Advent Sunday is the beginning of a new year, often seen as a time of preparation for Christmas, however that slightly misses the point. While it is indeed the liturgical season leading up to Christmas it looks back rather than forward to the birth of the Babe of Bethlehem. The Ox and the Ass didn’t know what was about to happen, neither we do, indeed if we think we do we will almost certainly miss out, for God is a God of surprises and they are often not only unexpected but also things we would run away from.
Jesus was born for the cross, as death is the only path to resurrection. All too often we want resurrection but are not prepared to put to death those things that prevent it happening. Advent is the time to step out with confidence into an unknown future, but one where God is already awaiting us. To prepare not for what we know or expect, but for those blessing God is waiting to shower upon us.
Below you will find a file for the 1st eight days of #AdventWord. Each word has the verse the word has come from, a little thought for the day and an activity, most days also have an extra thing you might wish to do. Paper copies will be available at church. The next 7 words will be available here from Saturday 3rd December.
Please feel free to share any of your thoughts or your own pictures in the comments below or on the church or Makar Facebook page.
After our celebration of Harvest during the service on October 2nd, we went into the garden to plant two trees. A Eucalyptus and a Holly. Both trees were bought by monies left to the church by Pat Maguire who was a keen gardener and always had some eucalyptus branches in her home and was also known to make a holly wreath. We were delighted that two of Pat’s children were able to join us and help plant the trees.
While it will be a while before the trees have grown enough to safely cut for use in the church, we look forward to doing so for years to come. Snowdrops have also been planted around the Eucalyptus tree and the plan is to move some of the bluebells to around the holly.
A second holly bush which was already in the garden in a pot has been planted just along from the holy tree.
The Time is Now is a new piece of GodArt in the church reflecting the Gospel readings during August. Parts of broken clocks have been used to create a temporary rood screen.
A rood screen separates the people from the holiness beyond. As our Gospel readings repeat Jesus’ warning not to waste any time in sharing God’s Kingdom. Next year, next month, next week, tomorrow might be too late, this afternoon might be to late, the next minute …..
Can we interpret the time is the question Jesus asks, however there lies beneath another bigger question. If we can, what are we going to do about it?
Jesus tells us there are times when we are called not to be peacemakers, but rather to be disruptors. Taken that which is broken and pulling it back together again disrupts people, sometimes the brokenness lies so deep that it becomes part of an identity.
These broken clock pieces hanging as a rood screen remind us that sometimes it is our brokenness that separates us from God, but God wants to put us back together. That isn’t always easy, and it is always painless. One of the surprises when looking at the photos to decide which ones to use was seeing the processional cross surrounded by a broken clock dial. Jesus on the cross is at the centre of our brokenness and from dying to that we can know resurrection, new life and new hope.
This morning we hear from Paul as he writes to the Galatians (You can find the reading at the foot of the page) urging them to live lives enriched by the gifts of the Holy Spirit. The concept is simple, but often we find the execution harder.
Love: loving our neighbours, all our neighbours, those near and those further away.
Joy: sharing our joy and sharing in our neighbours joys, even if we don't understand the joy they feel.
Peace: doing all we can to ensure our neighbours lives are peaceful ones.
Patience: being patience with our neighbours as we would want them to be patient with us. Taking the time to understand them and why they may see the world differently.
Kindness: showing kindness to our neighbours, even when they are unkind to us.
Generosity: sharing all the gifts God has showered upon us with all our neighbours, especially those who are in need.
Faithfulness: never giving up on our neighbours, just as God never gives up on us.
Gentleness: being gentle with our neighbours especially those who are often classed as outsiders for one reason or another.
Self-control: taking time to stop, to think, to pray, to love our neighbour as we should, even when that challenges our own ideas or understandings
Life in all it's fullness comes from embodying the fruits of the Spirit and Loving God with all your heart and soul and mind and strength.
So Christ has truly set us free. Now make sure that you stay free, and don’t get tied up again in slavery to the law.
For you have been called to live in freedom, my brothers and sisters. But don’t use your freedom to satisfy your sinful nature. Instead, use your freedom to serve one another in love. For the whole law can be summed up in this one command: “Love your neighbour as yourself.” But if you are always biting and devouring one another, watch out! Beware of destroying one another.
So I say, let the Holy Spirit guide your lives. Then you won’t be doing what your sinful nature craves. The sinful nature wants to do evil, which is just the opposite of what the Spirit wants. And the Spirit gives us desires that are the opposite of what the sinful nature desires. These two forces are constantly fighting each other, so you are not free to carry out your good intentions. But when you are directed by the Spirit, you are not under obligation to the law of Moses.
When you follow the desires of your sinful nature, the results are very clear: sexual immorality, impurity, lustful pleasures, idolatry, sorcery, hostility, quarrelling, jealousy, outbursts of anger, selfish ambition, dissension, division, envy, drunkenness, wild parties, and other sins like these. Let me tell you again, as I have before, that anyone living that sort of life will not inherit the Kingdom of God. But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things!
Those who belong to Christ Jesus have nailed the passions and desires of their sinful nature to his cross and crucified them there. Since we are living by the Spirit, let us follow the Spirit’s leading in every part of our lives.
This year Christian Aid week runs from 15th till 2nd May. If you haven’t received your new envelope for Christian Aid week, you return it yourself rather than waiting for someone to collect it. You can donate through the link below and also find out about the work Christian Aid are currently involved with.
Christian Aid work throughout the world wherever there is need that they can help with, they are of course involved with refugees fleeing the war in Ukraine, the prayer below was issued by them for Passion Sunday however it is sadly still relevant, if you haven’t already done so you may wish to add it to your own prayers.
God of all peoples and nations,
Who created all things alive and breathing,
United and whole,
Show us the way of peace that is Your overwhelming presence.
We hold before you the peoples of Ukraine and Russia,
Every child and every adult.
We long for the time
When weapons of war are beaten into ploughshares
When nations no longer lift up sword against nation.
We cry out to you for peace;
Protect those who only desire and deserve to live in security and safety
Comfort those who fear for their lives and the lives of their loved ones
Be with those who are bereaved.
Change the hearts of those set on violence and aggression
And fill leaders with the wisdom that leads to peace.
Kindle again in us a love of our neighbour,
And a passion for justice to prevail and a renewed recognition that we all play a part in peace.
Creator of all hear our prayer
And bring us peace. Make us whole.
“This is a beautiful book. This word “beauty,” in the Japanese definition, requires sacrifice. The sacrifice of death to preserve honour or the natural process of decay is beatified.”
Going into the wilderness is a place not were we decay but were we can be beautified. When all distractions, all temptations, all outside influences are no longer assailing our senses, we get the chance to look at ourselves and to listen to what God is saying to us and for us.
So let us journey into the wilderness not in dour West of Scotland attitude, but in the joy of having 40 days with God removed from all other distractions, where we too will be attended to by the angels.
(I am sure there will be more about the book at another time.)
Lent Morning Prayers are a short quiet way to start Mondays through Fridays during Lent. Via Zoom only they will take the form of prayers, images and music. You don’t need to have your video on so you don’t even need to get out of bed to join us. Beginning 8am Thursday 3rd March.