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First Sunday of Advent (A)

Stay awake, so that you may be ready!

The Word This Week

Advent opens with a great promise: “In the days to come…” the hope of a people who need God. “...The master is coming” is also a promise, not a threat to breed fear, but to answer our cry. So Advent begins, not with thoughts of the past, with the coming of the Lord we celebrate at Christmas, but with the future, and the promise that He is coming back. We are encouraged to stay awake, and treat every day as the day the Lord will come; we do not do this out of fear for a Master who beats his servants, but out of love of a Master who always treats us with mercy. Nevertheless we must always be watchful, because we can grow sleepy and complacent, saying that we can leave this prayer or that confession or the other change in the way we live to tomorrow. Even as we look forward to the tomorrow of the Lord’s coming, we must remember that it might be today!

Notes for Readers

First Reading: Isaiah 2:1-5

Isaiah is the prophet of Advent – so much of his ministry was to alert the people of Israel to the coming of the Promised Messiah, and to describe for them the world after the Messiah’s coming. Even though we are about to celebrate the feast of the birth of the Messiah at Christmas, we are still a people in waiting. This is why the prophecies of Isaiah that accompany us through Advent are not historical curiosities, but real promises for our future. In preparing this reading, think about what God promises through Isaiah: is this good news for your congregation? Is the vision of the “Mountain of the Temple of the Lord…” worth proclaiming? Read this passage as a piece of joyful poetry: try to engage the listeners in the promise – look for phrases like “All the nations will stream…”, he will…adjudicate between many peoples…” or “nation will not lift sword against nation.” Think about the situation of the world in which we live as you proclaim these words.


Second Reading: Romans 13:11-14

If Isaiah offers the vision, Paul offers the practical advice: this short reading uses the winter imagery of dark and light to invite the Church to “stand ready…”. In the first words of the reading, make sure you know what ‘the time’ refers to: it is the day the Master returns – the end of the world. For Paul, we are already living in the time of Jesus’ coming, which is why we dare not put things off any further. Avoid a hectoring or lecturing tone in this reading: it is more like the whispered urging of a friend, encouraging us with a hopeful promise. Yes, there are things that we must put right, but only because it is worth it! Be careful with some of the words (“promiscuity” and “licentiousness”), and make sure you do not lose the last sentence: pause before it, and proclaim with confidence: “Let your armour be the Lord Jesus Christ.”



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Rite of Blessing an Advent Wreath

The use or the Advent Wreath is a traditional practice which has found its place in the Church as well as in the home. The blessing of an Advent Wreath takes place on the First Sunday of Advent or on the evening before the First Sunday of Advent. The blessing may be celebrated during Mass, a celebration of the word of God, or Evening Prayer.


The texts are available below as Microsoft Word documents (.doc)


Order of Blessing Within Mass


Order of Blessing Outside Mass

Prayer Service for Advent