Advent is the 4-week period running up to Christmas when we prepare to celebrate the birth of Jesus.  Often December is so busy with school plays and carols services and concerts and shopping and cooking and parties and drinks and travelling to relatives/hosting relatives… (it takes my breath away to think of it all!) that we can reach Christmas Day utterly exhausted and wonder what it was all about.  And that’s a tragedy.

These Advent reflections offer you a chance to help pace yourself.  The reflections are designed to give you permission to give yourself a few minutes space each day to think about God and prepare yourself spiritually for Christmas.  Each reflection includes a short passage from the bible plus some questions to think about.  If you miss a day, that doesn’t matter.  Just pick up on the day you’ve come to.   Also we should try to pray regularly.  There are also some prayers you might wish to say which are appropriate to different times of day. 

We aim to grow in our faith and to follow the example Jesus set us; we do this for ourselves and for our families and as a community.   We can become better parents by ourselves growing in our faith.  Give it a try this Advent. 

It might be that these reflections lead to questions to which you seek an answer.  Why not post your question on our Facebook page or email it to Fr Simon -   simon@solihullparish.org.uk   and we will provide a response. 

At the start of the day

posted 20 Nov 2015, 21:21 by Solihull Parish

Before prayer:

Calm me, O Lord, as you stilled the storm.

Still me, O Lord, keep me from harm.

Let all the tumult within me cease.

Enfold me, Lord, in your peace.

 

 

I give me hands to you, Lord,

I offer the work I do, Lord,

I give my thoughts to you, lord,

I give my plans to you, Lord.

give your hands to me, Lord,

let your love set me free, Lord,

keep me close to you, Lord.

 

Intercessions:

 

For the day and its tasks;

For the world and its needs;

For the local church community.

 

The Lord’s Prayer.

 

Gracious and loving God, as I go through today, may I stay close to you.

Fill me with your Spirit to give me your wisdom and your love as I serve others.

Transform me into being more like Jesus. Amen.

 

In the middle of the day

posted 20 Nov 2015, 21:20 by Solihull Parish

Loving Lord, all that I have done this morning, I ask you to bless.

 

Everyone that I have met this morning, I ask you to bless.

 

All that lies before me for the rest of the day, I ask you to bless.

 

 

Intercessions:

for any people or situations.

 

Good Shepherd:

be over me to shelter me,

under me to uphold me,

behind me to direct me,

before me to lead me,

about me to protect me,

ever with me to save me,

above me to lift me and bring me to

the green pastures of eternal life.

 

Father, for the rest of the day, I trust your goodness, love and power.

Amen.

At the end of the day

posted 20 Nov 2015, 21:20 by Solihull Parish

This is the time of the day when it can be helpful to look back over the day and thank God for it.

There might be things that happened that you wish to leave in God’s hands.

There may be things that you have done or you have not done that you wish to ask God’s forgiveness for.

 

Lord, it is night. The night is for stillness. Let us be still in the presence of God.

It is night after a long day.  What has been done has been done; what has not been done has not been done; let it be.

The night is dark. Let our fears of the darkness of the world and of our own lives rest in you.

The night is quiet. Let the quietness of your peace enfold us, all who are dear to us and all who have no peace.

The night heralds the dawn. Let us look expectantly to a new day, new joys, new possibilities.

In your name we pray. Amen.

 

God give grace to my home;

Jesus give peace to my home;

Holy Spirit, fill my home with love. Amen.

  

Eternal light, shine into our hearts,

eternal goodness, deliver us from evil,

eternal power, be our support,

eternal wisdom, scatter the darkness of our ignorance,

eternal pity, have mercy upon us;

that with all our heart and mind and soul and strength

we may seek your and be brought by your infinite mercy to your holy presence;

through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Amen.

        (Alcuin of York - 804)

 

O Lord our God,

grant us grace to desire you

with our whole heart;

that so desiring, we may seek and find you;

and so finding, may love you;

and so loving,

may hate those sins

from which you have delivered us;

through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Amen.

        (Anslem - 1109)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Eternal God,

the light of the minds that know you,

the joy of the hearts that love you,

and strength of the wills that serve you;

grant us so to know you

that we may truly love you,

so to love you that we may truly serve you,

whose service is perfect freedom;

through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Amen.

 

(After Augustine of Hippo – 430)

Week 1 : Monday 30 November

posted 13 Nov 2015, 21:10 by Solihull Parish   [ updated 13 Nov 2015, 21:10 ]

Matthew 4 verses 18-22    Jesus Calls the First Disciples

18 One day as Jesus was walking along the shore of the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon, also called Peter, and Andrew his brother, throwing a net into the water—for they fished for a living. 19Jesus called out to them, “Come, follow me, and I will show you how to fish for people!”’ 20They left their nets at once and followed him.21A little farther up the shore, he saw two other brothers, James and John, sitting in their boat with their father, Zebedee, repairing their nets. And he called to come, too. 22They immediately followed him, leaving the boat and their father behind.

As you read those words, try to imagine yourself as one of the characters in that story. What does it feel like?

Further thoughts…

What was it about Jesus that attracted Peter, Andrew, James and John to leave their jobs and follow Jesus?

What was it about Jesus that enticed you to follow him?

What does following Jesus mean to you NOW ?

Week 1 : Tuesday 1 December

posted 13 Nov 2015, 21:09 by Solihull Parish   [ updated 13 Nov 2015, 21:09 ]

Isaiah 43 verse 1

But now O Jacob, listen to the Lord who created you. O Israel, the one who formed you says, “Do not be afraid, for I have ransomed you. I have called you by name; you are mine.

 

God has called YOU by name. God made you, loves you and takes care of you. God hasn’t made you to be a copy of another person. God has made you as you and loves you as you are.

 

Ponder those truths. Suck them like you’d suck a sweet.

 

Do you believe that God loves you as you are? If not, re-read these words for today!

Week 1 : Wednesday 2 December

posted 13 Nov 2015, 21:09 by Solihull Parish   [ updated 13 Nov 2015, 21:09 ]

Psalm 23

 

Someone, in reading psalm 23, wrote conclusions about God’s gifts to us alongside every phrase of Psalm 23. I share these conclusions with you and invite you to let the verses and conclusions sink into your inner being. In a world where we are almost always busy, let these words slow you down. The conclusions are written in italics.

 

1The Lord is my shepherd, - that’s relationship

I shall not want. That’s supply
2   He makes me lie down in green pastures; that’s rest

he leads me beside still waters; that’s refreshment
3   he restores my soul. That’s healing
He leads me in right paths
   for his name’s sake. That’s guidance


4 Even though I walk through the darkest valley, that’s testing
   I fear no evil; that’s protection
   for you are with me; that’s faithfulness
   your rod and your staff—
   they comfort me.
 That’s discipline


5 You prepare a table before me
   in the presence of my enemies; that’s hope
   you anoint my head with oil; that’s consecration
   my cup overflows. That’s abundance
6 Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
   all the days of my life, that’s blessing 

   and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord  that’s security
  my whole life long. That’s eternity.

 

You might like to read them aloud – this is another way to read them slowly and allow them to sink into you.

Week 1 : Thursday 3 December

posted 13 Nov 2015, 21:08 by Solihull Parish   [ updated 13 Nov 2015, 21:08 ]

Matthew 7 verses 24-27

24 Jesus said, “Anyone who listens to my teaching and follows it is wise, like a person who builds a house on solid rock. 25Though the rain comes in torrents and the floodwaters rise and the winds beat against that house, it won’t collapse because it is built on bedrock.  26But anyone who hears my teaching and doesn’t obey it is foolish, like a person who builds a house on sand.  27 When the rain and floods come and the winds beat against that house, it will collapse with a mighty crash.”

Read these words slowly, allowing the words to sink in.

Then spend a few minutes in silence thinking about what you’ve read.

Then read the passage again and note any word or phrase that attracts you. Sit in silence and repeat that word or phrase in your head.

Read the passage again and ask God to show you how this word or phrase speaks to your life and ponder. What do you need to consider or do or give up or take on as a result of what God is saying to you?

Week 1 : Friday 4 December

posted 13 Nov 2015, 21:08 by Solihull Parish   [ updated 13 Nov 2015, 21:08 ]

As Jesus went on from there, two blind men followed him, crying loudly, ‘Have mercy on us, Son of David!’ 28They went right into the house where Jesus was staying and Jesus asked them, “Do you believe that I can make you see?” They said to him, “Yes, Lord, we do.” 29Then he touched their eyes and said, “Because of your faith, it will happen.” 30Then their eyes were opened, and they could see! Jesus sternly warned them, ‘Don’t tell anyone about this.”’ 31But instead, they went out and spread his fame all over the region.

Is there anything shocking that you find in this passage? Think about WHY you feel shocked.

Imagine you are one of the blind men coming to Jesus. Would you have dared to follow Jesus into the house where he was staying?  Would you have expected Jesus to heal you? Would you have kept your mouth shut and not told anyone what Jesus had done for you?

What do you want to ask Jesus to do in your life? Ask Jesus.

What do you want to ask Jesus to do in your local church community?

What do you want to ask Jesus to do in the people of Solihull?

Week 1 : Saturday 5 December

posted 13 Nov 2015, 21:07 by Solihull Parish   [ updated 13 Nov 2015, 21:07 ]

Isaiah 30: 19-21

The prophet Isaiah wrote to the Israelites:

18 Therefore the Lord waits to be gracious to you;  therefore he will rise up to show mercy to you.
For the Lord is a God of justice; blessed are all those who wait for him.
19 Truly, O people in Zion, inhabitants of Jerusalem, you shall weep no more. He will surely be gracious to you at the sound of your cry; when he hears it, he will answer you. 20Though the Lord may give you the bread of adversity and the water of affliction, yet your Teacher will not hide himself any more, but your eyes shall see your Teacher. 21And when you turn to the right or when you turn to the left, your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, ‘This is the way; walk in it.’

 

The people had turned away from God – they were rebelling and not listening to God and are not obeying his commandments. (Rather like the person who built their house on sand.) And things had gone very wrong and the people were suffering. They then wondered where God was. Why didn’t God seem to be doing anything to help them? (The old problem of ignoring God most of the time and then wondering why we get ourselves into difficulties and expect God to wave a magic wand and help us out.)

Isaiah tells the people that there will come a day when they will realise that God IS present in their community and God IS hearing their cries of suffering despite their rebelling. And, furthermore, the suffering WILL end. God will hear and God will answer and God will guide them saying, “This is the way, walk in it.”

“This the way: walk in it.” What does that mean in your own life?

We see God working through Jesus, through people and through events. Not always, but often if we stop and reflect. Sometimes if you stand still, you notice things that you might not have noticed before. Give it a go!

But we are also surrounded by suffering – often caused by humanity not walking in “The Way.” Some suffering we see seems to have no reason – it has just happened and is random.

Offer to God all those people and places where you see suffering.

God calls us to be people of compassion and weep with those who weep.

Week 2 : Monday 7 December

posted 13 Nov 2015, 21:07 by Solihull Parish   [ updated 13 Nov 2015, 21:07 ]

Isaiah 35

The wilderness and the dry land shall be glad, the desert shall rejoice and blossom;
like the crocus 
2it shall blossom abundantly, and rejoice with joy and singing. The glory of Lebanon shall be given to it, the majesty of Carmel and Sharon. They shall see the glory of the Lord,  the majesty of our God. 
3 Strengthen the weak hands, and make firm the feeble knees. 4 Say to those who are of a fearful heart,  ‘Be strong, do not fear! Here is your God.  He will come with vengeance, with terrible recompense.    He will come and save you.’ 
5 Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf unstopped; 6 then the lame shall leap like a deer, and the tongue of the speechless sing for joy. For waters shall break forth in the wilderness, and streams in the desert; 7 the burning sand shall become a pool, and the thirsty ground springs of water; the haunt of jackals shall become a swamp, the grass shall become reeds and rushes. 
8 A highway shall be there, and it shall be called the Holy Way; the unclean shall not travel on it,
 but it shall be for God’s people;    no traveller, not even fools, shall go astray. 
9 No lion shall be there,   nor shall any ravenous beast come up on it; they shall not be found there,    but the redeemed shall walk there. 10 And the ransomed of the Lord shall return, and come to Jerusalem with singing; everlasting joy shall be upon their heads;  they shall obtain joy and gladness, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away. 

During the first half of Advent, we are encouraged to look forward to the end of the world when Christians believe God will come again and all suffering, evil and sin will be destroyed.

Isaiah, in this passage, paints a picture of what life will be like.

What do you hope God will do at the end of the world?

What do you long for God to do in our world NOW?

In what ways could you contribute to changing things for the better?

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