Welcome to an online Advent prayer retreat for peace & justice workers. Use these resources, songs and links for personal prayer and devotion anytime during the Advent season. Advent is a fitting time to ask, How is Christ’s birth being prepared in us again this season? At the end of this wrenching year of 2020, you are invited to make yourself a cup of tea, light a candle, and spend some time in prayer. Prepare for Emmanuel, the Prince of Peace, to be born again in your life, family, community, and in our world. Some of these resources may also be fitting for a corporate worship you are planning - feel free to use any of them in any way you see fit!
We stand in solidarity with you, united in these challenging times. May we may be refreshed again with Christ's birth this season, inspiring us to pursue peace everlasting.
Go in peace & love for one another
(Source. The picture above is to keep in mind the heart of the season and this picture feels extra relevant related to our current health pandemic. Remember the "heart" of the issues at hand, and love one another )
O Lord, we offer you our wishes for peace, born in our hearts.
Cradle them in your arms of love, and help us to make them a reality in the world,
in the churches and in our families.
Psalm 85:1-2, 8-13
85:1 LORD, you were favorable to your land; you restored the fortunes of Jacob.
85:2 You forgave the iniquity of your people; you pardoned all their sin. Selah
85:8 Let me hear what God the LORD will speak, for he will speak peace to his people, to his faithful, to those who turn to him in their hearts.
85:9 Surely his salvation is at hand for those who fear him, that his glory may dwell in our land.
85:10 Steadfast love and faithfulness will meet; righteousness and peace will kiss each other.
85:11 Faithfulness will spring up from the ground, and righteousness will look down from the sky.
85:12 The LORD will give what is good, and our land will yield its increase.
85:13 Righteousness will go before him, and will make a path for his steps.
This year has been turbulent in more ways than one - pandemic, uprising, and the US presidential election - and that’s just getting started! Division and polarization is [heightened in communities around the world] After this year of loss, grief, and constant adaptation, it’s important to take time this season to reflect about both our state of inner peace and our work for peace in the world around us.
Isolation has been a real challenge under quarantine and social distancing. Feeling disconnected from peers and anxious about the future. This has required us to innovate and be creative in order to stay connected - and sometimes it just hasn't been enough to help us feel cherished and beloved. Now, as you read these words, is a good time to remember that we are all children of God, and that we are all moved by the Spirit within us. Relying on God’s plan for us, that righteousness and peace will eventually rain down on us is something to help offer a glimmer of hope to hang onto as we power (or limp!) through the last few months of this troublesome year. Taking time to recenter yourself spiritually is imperative. Take this time - right now - to remember you are not alone and that there is always room for you in the kingdom of Heaven.
“His glory may dwell in our land” is the specific part of this scripture that really moves me. When the weight of the negatives surrounding us seem heavier than usual, I find solace in the fact that I am not walking this path alone. Finding spiritual strength is easier said than done, but taking time for prayer, self-care and connecting with others will help guide us toward the kingdom of Heaven. An old adage: “God will not give you more than you can handle”. These hardships we’re enduring remind us that God is in control and this is all part of his plan. The Lord is in control and reminding myself of that has been a source of strength for me.
A poem by St. John of the Cross
If you want, the Virgin will come walking down the road
pregnant with the Holy and say,
“I need shelter for the night.
Please take me inside your heart, my time is so close.”
Then, under the roof of your soul,
you will witness the sublime intimacy,
the divine, the Christ, taking birth forever,
as she grasps your hand for help,
for each of us is the midwife of God, each of us.
Yes, there, under the dome of your being,
does creation come into existence eternally,
through your womb, dear pilgrim,
the sacred womb of your soul,
as God grasps our arms for help:
for each of us is His beloved servant never far.
If you want, the virgin will come walking down the street,
pregnant with Light, and sing!
“The God we hardly knew” - Oscar Romero
No one can celebrate
a genuine Christmas
without being truly poor.
The self-sufficient, the proud,
those who, because they have
everything, look down on others,
those who have no need
even of God- for them there
will be no Christmas.
Only the poor, the hungry,
those who need someone
to come on their behalf,
will have that someone.
That someone is God.
Without poverty of spirit
there can be no abundance of God.
(image credit: Martha; @abuelamarty)
- For everyone born - Shirley Erena Murray - As performed by First Plymouth Church, Lincoln, Nebraska
- O Come O Come Emmanuel - Lauren Daigle
- Bring Many Names - Brian Wren - As performed by First Plymouth Church, Lincoln, Nebraska
Moment in Mission
On Earth Peace’s work took on new dimensions in 2020, especially through a marked increase in online community-building. We’re grateful to have been able to meaningfully stay connected with our people, and to build new relationships, despite the pandemic. Our online programming centered the purposes of building community, building capacity, and building commitment.
In a series of community meetups, we gathered with new and old friends to explore our OEP core values of Jesus-Centered Spirituality, Beloved Community, Intergenerational Leadership, Anti-racism/Anti-Oppression, and Positive Peace, and the 6 Principles of Kingian Nonviolence. Using art, discussion, music, and personal sharing, these meetups helped engage at a deeper level and prepare ourselves for what is still coming at us every day.
Online offerings included extended programs on raising race-conscious kids, prison justice organizing, migrant detention centers, and Drew Hart’s 2020 book, Who Will Be a Witness: Igniting Activism for God’s Justice, Love, and Deliverance. We completed a 15-month “Deep Dive” into the Kingian Nonviolence curriculum with a group of organizers and trainers, and built a deep community in a 30-person international cohort pursuing Kingian Nonviolence trainer certification.
As we await Christ’s birth, and look toward the year ahead, may we all become pregnant with Christ’s redemptive presence. May God’s message of restoration, redemption, and belovedness shine even in these online spaces, and in our own hearts, that all may be empowered, encouraged, and led forth.
One: Gathered together
All: We wait for the light.
One: Standing together
All: We trust in the light.
One: Praying together
All: We hope for the light.
One: Seeking together
All: We step out with the light.
One: Singing together
All: We are blessed by the light.
One: I am praising you, our God, with all my being.
All: When I called for help, you answered me, you gave strength and courage.
One: However high and exalted you may be, still you care for ordinary people.
All: But there is no hiding place for the proud.
One: Though we may be surrounded by trouble, you shelter us from harm.
All: You deal with our adversaries and intercede to save us.
One: You will complete your purpose for us.
All: Your love will never fail.
One: As your love lasts forever,
All: Fulfill the work you have set in hand.
Prayer practice: Make a sign of peace.
Entering into a spirit of contemplation, take three deep breaths and ask God to move in your body bringing some sign of Christ’s peace and presence being born in you.
What is God birthing in you? Is it healing; calling forth; encouragement; something else?
Find a place in your body where it lives. Allow your body to make some kind of motion that expresses this message from God, about what is being born in you this Advent season, at the end of this long year. Make your motion three times. Give thanks to God for this gift of insight.
(And if no motion came, don’t worry! The same insight may come in a dream or a daydream sometime this week.) As you pray through this Advent season, incorporate your prayer sign into your other sung, spoken or silent prayers.
(image credit: St. David’s Youth Group, @st_davids_youth)
And now, people of the church, we go,
encouraged by the presence of the Lord,
inspired by God’s Word,
strengthened by the lives of our brothers and sisters,
visualizing signs of peace.
You are invited, during the coming week, to look at the world around you and identify some
such signs of peace.
Let us go with Jesus, the light who guides us on our way.
May our hope be that the Sun of Justice will rise one morning on all humankind.
May the God of Peace, our constant companion,
lead us along paths of solidarity and hope,
and give us the joy of being united in God’s love.
Here you will find our Children's Peace Formation coordinator, Priscilla, with a book in her "Read Aloud" series. The title of the book is Dreamers by Yuyi Morales. The book is about celebration of making your home with the things you always carry: your resilience, your dreams, your hopes and history. It's the story of finding your way in a new place, of navigating an unfamiliar world and finding the best parts of it. In dark times, it's a promise that you can make better tomorrows.
If you've followed along in personal prayer, we hope it was meaningful!
If you found resources here to use during your advent church services, let us know! (you can email [email protected])
Go in peace and love one another!