Wednesday, November 30, 2011

First Week in Advent.... Hope

This year I have set myself a challenge for Advent... to read the scriptures for each day listed in the Northumbria Community order for morning prayer and to seek within them a glimpse of the 'attribute' for the week and to post them on my own blog. The first week in Advent is 'hope'.

Rather than repeat my reflections here, I have chosen simply to repeat some texts that have struck me, and to offer them for you own consideration. What hints, glimpses of hope do you see?

"I will give you the treasures of darkness, riches stored in secret places, so that you may know that I am the LORD, the God of Israel, who summons you by name." Isaiah 45:3

In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit herself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express. Romans 8:26 (emended)

"Can a mother forget the baby at her breast and have no compassion on the child she has borne? Though she may forget, I will not forget you! See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands; your walls are ever before me." Isaiah 49: 15 - 16

What does it mean for us to read scripture through the lens of hope? What does it mean for us to view our world through the same lens?

Lord of all hopefulness, Lord of all joy... be there in our living and give us, we pray, your peace in our hearts, Lord, through all of our days. Amen

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Happy Advent 2011

Today is advent Sunday. So I'd like to wish a happy new year to all my readers. Here's what I have just posted at my blog

Advent is the beginning of the Christian year year because it's the time when we get ready for the coming of Jesus, bringer of the Kingdom of God

There's a great post on a blog I hadn't come across before but will be checking out now. You can find it here. It's by an American writer and reflects on whose calendar we live our lives by - Caesar's or God's? The Christian calendar reminds us that we live our lives by a different story, the story of the coming of our king, his crucifixion and call to live our ordinary time as his disciples rather than as followers of some other value system.

I have often pondered shifting our church year from the three-term academic treadmill we currently follow to the ebb and flow of Christian year, beginning today with a period of reflection and preparation before the celebrations of Christmas, proclaiming through our programme the Lord whose values shape our lives.

Advent gives shape to the longing for change we see all around us at the moment - in the occupy movement, in the conversations with people talking about their daily struggles, in the dreaming of young people for a life that matters. Advent is the time when we reflect on what life is about and how God has promised to come and deliver us from the sins and chains that prevent us from experiencing lives of justice and hope.

Advent reminds us that God has heard and seen, that he is responding to the cries of his people by sending a saviour, a redeemer, a liberator, one who will fulfil the great prophetic hope that God will come to set things right. Advent reminds us that there is an alternative that flows from the heart of our creating, coming God.

And for Christians, advent gives shape to the story we live by, a story dreamed in the heart of God and told in a baby in Bethlehem; a story embodied and articulated in the life and teaching of Jesus; a story realised through the cross that breaks the power of injustice and inequity and in the resurrection that announces new creation starts here: see, says your God, I am making all things new.

As we mark advent, we are preparing ourselves to be part of that game-changing story. What a great to start the year.