Fourth Sunday of Advent
Today we begin the final week of Advent!
Christmas is the celebration of the birth of Jesus. The word nativity comes from the latin word ‘natal’ which means birth (and is also where we get the word ‘native’ from).
The first Nativity Play was performed in a cave by Monks in Italy! St. Francis of Assisi and his followers acted in the first play in 1223 to remind the local population that Jesus was born for them, as he was born into a poor family like theirs and not to a rich family.
St. Francis told the part of each character in the story himself using wooden figures in the play. After a couple of years, the play had become so popular that real people played the parts of the characters in the story.
Now cribs are used in Churches all over the world and in homes to remind people of the story.
The Christmas Crib stands as a tangible reminder to us that God is real and God is with us. Cribs come in all shapes and sizes. A crib is an important part of Christmas symbolism and a doorway to deeper reflection and prayer.
Prayer – Blessing of the Crib
God of every nation and people, from the very beginning of creation you have made manifest your love: when our need for a Saviour was great you sent your Son to be born of the Virgin Mary.
To our lives he brings joy and peace, justice, mercy and love.
Lord, bless all who look upon this manger; may it remind us of the humble birth of Jesus, and raise up our thoughts to him, who is God-with-us and Saviour of all, and who lives and reigns for ever and ever.
Advent is a time to think of others
Advent is a time to think of others Times are difficult for everyone at the moment particularly the most vulnerable people in our community. This week perhaps we can help support the the Franciscans whom we normally meet at our Advent Penitential Service. They serve the poor and needy in Dublin.
Today we celebrate the secret hidden for all ages, revealed in the birth of the Christ, the son of Mary (Second Reading).
The Gospel retells that wonderful account of the angel coming to Mary with good news. It would be through her that the ‘impossible’ plan of God would unfold. The virgin would conceive and give birth to the Son of God and successor to King David.
Whereas David wanted to build a house (temple) for the Lord (First Reading), the Lord promises to build a House (dynasty) for David. This reading reminds us that our plans are often not God’s plans … and the heart of God’s own plan, demonstrated also in the Psalm, is His faithful love, expressed in His covenant with us.
As we come nearer to celebrating this wonderful birth, let us pray for ever-greater awareness of the presence of the Just One, coming like the dew upon us, so that the earth of our very lives.
Oh, king of us all, I find myself standing before your strength and splendour, watching, waiting and filled with total joy.
You have lifted my mind in hope. Now help me to open my life to the coming of the Spirit.
I want to be like Mary, your mother. Her wonderful courage and strength inspire me to do the same.
Thank you for this Advent journey. The anticipation has filled my life and made me long for a closer relationship with you.
My life gets so busy that I forget to focus. Thank you for guidance. Thank you for the quiet moments when I have felt your love.
Nothing will be impossible with God. Guide my feet on the way of peace.
Lots more Advent resources here
Advent Week Three Reflections here