Advent Service Pack 2011

“The one who has hope lives differently; the one who hoes has been granted the gift of new life.” (Spe Salvi, Pope Benedict XVI, 2007)

NB: This service outline may be freely adapted for your own use in parish groups or communities. Hyms are suggestions, so please feel free to replace with those your congregation or community prefers.

Preparations for the service:

On the alter, or another focal point where most people can see, there should be:

  • An empty suitcase
  • Three or four baskets
  • An Advent wreath
  • Lights on low

Available on people’s seats:

  • Prayer cards to take home (available from CAFOD)
  • Blank pieces of paper shaped like luggage labels and pens

The congregation sits down, or kneels, in quiet reflection. The lights are turned up high for the first hymn.

Leader: Invite everyone to stand for the first hymn.

Hymn: Wait for the Lord (762, Celebration hymnal for everyone)

All sit.

Gathering: From the back of the Church, there is a voice. Two readers begin a story.

(See Instructions A in the accompanying leader’s notes if you would like children to be involved in acting out the story)

Reader 1: My name is Kunja.

Reader 2: I am his wife, Sufan. We live with our nine chldren in a village in South West Pakistan.

Reader 1: At the end of July 2010, there were torrential monsoon rains across huge swathes of our country and more than 18 million people were affected by the floods. We didn’t want to run from our village and leave our home.

The main road into our village was on an embankment. We hoped that it would act as a dam, proctecting our home from the floods. But late on evening in August 2010, water started gushing across the road.

Reader 2: It’s hard to describe how we felt as we gathered our children – five girls and four boys – and fled, clutching as many of our possessions as we could carry. We knew that within just a few hours, our house, our animals, our land and almost everything we owned would be underwater.

When finished, the readers of hte story come from the back and sit down.

Leader: Welcomes everybody to the Advent Service, then says:

The season of Advent is a time of preparation, joy and thanksgiving as we prepare for Jesus’ coming. It is a time of hope. We wait in joyful hope of Jesus Christ, our Saviour. Our hope is rooted in our faith in God. As Pope Benedict said (in his encydical Spe Salvi), “The one who has hope lives differently; the one who has hope has been granted the gift of new life”. We live differently because we are seeking to transform the present to reach a vision, a vision of global community where all may flourish. Therefore, even when others despair, or feel powerless in the face of immense odds, we cannot despair or give up, because we have hope.

We have just heard the beginning of a story where it looked as though people were losing all hope. Imagine if we had to decide quickly what to take if we had to leave our house. What dould we bring, what is precious to us? (pause) There stories remind us how important hope is for people to survive and imagine a future for themselves and for their families.

With this in mind, let us stand and pray.

Leader: Forgive us for the times we have given up hope, the times we have lost faith in Your love.

All: Forgive us, Lord, for the times we have lost hope.

Leader: Forgive us for the times we have forgotten to consider the imact of our behaviour on others around the world.

All: Forgive us, Lord, for the times we have lost faith.

Leader: Create in us the hope for a better world, a world of justice. Renew in us God, our hope and our faith.

All: So that we can make a difference to our world, through our love for you and for our neighbour.

Opening Prayer:

Leader: Eternal God, we give thanks for those who generously enable the work of CAFOD to continue, especially as it enters the year of its 50thanniversary.  Create and revive in us hope for a better world where there is love and justice for all. Strengthen our desire to act so that one day we may live in a world where all your people live life to the full. We ask this in the name of Jesus Christ, your son, our Lord, Amen.

Leader: Please be seated for the readings. 

First reading: Jeremiah 29:11-13

Yes I know the plans I have in mind for you, the LORD declares, plans for peace, not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope. When you call to me and come and pray to me, I shall listen to you. When you search for me, you will find me; when you search wholeheartedly for me.

Psalm: 146

How blessed is he who has Jacob’s God to help him,

His hope is in the Lord his God,

Who made heaven and earth,

The sea and all that is in them.

 All: His hope is in the Lord his God.

 He keeps faith for ever,

Gives justice to the oppressed,

Gives food to the hungry;

God sets prisoners free

God gives sight to the blind.

 All: His hope is in the Lord his God

 Second Reading. The two readers (Kunja and Sufan) come to the front of the church to continue.

(See instructions B in the leader’s notes.)

Reader 1: The journey to higher ground was very dangerous, but, like millions of others, we had no choice but to flee. We eventually reached the town of Dera Marad Jamati, where relatives agreed to give us shelter. We knew it would be weeks before it was safe to go home.

When we returned home more than a month after the floods first hit, we were astonished by the extent of the damage. Our house was just a pile of mud. All we had were two trunks of clothes.

Reader 2: But by the end of September CAFOD’s local partners had visited our village and given us vital equipment – blankets, mosquito nets and buckets.

All the items we were given were useful, there is nothing we don’t use.”

Leader: Let’s reflect in silence for a few moments. (Pause)

Leader: Please stand for the Gospel.

Gospel: Luke 7:18-22

The disciples of John gave him all this news, and John, summoning two of his disciples, sent them to the Lord to ask, “Are you the one who is to come, or are we expect someone else?” When the men reached Jesus they said, “John the Baptist has sent us to you to ask, ‘Are you the one to come or are we to expect someone else?’”

At that very time he cured many people of diseases and afflictions and of evil spirits, and gave the gift of sight to many who were blind. Then he gave the messengers their answer. “Go back and tell John what you have seen and heard: the blind see again, the lame walk, those suffering from virulent skin-diseases are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised to life, the good news is proclaimed to the poor.”

Leader: Please sit down.

Homily, talk or shared reflection.

Hymn: On Jordan’s bank the Baptist’s cry (Laudate 94)

Leader: Let us now pray that we may live differently.

Reader: God of hope, help us see that our actions have consequences on the earth we live in, and to recognise the importance of living simply. Help us to recognise that inaction also has consequences. Show us how to live well. Open our eyes to the struggle so many families have against poverty, and inspire us to live our lives differently for the good of all. We ask this in the name of Christ our Lord, Amen.

Intercessions: (See instructions C in the leader’s notes)

Reader: We pray for the world’s leaders: that they may follow Jesus’s example, bringing food to the hungry and justice to the oppressed.

Lord in your mercy,

All: Hear our prayer.

Reader: We pray for people across the world who are feeling the effects of a changing climate: that our actions may bring hope for the future.

Lord, in your mercy,

All: Hear our prayer

Reader: We pray for our parish community this Advent: that we may not put too much value on our worldly possessions but instead cherish the things that are truly precious.

Lord, in your mercy

All: Hear our prayer

Reader: We pray for all people throughout the world who are facing poverty, hunger or illness: that they may be strengthened by the compassion and solidarity of others and never give up hope of a better future.

Lord, in your mercy

All: Hear our prayer

Hymn: O come o come Emmanuel (522 in the Celebration Hymnal for Everyone.)

The third part of the story:

The readers (Kunja and Sufan) now come to the front of the church to finish the story. A third reader joins them.

(See instructions D in the leader’s notes).

Reader 2: We started building new shelters with kits of bamboo, reed matting and plastic sheeting. These are not just temporary: we are now starting to adapt them into permanent houses, by building mud-brick walls.

Reader 1: This is good news for me, as I am a mason!

Things are bad at the moment as there is not much work about. But soon I’ll have a lot of work, because people will start to rebuild.

Reader 3: With the help and solidarity of people like you and your community, through your prayers, gifts and actions, Kunja and Sufan have been able to pick up the pieces after one of the worst catastrophes of recent times. Now they can rebuild their lives.

Leader: Please look at the luggage labels left on your seat. These have been placed here so you can a write a hope of your own for the world. What is your vision for the world? In a few minutes these will be collected in baskets – all our hopes together. They will be displayed here throughout Advent, so that the hopes of our community are not lost, and we can remember them each time we come together.

Everyone writes down their hopes and the labels are collected up in baskets. While they are collected a hymn is sung or music is played. The baskets are taken up and left in or next to the suitcase.

Hymn: All my hope on God is founded (Laudate 959)

Leader: Let us have a moment of silence where we can reflect on what we have heard so far, and about what we can do to go out and make our vision for the world a reality. (Pause)

Now let us stand for the closing prayer.


Loving God,

as we wait for

the coming of your Son this Advent

help us remember his message

and remember that all good actions

are hope in action.

 Strengthen us against despair

and console those who are downcast.

Show us how to live in hope

and in solidarity with all our global neighbours.

 Help us go out today

committed to serving others,

and doing your will on earth.

We ask all this through Christ, your son, our Lord,


Leader: Let us go forth today, with a renewed spirit of hope as we continue prepare for the joyful coming of Jesus Christ.

Leader: Lord, for the needy shall not always be forgotten,
All : And The hope of the poor shall not perish forever. (Psalm 9:18)

Leader: May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing
All: By the power of the Holy Spirit may you abound in hope.

Leader: And may God bless us all, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit

All: Amen.

Closing hymn: Hail to the Lord’s anointed (Laudate 102)

 B Since this service was written, new floods have hit Pakistan. Find out the latest at:

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