Let Us Wait As Children Wait – the Entire Series.

Aboriginal Christmas - unknown artist

Aboriginal Christmas – unknown artist

In case you missed some posts, here is the complete list of the contributions to the series Let Us Wait As Children Wait. Enjoy

Advent, Children, Justice, Wonder and Humility by Steve Wickham

Lessons From a Nomadic Childhood by Lynne Baab

Let Us Wait As Children Wait by Jon Stevens

Too Old And Decrepit To Bless – by Anne Townsend

Waiting on the Trail an Advent Reflection by Jill Aylard Young

Let Us Wait As Children Wait An Advent Reflection by Coe Hutchison

Everything Will Happen, Just Slow Down and Wait an Advent Reflection by Bonnie Harr

Always Winter and Never Christmas An Advent Reflection by Travis Mamone

Simple Faith – An Advent Reflection by Paula Mitchell

Shhhh…Here He Comes an Advent Reflection by Margaret Magi Trotman

Waiting When There is No Hope An Advent Reflection by Christine Sine

Wading Through Hot Chocolate and Cloudy Skies an Advent Reflection by Kim Balke

An Advent Prayer for those Grieving in Connecticut by Bonnie Harr

Why Being a Child is Admitting We Don’t Know it All An Advent Reflection by james Prescott.

Waiting with Ants an Advent Reflection by Jim Fisher

The Slaughter of the Innocents – Advent Reflections on the Massacre in CT

I Can Hardly Wait for Christmas But I’ll Try – An Advent Reflection by John Leech

This Will Be A Sign For You An Advent Reflection by David Perry

Celebrating Advent with A Birth and A Death by Edith Yoder.

Gifts of Light and Love a Christmas Poem by Heather Jephcott

Advent is Over – What Have You Learnt?

And the prayers that have been posted during the Advent season

A Prayer for the First Sunday of Advent by John Birch

A Celtic Advent – The Creative Breath by John Birch

A Celtic Liturgy for Week 2 of Advent by John Birch

A Celtic Advent Liturgy for the Third Week of Advent by John Birch

A Celtic Liturgy for the Fourth Week of Advent by John Birch

Prayers for Advent from Light For the Journey

Prayers for the Journey – Advent prayers for the week

Christmas Prayers for 2012

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Advent is Over – What Have You Learnt?

waiting on the beach

Today is the last day of Advent. I hope you have enjoyed reading the reflections in the series Let Us Wait As Children Wait. They have enriched my life and I pray they may have done the same for yours. Later today I will post a list of all the posts in the series, but first i want to ask What have your learnt? 

For me, this has been a journey of discovery. When I suggested the topic I felt I knew what it meant to wait as children wait – wide eyed, expectant, impatient, standing on tiptoe to catch the first glimpse of fulfillment. Along the way I learnt about many other aspects of waiting. The massacre in Newtown brought home to us the vulnerability of childhood waiting not just for those who were killed but for all the abused, abandoned and starving children of our world whose lives are cut short and whose hopes and dreams never come to fruition.

Anne Townsend reminded me that often the elderly also wait like children and are often even more vulnerable. This was a poignant message for me as I walk with my elderly mother through the last years of her life. I thank God for my brothers and their families who care for her and enable her to live in freedom and comfort in spite of that vulnerability.

It occurred to me this morning, that the waiting of childhood is also a waiting between the times, just as we wait between the time of God’s promise and its fulfillment. Childhood is full of potential, impossible dreams, hopes not yet realized, a longing for maturity and the time of adult fulfillment yet a living fully in the present moment with fun and games, and enjoyment, with exploration and experimentation, with the willingness to listen, to adapt and to change.

Christ is coming, deep within our souls we know and already rejoice because of the glory and majesty of his kingdom that is already breaking into ours. At the same time we despair at the length of time the fulfillment of God’s dreams takes.

A couple of days ago I was caught up short by the phrase in Isaiah 11:6 and a little child shall lead them.  So often Jesus reminds us to come as children, to live in the the upside down-ness of the kingdom where leadership is not with the powerful and the rich but with the vulnerable and the insignificant, where dependency, teachability, and the faith to believe that everything is possible reign.

This series has given me new eyes with which to look at the scriptures – the eyes of a child. What has it done for you? What lessons have you learned about God, God’s kingdom and yourself as you reflected on the posts throughout Advent? I would love to hear from you.

Gifts of Light and Love a Christmas Poem by Heather Jephcott

Delight filled faces lighting up

Today’s post is the last the Advent series Let Us Wait As Children Wait. This beautiful poem was written by Heather Jephcott. Heather comes from Australia but now lives in Surabaya Indonesia. She enjoys writing, especially poetry, playing the piano, friends and family, black line drawings, gardening, photography, reading. She also loves interacting with people..health or the lack of it has got in the way at times but she’s getting better after 17 years with CFS. She never wants to be too busy for people.

It’s about giving

precious gifts

of thoughtfulness

gentleness

packaged with laughter

joy accompanying smiles

 

Delight filled faces

light up

receiving

gifts of love

an air of happiness surrounds

pleased with the giving

 

A grand party of giving

with everyone included

caring for needs

attentive to likes

unselfish consideration

 

Surprise adds an extra specialness

child-like wonder comes to visit

discovering again

love, joy, hope and peace

Christmas Prayers for 2012

I know it is not Christmas yet but so many of us are already anticipating the day and looking for resources to celebrate with that I thought I would share these prayers with you. If you use one of them for your Christmas celebrations I would love to know about it.

Christmas prayer.001Rejoice Rejoice, Christ our Saviour is come.001

 

Celebrating Advent with A Birth and A Death by Edith Yoder.

Today’s Advent reflection was written by Edith Yoder, Executive Director of Bridge of Hope an organization that creates a three way partnership between single mothers, social workers and church based mentoring groups. Edith’s spiritual journey includes a deep sense of call to engage and equip churches in ending homelessness for single mothers and children. She authored The Mentor’s Resource Guide, a training tool which helps equip caring Christians for an effective ministry of friendship with homeless families.

Antependium_Straßburg_ via wikimedia

Antependium_Straßburg_ via wikimedia

“Advent is not a time to declare, but to listen, to listen to whatever God may want to tell us through the singing of the stars, the quickening of a baby, the gallantry of a dying man.”  

– Madeleine L’Engle

The Christmas season began this year for me with a funeral and a birth.  At the beginning of Advent we celebrated the birth of our third grandchild.  Makenzie was welcomed into the world by loving parents, her big brother, and a joyful extended family.  My stepson and his family live in Corpus Christi, Texas and so my waiting this Advent season means waiting to hold this precious new baby for whom I have already made lots of room in my heart!

But last week was also the funeral of long-time Bridge of Hope ambassador and co-founder of Bridge of Hope Harrisburg Area, Joyce Eby .  Joyce was a social worker who lived a life of service to Christ and who cared deeply about homeless single mothers and children.  Joyce also lived a courageous life, giving of herself even as she faced cancer.

These two events – a birth and a death – have put this Christmas season in a new light for me. This season, as I embrace Makenzie’s new life and say goodbye to Joyce, I recognize anew the implications of “making room” for others.  Making room for others means opening ourselves up to sharing in both the joys and the sorrows of life.

Advent is about making room, both in the physical sense – Mary, Joseph and the newborn Jesus needed a physical place to stay – and also in a spiritual sense – making room in my heart for this Christ child who is the Savior of the world.   My life is enriched when I truly make room for each person and family I encounter, whether housed or homeless, single mother or two-parent family.

I am grateful for the ministry of Bridge of Hope which values each life, each homeless mother and child that we walk with and serve.  While once-homeless single mothers in Bridge of Hope often continue to struggle to pay bills and provide a safe physical home for their children, they can rest assured that their mentors are walking with them and have, indeed, made room in their hearts for them.

May this Advent be a time when you catch a glimpse of the possibilities that abound when we allow God to make room in our hearts for our own family – as well as homeless families.

This Will Be A Sign For You An Advent Reflection by David Perry

Today’s reflection is written by David Perry. Dave is a Methodist Minister who blogs at www.visualtheology.blogspot.com. A passionate photographer, he is keen to use visual imagery as a way of bringing the faith alive. Dave is currently Superintendent of the Hull (West) Circuit in East Yorkshire in the U.K. I highly recommend checking out some of his other photography and lectionary reflections.

cracked mirror - David Perry

In the centre of town, fenced off in a demolition site awaiting redevelopment, the sole surviving interior wall of a once private washroom is now open to the elements. Set above the rotting surround for a pair of long removed hand washbasins, two mirrors reflect the immediate surroundings. Their surfaces bear the marks of violence,  exhibiting the tell-tale signs of impact damage. This could have occurred as the building was being demolished, or it might bear testimony to rocks, bricks or stones thrown by vandals at such an easy and tempting target afterwards.
Like razor sharp spider webs, spun within the structure of the glass, the crazed and splintered patterns look like their sole purpose is to capture meaning and prevent it escaping from the mirrored surface intact.  Such violence has achieved its aim: the picture is disjointed, broken, distorted, difficult to interpret or see as a unified and intelligible whole. The shattered mirrors convey the truth of the world’s brokenness and suffering. Everywhere violence inhibits us from seeing the picture of a world perfectly reflecting the love of God. Violence breaks up the image, smashes it into sharp-edged pieces which hurt and harm. Violence splinters meaning and traps our perception into falsely chaotic and hope-denying mindsets.

Across the world the mirror of everyday experience is shattered daily by violence. The brutality of dictators and the mindless, murderous impulses of dissaffected young men take the lives of the innocent, especially women and children.  Domestic violence and abuse, hidden away in every community, wreaks havoc in a similarly destructive way with clenched fists and brutalising words. All around us mirrors of expectation and promise are shattered and smashed; cruelly, deliberately and vengefully.

Violence would smash and destroy all possibility of us seeing God’s reflection in the image of contemporary life. The Bible knows differently. If the perfect picture of God’s loving Kingdom is broken into myriads of apparently faith denying shards, our Christian faith tells us that it is within the splintered, broken picture that we should expect to discover God alongside us, amongst us, reaching out to us. God never abandons us. Within the shattered heart of life God remains lovingly faithful and true: the ancient promises hold good and God is always and utterly merciful. Mary knew this and claimed it for herself and her son: “in remembrance of his mercy, according to the promise he made” (Luke 1:54-55) The life of Jesus was God’s incarnate gift of self within the very splinters and shards of human experience.

The sign of this truth is that God is with us and we should expect to encounter that reality for ourselves: “to you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, who is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign for you: you will find a child wrapped in bands of cloth and lying in a manger ” (Luke 2:11-12) Looking into the mirrors we can see a face, a woman’s face, reflected in one of the broken pieces of glass. She is looking at us. And we realise that she must be standing close by. In the second photograph this splintered truth is picked out in colour. Mary stood in the brokenness of her time and place and Jesus was born right there where the splintered patterns of poverty, death and violence were at their worst.

We see Mary on God’s side of the image. She allows us to perceive a different reality all around us, one that violence cannot deny or obliterate. The Magnificat puts this picture into words. In his birth Jesus is the very disclosure of this divine presence and purpose which confronts and confounds violence. Today, as at that first Christmas, God looks out at us with love from within all the razor sharp shards of horror that would deny God’s very existence. This will be a sign for you; a sign to turn around and see the God picture which challenges the distorted brokenness of our human behaviour and perception.

cracked mirror with shard showing womans face - Dave Perry

cracked mirror with shard showing womans face – Dave Perry

A Celtic Liturgy for the Fourth Week of Advent by John Birch

Christmas Cross (c) Andy Wade

Christmas Cross (c) Andy Wade

This is the last of the Celtic liturgies for Advent posted by John Birch at faithandworship.com I really appreciate the resources that John posts and heartily recommend them to you.

The theme for this week is birth and rebirth

Responses are in bold print

Symbol: A candle and in front of this a rose flower (or similar) The rose, usually shown in stylized form, has been a common Christian symbol since the 1200s. It may be used to represent the Messianic promise, the nativity of Christ, the virgin Mary (her rose is white for purity), or martyrdom (a red rose). It is used often in Gothic architecture. 

The candle is lit

‘While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.’

(Luke 2:6,7)

Beneath the surface of your story
is an inescapable fact
You entered this world
as vulnerable as any one of us
in order to nail that vulnerability to the cross.
Our fears, our insecurities and our sins
all that can separate us from God
exchanged by your Grace for Love.
We cannot comprehend the reasoning
only marvel that Salvation comes to us
through a baby born in a stable,
who reaches out to a world in need.

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

‘Jesus answered, “I tell you the truth, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the Spirit. Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit. You should not be surprised at my saying, ‘You must be born again.’ The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.’

(John 3:5-8)

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

If you, O Lord, kept a record of sins,
O Lord, who could stand?
But with you there is forgiveness;
Therefore you are feared.
I wait for the Lord, my soul waits,
And in his word I put my hope

There is a transformation that takes place
within the warmth of your embrace
That certain knowledge that you are
refuge, shelter, fortress and stronghold
against which no army can succeed
That you are Brother, Sister, Mother, Father
the love that knows no bounds
That you are God
And I am lost outside of your arms

Create in me a pure heart, O God
And renew a faithful spirit within me
Restore to me the joy of your salvation
And an willing spirit to sustain me
O Lord, open our lips
And our mouths will forever declare your praise

O come, O come, Emmanuel,
And ransom captive Israel,
That mourns in lonely exile here
Until the Son of God appear.

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

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

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

(Intercessions – A circle prayer

Circle us, Lord
Circle us with the light of your presence, bright within this dark word
Enable us to be overcomers of fear and temptation
Enable us to be victors over sin and despair
Enable us to become that which you would desire
(Silent prayer)
Lord of creation, Lord of Salvation
Circle us with the light of your presence

Circle us, Lord
Circle our family within the shelter of your outstretched arms
Protect them in each moment of their daily lives
Protect them in the decisions that they face
Protect their homes and relationships
(Silent prayer)
Lord of creation, Lord of Salvation
Circle our families with the light of your presence

Circle us, Lord
Circle this nation with Advent love and hope
Create a desire to listen to the Advent message
Create a willingness to understand and respond
Create a need to reach out to the Christ Child
(Silent prayer)
Lord of creation, Lord of Salvation
Circle our nation with the light of your presence

Circle us, Lord
Circle this world with the joy of your Salvation
Where there is sickness and disease bring healing
Where there is hunger and despair bring hope
Where there is torture and oppression bring release
(Silent prayer)
Lord of creation, Lord of Salvation
Circle this world with the light of your presence

I arise today
Through the strength of heaven;
Light of the sun,
Splendor of fire,
Swiftness of wind,
Depth of sea,
Stability of earth,
Firmness of rock

I arise today
Through God’s strength to pilot me;
God’s might to uphold me,
God’s wisdom to guide me,
God’s hand to guard me.

Afar or anear,
Alone or in a multitude.

Christ shield me today
Against wounding;

Christ with me,
Christ before me,
Christ behind me,
Christ on my right,
Christ on my left,
Christ beneath me,
Christ above me,
Christ in me.

I arise today
Through the mighty strength
Of the Lord of Creation

(attr. St. Patrick)

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