1st Sunday in Advent – Sunday   3rd December –   Job 38 : 31-37

advent star smallThe content of the book of Job is mostly a dialogue between Job and his three friends who came to comfort him after a succession of dreadful troubles and hardship overtook him and his family.

There is a lot of general information in this amazing ancient book. However , in particular, we find reference to several star constellations that were just as recognizable to Job as they are to us. In the following passage, God refers to several heavenly constellations when He was demonstrating to Job how little he really knew about Creation.

As we light this first candle on this Advent Sunday, let us remember people we know in the world, who are or have experienced hardship just like Job. We think about church and community projects that are Gods mission to shine a light of hope into people’s suffering and turmoil. Like Job, we too gaze at the skies, just as Mary did when she experienced her baby move within her, just as Jesus lay his head down and marvel at the beauty of your handiwork and wonder what the future may hold. Let us always remember the bright love that God has for each one of us.

advent star smallPrayer

God of the stars

On this our first Sunday in Advent,

We thank you for the stars and constellations in the sky,

May they always remind us of your love for each one of us

A love that never fades or dims.

Wherever our journey through life takes us 

May the patterns of stars in the night sky always remind us of your love for us

Amen  

 

 

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Advent 1. Stars that shine brightly – Friday 1st December – Zechariah 14:1-9

advent star small

And the Lord will become King over all the earth; on that day the Lord will be one and his name one. v9

For many centuries, prophets had spoken about the coming Messiah, and how the Messiah would bring a reign of peace and justice to the land. I think that same vision and desire is still around today, especially when we see the devastation and pain in the media and in communities in Gods world.

More than ever before, we yearn for peace to come so spears can be beaten into ploughshares and the Lion may lie with the Lamb.

Prince of Peace, come into our lives and lay your gentle Spirit within me. Amen

 

Advent 1- Stars that shine brightly – Thursday 30th November 2017 – Revelation 14:6-13

 

   advent star smallHere is a call for the endurance of the saints, those who keep the commandments of God and hold fast to the faith of* Jesus. v12

Advent is a time where we marvel at the bright white light that reminds us of God’s pure love for us, in the midst of our chaotic world. As we read this passage, chapter 14 of Revelation is where we glimpse Eternity where the Messiah dwells. However, there is a call to endure the difficulties that face us daily, and the secret of endurance is trust and obedience. Trusting that God will always be with us and will give us the patience to endure the small things we face daily and obedience to the will of the Creative Spirit.

Lord, who is the mystery, majesty, and the Messiah; who dwells in the stars and in hearts of all people. Bless us as we wait for patience. Amen 

 

Advent Wednesday 21st December Romans 12: 6-9

We have gifts that differ according to the grace give to us  Romans 12:6

What can we bring to the crib on Christmas morning? A Christmas carol written by Christina Rossetti, answers that question.

Christina was born in 1830 and lived in London with her two brothers and one sister, who all became successful writers and artists, and she herself become a successful Romantic poet.

She was a committed Anglican, but suffered a nervous breakdown as a teenager. She always felt she was never good enough, as she saw her siblings rise to success, and so she delved deeper into religious fervour.

We all ask that question ’what can I do’ or ‘what gifts to I have to offer God’s world’. The last verse in the well-loved carol ‘In the bleak mid-winter’, captures the desperation that Christina had to encounter the Living God. However I think this applies to every individual who is serious about discipleship, walking and kneeling before the crib.

What can I give him

Poor as I am

If I were a shepherd,

I would bring a lamb ,

If I were a wise man,

I would do my part

Yet what can I give him

Give my heart.        Amen

 

 

Advent Sunday 18th December Matthew 1:18-25

She will bear a son, and you are to name him Jesus     Matthew 1:21

Well, the angel certainly has taken the joy out of the pregnancy question, ‘Is it a boy or girl?

As a grandmother, I watch children playing with a different perspective. Yes, I am in awe at how quickly time passes, and they grow up before my very eyes, but I look and wonder at their potential and possibilities which lay before them.

When I was seconded to Jamaica during my ministerial training, the children there taught me song, which I often hum to myself, reminding me that we are all possibilities.

I am a promise

I am a possibility

I am a promise with a capital P

I am a great big bundle of potentiality

And I’m listening, listening to hear God’s voice

And I’m trying, trying to make the right choice

I am a promise to be

Everything God wants me to be.

…………………………………………..

I wonder what Mary hoped for, for her son who was to be named Jesus ?.

God of the Arrival  

May we all be the potential that you crave for us

May we all grasp the possibility that you place before us

May you delight in our flourishing and blossoming

Amen

Advent Saturday 17th December Habakkuk 2:1

I will keep watch and see what he says to me      Habakkuk 2:1

Here is another prophet moaning and complaining. Habakkuk openly questions the worship of God and when the prophet sees injustices among his people, he asks why God does not intervene.

Habakkuk is a little-known prophet who complains and moans a lot. He is fed up and can’t wait much longer as the pain of injustice is too much for him to bear. Later he senses the waiting may soon be over and at the end of the book, he rejoices and trusts God in the midst of the troubles he witnesses.

Waiting is a hard task to undertake, for, in the waiting, pain emerges as we see and feel other people’s distress, especially people whom we love and cherish.

But let us learn and take heart from Habakkuk, that it is alright to complain to God, for God hears our moans and groans as they are our deepest cries, and in our trusting in God, a new dawn will break, a dawn that will replace our tears with Hope.

Holding God

We bring before you all the people who are in pain,

A physical pain due to injury or disease

A mental pain due to loneliness or isolation

A spiritual pain due to doubt and uncertainty

Hear their cries and eliminate their darkness

so that your transforming love

may be guiding light on their journey. Amen

Advent Thursday 15th December Romans 8:24-25

Now hope that is seen is not hope…but if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience  Romans 8:25

The National Lottery has been in our culture since 19th November 1994. I remember the Saturday evening when the first lottery was launched on our Television screens, and it seemed that many of the people I knew bought one.

As the drum was being spun, and the coloured balls were whirling round, prayers were being said hoping that the winning ticket would correspond with the coloured balls being magically selected. Five minutes later thousands of tickets were thrown in the rubbish bin, with the statement ‘maybe next week I shall be lucky’ .

Pinning hopes on the Lottery, to ease your financial dilemmas, when you have a slim chance of winning, is a risky business. However nowadays the lottery gives away money to good and worthwhile causes, which of cause is the ‘carrot’ that dangles in front of the lottery to tempt us to help worthwhile causes transforming people’s lives, even though the evidence is stacked against us winning.

As Christians, our hope is not holding the lottery ticket hoping for a win, because in Christ we have already won.

Abundant God,

Whose love for us is freely given

Whose love for us tenderly expressed

Whose love for us never ends

Thank you for your transforming love in our lives

Amen

Advent Wednesday 14th December Ephesians 1:17-18

With the eyes of your heart enlightened, many you know what is the hope, to which he has called you   Ephesians 1:18

Mindfulness is one of the recent meditative activities where focussing positively on your life can bring rewards. It encourages individuals to focus on the here and now, while calmly actualizing feeling and thoughts; it is not about hiding them, but creating a space to respond to situations.

Many people have practiced mindfulness, as it is not a new invention. Many Christian mystics, the Mothers and Fathers of our faith, lived and immersed themselves in the present ‘moment’, and reflected on God’s presence and influence in the world. Jesus also lived in the ‘moment’, acknowledging his feelings and dealing with them the best he could, but he also took time away from the chaotic life that was being thrust upon him.

Being called to be a follower of Jesus takes us into the realm of the here and now, not at some future point, but now – once we acknowledge that fact, then life seems to flow freely with God’s Spirit leading the way.

Lord of the here and now,

Thank you for not being a distant God,

Thank you for the intuition of Jesus 

Thank you for your persistence Spirit

Amen  

Advent Tuesday 13th December Luke 2:25-38

There was also a prophet Anna. She was a great age… she never left the temple but worshipped there both day and night  Luke 2:36-37

Waiting can be a lifetime occupation, as the snippet from Luke’s Gospel tells us. Anna would have been a widow faithfully dedicating all her life to living in the temple, praying daily for the expected moment when she would see the Messiah. In her older years she is getting frail, and wondering if she will see witness the baby, the prince of peace foretold in the prophet Isaiah.

She held on to the belief, that before she closed her eyes for the final time at death, she would gaze on the infant. Now the task and dedication she has offered to God has been completed. She knows this is the child was will being restoration to God’s people, and no her task is done. As Anna eyes gaze upon Jesus parents, she prays to Yahweh to give them strength in the task of parenthood.

Never give up on waiting.

Today maybe the day when the waiting is over.

Is today the day Lord?

Is the waiting over?

Where my anticipation, patience and uncertainty is rewarded 

By your overflowing mercy and love,

That will eliminate fear and be replaced by wisdom.

Gently hold us in our waiting Lord

Amen        

Advent Sunday 11th December Luke 1:46-55

He has brought the powerful from their thrones and lifted up the lowly    

 Luke 1:52

If ever there was a need to wait, it is now. The powerful seem to have the upper hand in politics, finances and business, but if we wait with Mary, justice will be seen and witnessed. Mary was also surrounded by power, in the military and Roman occupation, yet she sensed the time was coming, where things of this world, would be overturned.

The invitation this week is to wait with Mary and to see the justice of God Kingdom reign in every corner of the earth.

God in whom we live and move and have our being,

we wait obediently,

even though our minds race with opinions on issues

of wealth and poverty,

the have and have nots ,

the powerful and the vulnerable.

Help us and strength us in the task of waiting

Amen