2009_advent prayer_wk4

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This Christmas, Jesus comes slowly but surely… are you ready? Advent 2009 Praying with the Prophets

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Micah’s Prophecy of Bethlehem Advent Week 4: 20 Dec to 24 Dec Spaces. The spaces wherein we live and work, wherein we play and rest, wherein we struggle and triumph, help us mature into the persons we are meant to become. Indeed, finding our place in the grid of life’s complexities helps us locate our identity and purpose in life. In their exile from Jerusalem, the Jews remembered God’s saving action: He had freed them from Egyptian enslavement in earlier times. This was the foundation for their identity even in suffering; they are God’s beloved. This too was reason for their continuing hope in God: a Messiah will come into their midst and make them a light for all peoples. The prophet Micah prophesized Bethlehem to be that place where the Messiah would come to be with Israel. Truly, God wanted to be with the Jews in the concrete realities of their life. All we teach and hold about the Christian faith echoes this truth about God: He is God-with-us. Our God desires nothing less than to be with us and for us. Hence, it is in our everyday spaces, often in the least expected places, that God meets us. In this Fourth Week of Advent, let us prayerfully reflect on Micah’s prophecy of Bethlehem. As we do so, let us be open to Jesus, who is God-with-us, always and everywhere.

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Entering into prayer… Imagine God beholding you… loving you… wanting to be with you... Enjoy this truth… savour this delight… dwell in God’s presence all around you… deep within you…

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Opening prayer: God, the Father, Your gift of Jesus, our Radiant Light, is coming. He will dispel our darkness, and we shall live in everlasting light. May your Spirit enlighten me to welcome Jesus as Saviour. Amen.

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The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; Upon those who dwelt in the land of gloom a light has shone. Word of God: Spend a few minutes reading this passage from Micah 5.1 Prophecy of Bethlehem But you, Bethlehem--Ephrathah too small to be among the clans of Judah. From you shall come forth for me one who is to be ruler in Israel: whose origin is from of old, from ancient times. What word or phrase strikes you? Why? What are you feeling? What are you thinking?

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Albrecht Altdorfer’s The Nativity presents Jesus’ birth amidst ruins. A broken down stable, with no protection from the elements. There is no comfort, not even a manger for Jesus to lay his head on. Yet, his birth trumpets all that is bright and beautiful about God’s desire for humankind. The angles on high sing the Gloria and announce the good news: “for God so loved the world He gives us His only Son.” The heavens aglow with the promised new dawn for mankind. On the earth, angels hold baby Jesus above the ground, not unlike God holding humanity constantly in his care. Jesus the Messiah did not come in triumph or glory, nor in power and might. Jesus came into a ruined, soiled and stained world. He came vulnerable, poor and dependent. He came like us. And coming like you and me, Jesus enters into the very spaces we inhabit to be our God. As you look at this painting and recall Micah’s words, consider your responses to these questions: what moves you most about Jesus’ birthplace? how do you think Mary and Joseph felt about bringing their son to birth here? What could have given them hope? can you sense God’s presence in these ruins? How so? The Nativity Albrecht ALTDORFER, c. 1513

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Have you ever asked yourself where Jesus comes “to birth” in your life? Where would this have happened? How did you recognize Jesus in them? Would the following be some spaces where you have met and can meet Jesus… The Nativity Albrecht ALTDORFER, c. 1513

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…in kindness and concern? by G8

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…in busyness? by G8

…in companionship? : 

by G8 …in companionship?

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…in solitude? by G8

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…in just being myself? by G8

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Quiet Meditation: Spend a few minutes to share with Jesus your responses to the following questions: In what spaces does Jesus want to meet me today to transform my life?

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Quiet Meditation: Spend a few minutes sharing with Jesus your responses to these questionsggling with today? What must I do to allow Jesus to transform me in these spaces?

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Quiet Meditation: Now, quietly re-read Micah’s Prophecy of Bethlehem But you, Bethlehem--Ephrathah too small to be among the clans of Judah. From you shall come forth for me one who is to be ruler in Israel: whose origin is from of old, from ancient times. How do you feel about God’s invitation for you to give birth to Jesus in your life? Allow God’s Word touch you.

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Quiet Meditation: Now, ask for a blessing you wish Jesus to grant you this Christmas. Or, you may wish to use this short prayer. Lord, Jesus, You are with me, You go before me, You are behind me; You are in me, You are beneath me, You are above me; You on my right, You on my left: You are everywhere I am. Indeed, You are God-with-us… Come, Jesus, come and be with me always. Amen.

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Advent is a time we find God’s goodness in the gift of Jesus, His Son, in our world. Our Advent efforts of prayer and good works, and of reaching out, reconciling and rejoicing with others, teach us to find Jesus in the everyday spaces where we live and move and have our being.

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The spirituality of St Ignatius of Loyola is incarnational: God can be found in all things. Indeed, Advent reminds us that God is with us. Jesus is God-with-us: He meets us in every moment of our lives. This week, we invite you to be more sensitive of Jesus’ presence in your everyday spaces… and to help another become more aware of Jesus too… by…. identifying one area in your life that Jesus is involving himself in now…. and one space you can invite your family or friend to sense Jesus’ presence in….

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End by thanking and glorifying the Lord: You may wish to say or sing this Taize chant three times to close your prayer. Laudate omnes gentes (Praise the Lord you peoples) Laudate omnes gentes (Praise the Lord you peoples) Laudate omnes gentes (Praise the Lord you peoples) Amen.

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This guided prayer marks the end of this year’s Advent series. I hope your preparations for Christmas have been enriched with these prayers. May these final days of Advent be graced and hopeful as we prepare to welcome Jesus, God-with-us always.

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