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Dec 7

Advent and Christmas 2

Start by watching and listening to this Christmas carol from Russia.  The images are icons, religious paintings.

 

 

There are lots of ways to tell the good news of Christmas but carols are popular.  Which is your favourite carol?

 

Have a go at this short quiz. Which carols do these lines come from? (I’m not sure if suggesting this is a good idea but you may find trying to sing the lines helps)


 

 

So, who is the ‘good news’ of Christmas aimed at? Firstly, at everybody.  The angel announced,

 

Do not be afraid; for see—I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people: to you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, who is the Messiah, the Lord.

Luke 2

 

Although Jesus was born a Jew in Israel, his way of love, peace and joy is for everyone and anyone wherever they are.  Secondly, it’s good news for those who are suffering.  Jesus is ‘Emmanuel’ (God with us) and so even if Christmas is a lonely, unhappy or violent one, then the God of comfort is alongside humans in each and every situation.

Most of us can spread the good news of Christmas, of the generosity of God by being generous ourselves.  This may involve money, thanks to all who have supported our and other Christmas charities, but for most of us it will involve loving our neighbour.  Try to include not exclude people during the next fortnight, try to keep up the thankfulness and look out for situations which you can improve by simply lending a hand or an ear.

I also like to have little reminders.  How about this as a tip? Use Christmas Cards as Prayer Reminders As Christmas cards arrive during December, place them in a basket in a noticeable area. Once a day, pull out one card and pray for that person or family either on your own or with your family.  If you receive greetings on social media rather than on cards, pray for that person before you delete/move on.

Here’s a gospel song that tells of the good news that should be shared:

 



Optional extra: Here’s Send A Cow’s Christmas video.  Which moo-vies are they spoofing?

 

 

 

Nov 30

Advent and Christmas 1

We are officially in the season of Advent, the preparation time before Christmas. Some of you will have started on your calendars, thought about presents, and perhaps even brought and decorated a tree. One of the latest fashions this year is to hang your Christmas tree upside down. A whole host of people and have been posting their efforts on social media, but why?

 



For some, this is just a new way to take an ancient tradition and flip it on its head, but the Early Christians were doing it centuries ago. The fir tree’s triangular shape appeared to represent the Trinity, and believers were said to have hung their trees upside down to serve as a reminder of Jesus on the cross.

This year, how could you flip Christmas on its head? What could you do differently?

Catch me around school, this Wednesday lunch to discover how I’m approaching Christmas this year.

An advent prayer (author unknown):

The Advent story of hope and mystery, anticipation, preparation,

a kingdom of this world and the next, and a king appearing when we least expect.

Heaven touching earth, the footsteps of the divine walking dusty roads as once they did in Eden,

and a people, searching for a Savior, and walking past the stable.

Open eyes and hearts, that this might be an Advent of hope to the world.

Amen.

For further listening, enjoy my favourite; Sufjan Stevens sing about Christ coming as Israel’s saviour:

 

 

 

Nov 23

I Can Revise 2

Advent begins at the end of this week.  The links between I can revise and Advent are …………

How about Advent being a time of preparation and that we mark Advent with a calendar and good revision needs organisation to be effective?

Here’s a 2 minute guide to Advent as a reminder: (you might want to turn the music down or off!)


So, how are you going to make Advent special this year?

* How about using a thoughtful (not just a chocolate-full) Advent calendar, either a bought one or an online one?

* How about using some special Bible readings or prayers during Advent?  I’ve signed up for AdventWord, http://aco.org/adventword but there are many good sites.

* If you would like to take a slightly different path, then try https://www.biblesociety.org.uk/get-involved/adventchallenge/

Back to the link with revision, if you don’t do anything then Advent and/or learning will pass you by.

You may have used this collect (special prayer) in church:


Stir up, O Lord, the wills of your faithful people;

that they, richly bearing the fruit of good works,

may by you be richly rewarded; through Jesus Christ, who is alive with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,

one God now and for ever.

Amen.

We are singing this Taize song at the Christmas services.  Here’s an instrumental version but with the English words displayed. It’s good to give us some moments to plan our Advent.

 



Here’s another take on a spiritual Advent.

 

 

Tags: Faith
Nov 17

I Can Revise 1

It was my birthday last week. I had a good time celebrating with friends, eating good food and thinking about the year that has gone and the year that will come. Some people dread birthdays as they can feel like a reminder that we may not be where we would like to be. However, there are so many people that were heading one way and switched up their life to great success. It’s important to remember the life lesson made in this video about Anthony Joshua, ‘Nobody ever moved forward standing still.’  

 



If you want to live differently, it's important to stop and think about what you would like to change. I often come back to this verse in Romans 12:2:

 

Don't copy the behaviour and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think.

 

Remember, we don’t have to wait for a new year to think about change. I want to encourage you to take a moment to think about the following questions. How can I be more of a blessing to those around me? How can I care less about what other people think? How can I make more time for the things and people I love? How can I make the most out of this year?  

Dear God, we want to be people who make the most of our time on earth.

Help us admit where we have gone off course, and to start again where we need.

Give us humility and courage to keep going forward.

Amen.

 

Tags: Faith
Nov 9

I Value Faith 2

 

Faith stamp

 

What command appears most in the Bible?  Love your neighbour, don’t sin, don’t worship money or something else?

That’s right, it’s something else: “do not fear”/“do not be afraid” appears in the Bible over 300 times. 

There are several interesting things about this. First of all, the Bible isn’t saying, “There is nothing scary so you don’t need to be scared.” Let’s be real… life is often scary. That, however, does NOT mean we need to be scared of it.  Secondly, the command “do not be afraid” more often than not, is followed by an action that God is or will be taking. Here are a few such examples:

 

 

Do not be afraid of them; the Lord your God himself will fight for you.

Deuteronomy 3:22

 

 

Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom.

Luke 12:32

 

Another interesting thing is that 10 times “do not be afraid” is followed by “do not be discouraged.”  Have you stopped to consider that being afraid and being discouraged are related? After all, the opposite of “discouraged” is “encouraged.” And encouraged means to be filled with courage!

So, how might you and I be more courageous this week, at school, at home, in your community? Not everyone is to be courageous in the same way but God gives everyone who asks strength, wisdom and reassurance.

Have you heard of Yusra Mardini, a Syrian Christian refugee?  She’s had and continues to have great courage.  Here’s a video about her:

 

 

 


A prayer that all faiths can pray:

God grant me the serenity

To accept the things I cannot change;

Courage to change the things I can;

And wisdom to know the difference. Amen.

Optional: A song written about when we feel we don’t have enough courage:

 

 



Here’s Yusra speaking about her role with the United Nations:

http://webtv.un.org/news-features/un-stories/chinese/watch/olympian-yusra-mardini-appointed-as-un-refugee-agencys-youngest-ever-goodwill-ambassador/5413789489001

 

And here’s a link to more details about her: 

http://www.elleuk.com/life-and-culture/culture/longform/a39703/syrian-refugee-olympic-swimmer-yusra-mardini/

 

Tags: Faith