the love of the Holy Spirit;
                       and as we celebrate Jesus’ Baptism and our own by this Eucharist,
                       may He rekindle within us the Spirit’s fire and life everlasting…

                                                              AMEN!

FEAST OF THE EPIPHANY OF THE LORD

PRIEST:     The Wisdom of God has guided each of us here today, as surely as the Magi’s Star:  for we too are pilgrims on a journey searching for wisdom,  walking by faith and yearning in hope for the peace for our world.  We gather to offer our gifts,  our talents and our very selves on this feast of the Epiphany,  the Manifestation of Christ’s Redeeming Light to all the Nations of the world, the glory of the Father’s infinite Mercy to all creation.  Let us find in the Wise Men inspiration to give all we are in the service of the Light of Christ’s Good News.

READER:     We welcome the wisdom of the Gift of Gold…
                           our love given to Christ our King:
                           may we so grow in love that we can offer the world
                           Christ’s healing, justice and New Life…

                                         O COME LET US ADORE HIM!

We welcome the wisdom of the Gift of Frankincense…
our worship for our God in human flesh:
                           may we so grow in prayer that we will find strength
and inspiration to shine before the world with Christ’s Light…

                                         O COME LET US ADORE HIM!

We welcome the wisdom of the Gift of Myrrh…
our share in the passion of Christ for the salvation of our world:
                           may we so grow in his sacrificial love
that we may place the demands of the Kingdom before our own desires and wants…

                                         O COME LET US ADORE HIM!

PRIEST:     May our God forgive the coldness of our love,
                            the poverty of our prayer,
                                   the shallowness of our sacrifice;
                      that we may shine with the splendour of Christ’s Light,
                      and journey with Gospel Wisdom to everlasting life…

                                          AMEN!

Second Sunday of Christmas

PRIEST:           The Christmas celebrations are nearly over, and we have greeted the New Year:  but the Word of God has pitched his tent among us forever – for the Word is now part of our flesh,  with us wherever we are.  Never can we finish celebrating Christmas!  Never can we bring an end to the New Beginnings of God’s Grace. As we contemplate the Word made Flesh today,  let us confess before God the ways we have not allowed his Word to penetrate our lives,  his Light to enlighten our hearts and minds…

READER:     God yearns to speak his word to our hearts…
                           for the noise that dins his gentle voice out of our hearts,
for the fear of the silence that bring us before God in aloneness…

                                          LORD HAVE MERCY…

God comes to us as a vulnerable pilgrim, a tent-dweller …
                           for the times our own vulnerability makes us afraid;
                            for seeking shallow security rather than risking for the Gospel,
                            for the God who risks his Son for us…

                                          CHRIST HAVE MERCY…

God comes to share the true Light that does not dazzle but illuminates…
                            that his gentle light might scatter the harsh darkness of our sin,
                            our injustice, our denials of love…

                                          LORD HAVE MERCY…

PRIEST:    May the God who walks with us speak His Word of Mercy;
                      may the Saviour who shares our Flesh touch us with healing forgiveness;
                     may the Spirit who conceives new life in us as in Mary bring light of freedom to our every darkness
                     and bring us and our world to everlasting life…

                                              AMEN!

New Year’s Day – Feast of Mary, the Mother of God

PRIEST:    On this first day of the New Year, the Church celebrates Mary “Theotokos’, the Bearer of God to the world. We look to the first and greatest disciple as we are about to embark on making this year truly the Year of Our Lord 2021. We commend all that is past into the Mercy of God, all that is present into the Love of God and all that is the future into the Providence of God, and journey ahead in faith and trust in the God who leads us. 

READER:     Mary said ‘Yes’ to God with her whole being holding nothing back:
For the weakness of our ‘yeses’ and the strength of our ‘no’s’

                                          LORD HAVE MERCY …

Mary pondered and treasured the Word she carried in her heart
so that she could treasure the Word enfleshed in her womb:
for so often taking the wonder of the Word for granted 

                                          CHRIST HAVE MERCY …

Mary embraced an unknown future for the sake of the Kingdom
trusting that the promises of God would be fulfilled;
for our fears of God’s unknown, failing to trust that God is Love

                                          LORD HAVE MERCY …

PRIEST:     May the Father strengthen our ‘yes’ with His forgiving mercy;
                       May the Word be enfleshed in our lives with the healing of forgiveness;
                      May the Spirit carry us forward into God’s Future of Reconciliation
                      To bring all Creation to everlasting life…       

                                          AMEN!

New Year Watchnight Mass

PRIEST: We gather the year that is past with thankfulness for the many touches of grace and goodness that have been the gifts of God; with sorrow for all that has wounded our world through sin and selfishness, war and injustice; with healing prayer for hurts we have endured or have inflicted. We seek to enter the New Year with hearts purified in the fire of Divine Love and lives focussed on the God who makes all things new!

READER:      For Peace not won, and Justice not achieved;
For poverty still rampant and power still abused
For Climate Change denied or ignored
We ask your mercy, O God of Peace

                                                LORD HAVE MERCY …

For forgiveness withheld and wounds inflicted;
For relationships broken and lives abused
We ask your mercy, O God of Pardon

                                                CHRIST HAVE MERCY …

For touches of grace not welcomed and gifts not accepted;
For the Good News not proclaimed and unity not achieved
We ask your mercy, O God of Oneness

                                                LORD HAVE MERCY …

PRIEST:    May the God of Pardon bring mercy to our failures,
                      The God of Unity bring fire to our love grown cold,
                      The God of Peace bring healing to our hurting hearts,
                      and renew hope as we journey into this New Year
                      To bring all creation to everlasting life…       

                                               AMEN!

FEAST OF THE HOLY FAMILY

PRIEST:      As we draw near the end of this strangest of years we gather as a family of families, recognising there has been much grief, fear amd anxiety in the story of our families this year, and it is not yet over. Nevertheless, we gather around the simplicity and poverty, the love and the faith of the Holy Family of Bethlehem and Nazareth.  Theirs was very far from a trouble-free family life: homeless, fleeing for their lives into exile because of the fears of the powerful, destined to be refugees for years.  Yet we celebrate the wonder of God’s great confidence in us and in our families, entrusting His own Son to a family like ours, for Jesus to grow and develop into the power of love that He became.  In the midst of so many diverse forms of family life among us, let us rededicate ourselves to the task of loving and caring, supporting and understanding one another, as we recognise that our failures are forgiven…

READER:                    The family is the school of love:
                                         that we may replace harshness with forgiveness,
                                         criticism with encouragement, deafness with sensitive listening

                                                                      LORD HAVE MERCY …

The family is called to be a healing community:
                                          that we may care rather than judge, accept rather than reject,
cherish rather than take for granted

                                                                      CHRIST HAVE MERCY …

The family is called to be a place of prayer:
                                          that Christ may be the centre of our homes, not on the edge,
                                          that parents may be the first and best of teachers of their children
                                                            in the ways of faith,
                                          that love may set all free to search and develop,
                                          not criticism  to stifle and limit

                                                                      LORD HAVE MERCY …

PRIEST:        May our God who is family, Father, Son and Spirit,
                          bring mercy to our failures, fire to our love grown cold,
                          healing peace to our hurting hearts,
                         and renewed hope to the challenge of love and growth
                         bringing us all humanity to everlasting life…       

                                                                             AMEN!

FEAST OF THE NATIVITY OF THE LORD

[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.

CAROL   

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…
                                                                         AMEN!

[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!

FOURTH SUNDAY OF ADVENT

PRIEST:          My dear sisters and brothers in Christ Jesus,
                  We gather today on this last Sunday of Advent Preparation to share in this Eucharist God’s great call to bear Christ to the world.  Mary heard this call and answered with such love that he whom she already carried in her heart,  was now  conceived in her womb.  Overshadowed by the Spirit and abandoned to God’s Word and Will,  the Saviour can come to us, flesh of our flesh.  Let us utter our ‘Yes’ to the God who calls as we share Mary’s song of joy in the Coming of our Saviour.

Let us pray…

O God of our History, from all eternity You have spoken forth Your Word of Love that gives Life, creating the heavens and earth,  making man and woman in Your own image and likeness.  You dreamed of a People ready  to serve Your Truth and Kingdom in the world. And in the fullness of time, You found a woman so full of love that Your Word could make His home in her heart and her womb. Through her your Son,  the Divine Word, is made Flesh and dwells among us.  Bless these Advent Candles of Light and Expectancy and bless our community with the faith and love of Mary,  that we might dare to abandon ourselves to You and welcome the Day of your Kingdom … In the Name of the Father, + and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit… AMEN!

READER:      Mary, the woman of faith, risked saying ‘yes’
                            to an unknown future in God’s plan:
                            for our lack of faith and trust,

                                                             LORD HAVE MERCY …

                             Mary,  the woman of hope, embraced the overshadowing Spirit
                             and dared the impossible for God:
                             for the ways we risk little in the service of God and His kingdom,

                                                             CHRIST HAVE MERCY …

                             Mary, the woman of love, welcomed the Word in her heart
before she welcomed the Word in her womb:
                             for our lack of love that silences God’s Word in today’s world,

                                                             LORD HAVE MERCY …

PRIEST:       O Lord, stir up your might and come!
                          Touch us with Your overshadowing Spirit,
                           speak Your Word of forgiveness to our hearts and to our world,
                           so that the Saviour, our Emmanuel, may come again
                          and bring us to  everlasting life

                                                              …AMEN!