There's so much that one could unpack theologically, historically, and spiritually anytime she or he is studying the writings of St. Paul. But today, I want to specifically pull out something liturgical--that I think is super important for us to be mindful of as a liturgical community. St. Paul writes, "Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God" (Philippians 4:6).
Right at the end of the Prayers of the People every Sunday, there's this moment when the intercessor makes time for members of the congregation to offer up prayers, supplications, and thanksgivings. This week it goes like this:
Compassionate One, remember with the favor you have for your people,
especially all who suffer, and visit them with your saving help, as we stand in
intercession before you, praying especially for ___.
Receive our grateful praise as we express the gladness of your people,
especially for ___.
Clothe with their heavenly garments all who have died and entered into your
wedding feast, especially ___.
Give thanks for God is good; let us be glad and rejoice in God’s salvation.
As many of you know, those "fill-in-the-blank" spaces are the moment where you and me as baptized Christians and therefore members of a "royal priesthood" (cf. 1 Peter 2:9) can make good on what St. Paul is instructing us to do, because at a fundamental level, it is the task of all priests to intercede on behalf of another. And that is what one is doing when she or he offers up prayers for another.
What if, this week and for many weeks to come, everyone at Advent (and all Christians everywhere) were to live in to this priestly identity and in a loud, robust voice offered up their prayers, petitions, and thanksgivings? At the very least, it would mean that we are in part living out our baptismal identity. But what I'm hoping is that it will also open up our hearts to the suffering and need that is out there; and what our role and purpose as the Church is all about.