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CrecheAs the weeks of Advent pass and the celebration of the Nativity draws near, the crèche begins to appear in homes and churches. St. Francis of Assisi usually gets credit for introducing the idea of the crèche—in his case with living figures—in 1223 after he visited the traditional birthplace of Jesus in Bethlehem. The crèche should have a place of honor in the home where all can easily see it and reflect on its meaning and where it is not diminished by other decorations. You may wish to invite not only members of your household but also extended family, friends, or neighbors to take part in this blessing.
 
Ideally, the crèche is in place at least a few days before Christmas. The image of the infant Jesus is absent until the blessing; his absence and the empty manger waiting to receive him symbolize the anticipation that is the focus of this season—anticipation of the birth of Jesus in a manger in Bethlehem, anticipation of his arrival anew in our hearts on Christmas morning, and anticipation of the coming of Jesus in glory on the last day. Reserve the figure of Jesus near the crèche but out of sight.
 
Agree in advance on a leader of the blessing prayers, a reader for the Scripture passage and another for the closing prayer, and members of the gathering who will place the figures in the crèche. Although the text of the Scripture reading is included in this section, it is preferable that the word of God be read from a Bible or New Testament. If appropriate, you might wish to choose the youngest family member to place the infant in the crèche. As many family members as possible should participate. Have a small amount of holy water and a sprig of evergreen available for this service, and choose a family member to sprinkle the crèche during the final blessing. If holy water is not available, you may use ordinary water.
Prepare a recorded Christmas carol such as “Silent Night” or “O, Little Town of Bethlehem” for the family to sing along with to close this devotion.
 
The blessing
 
Everyone in the household gathers around the crèche.
 
Leader:
In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.
 
All: Amen.
Everyone makes the sign of the cross.
 
Leader:
Lord Jesus, you were born in a humble stable in an obscure town, but even from there you gave light to the world—to the poor and the powerful, the simple and the wise, the near and the far.
 
Members of the gathering place in the crèche the figures of Mary and Joseph, the shepherds, and the animals. You may wish to reserve the figures of the magi for the blessing on Epiphany. The figure of the infant Jesus will be placed in the crèche later in this service.
 
Leader:
Lord Jesus, our family is eager to see you in this stable where you will make your Holy Family complete. We are grateful that God came into the world in a family whose members cared for each other as we care for each other in our home. We know well the story of your birth, and yet as we listen to it again, it seems forever new.
 
Reader: A reading from the holy Gospel according to Luke.
 
All: Glory to you, O Lord.
 
“In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that the whole world should be enrolled. This was the first enrollment, when Quirinius was governor of Syria. So all went to be enrolled, each to his own town. And Joseph too went up from Galilee from the town of Nazareth to Judea, to the city of David that is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and family of David, to be enrolled with Mary, his betrothed, who was with child. While they were there, the time came for her to have her child, and she gave birth to her firstborn son. She wrapped him in swaddling clothes and laid him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn” (Luke 2:1-7).
 
Reader: The Gospel of the Lord.
 
All: Praise to you, Lord Jesus Christ.
 
A designated family member says the following prayer as another family member retrieves the image of the infant and places it in the crèche:
 
Reader:
Dear Lord Jesus, there will always be a place for you in our homes, because there will always be a place for you in our hearts. We adore you as the innocent child born in Bethlehem, and we worship you as the Savior who lived and died and rose again to save us all. We commit ourselves again to love each other and our neighbor as you love us. In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.
 
All: Amen.
 
A member of the gathering sprinkles holy water on the crèche as all make the sign of the cross.
 
A Christmas carol is played and the family sings together.
 
Adapted from RENEW International’s Advent Awakenings, a four-session faith-sharing experience, including reflections, prayers, action responses, and song suggestions, plus seasonal devotions that families can use at home to enrich their Advent experience.
 
pesebreA medida que pasan las semanas de Adviento y se acerca la anhelada celebración de la Navidad, el pesebre o nacimiento comienza a aparecer en las casas y en las iglesias. A San Francisco de Asís suele atribuírsele la idea del pesebre –en su caso con gente de carne y hueso– en 1223, después de visitar el lugar de nacimiento de Jesús en Belén. El pesebre debe ocupar un lugar destacado en el hogar para que los familiares y las visitas puedan verlo fácilmente y reflexionar sobre su significado. Además, no tiene que ser opacado por otros adornos. Quizás puedes invitar no solo a miembros de la familia sino de la familia extendida, amigos o vecinos a participar en esta bendición.
 
Lo ideal es armar el pesebre al menos unos días antes de Navidad. La imagen del Niño Jesús está ausente durante la bendición; su ausencia y el pesebre vacío, a la espera de recibirlo, simbolizan la espera que caracteriza este tiempo, la anhelada espera del nacimiento de Jesús en un pesebre en Belén y la deseada espera de la venida de Jesús cubierto de gloria al fin de los tiempos.
 
Guarda la figura de Jesús cerca del pesebre pero fuera de la vista.
 
Organiza de antemano quién guiará las oraciones de bendición, quién será el lector del pasaje de la Sagrada Escritura, quién se encargará de la oración final y quiénes pondrán las figuras en el pesebre. En el momento indicado, puedes pedirle al miembro más joven de la familia que ponga al Niño en el pesebre.
 
Deben participar tantos miembros de la familia como sea posible. Ten a mano un poco de agua bendita para este rito y elige a un miembro de la familia para que rocíe el pesebre durante la bendición final. Si no tienes agua bendita, puedes usar agua común.
 
Prepara un villancico navideño grabado —como “Noche de Paz”, Flor y Canto, #324, 3.a edición– para que la familia cante al finalizar esta devoción.
 
La Bendición
 
Todos los presentes se reúnen alrededor del pesebre.
 
Guía: En el nombre del Padre, y del Hijo, y del Espíritu Santo.
 
Todos: Amén.
 
Guía:
Señor Jesús, tú naciste en un humilde establo en un pueblo desconocido, pero incluso allí diste luz al mundo: a los pobres y a los poderosos, a los ingenuos y a los sabios, a los que estaban cerca y a los que estaban lejos.
 
Los presentes ponen en el pesebre las figuras de María y José, los pastores y los animales. Puedes guardar las figuras de los magos para la bendición de la Epifanía. Más tarde se pondrá la figura del Niño Jesús en el pesebre.
 
Guía:
Señor Jesús, nuestra familia ansía verte en este establo, donde tu presencia completará la Sagrada Familia. Estamos agradecidos de que Dios vino al mundo en una familia cuyos miembros se amaban tanto como se ama nuestra familia. Aunque conocemos bien el relato de tu nacimiento, al escucharlo otra vez parece siempre nuevo.
 
Guía: Lectura del Santo Evangelio según San Lucas 2, 1-7
 
Todos: Gloria a ti Señor.
 
“Por aquel tiempo, el emperador Augusto ordenó que se hiciera un censo de todo el mundo. Este primer censo fue hecho siendo Quirino gobernador de Siria. Todos tenían que ir a inscribirse a su propio pueblo. Por esto, José salió del pueblo de Nazaret, de la región de Galilea, y se fue a Belén, en Judea, donde había nacido el rey David, porque José era descendiente de David. Fue allá a inscribirse, junto con María, su esposa, que se encontraba encinta. Y sucedió que mientras estaban en Belén, le llegó a María el tiempo de dar a luz. Y allí nació su hijo primogénito, y lo envolvió en pañales y lo acostó en el establo, porque no había alojamiento para ellos en el mesón”.
 
Guía: Palabra de Dios.
 
Todos: Gloria a ti, Señor Jesús.
 
Un miembro de la familia reza la siguiente oración mientras otro busca la imagen del Niño y la pone en el pesebre:
 
Querido Señor Jesús, siempre habrá lugar para ti en nuestro hogar, porque siempre habrá lugar para ti en nuestro corazón. Te adoramos como el Niño inocente que nació en Belén y te rendimos culto como el Salvador que vivió, murió y resucitó para salvar a la humanidad. Nos comprometemos a amarnos los unos a nosotros y al prójimo como tú nos amas.
 
En el nombre del Padre, y del Hijo, y del Espíritu Santo. Amén.
 
Uno de los presentes rocía agua bendita en el pesebre mientras los demás se santiguan.
 
La familia entera escucha y canta un villancico.
 
Adaptada de Reflexiones en Adviento de RENEW International. Este libro ofrece una reflexión basada en las lecturas dominicales, preguntas para compartir la fe, actividades para realizar durante la semana, así como explicaciones sencillas con el fin de darte a conocer más a fondo el significado del tiempo y de los símbolos del Adviento.

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As we journey into Lent and Easter, let us pray for God to become the subject of our seeing, the One who sees in us. This ability has been given to us through the outpouring of the Holy Spirit into our hearts.
 
 
 
 
 
Jesus, our Lord and Savior,
we enter with you into the Paschal Mystery
of your dying and rising to new life.
 
We pray that your attitude of total self-giving
may more and more be the single desire and response
of your one Church and of your people gathered here.
 
Walk with us again throughout this week.
Let your Holy Spirit flood our hearts anew
that we may be open to new invitations
to die and rise again for the life of the world.
 
May your Holy Spirit groan in us until we bring to completion in you
the great work you have entrusted to us
at this our moment in salvation history.
 
By the grace of these Easter mysteries, may your triune presence,
O gracious God, deepen our faith, rekindle our hope,
and set us ablaze with love, radiant as the Easter dawn.
 
In faith, lead us through this week of darkness,
confident that you are the Light.
You will shout to the night and conquer death,
revealing the Father’s love to all who long to see the vision of God,
glorious and free. Amen.
 
Excerpted from Lenten Longings – Year C: Seeing With God’s Eyes, available from RENEW International.

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As we journey into Lent and Easter, let us pray for God to become the subject of our seeing, the One who sees in us. This ability has been given to us through the outpouring of the Holy Spirit into our hearts.
 
 
 
 
 
Spirit of Faith, take hold of our hearts.
Refashion them ever more closely into the heart of Christ.
 
Spirit of Love, move among your people.
Fill us with that same love that turns us toward one another
in friendship and trust.
 
Spirit of Hope, stand before our eyes.
Reveal the good in ourselves
that we often hide and the good in others
that we often we fail to see.
 
Spirit of God, lift the clouds of doubting.
Give us a new vision of
the world that you designed.
 
Father, Son, and Holy Spirit,
take hold of our hearts and make us your own,
a people set free to love and serve
the world in Jesus’ name. Amen.
 
Excerpted from Lenten Longings – Year C: Seeing With God’s Eyes, available from RENEW International.

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As we journey into Lent and Easter, let us pray for God to become the subject of our seeing, the One who sees in us. This ability has been given to us through the outpouring of the Holy Spirit into our hearts.
 
 
 
 
 
God of our present, our past, and future, too,
be here among us as we begin this time together.
Quiet those places in us that are anxious,
soothe those that are weary, and rouse us
from those places where we’ve grown complacent.
 
See us as we long to be and help us
to bridge the gap between our actions
and our intentions just a little more this Lent.
 
Teach us to revel in the faith of your sustaining presence
and give us the grace to see ourselves
and one another with the eyes
of your compassionate love. Amen.
 
Excerpted from Lenten Longings – Year C: Seeing With God’s Eyes, available from RENEW International.

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As we journey into Lent and Easter, let us pray for God to become the subject of our seeing, the One who sees in us. This ability has been given to us through the outpouring of the Holy Spirit into our hearts.
 
Great and awe-inspiring God,
Source of all that is,
name beyond all names, who names us,
your love for us is beyond our comprehension,
and your desire that we know you
exceeds the limits of our understanding.
 
We come to you as we are,
knowing that you are able to change our hearts,
to create us anew.
You see our afflictions and know our sins,
yet you hold us in mercy and call us to mission.
 
We trust in your ways and await
your ongoing revelation in our lives,
our communities, our Church, and our world.
Keep us attentive to your presence in prayer
and responsive to a world in need.
 
We ask this in the name of Jesus,
through the power of the Holy Spirit,
and for the glory of God the Father. Amen.
 
Excerpted from Lenten Longings – Year C: Seeing With God’s Eyes, available from RENEW International.

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As we journey into Lent and Easter, let us pray for God to become the subject of our seeing, the One who sees in us. This ability has been given to us through the outpouring of the Holy Spirit into our hearts.
 
O radiant light, eternal God,
we pray that you shine on your Church.
Scatter the darkness of our ignorance,
the blindness of our pettiness,
the limits of our self-protecting positions.
 
May Christ be our light shining within us and around us,
inviting us to the heights of Tabor and sustaining us
in the depths of Golgotha.
 
Teach us, Holy Spirit of wisdom,
to embrace the rhythm of light and darkness
that flows from your sustaining grace.
Inflame us with courage and trust
to journey together as beacons of hope
whom you enlighten for the sake of this world
that you love.
 
Lead us, kindly light,
until we reach our journey’s end
and the home of God’s embrace
where we will dwell in triune love
forever and ever. Amen.
 
Excerpted from Lenten Longings – Year C: Seeing With God’s Eyes, available from RENEW International.

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As we begin our journey into Lent and Easter, let us pray for God to become the subject of our seeing, the One who sees in us. This ability has been given to us through the outpouring of the Holy Spirit into our hearts.
 
Open us, O Holy Spirit of God. Be yeast in us.
Let our hearts expand to take in more and more of
God’s lavish self-disclosures.
 
Clear away the blocks that hinder us
from seeing you in the events of our past.
Stir up hope in us, O Holy Spirit,
our refuge and our stronghold.
You bear us up in mercy and go before us always
to deliver us from evil’s way.
 
Lead us, gently but persistently,
O loving Spirit of God,
toward those people, places, and events
where you desire most to meet us.
Then, in those choices that invite or confront us,
direct us to choose only those things
that are for the Father’s glory,
and reign in our hearts and in our world.
We pray this in the name of Jesus,
our teacher, brother, and Lord. Amen
 
Excerpted from Lenten Longings – Year C: Seeing With God’s Eyes, available from RENEW International.

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Lord God,
as we gather together in your name,
let us always remember to praise you and thank you.
We thank you for the gift of family and friends,
which brings us together.
We thank you for our faith,
which holds us together.
We thank you for our country,
in which we are free to worship you together.
We thank you for the food we are about to share,
for the surroundings where we celebrate.
We ask your blessing on all those around this table
and those who find themselves in need this day.
We ask this through Jesus Christ,
your Son, in union with the Holy Spirit.
Amen.
 
Adapted from The People’s Prayer Book, from RENEW International

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Mary, you are the Mother of Jesus
and my Mother,
my guide and inspiration.
Although I see your life as extraordinary,
you lived each day as an ordinary person
in your own time and place.
Help me to live my own ordinary life
according to God’s will.
Help me to see God’s will
and the connections between the ordinary and extraordinary
that happen for me each day.
Give me the commitment
to ponder and savor life as you did.
Bless me with insight to recognize
the Spirit’s action in my life
and reflect the Father’s goodness to others.
I ask this in the name of Jesus, your Son.
Amen.

From RENEW International’s resource The People’s Prayer Book, filled with over 160 prayers for every season and occasion.

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