Advent Day One:
In order to mark the beginning of Advent I think it’s a great idea to begin with a prayer. Marking the occasion with one of Karl Barth’s liturgical prayers allows me room to introduce a journey; one that will hopefully draw myself and others towards a more reflective appreciation for the importance of the communal, the individual, the festal, and the theological, located within the celebrations to come.
Not unlike the curious, unplanned journey of the shepherds; their proclamation, post-angelic visit (Lk.2:17), and the wise-men;sojourners, linking up with the concepts of inquiry, insight, and of being led-by a strange, free and beautiful light. Coming; ‘for they saw His star in the east and came to worship Him’ (Mt.2:2).
Before us, the Swiss/German theologian’s words remain to-the-point, full of anticipation, trademark Trinitarian, and universally relevant:
‘Lord, our God and Father, give to many, to all, and to us as well, that we may celebrate Christmas like this:
that in complete thankfulness, utter humility, and then complete joy and confidence we may come to the one whom you have sent, and in whom you yourself have come to us. Clean out the many things in us that, now that the hour has come, have become impossible for us, can no longer belong to us, may, must, and will fall away from us, by virtue of your beloved Son, our Lord and Saviour, entering into our midst and creating order.
Have mercy also on all those who either do not yet or do not fully know you and your kingdom, who perhaps once knew everything and have either forgotten, misunderstood, or even denied it!
Have mercy on all of humanity, who today are once again especially plagued, threatened and haunted by so much foolishness. Enlighten the thoughts of those in both the East and the West who are in power and who, as appears to be the case, are today in complete confusion and despair.
Give the rulers and representatives of the people, the judges, teachers, and bureaucrats, give even the newspaper reporters in our homeland, the insight and sobriety that are necessary for their responsible work! Place the right, necessary, and helpful words on the lips of those who have to preach during this Christmas season, and open then also the ears and hearts of those who hear them!
Comfort and encourage those who are sick, both in body and spirit, in the hospitals, as well as the prisoners, and those who are distressed, abandoned, or despairing! Help them with what alone can truly help them and all of us: the clarity of your Word and the quiet work of your Holy Spirit.
We thank you that we are permitted to know that we do not pray and will never pray to you in vain. We thank you that you have let your light rise, that it shines in the darkness, and that the darkness will not overcome it. We thank you that you are God, and that we may be your people.
– Karl Barth, 2005, 2008 Fifty Prayers, Westminster John Knox Press pp.4-5
(I agree, in Jesus name. Amen)