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Mary: Grace and Hope in Christ – A Prayer Service
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Dated: 10 Sept. 2014
Type: Resources


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Rev. Bernard de Margerie ~ 10 Sept. 2014

This ecumenical prayer service is based on the ARCIC document of the same title published in 2004. The service was drafted by Fr. Bernard de Margerie with the collaboration of Rev. Jan Bigland-Pritchard, Director of the Prairie Centre for Ecumenism, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada (2005-2011).

This document is available in these versions:

Orientation
The aim of this Ecumenical Prayer Service is to celebrate in joyful faith our ancient common Christian heritage surrounding Mary, the mother of our Lord Jesus Christ. We want to “give thanks to God for Mary, the mother of the Lord, who is one with us in that vast community of love and prayer we call the communion of saints” (Mary: Grace and Hope in Christ, Preface, para. d). We also wish to ask forgiveness for un-Christian attitudes and conflicts that have accumulated between the churches over the centuries, concerning the place of Mary in church life and doctrine. Finally, we ask the Holy Spirit to guide us all in patiently untying the theological (or other) “knots” which prevent us, sadly and incredibly, from being of one heart and soul (see Acts 4:32) in this dimension of the Christian Tradition. The service intends to be gentle and joyful, yet not superficial.

Order of Service

Instrumental Prelude
(Leaders in the service process to their places, or simply gather at their places.)

Scripture Sentence
Presider: O magnify the Lord with me,
All: let us exalt God’s name together! (Psalm 34:3)

Greeting
P: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. (Romans 1:7)
All: And with your spirit.

(words of welcome)

Hymn of Entrance

Prayer for Mercy (sung)
Kyrie eleison (x 2)
Christe eleison (x 2)
Kyrie eleison (x 2)

Prayer
P: God our Father, we give you thanks and praise for the pattern of grace and hope in Christ exemplified in the life of Mary, mother of our Lord Jesus Christ. While we acknowledge the fact that there is still considerable disagreement about Mary among the churches, we beg you, in earnest hope, to help us recover fellowship around this gift of your grace, within the mystery of Christ, the one mediator between God and humankind (see 1 Tim. 2:5.6). We ask this through the same Christ our Lord.
All: Amen.

LITURGY OF THE WORD

Litany of Scripture — Prayer for illumination
P: O God, your Word is a lamp to our feet, and a light to our path. Give us grace to receive your truth in faith and love.
All: Amen.
(Celebrate God’s Presence, A Book of Services for the United Church of Canada, 2000, p. 44)

(Two Readers will alternate the following readings, while remaining standing at their places in the assembly.)

R1: The angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favour with God. And now, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you will name him Jesus. He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High …” (Lk. 1: 30-32)
Side 1: There is one mediator between God and humankind, Christ Jesus, himself human.
S2: And his mother said: “Do whatever he tells you.” (Jn. 2:5)

(pause)

R2: Then Mary said, “Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word.”
S1: There is one mediator between God and humankind, Christ Jesus, himself human.
S2: And his mother said: “Do whatever he tells you” (Jn. 2:5)

(pause)

R1: While they were there, the time came for her to deliver her child. And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in bands of cloth, and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn. (Lk. 2:6-7)
S1: There is one mediator between God and humankind, Christ Jesus, himself human.
S2: And his mother said: “Do whatever he tells you.”

(pause)

R2: Jesus and his disciples had also been invited to the wedding. When the wine gave out, the mother of Jesus said to him, “They have no wine.” And Jesus said to her: “What concern is that to you and to me? My hour has not yet come.” His mother said to the servants: “Do whatever he tells you.” (Jn. 2:3-5)
S1: There is one mediator between God and humankind, Christ Jesus, himself human.
S2: And his mother said: “Do whatever he tells you.”

(pause)

R1: When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple whom he loved standing beside her, he said to his mother, “Woman, here is your son.” Then he said to the disciple, “Here is your mother.” And from that hour the disciple took her into his own home (Jn. 19: 26-27)
S1: There is one mediator between God and humankind, Christ Jesus, himself human.
S2: And his mother said: “Do whatever he tells you.”

(pause)

R2: Then they returned to Jerusalem from the mount called Olivet…. When they had entered the city, they went to the room upstairs where they were staying…. All these were constantly devoting themselves to prayer, together with certain women, including Mary the mother of Jesus, as well as his brothers. (Acts 1:12-14)
S1: There is one mediator between God and humankind, Christ Jesus, himself human.
S2: And his mother said: “Do whatever he tells you.”

(moment of silence)

Hymn (thoughtful, suitable)

Sermon/Homily
This homily/sermon may be delivered by two persons in dialogue.

(time of silence)

Prayers
(The presider introduces the intercessions.)

R: In thanksgiving for the witness of Scripture and of the ancient common Christian tradition regarding Mary, the mother of the Lord, we pray to the Lord.
All: Lord, give us joy, and have mercy.

R: Rejoicing in Mary’s prophetic words “Surely, from now on all generations will call me blessed.” (Luke 1:48)
All: Lord, give us joy, and have mercy.

R: Asking forgiveness for the real and perceived abuses surrounding doctrine and devotion to Mary, at various times in the history of the Church, and also for the loss of some positive aspects of devotion and the lessening of her place in the life of the Church, we pray to the Lord.
All: Lord, give us joy, and have mercy.

R: Asking forgiveness, from God and from each other, for the willful blindness, un-Christian attitudes and conflicts accumulated between churches along the centuries, regarding the place of Mary in church doctrine and life, we pray to the Lord.
All: Lord, give us joy, and have mercy.

R: Begging the Spirit of truth and love to inspire the churches in untying the theological “knots” we have inherited from the past, regarding Mary, we pray to the Lord.
All: Lord, give us joy, and have mercy.

R: That we would be led to imitate Mary, the loving, obedient and humble disciple of her Lord and Son, we pray to the Lord.
All: Lord, give us joy, and have mercy.

(The presider concludes the prayers)

(An offering may be received)

Peace
P: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you are to love one another. The Peace of Christ be with you all. (Jn. 15:12)
All: And also with you.
P: Let us offer one another signs of reconciliation and love (Celebrate God’s Presence, p. 48).

The Lord’s Prayer
(The presider invites all to pray, each in their own language)

Closing Reflection
R: Mary epitomizes such participation in the life of God. Her response was not made without profound questioning, and it issued in a life of joy intermingled with sorrow, taking her even to the foot of her son’s cross. When Christians join in Mary’s ‘Amen’ to the ‘Yes’ of God in Christ, they commit themselves to an obedient response to the Word of God, which leads to a life of prayer and service. Like Mary, they not only magnify the Lord with their lips: they commit themselves to serve God’s justice with their lives (cf. Luke 1: 46-55).
(Mary: Grace and Hope in Christ, Introduction, n.5.)

Final Commission
P: The Lord be with you.
All: And also with you.

P: Lead a life worthy of the calling to which you have been called,
All: with all humility and gentleness,
P: with patience, bearing with one another in love,
All: making every effort to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace (Eph. 4:1-3).
P: Go, in the peace of Christ!
All: Thanks be to God!

Closing hymn (or instrumental postlude)