Advent and Christmas
The President and Vice-President of the Methodist Conference, The Revd Loraine N Mellor and Jill Baker, have released their 2017 Christmas message on the subject of visitation.
Advent Offering 2017
In the run up to Christmas, we invite you to be part of a connexion-wide event with the potential to bring life and hope to communities across Britain. By holding an Advent Offering Service your church can change lives.
Online Advent calendar
Prepare Ye the Way
Advent is a time of dual anticipation. As we wait for the birth of Christ celebrated at Christmas, we also wait for the second coming of the son of God, for Jesus’ return.
In the midst of preparing ourselves for Christmas, as we purchase gifts and fill our homes with festive decorations, it is easy to forget that the living God also asks us to prepare the way for Christ’s return. This is a great promise, but also a great challenge.
How might we prepare for Jesus’ return?
How would we want Christ to find us?
How might we build the Kingdom of God here on earth today as a sign and a prophecy of the Kingdom to come?
The following prayers and reflections are intended to aid our preparations through Advent. Each week focuses on a different way we might prepare for the coming of Christ, and provides stories, prayers and actions based on the lectionary readings for Advent. You may wish to use them for your own personal study, for group bible studies, or perhaps to guide sermons you may be writing during Advent.
A Gift of Christmas
The popular booklet that celebrates and reflects on the story of Christmas.
Containing Bible passages, excerpts from Christmas Hymns and other quotations, it is an engaging resource for churches to use in their communities. It is designed to give away as a 'Gift' and is a great way to share the meaning of the Christmas story with friends, neighbours or even passers-by.
It is also ideal for small-group and personal reflection.
Order from Methodist Publishing, at £2.99 for 25 booklets (plus postage & packing).
Prepared by the Family Life Committee of the World Methodist Council
Churches Together in Britain and Ireland provide a useful page of resources for Advent: see https://ctbi.org.uk/advent-2016
Reflections on Advent and Christmas in poetry and prayer
Homelessness at Christmas time - a reflection by Janice Clark
your protection for us
is made known
in images of rock and mountain,
wings and arms,
tent and fold.
A protection that makes us
feel safe, secure, and confident -
with knowledge and assurance that removes
our vulnerability, and our loneliness,
our fears and our doubts.
You have promised to be a constant presence,
light, warmth and comfort,
never failing, always near.
And yet, within your world
thousands of people lack shelter
and cannot really call where they live
Their lives are impoverished,
living in a space put together
from whatever scraps they can gather.
The rain leaks through,
the heat of the sun is brutal,
the dust irritates
and water and airborne diseases flourish.
Yet for many this is their home
where new life is conceived,
where love is shown,
where characters are formed,
where faith is passed on
and where an understanding of your protection
God, fully human, yet fully divine,
you know what it is like
to be have no real home -
born into a stable,
no vacancies in the places of hospitality,
forced to flee as a refugee
with life threatening attempts on your life.
In the seasons of Advent and Christmas
your frailty is remembered,
your vulnerability acknowledged,
your purpose for the world revered.
Come again, to give protection
Come again to strengthen the weak
and to subdue the proud.
Come to our own vulnerability
and enable all to offer
hope to a world in need.
Janice Clark is a Methodist local preacher. She is a member of the Scottish Churches Housing Action board and Regional Development Officer, Scotland, for Habitat for Humanity.
It was Christmas Eve and the world stood still - a poem by Tim Carter
It was Christmas Eve
And the world stood still
Just for a moment
Might it be that this time
This time of all times
The promise would be fulfilled
And the wars would end
And the crying cease
And the people join hands in unity?
Might it be this time
This time of all times?
For pocket sized books of illustrated prayers and meditations: Something to Think About and That's Just the Way it is, by Tim Carter and Anthony O'Callaghan email firstname.lastname@example.org. Available at £4.00 each plus 50p postage
God of the waiting - from Christian Aid
God of the waiting,
give us courage to wait with those in the most broken
places of the world,
and with all those who struggle to be bearers of hope
We pray with those who wait for wars to stop, for
violence to cease.
God of the waiting, turn conflict into peace.
And we pray for those who have given up on the
coming of hope,
because they feel they wait in vain
at checkpoints, at borders, for jobs, for food,
and for all those whose lives are crushed under the
structures and systems of injustice.
God of the waiting, wait with your world.
Turn anger into reconciliation,
and our lack of hope into courage,
so that our waiting may be over
and all the things of darkness shall be no more.
Christmas prayers of praise and confession - anon.
We praise you, O loving God,
who gave your very self in human form,
your majesty born into our poverty,
your love lying in an out-house.
We thank you that, amidst Bethlehem's noisy rush,
we find in you
a focus for our activity,
a hope for you humanity,
a love for all eternity.
But we confess that
Christ's birth has gone unnoticed.
Now, as then, we have not made room
in our day to day lives.
Now, as then, we have mislaid
your message of reconciling love.
Now, as then, we have ignored
the stillness of your presence.
Gift-giving God, forgive us.
Free us from our self-centeredness.
Help us to accept your love so freely given
that we may live
as you have called us to live. Amen.
An anxious note to baby Jesus - by Peter Thurston
I feel tired before it's even started.
The cards (should I bother?)
The presents (who to buy for?)
The decorations (real or artificial?)
The family… (enough said)
The crowds, the hassle, the weather -
Wake me up when it's all over.
I know I shouldn't feel this way
but if I'm honest,
it makes me weary just thinking about it.
Which makes me wonder,
how was it for you?
Were you weary too?
Just thinking about it?
The call, the life-long challenge, to
listen to God,
For those with ears to hear
and eyes to see,
to be God?
All begun in makeshift circumstances.
(Sorry, Lord, we were not better prepared -
some things don't change.)
A sign of things to come,
of an uphill struggle
to make your voice heard.
Uphill towards Jerusalem.
Uphill to the Mount of Olives.
Uphill to the hill of execution.
Hoping we would follow.
Hoping we would understand you,
respond to you,
welcome you then,
welcome you now.
Lord, were you tired before it even started?
Or was your love your inner energy,
the love you received your support,
the love you gave a light in the darkness,
the love you give the strength I need?
Will you help me through Advent, dear Lord,
Give me the grace to greet you
without suppressed sighs of weariness.
Give me the generosity to invite you home
without thought to the inconvenience.
Give me the will to rise to your demands,
to share your love and to receive it.
It's not so much to ask, I know,
when you have faced it all -
the Advent task, the Christmas hope -
two thousand times before.
Five short prayers for Advent and Christmas - by Lynne Newland
Jesus our Prince of Peace, we pray that every time a carol is sung, a Christmas greeting spoken, a nativity play performed, that your name be honoured and glorified and that hard hearts be melted to receive you afresh. Amen
Lord Jesus, from the repetitive muzak carols heard in every shop and supermarket to the frantic shopping for glitzy gifts, may we, your disciples, be ready to grasp every opportunity to share the true meaning of Christmas with others. Amen
Lord Jesus, as we await your coming, help us to look for you in the hoodie on our estate, the beggar on the street, the outcasts in our society and open our hearts to love others as you do. Amen
As people strip away the Christmas wrappings may they find your precious gift of love within. Come Lord Jesus, Advent is ending. Amen
Lord, I pray that your Spirit of truth and love will fill the hearts of those for whom Christmas has no meaning. Amen