Advent Four, Year B

Musical Reflection
Be Here Now by Ray Lamontagne




God of impossible love,
you needed Mary
to give consent,
to bear your scandal,
to carry your word within herself:
may her courage give hope
to everyone
who yearns to sing
new songs of justice
and find the world
a dwelling place for God;
through Jesus Christ, the one who is to come.

First Reading
The Waist of the Moon
by April Bulmer

Autumn leaves passed our windows

and moved downstream
to die then float.
My body was a curtain
and so it was
sunlight and shadow.
I wore layers of cotton
and odd jewels.
A long veil of tulle.
You made a tear in me
in the thin fabric
that gauzed my womb.
But my seed was loose
and would not root.
Though, in dreams,
baby’s breath
fluttered as a small-winged bird
in the lap of a tree.
But God was born
again and again
in the blood of His coming.
His rags and sorrow.
His menses creed.
I am a poet,
I sing the ghosts of family.
They haunt me at night:
queens and Indians,
and smiling girls.
Their thin clothes
smell like the breeze.
Only in poems,
the child like a wet bird,
hatches from me;
or a new dove
from my cage of frail bone.
And God swells and contracts
like the waist of the moon.
Whimpers like a dog.
Second Reading
A River on its Way

by Tammy Ho Lai-Ming
I give, and I give, and I give. It’s the way it is.
Like a river feeding itself to the ocean.
The pattern’s not undone, yet.
There may be rocks, obstructing the way.
Or lesser streams forking from my body,
And drying up in the sun.
A traveler may pause, squat next to my belly
Where an accidental leaf rattles like a canoe,
Cup a mouthful of what makes me me.
Still, the pattern’s not undone.
Like a river feeding itself to the ocean,
Child, I continue to give myself to you
Until I become undone – scattered pockets
Of primitive earth, peeled bare.
Gospel Reading
Luke 1:26-38

When Elizabeth was six months pregnant, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a city in Galilee,
to a young woman who was engaged to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David’s house. The young woman’s name was Mary. The angel came to her and said, “Rejoice, favoured one! The Lord is with you! Blessed are you among women!” She was confused by these words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be. The angel said, “Don’t be afraid, Mary. God is honouring you. Look! You will conceive and give birth to a child, and you will name him Jesus – ‘Deliverance’. His dignity will be great and he will be called the Only Begotten of God. God will give Jesus the throne of David his ancestor, to rule over Jacob’s house forever, and there will be no end to his reign.”

Then Mary said to the angel, “How will this happen since I haven’t had sexual relations with a man?”

The angel replied, “The Holy Spirit will come over you and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. Therefore, the one who is to be born will be holy and will be called the Holy One of God. Look, even in her old age, your relative Elizabeth has conceived a child. This woman who was labeled ‘unable to conceive’ is now six months pregnant. Nothing is impossible for God.”

Then Mary said, “I am the Lord’s servant. Let it be with me just as you have said.” Then the angel left her.


Musical Reflection
I Was There for You by Leonard Cohen


traditional Catholic prayers, adapted

Hail Mary, full of grace,
the Lord is with you;
Blessed are you,
and blessed is the fruit of your womb, Jesus.
Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us, now.

Glory be to God,
and to the Christ,
and to the Holy Spirit.
As it was in the beginning,
is now,
and ever shall be,
world without end.

The Lord’s Prayer

Eternal Spirit,
Earth-maker, Pain-bearer, Life-giver,
Source of all that is and that shall be,
Father and Mother, Parent of us all,
Loving God, in whom is heaven:
The hallowing of your name echo through the universe!
The way of your justice be followed by the peoples of the world!
Your heavenly will be done by all created beings!
Your commonwealth of peace and freedom
sustain our hope and come on earth.
With the bread we need for today, feed us.
In the hurts we absorb from one another, forgive us.
In times of temptation and testing, strengthen us.
From trials too great to endure, spare us.
From the grip of all that is evil, free us.
For you reign in the glory of the power that is love,
now and for ever. Amen.

Musical Reflection
Mary by Sarah Slean


May the God who brings heaven close to earth
give truth to our judgement
and flame to our longing
that our hearts might be ready
to be born again in love;

and the blessing of God Almighty,
the Holy Parent, the Holy Child, and the Holy Spirit,
be with us and remain with us always. Amen.



Artwork by Frida Kahlo

Invocation and Blessing from Prayers for an Inclusive Church by Steven Shakespeare

Musical Reflection Be Here Now by Ray Lamontagne

Poem The Waist of the Moon by April Bulmer

Poem A River on its Way by Tammy Ho Lai-Ming

Musical Reflection There for You by Leonard Cohen

Hail Mary Prayer

Lord’s Prayer from the New Zealand Prayer Book

Musical Reflection Mary by Sarah Slean

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