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.

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Advent day 6: Clothe Yourself in Christ

“Clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not think about how to gratify the desires of the sinful nature.” Romans 13:14

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When we clothe ourselves in Christ, we take on his identity. We don’t just wear him like a Sunday best suit that we choose to swap for our usual outfit when we tire of it.

Accepting Christ means a complete change of who we are. Something we cannot achieve on our own because it’s too easy just to slip back to our old selves.

But when we clothe ourselves in Christ, we allow him to influence who we are. We take on his values, his love, his concern for the poor, the lost, the lonely and the rejected. When we allow him to clothe us fully, we move away from thoughts about self to thoughts about others and so our desires become his rather than those to gratify our own sinful nature.

This advent, are we waiting in anticipation that Christ will clothe us anew and refresh our hearts so that they are in tune with his?

Pause, Ponder, Prepare