Advent 2 Evening Prayer

Holy One, make speed to save us:
O God, come quickly to help us.

Glory to God, Source of all being, Eternal Word and Holy Spirit;*
as it was in the beginning, is now, and shall be for ever.  Amen.

Opening

Sundays: From Psalm 25 Ad te, Domine, levavi

To you, O Lord, * I lift up my soul;
Show me your ways, O Lord, * and teach me your paths.
Lead me in your truth and teach me, *
for you are the God of my salvation;
in you have I trusted all the day long.
Remember, O Lord, your compassion and love, *
for they are from everlasting.
Remember not the sins of my youth and my transgressions; *
remember me according to your love
and for the sake of your goodness, O Lord.
Gracious and upright are you, O Lord; *
therefore you teach sinners in your way.
You guide the humble in doing right * and teach your way to the lowly.
O Lord, all your paths are love and faithfulness *
to those who keep your covenant and your testimonies.
Protect my life and deliver me; *
let me not be put to shame, for I have trusted in you.
Remember, O Lord, your compassion and love, *
for they are from everlasting.

Reflection: Creator of the Stars of Night

Advent 2, LOVE: Creator of the Stars of Night

Why, you might ask, choose the office hymn, ‘Creator of the Stars of Night’ to reflect on in a week where we are directed to explore the concept of love? The connection lies in compassion, an aspect of God’s character alluded to in the second verse of the hymn, in the lines:

Thou, grieving that the ancient curse
Should doom to death a universe,

In Hebrew compassion is rakhum and compassionate, rakhamim; both of these words are related to the Hebrew for womb, rekhem, providing the essential link to Jesus:

Proceeding from a virgin shrine,

Rakhum describes the kind of deeply moved a person might be by concern for their newborn infant. This emotion is something that always plays out into action, within the biblical story it is God’s rakhamim that causes him to free the Israelites from slavery in Egypt, then feeding and clothing the Israelites as a parent would an infant, as they wander in the wilderness. This is a creator who, having birthed a universe, is deeply moved by the life and beauty within it. A creator who, when abandoned by his people who are then in exile, says “can a mother forget her infant child?” and determines to enter into the suffering of humanity.

Jesus is God’s compassion become human. In the Greek of the New Testament, compassion is oiktirmos. It is Jesus’ oiktirmos that causes him to act like a mother hen sheltering her chicks under her wing with the poor and the sick that he gathers into his embrace. Jesus invites his followers to do likewise, showing compassion (literally, suffering with) those who are poor, sick and in distress. This is our basic calling, to:

be compassionate,
just as your father is compassionate.

MAGNIFICAT

1 My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord,*
my spirit rejoices in God my Saviour;
2 for he has looked with favour on his lowly servant;*
from this day all generations will call me blessed.
3 The Almighty has done great things for me* and holy is his name.
4 He has mercy on those who fear him* in every generation.
5 He has shown the strength of his arm;*
he has scattered the proud in their conceit.
6 He has cast down the mighty from their thrones*
and has lifted up the lowly.
7 He has filled the hungry with good things,*
and the rich he has sent away empty.
8 He has come to the help of his servant Israel,*
for he has remembered his promise of mercy,
9 the promise he made to our forebears,*
to Abraham and his children for ever.
Glory to the Father and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit;*
as it was in the beginning, is now, and shall be for ever.  Amen.

PRAYERS
We have been afraid of the fierceness of your love, which sears our hearts as with a laser. Lord, have mercy upon us.
We have refused to believe that you are gentle in judgment, that your hands loosen the knots of our bitterness. Christ, have mercy upon us.
We have failed to see that your eyes are wise in discernment, that your justice restores us and heals. Lord, have mercy upon us.

Lord’s Prayer
Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done,
on earth as in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us. Do not bring us to the time of trial, but deliver us from evil. For the kingdom, the power, and the glory are yours, now and for ever. Amen.

COLLECTS
Stir up our hearts, Lord, to prepare the way of your only-begotten Son: that, in his coming, we might serve you with our hearts made pure; through the same Jesus Christ, our Lord, who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, world without end. Amen.

 Lord God almighty, come and dispel the darkness from our hearts, that in the radiance of your brightness we may know you, the only unfading light, glorious in all eternity. Amen.

The God of hope fill us with all joy and peace in believing:
through the power of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

A priest and poet in the Scottish Episcopal Church, exploring the workings of the Holy Spirit in Banchory .