Hail, Guardian of the Redeemer,
Spouse of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
To you God entrusted his only Son;
in you Mary placed her trust;
with you Christ became man.
Blessed Joseph, to us too,
show yourself a father
and guide us in the path of life.
Obtain for us grace, mercy, and courage,
and defend us from every evil. Amen. (Pope Francis)
LITANY OF ST JOSEPH
Lord, have mercy.
Christ, have mercy.
Lord, have mercy.
Christ, hear us.
Christ, graciously hear us.
God, the Father of Heaven, have mercy on us.
God the Son, Redeemer of the world, have mercy on us.
God the Holy Spirit, have mercy on us.
Holy Trinity, One God, have mercy on us.
Holy Mary, pray for us (after each line)
Renowned offspring of David,
Light of Patriarchs,
Husband of Mary, Mother of God,
Loving guardian of the Virgin Mary,
Adoptive father of the Son of God,
Diligent protector of Christ,
Tender husband and father of the Holy Family,
Joseph, man of justice, bearer of peace
Joseph, man of honourable and respectful love,
Joseph, man who shared the Dream of God
Joseph, man of gentle strength and strength of gentleness,
Joseph, silently obedient of the Father’s Will,
Joseph, model of faithfulness,
Example of patience,
Lover of poverty,
Model for all workers,
Sign of the holiness of home life,
Safe carer of women,
Pillar of families,
Compassion for the wearied, Hope of the sick,
Patron of the dying,
Protector of Holy and Universal Church,
Lamb of God, who take away the sins of the world,
Spare us, O Lord.
Lamb of God, who take away the sins of the world,
Graciously hear us, O Lord.
Lamb of God, who take away the sins of the world,
Have mercy on us and give us peace.
V. He made him the father of His household:
R. And carer of all His children.
Let us pray.
O God, who in Your immense providence chose blessed Joseph to be the tender husband of the Mother of Your own Son, and loving face of Your own Fatherhood: grant, we ask You, that we may have him for our intercessor in heaven, whom we reverence as our guardian on earth: through Jesus Christ, Son of David, Son of Mary, who lives and reigns for ever and ever. Amen.
ENTRANCE HYMN Allegri’s Misere
THE LIGHTING OF THE MINORAH CANDLES
Richard lights one of the Seven Candles with each Response of this Jewish Blessing
O God, You have called us to peace, for You are Peace itself.May we have the vision to see that each of us, in some measure, can help realise these aims:
Where there are ignorance and superstition,
Let there be enlightenment and knowledge.
Where there are prejudice and hatred,
Let there be acceptance and love.
Where there are fear and suspicion,
Let there be confidence and trust.
Where there are tyranny and oppression,
Let there be freedom and justice.
Where there are poverty and disease,
Let there be prosperity and health.
Where there are strife and discord,
Let there be harmony and peace.
A prayer from the Jewish Liturgy of Hanukkah (Feast of Lights)
RICHARD: These candles which we now light`
are in remembrance of the miracle of our deliverance,
of the wondrous and glorious deeds
that You performed for our Fathers of old
and still perform for us today.
For the eight days of Hanukkah these candles are holy,
and we cannot look at them
without giving praise and honour to You, O Lord,
for the wonders and miracles You have performed
and for Your Glory.
PENITENTIAL RITE: All say together Pope John II’s Prayer which he prayed at the Wailing Wall in Jerusalem during his Pilgrimage of Jubilee Reconciliation, Year 2000
God of our Father,
You chose Abraham and his descendants
to bring Your Name to the nations:
we are deeply saddened by the behaviour of those
who in the course of history
have caused these Your children of Yours,
the Jewish People, to suffer;
and asking Your forgiveness,
we wish to commit ourselves to genuine brotherhood
with the Jewish People of the Covenant … AMEN!
ACT OF REMEMBRANCE – The Holocaust Martyrs, the Lighting of the HMD Memorial Candle and the reciting of the prayer found on a piece of paper in the clothing a dead child discovered when Ravensbruck Concentration Camp was liberated 1945
LITURGY OF BLESSING
The great Hebrew Blessing of Aaron in the Book of Numbers: as you leave the church today, you are invited to pause briefly to say a prayer before the Window of Holocaust Martyrs and Victims (at the Lady Chapel) .
LITURGY OF DEDICATION TO THE MISSION OF CHRIST THIS NEW YEAR
Priest This past year has been extraordinary, calling us to dig deep into our spiritual reserves as we were deprived of the Eucharist and gathering together as community in Christ, while at the same time summoned to find new ways of service and presence here in the inner city of Bristol. We are filled with hope that this New Year will bring healing to our Covid-stricken world. As we embrace this New Year, we accept the challenge to be prophets of justice and unity in a divided world, to be a light of faith, a vision of hope and a heart of love for the poor, the broken and the excluded of our city and our Earth. We know that we cannot serve God’s Option for the Poor and proclaim the Gospel of Joy, we cannot bring healing and live as sisters and brothers with all creatures and our ‘Common Home’ without a deep communion with our God Who is Love, an unbreakable communion with the Universal Church and a close communion with each other in our parish family.
Lay Leader In this Year of St Joseph, the Guardian and Protector of the vulnerable we recognise with sorrow that too often the Church we love has failed to protect and keep safe our children and vulnerable adults; we have also failed to be a ‘Living Parable of Communion’: too often we have not welcomed with a warm and open heart those different from us; too often we have wanted to remain cosy in our own small religious world, while God was calling us to engage compassionately and with the courage of prophets, with the real world of pain and hope, of despair and joy. So we acknowledge that we, the Church in this place, have failed our God, our city and our world.
Priest As we are about to set foot upon this Year of Our Lord, 2021, we come to affirm our faith in the Living God, Creator, Redeemer, Life-Giver; Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Nourished as we are by God’s Word and guided by God’s Spirit, we dedicate ourselves anew to the work of the Kingdom, to fill this Year with the Mercy, Compassion and Love of Christ and His Holy Spirit.
So now I ask you, my brothers and sisters,
Will you affirm your faith in the Father, the Creator, the Life-giver?
PEOPLE I affirm with joy that I and every human person is a child of God, created in the Divine image, called and gifted to continue God’s creation of our Universe.
Lay Leader Will you affirm your faith in Jesus Christ, Son of God, Brother and Redeemer, who gives Himself to you in Word and Eucharist?
PEOPLE I affirm with gratitude that Jesus is my Saving Brother, speaking Divine Truth to my mind and heart by His Word, and nourishing His Love in me by the great gift of the Eucharist; calling me to a life of prayer and contemplation so that I may live as brother and sister with all people; challenging me to strive for peace and justice in a broken world, urging me to proclaim the Good News of Mercy and Healing by my action, life-style and words.
Priest Will you affirm your faith in the Holy Spirit, Breath and Flame of God?
PEOPLE I affirm with profound openness of heart that the Holy Spirit is the breath of God’s Life and the Fire of God’s Love within me: bidding me to welcome and use the Spirit’s Power for deep prayer, radical action and loving community and so to be part of God’s Renewal of the Face of the Earth.
Lay Leader Will you, as we set out together on this New Year, affirm your faith in the Church of God as a living Bread of Christ in God’s Hands to be broken and given for the life of the world?
PEOPLE I affirm with deep love that, despite its many failures and profound inadequacies, the Church will always remain God’s gift proclaiming the Gospel down the centuries, calling me to prayer, challenging me to live community with love, to heal every disunity, to share my gifts and insights, to foster Christian freedom and mission and to be Bread in God’s Hands broken to give life to the world.
Priest At the turning of the Year may this affirmation deepen our faith, envision our hope and enlarge our love; as this Year of our Lord 2021 begins may the Holy Trinity continue always to empower our Mission of Mercy & Healing to our torn world.
PEOPLE AMEN! AMEN! ALLELUIA!
Renewal of our Allegiance to Jesus Christ [each one is invited to approach to approach the altar to be anointed with Blessed Oil for the Mission of Christ in this New Year]
[READER A] We come to bless our crib … by that we mean to ask God to bless everyone who will come to pray, with wonder, awe and love, before this visual image of the poverty and simplicity of our Saviour’s birth. St Francis of Assisi, who lived some 800 years ago, was the first to make a crib, using live animals and people: today we use figures to help us celebrate and ponder the mystery of God’s love appearing in human form.
[READER B] For the People of God the Ox was a symbol of strength, ruggedness and power, all of which is to be harnessed to the service of humankind and the Kingdom of God as we offer the world the hope of New Beginnings.
[CONGREGATION] Lord God, help us to harness our power and gifts to the service of Your world made new in Divine Love.
[READER A] The Donkey’s wandering is a symbol of freedom and choice. It is also a reminder that our forebears, the People of Israel, wandered aimlessly away from God and His Covenant. An uncommon animal in Israel, and ritually unclean, yet it was good enough to carry Mary to Bethlehem, and later to carry Jesus into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday to face His Passion. (We listen as our children sing ‘Little Donkey’)
[CONGREGATION] Lord God, never let us wander away from You, but help us use our freedom always to carry your love to the world.
[READER B] Shepherds, especially the night watch, were among the lowest paid workers of the time. Despised, placed on the margins of society and religion, without power or influence, these men of poverty were the first to hear the Good News that ‘Today a Saviour has been born to you’.
[CONGREGATION] Lord God, You seek to rid the world of poverty: give us the love and the insight to welcome the poor into our hearts and homes and so discover that we have welcomed Christ Jesus.
[READER A] Joseph, the man of dreams, and that strong gentle man of faith: silent in the background, but ready to do whatever God might ask of him.
[CONGREGATION] Lord God, come and gentle our strength; deepen in us Joseph’s strong faith and tender love that we may dream Your Kingdom, and serve its Coming.
[READER B] Behold Mary, the handmaid of the Lord, whose ‘Yes!’ brought Hope to our world … the one who bore Jesus in her heart’s love before ever in her body’s womb. Blessed indeed is she who believed the promise made her by the Lord would be fulfilled.
[CONGREGATION] Lord God, fill us with grace that like Mary we too may always say our ‘YES’ to Your Word and overshadowing Spirit, that Jesus may take flesh in our lives and bring healing to our world.
[READER A] Now all is ready. To African drumming, the Icon of the Nativity and the Christ Child are carried to the Crib.
[RICHARD] Let us now dedicate our Crib, and pray God’s Blessing upon all who gaze with wonder and pray with love before our God made man, Jesus!
Blessed are You, Lord God of all creation. Through all ages you prepared a people as Your own. When the time was ripe, some 2000 years ago, You sent us a Saviour, conceived by the Spirit and born of the Virgin, a man like us in all things but sin. Loving Father, we pray, bless this our Crib + that we may marvel at Your goodness, imitate Your love, and journey in Your light, until the great day of Jesus coming in Glory, when we will live for ever and ever … AMEN!
READER: The erecting and decorating of Christmas Trees originated in Germany some three hundred years ago, and came to this country during the reign of Queen Victoria. It’s meaning comes from the story of the Fall in the Garden of Eden which we find in the Book of Genesis. It was originally called the ‘Paradise Tree’, symbolising the Tree of Life in the Garden. It was decorated by apples (and we have some apples on our tree), symbolic of the fruit of the tree of Good and Evil that the first Eve and the first Adam ate in disobedience to God. It also carried candles – lights to express the Jesus Light of the World, Light of Forgiveness scattering the darkness. And it was decorated on Christmas Eve – the traditional Feast of Adam and Eve in the Eastern Church.
So, as we draw close to Christmas Eve, to celebrate the birth of Jesus, the Second Adam, gift of the Second Eve, Mary, we put in place the symbols of the First Adam and Eve. This reminds us that Mary’s loving obedience ‘untied the knot’ of Eve’s disobedience, and that Jesus, the New Adam, came to be the One who saves us from the First Adam’s sin. The Tree that brought death is transformed by the Cross of Jesus Christ into the Tree of Everlasting Life. For on Friday, Christmas Day, we do indeed greet the Saviour!
DEACON: O God, who by the Power of Your Word and Hovering Spirit
did create all things and made them good
and created men and women in your own image and likeness:
pour your blessing upon this Paradise Tree …
PEOPLE: BLESSED BE GOD!
DEACON: May it be a sign for us children of Adam of our need of a Saviour
and of the sublime gift of Jesus Christ who recreates us
in the glorious image of the Second Adam …
PEOPLE: BLESSED BE GOD!
DEACON: May it be a sign for us of the Tree of the Redeeming Adam, Jesus,
who embraced the Wood of the Cross for our Salvation and Healing …
PEOPLE: BLESSED BE GOD!
PRIEST: We bless and dedicate, O God, this Tree to your Honour and Glory
that it might shine with Light where once there was darkness,
that it might express the fruit of Redemption
where once sin held the sway,
that it might stand to remind us that Jesus came as the Saviour
who died on the Tree so that the Tree of the Cross might ever give Life
IN THE NAME OF THE FATHER + AND OF THE SON
AND OF THE HOLY SPIRIT
PRIEST: Do you believe in God, the creator of all that is,
whose name is ‘Abba, Father’, and who has chosen you
to be both beloved child of His and partner with Him
in the creation of our world and its future?
ALL: I DO BELIEVE IN MY FATHER WHO CALLS ME BY NAME.
PRIEST: Do you believe in God, the creator of all that is:
Do you reject any evil that destroys creation’s beauty and harmony?
ALL: I DO REJECT EVERY ENEMY OF CREATION.
PRIEST: Do you believe in Jesus Christ, Son of God and Son of Creation,
King of Heaven and Earth, yet Servant and Brother:
who is the Way to God and one another;
the Truth that liberates all humanity;
the Life of the Kingdom that is Justice, Love and Peace;
and whose death and resurrection loves and heals our world ?
ALL: I DO BELIEVE IN JESUS, OUR KING WHO REDEEMS ME.
PRIEST: Do you reject the evil that oppresses our sisters and brothers
with poverty and despair, diminishes their humanity and freedom,
and dismembers our world in violence and war?
ALL: I DO REJECT THE EVIL WHOSE NAMES ARE OPPRESSION, POVERTY AND WAR.
PRIEST: Do you believe in the Holy Spirit: the Fire of Divine Love
renewing the face of the earth; the Mighty Wind that casts out
every fear and fills our lives with Power and Gifts of Love;
the Well-spring of Life in all its fullness;
who sends the People of God in Mission to proclaim the Kingdom
and build the new heaven and the new earth?
ALL: I DO BELIEVE IN THE HOLY SPIRIT WHO EMPOWERS MY LIFE.
PRIEST: Do you reject the evil of inequality, in both world and church:
that hides the divine dignity of every human person;
do you reject the evil of disunity:
that distorts the face of Christ in the Church,
and robs us of the power for Mission?
ALL: I DO REJECT EVERY INEQUALITY AND INHUMANITY THAT IS A SIN AGAINST THE HOLY SPIRIT.
PRIEST: This is our faith … this is our commitment: to Christ our King,
and to his Church, called to be sign and servant of His Kingdom.
ALL: WITH JOY I AFFIRM AND RENEW MY DEDICATION
TO THE LOVE OF GOD – SOURCE OF MY LIFE;
TO THE SERVICE OF CHRIST MY KING AND BROTHER;
TO THE WORK OF THE SPIRIT AND
THE PROCLAMATION OF THE GOSPEL:
MAY THE KINGDOM COME!