Advent Friday 16th December Matthew 25:13

Keep awake   Matthew 25:13

Having worked many years as a nurse on night duty, I know how difficult it can be when the clock strikes 4am. The eyes become heavy and you are searching for jobs to do to stay awake. As humans we need our sleep, so that is why this passage from Matthews’s gospel is so unnerving’ stay awake for you do not know when the hour will come’.

Thankfully it does not mean physically stay awake, or does it ?

I feel this passage is pointing the way to be alert to our environment or surroundings and be spiritually ‘in tune’, so when the waiting time is over we can rest and respond. Never east to be alert all the time, but with the help of the Spirit, that is forever strong within us, the task is within our grasp.

As the river of new life ebbs and flows in the Kingdom of God

Maybe we always be aware of new tributaries

that branch from it source. 

Enable us to keep awake,

Till we become so aware of our surroundings

That we see your transforming presence at work.

May we then become human signposts

to build up and encourage budding new relationships

with your people and their God. 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 Monday  12th December Luke 1:39-45

She entered the house of Zachariah and greeted Elizabeth      Luke 1:40

 It is not often we wait alone, whether we are waiting for buses, results or shopping, we wait and in our waiting, we are surrounded by other people who are waiting with us, and conversations may easily flow.

Sometimes waiting can be anxious, as we nervously wait for hospital results or a diagnosis, and in those situations, conversations can be awkward and stilted, unsure if what to say to support someone.

Being aware of other people waiting with us, is part of our common humanity and part of our relationship with Jesus. Mary and Elisabeth were waiting for their expected infants to be born, but found joy and comfort in another.

In our vulnerability in waiting with others, may we recognise that God also waits silently with us.

God who waits silently with us

Enable us to see our neighbours

who are also waiting  to be released from

invisible bonds that confine them,

invisible bonds that restrict them

invisible bonds that oppress them.

For those who wait in fear and trepidation,

and others who wait in joy and expectation

surround us all with your nurturing and Holy Spirt.

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   

 

Advent Saturday 10th December Jonah 4:8-10

It is better for me to die than to live.  Jonah 4:8

Jonah is let down again!

Here he is wanting to go, moaning because things have not gone his way, not gone according to his plan; and what does he do ? Complain to God!

Sound familiar?

Sometimes when all our plans fail, that is the time when miraculous things happen, unexpected phone calls, an encouraging email, a gentle smile, a tender look and then the world looks a little brighter. The scent of expectation and hope fills the air and we breathe it in. The darkness and despair are being replaced by a light that will illuminate our path.

Expectant God,

We are sorry for moaning and complaining such a lot. Help us to be generous in our thanksgiving and creative in our praise to you Amen  

Advent Friday 9th December 1Kings 19:9-12

…and after the fire, a sound of sheer silence          1 Kings 19:12

The sound of silence; silence is hard to find. Even when we are silent, that is not speaking or thinking, we can still hear the wind rustle, the birds sing, our steady breathing and our beating hearts Being totally  still and silent is hard but if we persevere God says, ‘There you will find me’.

Elijah hid in a cleft of a rock, secluded and alone and we should heed that advice. Setting aside  time to find God is not easy , for we are human and have many distractions, however, if we are serious in finding God, then God will reveal Godself, and we shall be in awe.

Will it be on Christmas day, or in the quietness and still of the starlit sky.

God, whom we find and discover in the Silence,

Sometimes we hear you 

sometimes we sense you ,

others times we miss you

Help us to expect you   Amen

Advent Thursday 8th December Genesis 9:1-17

I will remember my covenant that is between me and you and every living creature of all flesh               Genesis 9:15

Imagine what Noah is thinking ?

Ok God first you instruct me to build an ark, then you ask me to bring animals from all corners of the earth, and then gather my family, then you’re going to flood the whole earth !

Now a rainbow !

This story was written to remind the wandering people of ONE GOD, the mysterious creative God, a God who can create, destroy and recreate.

The rainbow reminds me, not just of the promise God made to Noah, but the colourful and diverse world that we God has created. People of many colours, people who speak many languages, who have a variety of abilities and skills, of many different styles and types of relationships, and of the distinctive cultures.

God is not monochrome, God is vibrant.

Thanks be to God

Rainbow God

We praise you that your rainbow has no beginning or no end , for it disappears within your world and touches all people, regardless of race, gender, sexuality, age ,ability, and culture.

Enable us to your rainbow people. Amen       

Wednesday 7th December Psalm 95:6-8

For he is our God, and we are the people of his pasture, and the sheep of his land                                              Psalm 95:7

The world is full of ‘tribes’. Groups of people that we are affiliated too. Belonging to a ‘tribe’, whether it be native Indians, Aboriginal, French-speaking Canadians, a local choir, English, Irish, Scottish or Welsh is crucial to our identity. I am Lancastrian, and with that belonging comes along a set of values and expectations.

Being a Christian also has expectations, from ourselves and other people; sometimes we are strong and purposeful, and at other times we are bombarded with distractions from our daily lives which weaken our resolve.

The Psalmist reminds us to remain strong and faithful in God  for we are his people, and in belonging to God, we become our true selves.

God who gives us our identity and worth

To stand alongside with our neighbours

To stand alongside with those who seek answers

To stand alongside those who doubt

To stand alongside those who jeer

To stand alongside those who hurl verbal insults

Help us to remain strong and to hold the hands of others

who wish to find their true selves in you    Amen    

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