Advent

Advent 24

The Risk of Birth, An Advent Poem by Madeleine L’Engle (1973)

This is no time for a child to be born,

With the earth betrayed by war & hate

And a comet slashing the sky to warn

Image result for the birth of jesusThat time runs out & the sun burns late.

That was no time for a child to be born,

In a land in the crushing grip of Rome;

Honour and truth were trampled by scorn-

Yet here did the Saviour make his home.

When is the time for love to be born?

The inn is full on the planet earth,

And by a comet the sky is torn-

Yet Love still takes the risk of birth.

Advent 23

Mary said: ‘I am the Lord’s hand-maid.

Let it be according to your word.’ – Luke 1:38

‘Amen’ usually comes at the end

             of our prayers, Lord,

               of our attempts to follow you.

               But here, in Mary’s verse,

               it’s a beginning:

               not mumbled quietly

                              at the end of  distant collect,

               but spoken clearly, for you alone.

                              Amen.

                              So let it be.

                              So may he

be born.

From ‘Thank You for Coming: Gospel Reflections’ – Revd Graham Jeffery

Day 21

Today was originally St. Thomas’s Feast Day and is also the winter solstice, the shortest day.

This day was once marked by a custom of the poor going a gooding – making the round of the parish in calling at the houses of their richer neighbours, asking for money or provisions to procure the means of enjoying themselves at Christmas.

Linked to ‘going a gooding’ is the custom of the ‘Advent Images.’ Two dolls, dressed as Jesus and the Virgin Mary, were carried about in the week before Christmas, those bearing them requiring a halfpenny from those who came to look. The following carol was sung:

The first good joy that Mary had, It was the joy of one;

To see the blessed Jesus Christ When He was first her son:

When He was first her son, good man: And blessed may He be,

Both Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, To all eternity.

The next good joy that Mary had, It was the joy of two;

To see her own son, Jesus Christ To make the lame to go:

To make the lame to go, good man: And blessed may He be,

Both Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, To all eternity.

The next good joy that Mary had, It was the joy of three;

To see her own son, Jesus Christ, To make the blind to see;

To make the blind to see, good man: And blessed may He be,

Both Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, To all eternity.

The next good joy that Mary had, It was the joy of four;

To see her own son, Jesus Christ To read the Bible o’er:

To read the Bible o’er, good man: And blessed may He be,

Both Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, To all eternity.

The next good joy that Mary had, It was the joy of five;

To see her own son, Jesus Christ To bring the dead alive:

To bring the dead alive, good man: And blessed may He be,

Both Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, To all eternity.

The next good joy that Mary had, It was the joy of six;

To see her own son, Jesus Christ Upon the crucifix:

Upon the crucifx, good man: And blessed may He be,

Both Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, To all eternity.

The next good joy that Mary had, It was the joy of seven;

To see her own son, Jesus Christ To wear the crown of heaven:

To wear the crown of heaven, good man, And blessed may He be,

Both Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, To all eternity.

Is there anything we could do to help the poor in our own communities in the depths of this winter and at this coming Christmas?

Advent Day 20

You keep us waiting.

You, the God of all time,

Want us to wait for the right time in which to discover

Who we are, where we must go,

Who will be with us, and what we must do.

So, thank you…for the waiting time.

You keep us looking.

You, the God of all space,

Want us to look in the right and wrong places for signs of hope,

For people who are hopeless,

For visions of a better world that will appear among the disappointments of the world we know.

So, thank you…for the looking time.

You keep us loving.

You, the God whose name is love,

Want us to be like you –

To love the loveless and the unlovely and the unlovable;

To love without jealousy or design or threat,

And most difficult of all, to love ourselves.

So, thank you…for the loving time.

And in all this you keep us,

Through hard questions with no easy answers;

Through failing where we hoped to succeed and making an impact when we felt useless;

Through the patience and the dreams and the love of others;

And through Jesus Christ and his Spirit, you keep us.

© The Iona Community in Scotland

Advent Day 19

Advent should admonish us to discover

in each brother or sister that we greet,

in each friend whose hand we shake,

in each beggar who asks for bread,

in each worker who wants to use the right to join a union,

in each peasant who looks for work in the coffee groves,

the face of Christ.

Then it would not be possible to rob them,

to cheat them,

to deny them their rights.

Image result for beggar - black and whiteThey are Christ,

and whatever is done to them

Christ will take as done to himself.

This is what Advent is:

Christ living among us.

Archbishop Oscar Romero – December 3rd 1978

Day 18

Praying for Peace in Advent

Let us pray for all those in Ukraine and Gaza, but also all those whose suffering has slipped from the world’s notice….

Emmanuel,

Humanity waits in darkness longing for your light.

In the centre of darkness, rekindle our hope.

As we wait for peace in the midst of war,

be with us.

As we pray for families to be reunited,

be with us.

As we pray for enemies to be reconciled,

be with us.

As we pray for lands to be restored,

be with us.

As we pray for long-term security,

be with us.

As we pray for kindness and community,

be with us.

Restore and set right our relationships.

Replace the darkness in our hearts with your light and joy.

Let your word set alight the hope the world needs

to bring to life your love and justice. Amen.

As we pray, let’s let peace have a chance in our own hearts, in our own world, close at home.  The peace-making begins with God’s work in us.  This is truly Advent longing.

Let there be peace on earth,

and let it begin with me!

Day 17

John the Baptist

We focus once again on the Prophets but this time on Jesus’ cousin John the Baptist

I did not ask to be remembered, Lord.

I did not ask for a place in this book,

                                             or in your life.

Not even to be one of your children,

                              one of your disciples.

For I, Lord,

               could not carry on

                              your work or life.

               I could only point:

                               a voice proclaiming,

                              a signpost directing.

                              “No, not me,

                              No, not my words,

                                             my life,

                              for I am not anything

                                             or anyone at all.

                                             Simply a voice

                                                            leading to you.

From ‘Thank You for Coming: Gospel Reflections’ – Graham Jeffery

Day 16

Malachi, Last of the Old Testament Prophets of Advent

The name Malachi simply means ‘messenger’

Malachi was the last of prophets of the past

And he sounded very downcast.

He was not a spoilsport,

But God told him to report

How God’s people had fallen short.

Those people took offense,

Saying Malachi made no sense.

They tried to raise their own defence.

But Malachi pointed out,

Leaving no one any doubt

That God’s ways those folks did flout.

If they’d do what they should,

Then God most surely would

Bless them richly, that’s understood.

© Copyright 2016 by Wes Haystead

Have we fulfilled our God-given potential?

               Are there areas in which we know we’ve fallen short?

                              What does God want us to be and do this Advent?

Day 14

Returning to Isaiah

As we continue this week to focus on the Prophets foretelling Jesus’ birth we return to Isaiah and this poem, written by Russian poet Alexander Pushkin and translated by A.Z. Foreman. Isaiah is believed to be the inspiration for this poem.

I went with soul athirst for grace

Amid a darkling desert land,

And at a crossing of the ways

Beheld a six-wing’d Seraph stand.

With fingers light as dream at night

He brushed mine eyes and they grew bright

Opening unto prophecies

Wild as a startled eaglet’s eyes.

He touched and filled my mortal ears

With all the sounding of the spheres:

I heard the shudders of the sky,

The sweep of angel hosts on high,

The creep of beasts below in the seas,

The seep of sap in valley trees.

And leaning to my lips he wrung

Thereout my slithering sinful tongue

Of guile and idle cavilling;

And with his right hand bloodied wet

In through my wasting lips he set

A Serpent’s wise and forkèd sting.

And with his sword he cleft my chest,

Image result for The Prophet IsaiahAnd reft my quaking heart out whole,

And thrust inside my sundered breast

A blazing shard of living coal.

There in the desert I lay dead

Until the voice from heaven said:

“Arise O Prophet! Work My will,

Thou that hast now perceived and heard.

On land and sea thy charge fulfil

And burn Man’s heart with this My Word.”

Day 13

Feast of Saint Lucia

Today is the Feast of Saint Lucia commemorating a 3rd-century martyr who, according to legend, brought “food and aid to Christians hiding in the catacombs” using a candle-lit wreath to “light her way and leave her hands free to carry as much food as possible”. Her feast once coincided with the Winter Solstice, the shortest day of the year before calendar reforms, so her feast day has become a festival of light.  Saint Lucy’s Day is viewed as an event signalling the arrival of Christmastide, pointing to the arrival of the Light of Christ on Christmas Day.

Saint Lucy’s Day is celebrated most commonly in Scandinavia, with their long dark winters, where it is a major feast day, and in Italy.

Collect for Saint Lucy

Loving God, for the salvation of

all you gave Jesus Christ as light

to a world in darkness: Illumine

us, with your daughter Lucy, with

the light of Christ, that by the

merits of his passion we may be

led to eternal life; through the

same Jesus Christ, who with you

and the Holy Spirit lives

and reigns, one God, for ever

and ever. Amen

Does our thought, care and compassion for others make us shine as lights in the world?

               What might we do today to bring light to others?

God’s Prophets

In the second week of Advent we focus on The Prophets who looked forward to Jesus’ birth. We meet 5 prophets in the Advent readings: Jeremiah, Malachi, Isaiah, Micah and John the Baptist.

Comfort, comfort my people, says your God. Speak tenderly to Jerusalem, and proclaim to her that her hard service has been completed, that her sin has been paid for… (Isaiah 40:1-2)

Your prophets, called to make known your Word

Proclaiming justice, convicting sin

Displaying fruits of your love and grace

Comfort, comfort my people, says our God

And the glory of the Lord will be revealed

Your prophets, called to forth tell your Word

Unfolding a vision of your eternity

Making straight a highway to walk along

Comfort, comfort my people, says our God

And the glory of the Lord will be revealed

A voice of one calling: “In the desert prepare the way for the Lord make straight in the wilderness a highway for our God. Every valley shall be raised up, every mountain and hill made low; the rough ground shall become level, the rugged places a plain. And the glory of the Lord will be revealed, and all mankind together will see it. For the mouth of the Lord has spoken.” (Isaiah 40:3-5)

Advent 10

John the Baptist

Today’s gospel reading focuses on John.

‘There was a man from God, whose name was John’ – John 1:6

Strictly, Lord

John does not belong in your book.

He is not necessary,

               for he came

                              six months before;

                              in his birth,

                              in his public life and preaching,

                              even in his death,

                                             he was not all that far

                                                            ahead of you.

                                             and yet, we all need signposts,

                                             arrows pointing,

                                             lives to prepare your life,

                                                            your coming.

Graham Jeffery from ‘Thank You for Coming: Gospel Reflections’

Advent Day 9

Wait for the Spirit

Wait…

Without expectation

Which might focus

A candle in a candle holder

Description automatically generatedAttention too narrowly,

So that we miss the coming.

Wait with expectancy, alert,

Hearts, minds, hands, ears

Open to receive the gift.

Ann Lewin

Advent 5

Anticipation, Accompanies, Angelic, Announcement

Divine, Directive, Declares, Delight

Vileness, Victoriously, Vanquished

Emmanuel, Expected, Embrace the

Excitement

Notice, Noel, Narrating, Nativity

Thankful, Thoughts of

Tenderness

Truth

You might like to create your own Advent acrostic