Advent Words 2017 – Day 8

PEACE

I’m away for a few days looking after my in-laws so I only have limited art supplies. But somehow simplicity seems to fit will with the theme of Peace.

May you all know the deep peace of the Prince of Peace this advent season …

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Advent Words 2017 – day 4

PREPARE

This didn’t get posted yesterday because I was flat out working all day and all evening. It was a long day and I knew it was coming so I did this page in advance.

I prepared – not only for the day’s training I was delivering, and my evening Deacon’s meeting, but also a number of logistical things to make sure my sons were where they needed to be and had what they needed, because my husband was away on business. Oh and of course I prepared my Advent Words page in advance.

It’s a common view that a working Mum’s life is like juggling, or spinning plates. But what this image doesn’t capture is the preparation that has to go in; the amount of mental energy it takes to think ahead and anticipate potential problems and clashes and to take steps to ensure everything runs smoothly.

And sometimes the unexpected happens. The person leading a short session of worship at the start of my training day got the time wrong and was half an hour late meaning we started late and I had to improvise in the moment and then afterwards as I clawed back time to keep us on track.

Later, one of the key people involved in the day had to leave early to respond to a pastoral emergency.

But the point was, because I’d done my prep, I was able to adapt and be flexible and to respond sympathetically to both of my colleagues.

Preparation equips us to handle the unexpected positively.

When we spend time in prayer and meditation on God’s word, we equip ourselves for the moment when God calls us to do something, whether that is simply to respond in empathy with someone going through a tough time, or to say yes to a new ministry.

As our verse in Malachi says, ‘He is coming’. Are our hearts prepared for the mission He will ask of them?

Advent Words 2017 – day 1

Advent is here again. The beginning of the church year when we wait with anticipation and hope to celebrate the coming of Jesus.

This year I’m joining with the Advent Words project initiated by Mary from ‘Found On Brighton’. You can find posts on Facebook or Instagram by using the hashtag #adventwords2017.

Each day there is a word and two Bible verses to meditate on and respond to in a creative way.

I’ve chosen to respond in a very simple exercise book of cartridge sketch paper.

Here is my Day 1 response – a simple layout:

I chose a phrase from Romans 15. My technique is to read both of that day’s passages a couple of times and see what jumps out to me. A bit like the Lectio Divina process if you are familiar with that (I may blog about that some other time).

This particular phrase spoke to me as a ‘Gentile’ or ‘non-Jew’, and it includes the word for the day – Hope.

I led a service in one of my churches this Sunday and I talked about hope.

This church is suffering at the moment. They have such pastoral need amongst the congregation. They have suffered loss of loved ones, serious illness, disability, and financial and social hardships way beyond what you would see in the usual run of life amongst a group of people.

And yet these people are some of the kindest, most generous and loving people I know. In amongst their suffering they have room for hope. On Sunday I told them how they had touched my heart in the 9 months I have been their Minister. We took time to pray for our small community but we also prayed for those suffering beyond our walls – the terrible situation in Yemen, the political situation in Zimbabwe, the Rohingas of Myanmar and those affected by the killings at the Egyptian Sufi Mosque.

It is into this world of chaos that Jesus came: Jesus who turned the world order upside down by incarnating as a tiny, middle Eastern vulnerable baby. Jesus, who ushered in a new world order where the least are first and who came to bind up the broken-hearted and give us freedom from the things that imprison us.

Our hope is justified because although we wait, we wait knowing he has already been.

We wait with anticipation, and above all HOPE for the LOVE that comes at Christmas.

As you begin Advent I pray you may experience a sense of Hope in these troubled times.

Freedom

I’ve just come back from a fabulous holiday in the Eastern USA going as far north as Portland, Maine, south as far as Washington DC and including 13 States.

It has been lovely, made especially so because of the time we’ve spent together as a family.

It’s also had its emotional places which have caused me to reflect deeply; the Korean and Vietnam war memorials, Arlington cemetery, 9/11 memorials at Ground zero and the Pentagon, and of course the Freedom Tower or One World Trade Center.

I reflected on the meaning of these places – great commitment and great sacrifice and yet at the same time ultimately lives wasted through the greed for power in many different forms.

Two days before we left there was more violence in the town of Charlottesville, Virginia, where intolerance and fascism reared its ugly head. White supremacists, every bit as extreme as those who carried out the 9/11 attacks, caused 3 deaths and 19 injured. And the President failed to send a clear message condemning them.

As I look back at all my photos of Downtown Manhattan, I see the Freedom tower standing out, reflecting the light and shining above the sky line.

My hope and prayer is that this beacon might inspire all who see it to work for love and peace, not hate and war. I pray that we would remember these words from scripture …

Above all, maintain constant love for one another, for love covers a multitude of sins. Be hospitable to one another without complaining.

1Peter 4:8-9