Advent Reflections and Prayers

December 5, 2019

Throughout Advent there will be a reflection or prayer from various voices throughout the Church. They will be published on social media and on our website.

Thursday 5 December

Today’s reflection comes from St Oswald’s Church, Maybole.

Towards the end of each year, St Oswald’s takes over a community charity shop for a week to raise money with the local branch of Save the Children. The years of mission, ministry, and outreach spent there have taken shape in the prayer below.
God of love and charity, be with us throughout our daily lives. Help us to see you in the faces of those who walk through our doors – those who are lonely and looking for connection, those who are grieving the death of a loved one as they come to pass on their possessions, those who have mouths to feed and bills to pay and can only afford a little yet give it willingly for a good cause. Guide and strengthen us as we prepare for the coming of Jesus to seek and share your blessings with others. Through Christ, your Son, our Saviour, amidst pain and sorrow, you come with love. Amen.

Wednesday 4 December

A refugee father with his child

© Annalisa Vandelli, Courtesy of The Vatican Migrant and Refugees Section

Today’s reflection and prayer come from David Bradwell, the Co-ordinator of Scottish Faiths Action for Refugees.

“No room! We have no space! Our beds are needed for people with money! We’ve got bills to pay!

“As we reflect on the story of the Nativity, we remember that Mary and Joseph were refused accommodation and only offered emergency shelter.

“And so we pray for all those asylum seekers in Glasgow who will be made homeless this winter following the Lock Change Evictions carried out by the Home Office and Serco.

“And we pray for all the charities, churches and agencies working to offer aid, advice and a safe bed for the night.”

Ever-loving God,
keep our passion for justice alive with the fire of your Spirit
help us to remember always to show welcome to the stranger and love to our neighbour
strengthen those who are showing compassion to people living on the margins
let our hearts always be more generous than selfish
through Jesus Christ our Lord
Amen

Tuesday 3 December

A reflection from the Rev Dr Dennis Berk:

A shaft of light from the cloudsThe shortness of daylight hours is not the only aspect of darkness that hangs heavily over us in this month of December. At the present time we also are drawing closer to another General Election which has been characterised by contentious debates where the antagonists’ accusations against each other leave a taste of bitterness in our mouths. With the competing political parties so acrimoniously divided and seemingly unable to find a compromise for reaching a united way forward leading towards a resolution of the current chaos and confusion, this year’s season of Advent may seem particularly bleak and dark.

In addition to the anxiety and stress that results from living in an increasingly fractured society, perhaps on a personal level you also are experiencing the oppressive weight of darkness weighing down upon you? When heavily burdened by heartbreak or tragedy, in agony and desperation you may have cried out: “God, where are you? Why don’t you do something?” When we are in a mess and feel completely overcome by the darkness we want someone to help us by sorting everything out and making it all better. This is especially true when bad news hits home by impacting us personally, either in our own lives or in those of our loved ones. At such traumatic times of distress, when a particularly painful or heart-wrenching experience seems likely to overwhelm us, we have an intense need for God to act of our behalf.

“Where is God?” we may cry out in near panic. When tragedy or trauma leaves us utterly broken and completely vulnerable, we can be too fragile and feeble to make a significant movement towards God under our own steam. Yet it is our personal struggles, with all of their accompanying doubts and fears, that actually offer each of us a gift by providing an opportunity for revealing how much we frail humans need God to move towards us.

Fortunately, that is exactly what God did through the miracle of the Incarnation. God tore open the heavens and came down to dwell amongst us. During dark days, when the Assyrians were looming threateningly over Israel, the Old Testament prophet Isaiah foretold that God would come right into the very midst of our world. Much later Saint Matthew tells us in his Gospel that the divine child conceived and born by a virgin was named Emmanuel, which means “God is with us.”

So whenever life seems unbearably awful, and in the pain of dark despair you cry out asking “God, where are you?” may you remember that God is right here with you. The dark storm clouds are parted by the Light of Christ breaking through the blackness and coming into our lives. Emmanuel, the amazing gift of God Incarnate, is the hope that we look for with eager anticipation in this December’s wintry darkness. Advent is our journey towards that divine Light which illuminates even the frightfulness of the long nights that you may experience when your heart is heavy and your mind is troubled. Amidst the darkness, when you call out “Where are you God?” may you remember that ‘Emmanuel’ means the answer to that question is “God is with us.”

 

Monday 2 December

Maureen O’Neill, Director at Faith in Older People, who work with those of faith and none to celebrate the lives of older people and to develop a stronger awareness of the spiritual dimension to the well-being of older people.

‘Even as our outer nature fades (our bodily frailty), our inner nature is renewed every day’ (2 Corinthians 4.16).

We need to celebrate the lives of older people and the immense contribution they make to our faith communities. In doing so we acknowledge the losses, bereavements and diminishments experienced by many at some stage in older age as well as the gifts and wisdom they have brought us. Our friendships and involvement within congregations plays a critical role in building our resilience and sense of belonging. We need those around us to confirm our identity and place in relation to others and the wider world whether we experience physical or mental diminishment. We need to share our stories and spiritual needs so that those around us know us.

Advent 1 – Sunday 1 December

The first reflection, for Advent Sunday comes from the Most Rev Mark Strange, Bishop of Moray, Ross & Caithness and Primus of the Scottish Episcopal Church:

A candle burns in the darkness“As we enter the season of Advent we are reminded of the importance of hope.

“At this moment our society is becoming increasingly fractured. Many of us are frightened. Many of us are alone. Many of us have lost trust in our national and local institutions.

“We worry for our friends and family. We are frightened for the environment. We are increasingly disconnected from those around us.

“During this Advent season we will hear stories, reflections and prayers on the many ways the Church responds to these worries and cares. We pray for those who work to help others, especially at this time of year. We are reminded of our duty of care to our neighbours. We pray that we can find the strength to do more.

“And we pray that we will never forget hope. That we keep the Advent Candle lit. The hope of the coming of Christ.”