A Prayer for the First Sunday of Advent by John Birch

christmas_candles

The following prayer was posted by John Birch of faithandworship.com on the Light for the Journey Facebook page a couple of days ago.

The Advent story
of hope and mystery,
anticipation,
preparation,
a kingdom
of this world and the next,
and a king
appearing when we least expect.
Heaven touching earth,
the footsteps of the divine

walking dusty roads
as once they did in Eden,
and a people,
searching for a Saviour
and walking past
the stable.
Open eyes and hearts,
that this might be
an Advent of hope to the world.

(www.faithandworship.com)

Reading and Listening Through Advent – What Others Suggest.

Advent candles

There are an incredible number of Advent books out there each year, so I thought that I would get a sense of what some of my friends are listening to so a couple of days ago I asked my Facebook friends what they recommend reading or listening to during Advent. Here are some suggestions that you might like to check out. Some of these are totally new to me and will make great resources for my own Christmas reading and listening. Enjoy!

Several people suggested the gospel stories particularly the book of Luke. I agree I try to read through these each Advent season. It beautifully anchors me in the biblical story.

Leonard Sweet and Don Pape like  Touching Wonder: Recapturing the Awe of Christmas – John Blase

Cindy Fortune Spenser recommends The Christmas Mystery by Jostein Gaarder

Sonja Naylor Andrews suggests “How the Grinch Stole Christmas,” by Dr. Suess

Joy Larsen likes Lion and the Lamb by Brennan Manning.

Kevin Palau suggest Martin Luther’s Christmas Book compiled by Roland Bainton

Kurt Neilson suggests Bernard of Clairvaux’s homilies on the Song of Songs. – they can be downloaded from this site or purchased from Amazon.

Tamara West recommends Gertrud Mueller Nelson, in both To Dance With God ( family and parish observance of the church year) and Here All Dwell Free ( a Jungian-feminist analysis of classic fairy tales). You can also see a great recording with Gertrud on YouTube

My friend Paul Samuels has written a delightful children’s book Where is Christmas?

Jill Aylard Young is enjoying “Simply Wait, Cultivating Stillness in the Season of Advent” by Pamela Hawkins.

Chris Terry Nelson suggests Insurrection by Peter Rollins

Catherine Windsor recommends The Mitten by Jan Brett

David Bayne suggests  “Monastery Journey to Christmas” by D’Avila-Latourrette and “Silence and Other Surprising Invitations of Advent” by Enuma Okoro

Jane Bishop Halteman likes anything by Jan Richardson (Night Visions) or Ann Weems (Journey to Bethlehem) This last link is to a pdf download.

Last but not least don’t forget to check out the MSA Advent resources Waiting for the Light and Return to Our Senses currently available as a preAdvent special.

For music most people suggested popular carols like O Come O Come Emmanuel and Silent Night but here are a couple you may not have come across.

Downe In Yon Forrest a collection of Christmas Carols from the Middle Ages recommended by Carolyn Frye

Ancient Path Christmas is one I was given last year and really enjoyed.

Kitt M KaagapayMo wrote this original filipino rendition  that is worth listening to.

 

 

Pre-Advent Specials

‘Tis the Season for special buys – or so goes the marketing madness of our day. MSA books and resources directly help support staff and the development of more resources. We don’t make a big deal about marketing because we want to maintain a bit of a counter-cultural environment. From time to time, however, we do want to make available special deals you will enjoy, like these resources for the Advent season.

Pre-Advent Special

    • Special #1
      Get Christine’s newest book, Return to our Senses: Reimagining How We Pray, along with favorites, Waiting For the Light: An Advent Devotional and Light For the Journey: Morning and Evening Prayers for Living Into God’s World, all for only $30!

advent DVD-sm

    • Special #2
      Advent reflection video DVD set (2007-2001)plus 2012 – “Alleluia, the Christ Child Comes” only $40!

download advent series

  • Special #3
    Download version of the Advent DVD set, including 2012 – “Alleluia, the Christ Child Comes” only $35!

Prayers for the Journey

I am a little late in posting this collection of prayers that have been posted on the Facebook page Light for the JourneyUnfortunately as we race towards the beginning of Advent there is so much I want to post that it is hard to do the juggling act. I hope that this does not detract from your enjoyment however.

God whose love never gives up

God whose love never gives up (c) Christine Sine

May we return to the breath and the silence.
To the breath that gives us life,
To the silence where we hear God’s whispers.
May we weep for the brokenness of our souls,
And cry out against our distractedness.
May we return to the eternal God,
Whose love fills every fibre of our being.

(Christine Sine)

————————————————–

This world tempts us
to believe the wisdom that comes
from human minds,
to have faith in no other thing.
But we have glimpsed the Truth
revealed in Scripture’s words,
and we shall worship the Lord our God
and serve him alone!
This world tempts us
to believe we have control

of our salvation
and have no need of the Divine.
But we have felt the touch
of Christ upon our hearts,
and we shall worship the Lord our God
and serve him alone!

(based upon Matthew 4:1-11)
www.faithandworship.com

Restore us O Lord - John Birch

Restore us O Lord – John Birch

Jesus, Son of God
have mercy on us,
forgive the weakness of our faith.
Jesus, Prince of Peace
have mercy on us,
forgive the anger we have caused.
Jesus, Good Shepherd
have mercy on us
forgive the selfish lives we lead
Jesus, Life and Truth

have mercy on us
and restore to us our first love.

(www.faithandworship.com)

Thank you for those who are good neighbours to us - John Birch

Thank you for those who are good neighbours to us – John Birch

Let us praise Jesus Christ our king and saviour,
May we be filled with the hope and promise of his coming,
And give our lives to follow him.
May we be gripped by his kingdom ways,
And walk with assurance and trust into his grace and peace.
(Christine Sine)
————————————-
Lord be the Beginning and the end - Contemplative network

Lord be the Beginning and the end – Contemplative network

Lord, be the beginning and end of everything we do and say
Prompt our actions with your grace,
and complete them with your all-powerful help. Amen

————————————————————

God may we live into your shalom,
Let this be our journey and our destination,
Until the peace, and wholeness of your kingdom consume us.
Let it be our longing and our passion,
So that our hearts ache for justice,
And our souls long for righteousness.
Let its peace go before us and behind us,
Until it becomes the lifeblood of your world again.
(Christine Sine)
—————————————–
Today I give thanks - Christine Sine

Today I give thanks – (c) Christine Sine

God may we live in the eternal hope of resurrection,
May we believe that your light already shines in darkness,
May we trust that your resurrection already emerges in brokenness,
May we have faith that your life is already renewing and restoring all things through the person of Christ.
(Christine Sine)
——————————————————
Lord I have enough of everything - Bonnie Harr

Lord I have enough of everything – Bonnie Harr

Where would we be without your light?
Losing our way in darkness.
Where would we be without your peace?
Caught up in this world’s wisdom.
Where would we be without your love?
Looking for your warm embrace.
Where would we be without your word?
Searching this world for freedom.
Where would we be without your power?
Struggling in our weakness.

Where would we be without you, Lord?
Lost and in need of your grace.

(www.faithandworship.com)

———————————-
Bonnie Harr - Flight with the Birds

Bonnie Harr – Flight with the Birds

A Celtic Advent – The Creative Breath by John Birch

Large candle

Large candle

The following liturgy was provided by John Birch, a Methodist Lay Preacher and worship leader living in Wales for around 20 years. He has become increasingly aware of the rich heritage handed down by the early Christian Saints who set up home in the wilder regions of this beautiful country. This Celtic style liturgy for the first Sunday of Advent reflects this.  Instead of the usual Advent themes of hope, peace, joy and love, John uses the themes of breath, light and darkness, obedience and birth for the four themes. This liturgy is for the first Sunday of Advent. You can check out the other liturgies and resources here.

Responses are in bold print

Symbols: A large Candle and beneath it a bowl of water

The candle is lit

(A few moments of silence)

‘In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made.’
‘… And the Spirit (the breath) of God was hovering over the waters.’

(John 1:1-3, Genesis 1:2)

Lord of the morning
of dawn chorus
rising sun
mist on water

Lord of the noontime
of chattering voices
laughter and fun
sparkling water
everyone

Lord of the evening
of quiet breeze
setting sun
gentle waters
day that’s done

 

O Lord, our Lord
How majestic is your name in all the earth
You have set your glory above the heavens
And from the lips of children ordained praise
O Lord, our Lord
How majestic is your name in all the earth

 

Creative God, breath of all life
Through whom all things
are created and sustained;
all sons and daughters
flocks and herds,
all birds of the air
and fish of the sea
You walked this earth
as child and Creator
You touched the soil
quenched your thirst
embraced this world
brought life and light
love and laughter
into dark and death-filled lives
Creative God, breath of all life
Through whom all things
are created and sustained
We bring to you our sacrifice
of a contrite and willing heart

O come, Thou Wisdom from on high,
Who orders all things mightily;
To us the path of knowledge show,
And teach us in her ways to go.

Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come again and with us ever dwell

 
(A space for music to be played or sung – a Taizé chant would be most appropriate)

 
‘Now I know that the LORD saves his anointed; he answers him from his holy heaven with the saving power of his right hand.
‘Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the LORD our God.
‘They are brought to their knees and fall, but we rise up and stand firm.’

(Psalm 20:6-8)

 

(A moment of silence – During the silence, you may like to read and reflect on the words that have been read, gaze at the candle – or simply enjoy the peace and calm)

May this eternal truth be always on our hearts
That the God who breathed this world into being
Placed stars into the heavens
And designed a butterfly’s wing
Is the God who entrusted his life
to the care of ordinary people
became vulnerable that we might know
how strong is the power of Love
A mystery so deep it is impossible to grasp
A mystery so beautiful it is impossible to ignore

 

(Scripture reading – possibly the Gospel reading for the day)

 

(A space for a hymn or song to be sung/said)

(Intercessions – A circle prayer.
Imagine throwing a pebble into the centre of a pond, and the circles of ripples that move out from the centre.)

We pray firstly for those closest to us, our immediate family and closest friends – for their health, needs, joys and fears.
(Silent prayer)
God of creation, God of Salvation
Hear the prayers of our hearts

We pray for our extended family and friends who we might not see each week – for their love and concern, for their wellbeing.
(Silent prayer)
God of creation, God of Salvation
Hear the prayers of our hearts

As the ripples reach out toward the land we pray for those who we only have contact with annually or less – for a blessing this Advent-time
(Silent prayer)
God of creation, God of Salvation
Hear the prayers of our hearts

And as the ripples reach their furthest point we pray for this world and its people – for the needs of this week and the future.
(Silent prayer)
God of creation, God of Salvation
Who speaks to us through thunder and whisper
Who loves us as if there were but one of us to love
Hear the prayers of our hearts

 

Lord, thou hast given us thy Word for a light to shine upon our path;
grant us so to meditate on that Word, and to follow its teaching,
that we may find in it the light that shines more and more until the perfect day; through Jesus Christ our Lord.

(Jerome, c 342 – 420)

Read more at: http://www.faithandworship.com/Advent/Advent_Celtic_Christian_Celebration.htm#ixzz2DLSEmYtl
Under Creative Commons License: Attribution

Celebrating Advent With Kids – New for 2012

St Nicholas with kids

St Nicholas with kids

Advent is almost here. And our theme for daily reflections this year is Let Us Wait As Children Wait. In preparation for that I thought that it would be good to update my Advent resource list for Celebrating Advent With Kids which is one of the all time favourite posts on this blog.

A couple of days ago I added this post:  10 Ways to Help Kids Give Back At Christmas but realize that there are a lot of other ways to help prepare children for the celebration of Christ’s birth.

1. Make an Advent wreath with your kids. This is a fun activity that prepares your child for this important season in the Christian calendar.

2. Start a new Advent tradition that revolves around the lighting of the Advent candles. Use your Advent wreath as a centerpiece . Every night at dinner, let one of your children light the candle and say an advent prayer or sing a song. I love these Advent candle light readings from World Vision Canada. As you become more comfortable with this tradition you may also like to tell stories from past Advent celebrations or about the story of Christ and what he means to you and your family.

3. Make or buy an Advent calendar. I  love the suggestion from the post Celebrating Advent with Children to make an Advent calendar with matchboxes and placing slips of paper in each one with different activities to do each day. For example, one day you might read a particular book or Bible passage, make Christmas cookies for a lonely neighbor, or sing Christmas carols together. The combination of inward reflection and outward caring is wonderful. There are some other great suggestions in this post Celebrating Advent with Children too so check it out.

Countdown Christmas Traditions also has a fun kid friendly Advent calendar.  As you click on each day of Advent you read about traditions in different countries of the world.

CAFOD: Just One world has some great Advent liturgies available as well as a downloadable Advent calendar for kids.

4. Set up a nativity set. There are several ways that this can focus your child on the real meaning of Christmas. Set it up with the manger empty and the wise men at the other end of the room or house. Throughout the Advent and Christmas season the wise men move closer to the manager and of course on Christmas morning the Christ child appears in the manger.

5. The nativity set is a great way to focus your children on gifts for Jesus too. You might like to consider some of the suggestions in my post from a couple of days ago  10 Ways to Help Kids Give Back At Christmas. Or you might like to consider this idea. On the first Sunday of Advent, each child in the family receives an empty manger. An oatmeal box covered with bright paper will do as well. At bedtime, the children draw straws for each kind deed performed in honor of Baby Jesus as his birthday surprise. The straw are placed in the child’s manger or box daily. It is amazing how much love a child can put into Advent when s/he is preparing for his redeemer’s coming in grace. On Christmas, each child finds an infant in his manger, placed on a small table or a chair beside his or her bed. Usually it is a tiny doll, beautifully dressed. This custom fills the child with a longing in Advent, and provides an image of the redeemer as the first happy glance in the morning and the last impression at night during the entire Christmas season.

6. Explore Christmas traditions from around the world with your kids and discuss the possibility of adapting some of these as part of your own celebration during the Advent and Christmas season.  Christmas Around the World has a wonderful description of traditions from a variety of countries that you might like to discuss.  The Worldwide Gourmet has a wonderful array of recipes associated with the Advent and Christmas season in many different parts of the world.  Just reading through some of these had my mouth watering.

7. Memories for the New Year – Reflect on the previous year and capture children’s memories that can become part of your family and church story. Capture these on camera, draw pictures, write songs or have older children journal. I love this idea from the United Methodist Communications. You might also like to check out some of the resources they suggest. (I have not had time to do this yet.)

More resources for celebrating as a family here.

8. Separate Gift Giving From Christmas Day. When I was on the mercy ship Anastasis, we always celebrated St Nicholas day. I think that this is a wonderful tradition that can separate the celebration of Christ’s birth from the giving of gifts. Our friends Ricci and Eliacin celebrate another tradition where the giving of gifts is associated with the coming of the wise men on the Eve of Epiphany.

There are obviously many other ways to celebrate Advent with kids – we are only limited by our imaginations and by the imaginations of our children who are likely to come up with far better ideas than we ever could. So if you have creative ways of celebrating during this season I would love to hear from you.

9. Check out other resources from Advent conspiracy.

What Do We Give Thanks For?

Today I give thanks

Today I give thanks @Christine Sine

Tomorrow is American Thanksgiving, a tradition that I have embraced with great enthusiasm since I have lived in the U.S. I have already posted a Thanksgiving – Harvest prayer for 2012 and decided there is really no need for another. Yesterday when I posted the above prayer on Light for the Journey’s Facebook page, one of my friends responded:

I want to be able to feel warmed by those words.I want to find faith and hope – right now I can’t! They don’t fit some of us in the UK- for today is really tough and full of pain for those of us who are female priests in the Church of England, and are facing yesterday’s grim decision that our gender still cannot be Bishops. I was in the first wave of women to be ordained as a priests over here.

It made me realize that even in our thanks and gratitude we live in the tension of God’s kingdom now and not yet. The glimpses of God’s kingdom that fill us with awe and wonder, that bring us to our knees with shouts of praise and gratitude are unfortunately just that, glimpses of a world that we desperately long for but do not yet see fully realized. The pain of my sisters in the U.K. who are so devastated by the General Synod no vote to women bishops is my pain. Oppression in Syria, Israel, Columbia, and North Korea oppresses my soul. The environmental degradation that devastates rainforests in Brazil, contributes to the destruction of hurricane Sandy, and wipes out species in Africa, these degrade my spirit.

Our celebrations at thanksgiving. Our gratitude and praise to God for the many blessings we see in our lives should not blind us to the suffering of others. In fact it should inspire us with the desire to see others rejoice and celebrate in the same ways that we can.

So my question for all of us at this season is What are we doing to bring thanksgiving and gratitude into the lives of those who are suffering, oppressed or marginalized? 

For more Thanksgiving prayers check out these from the last few years:

A Thanksgiving Prayer for 2011

A Thanksgiving Prayer for 2010

A Thanksgiving Prayer for 2009