Opening Prayer READER 1: O worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness; let the whole earth stand in awe of him. Psalm 96:9 READER 2: Since the creation of the world, invisible realities, God's eternal power and divinity, have become visible, recognized through the things he has made… (Romans 1:20) ALL: O gracious Light, pure brightness of the everliving Father in heaven, O Jesus Christ, holy and blessed! Now as we come to the setting of the sun, and our eyes behold the vesper light, we sing thy praises, O God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Thou art worthy at all times to be praised by happy voices, O Son of God, O Giver of life, and to be glorified though all the worlds. Worship READER 3: Question the beauty of the earth, the beauty of the sea, the beauty of the wide air around you, the beauty of the sky: question the order of the stars, the sun whose brightness lights the day, the moon whose splendor softens the gloom of the night; question the living creatures that move in the waters, that roam upon the earth, that fly through the air; the spirit that lies hidden, the matter that is manifest; the visible things that are ruled, the invisible that rule them; question all these. They will answer you: Behold and see, we are beautiful. Their beauty is their confession of God. Who made these beautiful changing things, if not the one who is Himself unchanging beauty? --St. Augustine READER 1: Let us humbly confess our sins unto Almighty God. ALL: Almighty and most merciful Father, we have erred and strayed from thy ways like lost sheep, we have followed too much the devices and desires of our own hearts, we have offended against thy holy laws, we have left undone those things which we ought to have done, and we have done those things which we ought not to have done. But thou, O Lord, have mercy upon us, spare thou those who confess their faults, restore thou those who are penitent, according to thy promises declared unto mankind in Christ Jesus our Lord; and grant, O most merciful Father, for his sake, that we may hereafter live a godly, righteous, and sober life, to the glory of thy holy Name. Amen. (pause) ALL: The Almighty and merciful Lord grant us absolution and remission of all our sins, true repentance, amendment of life, and the grace and consolation of his Holy Spirit. Amen. All Join hands in a circle for intercessory prayers… ALL: Almighty God, who hast given us grace at this time with one accord to make our common supplication unto thee; and hast promised through thy wellbeloved Son that when two or three are gathered together in his Name thou wilt be in the midst of them: Fulfill now, O Lord, our desires and petitions of thy servants as may be best for us; granting us in this world knowledge of thy truth, and in the world to come life everlasting. Amen Closing Prayer (a reading and brief meditation) READER 1: ...it is the easiest exercise of all and most readily accomplished when a soul is helped by grace in this felt desire; otherwise, it would be extraordinarily difficult for you to make this exercise. Do not hang back then, but labor in it until you experience the desire. For when you first begin to undertake it, all that you find is a darkness, a sort of cloud of unknowing; you cannot tell what it is, except that you experience in your will a simple reaching out to God. This darkness and cloud is always between you and your God, no matter what you do, and it prevents you from seeing him clearly by the light of understanding in your reason, and from experiencing him in sweetness of love in your affection. So set yourself to rest in this darkness as long as you can, always crying out after him whom you love. For if you are to experience him or to see him at all, insofar as it is possible here, it must always be in this cloud and in this darkness. --“The Cloud of Unknowing” (Anonymous, 14th century England) READER 2: 1. Choose a sacred word as the symbol of your intention to consent to God’s presence and action within (examples: Lord, Jesus, Father, Love, Peace) 2. Sitting comfortably and with eyes closed, settle briefly and silently introduce the sacred word. 3. When you become aware of thoughts return ever-so-gently to the sacred word. --Thomas Keating, “The Method of Centering Prayer” Five minutes of silent meditation and reflection follows. At the end of the silence… ALL: Eternal Spirit, Earth-maker, Pain-bearer, Life-giver, Source of all that is and that shall be, Father and Mother of us all, Loving God, in whom is heaven, The hallowing of your name echo through the universe! Your heavenly will be done by all created beings! Your commonwealth of peace and freedom sustain our hope and come on earth. With the bread we need for today, feed us. In the hurts we absorb from one another, forgive us. In times of temptation and test, strengthen us. From trials too great to endure, spare us. From the grip of evil, free us. For you reign in the glory of the power that is love, now and forever. Amen READER 3: What we have heard and known, what our ancestors have revealed to us, we will not hide from our children. We will declare to the generation to come the glorious deeds of the Lord, his strength and the wonders he has wrought. So that a generation yet to be born may also rise and declare to their children that they should not forget the deeds of God but keep his commands and put their hope in him. (Psalm 78: 3-4, 6-7) READER 1: ALL: The divine Spirit dwells in us. Thanks be to God.