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.
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.
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.
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.
for any people or situations.
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.
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.
(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.
(Anslem - 1109)
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.
(After Augustine of Hippo – 430)
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?
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 ?
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!
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
he leads me beside still
waters; that’s refreshment
and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord that’s
You might like to read them aloud – this is another way to read them slowly and allow them to sink into you.
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?
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?
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.
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.
The wilderness and the dry land shall
be glad, the desert shall rejoice and blossom;
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?