Jesus is coming! Are you ready? This Advent prayer service will help you and your class prepare.
By Jean Grant
Preparation: Place a picture of the Annunciation (Mary with the Angel Gabriel) at the prayer table or displayed on an interactive screen. If possible, have a picture of the Visitation to add during the final encounter with Elizabeth.
On the table, light three battery candles and position them to form a triangle for the Holy Trinity. Choose readers for the Leader, Angel Gabriel, Mary, and Elizabeth. Participants at the prayer service should bring their Bibles and have them opened to Luke 1:46-55.
ALL: In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
LEADER: In the Book of Daniel in the Old Testament, the Angel Gabriel, a majestic and awesome messenger of the Lord, appeared and said, “While I, Daniel, sought the meaning of the vision I had seen, one who looked like a man stood before me … and I heard a human voice that cried out, ‘Gabriel, explain the vision to this man.’ When he came near where I was standing, I fell prostrate in terror.” Gabriel’s stature and presence frightened Daniel at first, but God’s love shone through.
ANGEL GABRIEL: Understand, o son of man, that the vision refers to the end time, the time of the second coming, after the Messiah’s first coming in Bethlehem, and at the end of time at Judgment Day.
LEADER: Luke’s Gospel, beginning with the Infancy Narrative, finds the Angel appearing to Zechariah, preparing for the first coming of the Messiah, and fulfillment of the Old Testament prophecy. The Messiah to come will also be Our Savior. It is he who will return on a cloud, and there will be no more time to change and make better choices.
READER: The angel of the Lord appeared to him, standing at the right of the altar of incense. Zechariah was troubled by what he saw, and fear came upon him. But the Angel said to him:
ANGEL GABRIEL: Do not be afraid, Zechariah, because your prayer has been heard. Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you shall name him John. And you will have joy and gladness, and many will rejoice at his birth, for he will be great in the sight of [the] Lord.
READER: In [Elizabeth’s] sixth month, the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a town of Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man named Joseph, of the house of David, and the virgin’s name was Mary. [The angel] said to her,
ANGEL GABRIEL: Hail, favored one! The Lord is with you. Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. Behold, you will conceive in your womb, and bear a son, and you shall name him Jesus. He will be great and will be called Son of the Most High.
MARY: How can this be, since I have no relations with a man?
ANGEL GABRIEL: The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. Therefore the child to be born will be called holy, the Son of God. And, behold, Elizabeth, your relative, has conceived a child in her old age … for nothing will be impossible for God.
LEADER: After all of these wondrous happenings, Mary traveled to the hill country of Judah to visit her cousin Elizabeth. When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the infant leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth, filled with the Holy Spirit, cried out in a loud voice and said,
ELIZABETH: Most blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb. And how does this happen to me that the mother of my Lord should come to me? For at the moment the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the infant in my womb leaped for joy. Blessed are you who believed that what was spoken to you by the Lord would be fulfilled.
LEADER: Please join in reading the Canticle of Mary from our Bibles, found in Luke 1:46-55. This is Mary’s response to Elizabeth. After we read it, we will pray a Hail Mary together in thanksgiving for these faithful people who answered God’s call.
Jean Grant is a retired teacher from St. Charles, Missouri.