O Come, Promise of Peace

Advent Reflections 2021

By: Susanna M. Kawolics

First Sunday of Advent: Sunday, November 28

 

Begin Reflections on: Monday, November 22

 

Readings:

- Jeremiah 33:14-16

- Psalm 25:1-10

- 1 Thessalonians 3:9-13

- Luke 21:25-36

 

The overall theme of this week:  Hope 

 

In God there is always hope that a new reality might be created. 

May God’s hope for this world become our hope as well.

As I write these reflections, we are living through a turbulent time. We had hoped the global pandemic threatening the health of millions would be over, but we have not yet seen its end. We had hoped the political climate in our country would become less divisive, yet differing viewpoints continue to sever relationships. We had hoped for more peace in our world, yet many nations are beset by turmoil, displacing thousands who fear for their lives. We are in need of healing and peace—peace within our own hearts, peace in our communities, peace in our country and our world. 

 

As we enter into this sacred season of Advent, we remember that Jesus was born into a world governed by cruel and unjust laws that oppressed the marginalized and divided people against each other. People then, as now, longed for a Messiah who would save them, who would liberate them, who would bring them peace. 

Throughout the centuries, we who have longed for the coming of Christ, the promised Prince of Peace, have expressed this yearning in a variety of ways. One way has been through images of God known as “O Antiphons.” These became part of the Christian tradition in the 7th or 8th century. They are different names for God, traditionally used during the last week of Advent, December 17th through 23rd, and sung in the seven verses of the Advent hymn O Come, O Come, Emmanuel (included in this booklet).

 

Advent is a time to deliberately prepare our hearts to welcome the Christ. These reflections have been created in the hope that they will enrich our Advent journeys by providing a prayerful intention of deepening our relationship with God. Because God is so much greater than our minds can even begin to comprehend, we can only know God through glimpses, through reflections. Inspired by the O Antiphons, I have sought to express other images of God based on the weekly Revised Common Lectionary readings for this Advent and Christmas season. The reflections for the Sunday readings begin on the Monday before so that we will have the opportunity to reflect on these Bible verses before hearing them in worship. There is also a prayer to guide each day. I trust that through our united prayers, we can know more peace in our hearts, and thereby offer transformation and hope to our world. By using the first person plural we, I imagine the community of people using this resource to be allied in prayer.

 

As we take time to pray, may our reflections deepen our relationship with God, with each other, and with all the world. In this way, may we prepare our hearts to celebrate the coming of Christ. 

 

In Christ’s peace,

Susi Kawolics


Monday, November 22

 

Antiphon:  O Fulfiller of Promises, Come

 

Scripture:  Jeremiah 33:14 The days are surely coming, says the LORD, when I will fulfill the promise I made . . .

 

Prayerful Reflection

O Fulfiller of Promises, Come~

Grant us trust to take you at your word,

to believe you fulfill your promise to us:

to break down divisions and to bring us peace.

As we begin this Advent journey,

let this will be a time for us

to soften our hearts, to broaden our minds,

to deepen our compassion

towards our brothers, siblings and sisters

who are with us on this journey of life.

As we put our hope and trust in you,

guide our thoughts, words and deeds

to work towards your hope for peace,

so we may do our part in bringing about

the fulfillment of your promise.

Amen.

Tuesday, November 23

 

Antiphon: O Righteous Branch, Come

 

Scripture: Jeremiah 33:15 In those days and at that time I will cause a righteous Branch to spring up for David . . .

 

Prayerful Reflection

O Righteous Branch, Come~

Spring up from the kernels of our past and blossom into hope for the future.

Let our yesterdays become nourishment

for the fruits of our tomorrows.

Make us ever stronger, wiser,

more compassionate,

that each new day

we may grow closer to becoming

the persons you have created us to be.

Rooted in your hope,

branching toward your light,

strengthened and nourished by your love,

may we scatter seeds today that will

produce a harvest

of righteousness and peace. 

Amen.

Wednesday, November 24

 

Antiphon:  O Giver of Abundant Love, Come

 

Scripture: 1 Thessalonians 3:12  . . . and may the Lord make you increase and abound in love to one another and to all people . . .

 

Prayerful Reflection

O Giver of Abundant Love, Come~

Transplant our constricted hearts

with your expansive one.

Grant that as easily as we are able to love

those who love us, those who are like us,

those who believe as we do,

we may receive an abundance of love from you

to offer love to others as well.

May we embrace with compassion

those whose actions we cannot understand,

those whose stories we cannot imagine,

those whose ways we cannot make sense of.

Fill us with your abundant love,

that your hope for peace among all your children

would fill us and flow from us,

through our prayers, words and deeds,

to be realized in this world.

Amen.

Thursday, November 25

 

Antiphon: O Ancient Mercy, Come

 

Scripture:  Psalm 25:6 Be mindful of your mercy, O God, and of your steadfast love, for they have been from of old.

 

Prayerful Reflection

O Ancient Mercy, Come~

Save us once again.

Hold us in compassion as we seek your pardon

for the times we have not lived

mercifully and generously in this world.

Pardon us, redeem us, reclaim us as your own.

Make your ancient mercy new,

and as you forgive us, so may we also forgive.

Remind us that we are made in your image,

with your compassion, your kindness,

your grace coursing through us.

We place our hope

in your steadfast love and mercy,

flowing in us and from us

to bring peace to your people on earth.

Amen.

Friday, November 26

 

Antiphon: O Everlasting Word, Come

 

Scripture: Luke 21:33 Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.

 

Prayerful Reflection

O Everlasting Word, Come~

At the dawn of time,

your word spoke the cosmos into being.

At the appointed time,

your word became flesh in the person of Jesus.

At this moment in time,

your word still rings out

in the acclamations of your children. 

Teach us to listen that we may hear

your promise of hope,

your longing for love,

your dream of peace.

Grant that our lives may give voice to

your word once again,

speaking justice and peace, healing and hope

into being.

Amen.

Saturday, November 27

 

Antiphon:  O Rewarder of the Patient, Come

 

Scripture: Psalm 25:3 Let none that wait for you be put to shame . . .

 

Prayerful Reflection

O Rewarder of the Patient, Come~

Our world demands immediate responses,

quick reactions, instant gratification.

In this season of Advent waiting,

grant us the gift of stepping back,

the gift of pause, of reflection, of prayer

before we speak or act.

May this intentional patience enable us

to see a glimpse of hope in the midst of despair,

to find a way of peace in the midst of rancor,

to offer a sign of love in the midst of animosity.

Summon us to daily prayer, meditation,

and communion with you,

that we may be filled with your spirit of hopefulness, patience and peace.

Amen.

Sunday, November 28

 

Prayer for the First Sunday of Advent

 

O God of Hope, Come~

In these days of preparation,

anchor us in your ancient

and still-speaking word.

Quiet us, give us patience,

create space within our hearts

that we may be filled

with your mercy and abundant love.

Grant us hope and trust

that the seeds we plant

through our prayers, words and deeds

in these Advent days

will bring to bear your promise of peace.

We ask this through Christ,

our Savior and our Hope,

Amen.


Second Sunday of Advent: Sunday, December 5

 

Begin Reflections on: Monday, November 29

 

Readings:

- Baruch 5:1-9

- Luke 1:68-79

- Philippians 1:3-11

- Luke 3:1-67

 

The overall theme of this week:  Peace 

 

God’s vision for this world is one where all creation is at Peace.  May this vision guide our lives.


Monday, November 29

 

Antiphon:  O Path Clearer, Come

 

Scripture:  Luke 3:4 “The voice of one crying in the wilderness: ‘Prepare the way of the Lord, make the paths of the Lord straight.’ ”

 

Prayerful Reflection

O Path Clearer, Come~

As we wander along

the crooked roads of our own making,

summon us back to you.

Call our names, beckon us,

tune our ears and hearts

to your voice.

Guide us to follow your ways,

to clear the obstacles that obstruct the path

of your compassion and justice.

Strengthen us to mow down

the hatred and judgment that thwart

the blooming of your mercy and love.

Lead us to clear paths

of righteousness and peace,

for your name’s sake.

Amen.

Tuesday, November 30

 

Antiphon:  O Transformer of Sorrow, Come

 

Scripture: Baruch 5:1 Take off the garment of your sorrow and affliction, O Jerusalem, and put on forever the beauty of the glory from God.

 

Prayerful Reflection

O Transformer of Sorrow, Come~

When our hearts are cloaked

in sorrow or affliction, in rage or unforgiveness,

in hopelessness or despair,

strip us bare and wrap us

in the blanket of your transforming grace. 

Clothe us in your solace, dress us in your wisdom,

cover us in your mercy.

Transform our struggles into lessons,

our heartaches into hope,

our resentments into forgiveness.

Enfold our afflicted, anxious and grieving hearts

in the garment of your comfort and your peace.

Amen.

Wednesday, December 1

 

Antiphon:  O Compassion Made Flesh, Come

 

Scripture: Philippians 1:8 For God is my witness, how I long for all of you with the compassion of Christ Jesus.

 

Prayerful Reflection

O Compassion Made Flesh, Come~

You were birthed into our world

to become one with us in our humanity:

to experience and to share our pain,

to know and understand our deepest joys and concerns,

to instruct and guide us in the ways of peace.

Journey with us and companion us

with the compassionate love for which we long.

Surround us with those who make real

your kindness and mercy,

your tenderness and care.

Thus encouraged and inspired,

make us to become your compassion

and peace made flesh for others.

Amen.

Thursday, December 2

 

Antiphon:  O Flowing Knowledge, Come

 

Scripture: Philippians 1:9 And this is my prayer, that your love may overflow more and more with knowledge and full insight . . .

 

Prayerful Reflection

O Flowing Knowledge, Come~

Wash away our blind spots,

erode our ignorance,

dismantle the parts of our ego

that cling so tenaciously to

power, prestige, and privilege.

Let your truth flow through us,

crumbling our misunderstandings,

fabrications and deceits

so deeply embedded within us.

Gently guide us to understanding,

to knowledge and insight,

so that we may be at peace with ourselves,

and then work to saturate your world

with truth, justice and peace.

Amen.

Friday, December 3

 

Antiphon:  O Tender Daybreak, Come

 

Scripture: Luke 1:78-79 By the tender mercy of our God, the dawn from on high will break upon us, to give light to those who sit in the night and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace.

 

Prayerful Reflection

O Tender Daybreak, Come~

Let your mercy dawn on this world.

Break into the shadows

of hatred, of despair,

of loneliness and fear.

Caress our hardened hearts

with the soft touch of your mercy.

Illumine our judgmental minds

with the glow of compassion.

Shine in our shadowed corners

with shafts of your glimmering light

that we may be shown how

to radiate your peace into this world.

Amen.

Saturday, December 4

 

Antiphon: O Gatherer of Children, Come

 

Scripture: Baruch 5:5b . . . look toward the east, and see your children gathered from west and east, at the word of the Holy One, rejoicing that God has remembered them.

 

Prayerful Reflection

O Gatherer of Children, Come~

Bring us together as your children all,

from the west, east, north and south.

From all the corners of the earth

gather us into true community:

to hear each others’ stories,

to respect and appreciate differences,

to seek peace.

As your children, we rejoice that you know,

love and remember each one of us,

as you also do all your other children.

Out of this love and unity, may we treat

all people in this world

as our brothers, siblings and sisters,

one family held in your all-embracing heart.

Amen.

Sunday, December 5

 

Prayer for the Second Sunday of Advent

 

Transform our lives.

Save us from turmoil and strife,

from judgment and hatred,

from ignorance and falsehoods.

Open us to your compassion,

teach us your truth,

fill us with your mercy.

Live in us that we may make real

your love for all your children

throughout the world.

Light our way,

and lead us in your paths

of righteousness and peace.

We ask this through Christ,

our Savior and our Peace.

Amen.