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Liturgy for the winter season

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Geraldine Martin |  08 July 2015

Winter is a time of slowing down, wearing coats and boots, warming up near the fire, and sharing hot soup with friends. It is also a time that we think of those in need. The season of winter in Australia always reminds us of the Vinnies ‘Winter Sleep-Out’  collecting of warm clothes, blankets and tins of food for those less fortunate than ourselves. The following liturgy is meant to be held during your school’s or parish's Vinnies Winter Appeal or other charity collection to help those in need.

SETTING THE SCENE

You could hold this liturgy in a warm and cosy place indoors or be well-wrapped up outdoors. If you are able to hold this in an evening you could use subdued lighting or candles. You could also use lanterns or torches to read by. If you are camping, you could all gather around a fire, where this is safe to do so. 

Before the liturgy is to be held it would be good to get someone to talk about the Vinnies Winter Appeal at an Assembly asking students to make donations of warm clothing and staple foods which could be given to St Vincent de Paul to distribute to those less fortunate and to those who may be living on the streets. 

For the liturgy decorate a table with some winter fruits and nuts – this speaks of fruitfulness even in the midst of barrenness. Three unlighted candles. A Bible open to the story of the Good Samaritan in Luke’s Gospel (Ch 10 :25-37).

Reader: We have come together today to remind ourselves that there are many people out there who need our help especially during this season of winter.

GATHERING PRAYER

When the winter is cold and the winds are icy
I’m reminded of the harshness of life
of the pain and suffering, the hardness of heart
That causes much heartache and strife.

Today we pray for people in trouble.
We hold them before you Lord.
Be their light, their strength, their comfort and hope
Let their faith in life be renewed and restored.

Then the winter of life will give way to spring,
To new life, new joy and new way of living
We pray to you knowing that you heed our prayer.
We believe in your presence Lord and we know that you care.

READING:

Reader: A reading from the Gospel of Luke (Luke 10:25-37).

Just then a lawyer stood up to test Jesus. ‘Teacher,’ he said ‘what must I do to inherit eternal life?' He said to him, 'What is written in the law? What do you read there?' He answered, ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind;  and our neighbour as yourself.' And he said to him, ‘You have given the right answer; do this, and you will live.’ 

But wanting to justify himself, he asked Jesus, ‘And who is my neighbour?'

Jesus replied, 'A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell into the hands of robbers, who striped him, beat him, and went away, leaving him half dead. Now by chance a priest was going down that road; and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side. So likewise a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan while traveling came near him; and when he saw him he was moved with pity. He went to him and bandaged his wounds, having poured oil and wine on them. Then he put him on his own animal, brought him to an inn, and took care of him. The next day he took out two denarii, gave them to the innkeeper and said, ‘Take care of him; and when I come back, I will repay you whatever more you spend.’ Which of these three, do you think, was a neighbour to the man who fell into the hands of the robbers?’ He said, ‘The one who showed him mercy.” Jesus said to him, ‘Go and do likewise.’

The Gospel of the Lord,

All: Praise to you Lord Jesus Christ

A REFLECTION AFTER THE GOSPEL

Reader: In your own stillness picture someone who is poor … someone who is homeless, hungry, sick … someone who is suffering through the injustice of others or even yourself …or through the system of the society in which we live … a traveller, a person seeking a job and who can’t find one …someone of your own experience or a picture you’ve seen …look at him/her for a moment, feel for the person …with that person’s face in your mind, hear the words of Jesus – ‘what you do for the least of my people, you do for me.’ Stay with that face, and with those words for a while. Are you going to be the one to show Mercy or are you going to be the one who walks away on the other side of the road?

Students will bring up food and clothing that has been collected for St Vincent de Paul appeal. Arrange around the table. These will be taken to your local St Vincent de Paul collection point.

Three students will now collect the three unlighted candles. As each response is made one candle will be lit. When all three are lit, place the lighted candles on the table amongst the gifts of food and clothing.


RESPONSES

Reader: The nights have drawn in – long summer evening are but a memory.  Memory is upon us and darkness surrounds us.

All:
We wait in darkness, Lord, for the coming of your light.

Reader:
Our world is shadowed in darkness of oppression, of pessimism, of helplessness.

All:
We wait in hope, Lord for the coming of your light.

Reader:
Souls are overwhelmed by gloom and darkness, depression and hopelessness and saturated in despair.

All:
We wait with them in their darkness trusting in your promise that yours is a light that no darkness can overcome.

CLOSING PRAYER

We give thanks for the blessing of winter:
Season to cherish the heart.
To make warmth and quiet for the heart.
To make soups and broths for the heart.
To cook for the heart and read for the heart.
To curl up softly and nestle with the heart.
To sleep deeply and gently at one with the heart.
To dream with the heart.
To spend time with the heart.
Along, long time of peace with the heart.
We give thanks for the blessing of winter:
Season to cherish the heart.    

AMEN

End the liturgy by singing together a favourite hymn about ‘light’ such as Christ be our Light by Bernadette Farrell.

Extinguish the candles. 

 

Prayers for this winter liturgy are from Michael Leunig's The Prayer Tree.

Photo: J3SSL33; Flickr

 

 

 

Topic tags: catholicsocialteaching, socialjustice–australia, prayer, liturgyandthesacraments

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Submitted comments

This is a most appropriate liturgy to remind us of those doing it tough and maybe how thankful we should be for our good fortune in being able to get warm and have access to nourishing food. I have always liked winter ( that tells you I have nearly always been able to be or get warm) . I do like the chance to slow down a bit , to have another excuse to read or write, and to be on the lookout here in Victoria for those harbingers of Spring , the daffodils , wattles and early blossoms. Blessings to those without shelter. May there be a "Good Samaritan" close by you on these bleak days. Was it Keats who said:"if Winter comes can Spring be far behind.?"

Celia 09 July 2015

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