Advent 1 — December 1, Romans 13:11–14
We would be naïve to forget that much of what Jesus had to say cuts against the grain of our consumer culture and the shopping frenzy, partying and overindulgence that Christmas often seems to have become for many people. These words of Paul, as recorded in Romans 13, set out a fairly stern and confronting challenge for us about how we might begin to plan our Christmas celebrations.
How might we allow our Christmas celebrations (both as the Church, and in our families) to be shaped by Paul’s words about “not in revelling and drunkenness… debauchery and licentiousness, not in quarrelling and jealousy” (Romans 13:11, 13)?
Advent 2 — December 8, Matthew 3:1–12
John the Baptist called people to repentance, in preparation for the coming of The Messiah. Most would agree that we need to do it and that we usually pray about it each week in our worship services. However, can you remember when the last time was that you actually repented of something and made significant change in your life?
Considering our lifestyle in the light of the words of John the Baptist, what might we need to repent of — and turn away from — in our life as a Church, as well as individuals and families?
Advent 3 — December 15, Matthew 11:2–11
“And blessed is anyone who takes no offense at me” (Verse 6). The readings in Advent call us, as a Church, to wake from the sugary dreams of a commercial Christmas and to better follow the way of Christ.
If someone was to do a “justice and compassion audit” of our Christmas spending, how offensive might it be to God and Jesus?
Advent 4 — December 22, Matthew 1:18–25
Like many in the Bible, Mary and Joseph hear a calling from God. A calling that radically places them outside the social and moral norms of their culture. Most certainly, it would have made them uncomfortable — because God’s call is usually inconvenient, from a human perspective.
All of us have gifts and skills. As 1 Corinthinas 12-14 affirms, all Christians come with a call to ministry/service. How is God calling you to be “inconvenienced”?
Christmas — December 25, Titus 2:11 – 14
The birth of a baby in a manger sets the scene for the way Jesus was to live. We are called to a discipleship, that centres upon sacrificial love, compassion, mercy, and justice.
How will we respond this year to God’s gift to us? What will our discipleship look like?
After Christmas 1 – December 28, Galatians 4:4 – 7
The joy of the Kingdom that Jesus brings is not about indulgence and self-satisfaction. Instead, the joy of God’s Kingdom can be found in vastly different ways — such as participating in God’s redemptive purposes for creation, which include the liberation of people from the suffering of injustice, inequality and poverty.
As we take up this journey of Christian discipleship for another year, how might we better come into the presence of the Lord? So that he may teach us his ways and we might follow in his path?
The reflections on Advent and Christmas were prepared by the Rev. Jon Humphries, Chaplain at Ravenswood School for Girls.