Christmas day 2017

advent star smallGod Immanuel. God is with us!

The day has arrived when we celebrate with all humanity and creation the birth of the brightest start in heaven and earth. This is the day we have been waiting for, the day which will bring the Hope, Promise, Joy and Love.

On that unique night, I wonder how many people knew about the birth of Jesus, God Immanuel? Did the word spread quickly that shepherds were visiting a stable?

A bright star in the sky may not have been noticed by many as they were busy with the census, yet for some, it heralded the start of a new chapter of faith and belief.

The expectation of a wonderful Counsellor was now evident;

The yearning of Prince of Peace had been born;

The longing of a promised Messiah had now been fulfilled.

Thanks be to God !!

 

Christmas Day Prayer

 God Immanuel

May we marvel at the heavenly stars,

made by your creative Spirit;

yet recognise that you are the brightest star laying in a bed made of straw.

As the stars continue to shine in the night skies,

we no longer need to look heavenward to search for you,

for you have come to us.

 Bless as our eyes move

from the heavens to the earth.

and join in the angels song of Proclamation

Glory to God in the highest heaven

       and peace to those on earth. 

Amen

 

 

 

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Christmas Eve – Sunday 24th December  – Matthew 2: 1-4

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People who have been ‘shining lights’ and ‘stars’ in our lives, have enriched our faith and lighten our loads. These unique people show the goodness and truth that the Christmas message gives us. As the dirty shepherds and expectant visitors look towards the smelly and dusty manger, waiting for the birth of the Babe of Bethlehem; their affirming presence would have been a sign of encouragement for the parents of Jesus.

God has been very astute in giving us the ability to sense the good, (and not so good traits) in others. In the story we have just heard, the noble and wise men, come face to face with the evil and craftiness of King Herod. Herod’s fear is palpable and he calls for reinforcements. Yet the wise men are still open and aware of the presence of God, they support and trust each other knowing that the star will guide them to the place of fulfilment and wholeness.

As the fourth candle is lit today on the advent wreath, may it represent the people we know who put their trust in God, to enable fulfilment in their lives and in the lives of others; the light of Joy is nearly upon us.

Prayer

God of the stars

As we journey through life ,

may we always recognise the people who trust you

whose faces radiate with your Love

whose words resonate with your Spirit

whose actions respond to the needs of others.

Amen

 

Advent 4 – Stars that point to Jesus – Saturday 23rd December – John 7:40-52

advent star smallWhen they heard these words, some in the crowd said, ‘This is really the prophet.’ Others said, ‘This is the Messiah.’ v 40, 41

The crowd was asking about Jesus. As a result, some believed, others were hostile, and others disqualified Jesus as the Messiah, because he was from Nazareth, not Bethlehem. But he was born in Bethlehem, just grew up in Nazareth. If they had looked more carefully, they would not have jumped to the wrong conclusions. This Christmas, let’s not jump to the conclusion that we know the truth about the nativity. Let us allow the gentle Spirit to illuminate a star and reveal the infant lying in a manger.

Amid the clamour of shopping, let us pause to remember the cry of a new-born infant, who is truth and called Jesus. Amen

 

Advent 4 – Stars that point to Jesus – Friday 22nd December – Psalm 89:1-4

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You said, ‘I have made a covenant with my chosen one,   I have sworn to my servant David: v3

Too many times promises have been made to us, only to be broken, and we feel let down and disappointed. However, this Psalm is a reminder that the line of David will stay strong and all humanity will benefit, as a shining star pointing to Jesus.

This Psalm indicates that God will promise to preserve David’s descendants, and this is fulfilled in Jesus Christ. The opening verse of Psalm 89 is a proclamation of the love, tenderness and compassion of God which is steadfast, in other words, it means unwavering.

To know that God will stay resolved, firm and committed to a promise, gives us hope as well.

Lord, You kept your promise to David, and keep your promise to us, for you are a dependable, constant and dedicated God committed to doing the best for us, for we are you people. Amen

 

Advent 4 – Stars that point to Jesus – Thursday 21st December – Hebrews 1: 1-4

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Long ago God spoke to our ancestors in many and various ways by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by a Son v 2,3

God used many approaches to send his messages to people in the Old Testament, through visions (Isaiah), dreams (Jacob) and personally (Abraham and Moses). Yet, Jesus is not only the spokesperson for God, but he is God himself; the very God who spoke in Old Testament times. Jesus Christ is the complete embodiment of God. Jesus Christ is the fulfilment and culmination of God’s many revelations through the centuries. Let us keep focused on Jesus, the babe of Bethlehem and Prince of Peace.

Jesus Christ, you are the first born, the one is God.

Help us to always worship you in mind, body and Spirit.

Amen 

 

Advent 4 – Stars that point to Jesus – Wednesday 20th December – Malachi 3:16-4:6

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See, the day is coming, burning like an oven, when all the arrogant and all evildoers will be stubble; the day that comes shall burn them up, says the Lord of hosts, so that it will leave them neither root nor branch v 1

This passage is relating to God’s judgement on the world. God’s people are precious, similar to jewel. A jewel is made up of raw materials that is exposed to time, heat and pressure to change it to a valuable gemstone. The craftsman must chip and smooth rough edges, polish it, and then place it in a beautiful setting to shine so all may see its beauty. To those who have been prepared to be changed, moulded and have been faithful to the Gospel values God says, well done faithful servant; to others, God says ‘what’s your excuse’ ? 

Lord

when we experience arrogance,  show us compassion,

when we display pride, show us humility

when we speak judgement on others , show us love  Amen

 

Advent 4 – Stars that point to Jesus – Tuesday 19th December – Acts 3:17-4:6

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So they arrested them and put them in custody until the next day, for it was already evening.v4

Not often will our witnessing send us to prison as it did Peter and John, but sometimes living the life of a disciple is a risky business. We might be willing to endure one night in prison if we brought 2,000 people to Christ, but shouldn’t we be able to   suffer for even one person? Witnessing of faith makes us vulnerable; maybe this is why we stay with other Christians for safety, however Jesus instructs us to go into the world and be vulnerable, to be salt and light.

Whatever the risk, know that nothing for God is ever wasted.

Lord help me be salt and light in your world. Amen  

 

Advent 4 – Stars that lead to Jesus – Monday 18th December – Ephesians 6:10-17

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For our struggle is not against enemies of blood and flesh, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers of this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places v12

Living in a world where dictators thrive, is immensely discouraging. It’s not so much the person, but the effects and grip that they have and authority on their nations people, economy, and values. The idealism they have marks them out in history as evil people. Even in these situations, which point to our dark periods of history, evil has never prevailed. God has a different group of people who will respond to people in need, and who arm themselves with a unique armour. Spiritual armour will always be stronger than evil. We call it the fruits and gifts of the Holy Spirit.

Holy Spirit gentle dove, Holy Spirit strong and creative, Holy Spirit, fearless and brave; protect your world as you spread across each nation. Amen

 

Advent 3 – Stars in a dark place – Sunday 17th December – Acts 27:13-20

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Today’s reading is a little different to the previous Sundays in Advent. It tells the story of Paul on a boat, searching to find God, but he even struggles to see the stars in the sky. He is in despair and thinks that God has abandoned him and his fellow disciples.

Life can be hard; sometimes we feel depressed and so weighed down by pressures that we cannot lift our heads up to glimpse God. As Mary and Joseph journeyed to Bethlehem, they must have thought about their future, with a new infant. Where would they live? How would people accept them? Mary, only a young girl herself, must have felt in turmoil as the donkey carried her to her final destination.

In our lives too, we wonder what the future will hold for us.

Are we at the end of our tether?

Do we have to journey to new place to find rest and renewal?

Know this; even though the dark clouds may hinder the stars from our sight, we know they are there, and knowing that the light of Love is shining even though it is beyond our sight, brings reassurance.

Prayer

God of the stars

When the clouds of life darken our sight

Lighten our path with Love

 

When the air we breathe is clogged with fear and mistrust

Lighten our Path with Love

 

When our minds doubt your presence

Lighten our path with Love

Amen

 

 

Advent 3 – Stars in a dark place – Saturday 16th December  – Habakkuk 3:13-19

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Yet I will rejoice in the Lord; I will exult in the God of my salvation.v18

Habakkuk was saddened by the corruption he witnessed, and that Babylon’s riches came from the misfortunes of others.   Money became an idol to desire, and people had an appetite for money instead of an appetite for God. Habakkuk’s feelings were not being controlled by the situation around him, but he kept his faith by focussing on God and God’s desire for restorative justice. As I read the news and listen to media reports, it saddens me and many ask the question ‘why do some people prosper and the righteous suffer?   We cannot see all that God is doing, but knowing that God is there brings us confidence in the midst of a confusing world.

Lord, I dare not ask ‘why’ again, for the many times I do, you show me peacemakers, encouragers, and mediators. Be with all people who are alone in their suffering, especially those who are far from their homeland. Amen