Advent Reflections

1st December 2020

“God is light; in Him there is no darkness at all.”

1 John 1:5b

Reflect

This morning I cleaned a pair of shoes. I don’t know how I did it but I seemed to get more on my hands and on my shirt cuff than I did on the shoes. There were marks all over me. Tainted by polish. There is darkness around us. We see the symptoms of it everywhere. Innocent people suffering, systems breaking down, hopelessness and fear gripping people in a choke hold of desperation. It is easy for us to be tainted by it all. To become either hardened or apathetic. We can be tainted by cynicism or we can cross the road and not get involved. In God there is no darkness. God is light that is pure. There is no taint of anything on God – no darkness. Even the darkest situations and circumstances can be penetrated by Him. Light has come.

Prayer

Lord God, Show me the areas of darkness in me.   Where I have become hardened to the plight of others or where I have lost the will to do good, Lord help me. Bring your light and your forgiveness and help me today to walk in your light. Allow me to see that in the darkest places it is possible for the light to shine brightest. Amen

2nd December 2020

“I am the light of the world.”

John 8:12

Reflect

in all his ways. Jesus is holy and he is gracious. There is no one like him. The wonder is that Jesus, God’s perfect light, loves us. Jesus calls us to get closer to him, closer to the light. 

Prayer

Lord, I thank you for your love. Forgive me for the times when I wander away from you. Rather than basking in the warmth and brightness of you I see you dimly at a distance. Lord, help me to draw closer today, to seek you and to worship you and know again your affection for me. Amen.

3rd December 2020

“Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”

John 8:12b

Reflect

We follow lots of things in life: advice, fashion trends, other people. However, there is only one type of following that comes with a promise as wonderful as the one in this text. Jesus, who is the light of the world, promises that we won’t walk in darkness when we follow him. He lights the path for us when we are close to him. Light and following go together. How closely are we following?

Prayer

Lord, help us to follow you. Sometimes I want to know every possible turn in the road, measure every risk. Help me to have the trust just to follow so that I am not stumbling about in the darkness. Give me courage God to answer your call and follow you anywhere at any time.

4th December 2020

“Your word is a lamp for my feet.”

Psalm 119:105a

Reflect

Have you ever had a power-cut in your house? Have you been scrambling around hunting for a torch? Moving so slowly, banging into stuff and losing all sense of space. Without light everything has a tinge of confusion and fear about it. God has given us Jesus – the Light of the world –  so that we can see more clearly those things around us and see the world and other people as he wants us to, with love and compassion. 

Prayer

Lord, I thank you that you don’t leave us in confusion. We don’t need to be paralysed with fear, unable to move forward. Thank you that you have given your word as a lamp to our feet so that we can see what is around us. Help me to see by His light. Amen.

5th December 2020

“A light on my path.”

Psalm 119:105b

Prayer

Lord God, give me confidence to move forward. Let me stride into the future you have for me with boldness. Let your word direct my steps, God, so that I am aware of every danger and navigate around it. And Lord, if ever I fall I thank you that you are there to pick me up.

6th December 2020

“The city does not need the sun or the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and the lamb is its lamp.”

Revelation 21:23

Reflect

A lack of light is a lack of life and joy.  In this text we get a vision of the new Jerusalem, a place where there will be no tears, mourning, pain or sorrow. It is lit up by the glory of Jesus as God.  It is a time free from fear and hopelessness.  No matter the depths of sorrow we might have experienced. There is nothing to compare with being bathed in unrestricted light, to see Jesus as he truly is and to be known fully, where no secrets remain.

Prayer

Lord Jesus, In trial and success, in tears, in laughter, be with me, and remind me always of the joy that is mine through your amazing sacrificial love. Amen.

7th December 2020

“You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden.”

Matthew 5:14

Reflect

It is amazing that Jesus calls himself the light of the world but also calls us lights in the world. Can you imagine a large fire on bonfire night, glowing in your back garden. Red and orange with sparks crackling. Then taking a dry stick and putting the end into the heat, so it soon starts glowing – a torch from the fire. We are light because we are close to the light. It is the light that makes us lights. Brightness depends on proximity. The closer we are to the light, the greater our capacity to shine. 

Prayer

Draw me closer to you God. Help me to reflect your light in places of darkness. Help me, through your Holy Spirit, to wait upon you and know your presence. Amen.

8th December 2020

“In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.”

Matthew 5:16

Reflect

The light of Jesus was seen in many ways but one of the main ones was through what he did. He didn’t just talk about the love of God, he demonstrated it, day after day. We too, are meant to be demonstrations of the love of God.  Both as individuals and as a church community, the challenge is to live out love.

Prayer

Lord, help me not to hide your light in me. Save me from apathy. Let me use my energy in ways that blesses others and demonstrate your love. Amen.

9th December 2020

“For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of the light.”

Ephesians 5:8

Reflect

We are children of the light. A radical change has happened. Once we were darkness, then God in His mercy, helps us to see the light. Now we are to live as children of the light, not perfect, but forgiven.  What does that look like in your situation? Can you think of examples of living as children of the light?

Prayer

Thank you God for every opportunity that you give me to live for you. Help me to see the opportunities and grant me the boldness to take them.  Amen.

10th December 2020

“For the fruit of light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth.”

Ephesians 5:9

Prayer

Lord, make me a person of goodness. Slow to anger and abounding in love. God, in the power of your Spirit, change me and make me more like Jesus. Are there areas of my life that need to be changed by you? Help me, O Lord. Amen

11th December 2020

“The people walking in darkness have seen a great light.”

Ephesians 5:9

Reflect

It is hard to stand out, without feeling like an outsider. To be different takes courage. Yet as the children of light we are also to live in truth. We are to be people of integrity.  We live what we say. Sometimes living for and speaking the truth can be painful. 

Prayer

Lord, help me to stand for truth today. Make me a person of honesty and integrity. Lord, when my courage fails, as it does, grant me your close presence to remind me that healing, forgiveness and love flow from you to me. Thank you, Amen.

12th December 2020

“Because Joseph her husband was faithful to the law and yet did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly.”

Matthew 1:19

Reflect

Towards the start of the nativity story, there is the possibility of hurt, confusion, disappointment and disgrace. Joseph and Mary are living in that place between faith and fear, hope and misunderstanding. Yet in the midst of it, God was at work. Sometimes in the midst of struggles we just have to hold on and believe that God will work it out.

Prayer

Lord God, we pray for all those who feel isolated. We pray that they may know your presence. We also pray for those who go to isolated communities across the world bringing supplies, medicines and care. Lord, be with them, this day. Amen.

13th December 2020

“An angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said: ‘Joseph, Son of David, do not be afraid.’”

Matthew 1:20

Reflect

Fear is something we are all familiar with. Sometimes our fears are genuine, sometimes misplaced.  Yet the Bible tells us that perfect love drives fear away.  

Prayer

Lord, we pray for all those who are captives to fear. Those who face each situation with dread. Those with fears in the present and those fearing the future. Lord, draw them near and bring your love. Loving God, we ask for those who live in countries where their situation can change for the worse at any moment;  those with no control over what happens to them. Make your presence known and bring peace, we pray. Amen.

14th December 2020

“So Joseph went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David.”

Luke 2:4

Reflect

Even so close to the birth, Mary and Joseph had to leave their home, town and support to move at the whim of an occupying force. They had no say in where they were going or when. Many people today are being forced to move from their homes because of situations out of their control. The United Nations suggests that there are more than 19 million refugees in the world, many living in camps, not able to get back home.

Prayer

Gracious Lord, we pray for all those who are refugees. Those running in fear. Those in camps. Those taking tremendous risks just to survive. We pray that you might be with them and we ask for your presence to be with all those who work with refugees. Give them favour and encouragement in their work. Amen

15th December 2020

“She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room for them.”

Isaiah 9:2a

Reflect

There is such a contrast at this time of year. For some, parties, lights, buying presents, meeting families and friends. For others, there is debt and homelessness. There will be many in the towns and cities across the UK that will be sleeping rough, enduring the cold with nowhere to go. What does it mean for us to be light to them?  

Prayer

Lord, for all those who are homeless, we ask that you may provide help and care for them. Give your Church compassion and help us not to just pass by. Lord, show us what we can do practically this year that would lift up those who are struggling. Lord, we pray for those agencies that work with the homeless, may they receive the resources and wisdom they need. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

16th December 2020

“And they will call him Immanuel (which means ‘God with us’).”

Matthew 1:23b

Reflect

There are so many disasters in the world. We care and we do what we can, but often after a few months we are called to help in another situation. It is good to know that God never forgets or moves on from those in trouble. In April, an earthquake hit Nepal, one of the poorest countries in the world. More than 8,000 people died and half a million homes were destroyed. Many of those made homeless still have nowhere to call home.

Prayer

Lord, we thank you that you never leave us. Thank you that you don’t move on to the next thing and abandon us, You are Immanuel. You are with us. Lord be with all those who are still suffering through past disasters. Those who feel abandoned and uncared for. We pray for the people of Nepal and for all the agencies that are still working there. We thank you for groups like MAF and others who are seeking to get aid to those in the most desolate and difficult areas. May they know encouragement as they bring hope and peace in your name. Amen.

17th December 2020

“When Herod realised that he had been outwitted by the Magi, he was furious.”

Matthew 2:16

Reflect

It always astounds me how amazing love or good news can provoke such violent responses. There are those in the world who will do everything they can to stop good from happening. However, God will always prevail, in the end, even if the opposite seems so just now. 

Prayer

Lord, your word tells us that when one part suffers we all suffer and your heart breaks.   We pray now for our brothers and sisters across the world who are being persecuted for their faith.  We pray for Muslims and Buddhists, Hindus and Sikhs who are also persecuted for their faith.  We with them, O God. Amen.

18th December 2020

“He gave orders to kill all the boys in Bethlehem and its vicinity.”

Matthew 2:16b

Reflect

The charity Open Doors reports that 322 Christians are killed every month because of their faith and 214 churches destroyed. How can we help? Are there practical steps we can take to show our unity in Christ?

Prayer

Thank you God that you see all that your children go through. Thank you that no tear is shed that you don’t see.  Lord, we pray for the persecuted Church. May your people know they are not forgotten. Bring them comfort and strength. We pray for those who have lost loved ones through the violence of others. Let them know that the Immanuel is with them. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

19th December 2020

“For no word of God will ever fail. ‘I am the Lord’s servant’, Mary answered.”

Luke 1:37-38

Prayer

Lord, we thank you for what we learn from one another. We love the miracle of the worldwide Church. People of all ages brought together through your amazing love. Those of every tongue, tribe and nation. Help us God never to lose sight of the global Church and all you are doing in and through it. Amen

20th December 2020

“And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, ‘Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people.’”

Isaiah 9:2a

Reflect

We continue our advent journey by thinking about those who are living in darkness. They may be on the other side of the world from us, or right next door. There are many reasons for walking in darkness – fear, loneliness, oppression, depression, poverty or violence are just a few. God sees those in darkness and becomes light for them.

Prayer

Lord, we name before you those we know who are going through times of darkness. We think of them and ask, gracious God, that you may bring them light, hope, love and direction. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

21st December 2020

 “Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God.”

Luke 2:13

Reflect

According to the Guinness World Records, the largest choir ever assembled was over 120,000 in India. They must have made some noise. Can you imagine a different choir, a heavenly one? Picture the most amazing group of singers lighting up all of creation with a song of proclamation, joy and hope all mixed together. Sometimes we get caught up in so many things at this time of year that we miss the fact that this is an eternal celebration. God has done an amazing thing – bringing hope and love to all humanity through Jesus Christ. It’s worth celebrating!

Prayer

Lord of beauty and majesty, you revealed to simple shepherds the very joy of heaven in Jesus, but you were proclaiming to the whole of creation that things had changed forever. The Messiah, the anointed one, had come. Lord, we thank you that that same Jesus is the one we meet by faith today. The Jesus of new life, forgiveness and hope is with us. We join with all creation in celebration. Amen.

22nd December 2020

  “Glory to God in the highest heaven and on earth peace to those on whom His favour rests.”

Luke 2:14

Reflect

Pause for a moment in the busy-ness of Christmas preparations.  Give yourself time, still yourself. For this moment, know that God loves you and is with you. Receive the knowledge that His favour rests on you. In Jesus the fullness of the favour of God has come. It has come for you. God is with us.

Prayer

Lord, I welcome you here.  You are good.  As a father loves his children you wrap me in arms of grace, and you smile on me.  Amen.

23rd December 2020

‘For God so loved the world, he gave us his only son, that whoever places their trust in him will receive eternal life’  John 3:16

Amidst all the gift wrapping, pause today to remember that the greatest gift has already been given.  A gift that is both priceless but free to receive.  It is the gift of joy, hope and peace to all those who place their trust in Jesus Christ.  

Prayer

Almighty God, as we prepare with Joy to celebrate the gift of the Christ-Child,

Embrace the Earth with your glory, and be for us a living hope, in Jesus Christ our Lord, Amen.

24th December 2020

“The people who walked in darkness Have seen a great light; Those who dwelt in the land of the shadow of death, Upon them a light has shined”. Isaiah 9:2

Prayer

Eternal God, in the stillness of this night you sent your Almighty Word, to pierce the world’s darkness with the light of salvation: give to the Earth the peace that we long for and fill our hearts with the joy of heaven. Through our Saviour and King, Jesus Christ. Amen.

Christmas Day

“For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even for ever.” (Isaiah 9:5-7)

Prayer

God in Trinity, eternal unity of perfect love: gather the nations to be one family, and draw us into your holy life, through the birth of Emmanuel, our Lord Jesus Christ, Amen.