Distinctive advent prayers and calls to worship

November 10th, 2021
Available from MinistryMatters

Many people are feeling, in one way or another, that the world is moving toward a difficult place, that we are moving toward an impending collective death. Inequality soars. The vast majority of people around the earth are getting poorer. As Oxfam says, “The world’s 2,153 billionaires have more wealth than the 4.6 billion people who make up 60 percent of the planet’s population.”[1] We live in a slow-moving catastrophe that doesn’t make headlines. Our era has been designated as anthropocene, capitalocene, plantationocene, or chthulucene.[2] Most of us humans, who place ourselves above any other form of life, are extracting more from the earth than it can offer, straining natural resources beyond the earth’s sustainable supply. Our planet is losing its balance. Global warming, melting ice caps, erratic seasons, droughts, overpopulation, deforestation, the ocean’s warming, extinction of species, death, and loss are showing up everywhere. Geopolitical configurations are marked by an expanding movement of migrants and refugees due to climate change and civil wars. Democracies are collapsing, social inequality is widening, nation states are dissolving into dictatorships with fascist leaders, public spaces are collapsing, fear is the political emotion of our time, various forms of destruction and violence are becoming normalized, and the consequences of an unrestrained neoliberal economy are thrusting us toward a place of no return.

What prayers are Christians called to pray during these times? How are we to pray as we are confronted by a world in collapse? While some Christians recite the ancient prayers in the midst of a church burnt by wars, other Christians try to find words to pray that make sense of the absurdity of their conditions. For the ways of praying that we are proposing here, the condition of our world begs for different prayers and different forms of prayer. As we witness the pain of the poor, the collapsing of the world we know, and the natural disasters around the globe, there seems to be no prayer that can respond to it all. However, we must pray anyway, and the way we pray makes total difference! Where should our prayers come from? If our prayers come from places of collapse and the debris of horrors, then what prayers may Christians offer to God and the world? That is what this book is wrestling with.

The following invocations, calls to worship, and gathering prayers are excerpted (out of 462 acts of worship) from Liturgies From Below: Praying with People at the Ends of the World, edited by Cláudio Carvaeles.

Call to Adoration

The leader may include as many languages as possible or as many as exist in the community.

• The person leading moves to the center and looks around until the community is silent. This gesture reminds us that silence is a fundamental part of adoration.

• The leader starts clapping, creating a bridge between rhythm and silence. The clapping reminds us of the beating of the heart, becausefrom the silence of our hearts and the rhythm of our heartbeats comes, “The Word.”

• The leader begins to say, “come,” alternating with “ven” and then “vem.”

• The leader stops clapping and with his or her hands expresses an invitation to come to our space, which is directed toward four cardinal points: in the first invoking “Dios”; in the second invoking “God”; in the third “Deus”; and when he or she reaches the fourth, the invitation is made without words to include any name of the Transcendent.

• At the last cardinal point the leader claps three times and makes the gesture of a broad embrace that welcomes the community, ending at the heart.

Bless Us

Bless us in your divine grace.

Bless us in your divine grace,

bless us in your love,

and bless the bread on the tables,

the hands of those who work,

the dreams of those who resist,

who still sing and hope.

Bless us as we walk in your ways,

give us your strength and vision,

may your peace give an end to death,

to hate, and to all injustice;

bless us as we seek an abundant life.

Bless us.

Advent God

For over two thousand years, Advent God, your blessings have been flowing. A river of grace and love and mercy has flowed through the desert of our lives, watering our souls, and satisfying our thirst.

For two thousand years and more, we have recognized your Emmanuel presence, bringing light and life to your world. Many of us have experienced the miracle of rebirth and recreation and so once again, at this Advent season, we sing our thanksgiving anthem: “Joy to the world, our Lord is come!”

But in the midst of our celebrations, Dear God, we have to admit that after two thousand years, the curse can still be found. Our lands are still infested with the thorns of injustice and unrighteousness. The briers of hatred and discrimination despoil our social and spiritual environment.

In our frustration and irritation, we cry, “No more!”

Grant us the wisdom and the courage to make “no more” a reality. Even if the weeds and the wheat are to grow together, we pray for the boldness to keep on sowing good seed. We pray for the courage to confront the “enemy” with love and compassion until he or she changes from evil to good.

In the meantime, healing God, we pray today for your children crying in the wilderness of oppression and dehumanization. Help us to listen with you, as they cry, “No more!” and “Enough is enough!” Help us to share your concern for their suffering, and then empower us as we embark on a divine mission of renewal and transformation.

Perhaps then our joy will be intensified this Advent season as we celebrate again the glories of your righteousness and the wonder of your love.

We pray in the name of him who came and made his dwelling among us. Amen.

God Is Here Too


Come into the place where God listens!
Where you need no money, no status, no fine clothes!

Come as you are
Broken, whole
Sick, well
Satisfied or with deep needs

Come to sing
Come to cry
Come to hear
Come to see
Come and be ready or
Come to be made ready

We are here
God is here too

Call to Worship for the Weary and Wary

Jesus said, “Come to me, all you who are struggling hard and carrying heavy loads” (Matt 11:28).

So we come, with all our weariness and wariness.
Our weariness with injustice,
our weariness with fake news,
our weariness with a world that seems determined to be hostile rather than welcoming.

Our wariness of what it might mean to truly live out our call,
our wariness of how vulnerable our desire for openness might make us,
our wariness of how safe it is to trust where trust has so often been misplaced.

Come, and find not just rest for your souls but channels for your rage.

So Come

Jesus said: “Come to me, all you who are struggling hard and carrying heavy loads, and I will give you rest” (Matt 11:28).

So come, in your need and your pain,
in your anger and your powerlessness.

So come, those of us subject to immigration controls,
and those of us seeking to overthrow them.

So come, those of us who live with the bittersweet experience of exile,
and those of us who long for our true home in the Kingdom, which is to come.

So come, those of us who despair at the politics of our age,
and those of us who seek to resist them.

So come, and find not just rest for your souls,
but a channel for your rage;
not just healing for your pain,
but love in your loneliness and alienation;
not just God’s loving kindness,
but energy to resist Empire’s cruel curse.



[1] https://www.oxfam.org/en/press-releases/worlds-billionaires-have-more-wealth-46-billion-people.

[2] Donna Haraway, “Anthropocene, Capitalocene, Plantationocene, Chthulucene: Making Kin,” Environmental Humanities, vol. 6, 2015; https://environmentalhumanities.org/arch/vol6/6.7.pdf.

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