From the Curate
Advent is a time of slowing down and waiting, preparing ourselves. It is a time that can easily get lost in the Christmas rush and so I write this as an encouragement. Advent invites us to make a commitment to God, simply to make space for Him each day. That can be through silence or discussion, reading or listening, music or creativity. It can be for as long as it takes to open an advent calendar door and make a cup of tea, or it can be a whole dedicated hour set aside. It can be self-guided, a get-together with friends, or email-prompted.
With all that in mind I have put together the list of resources below for you to use as a starting point for your Advent preparations and beyond. This list is by no means exhaustive. There are many ways we can choose to observe Advent, and the important thing is that we intentionally set time aside each day to reflect and pray. And at whatever time you read this, remember that it is never too late to begin.
I pray that you find them useful, and that you find a meaningful way to connect afresh with Emmanuel, God with us.
Prayer for Advent by Henri Nouwen
Lord Jesus, Master of both the light and the darkness,
send your Holy Spirit upon our preparations for Christmas.
We who have so much to do seek quiet spaces to hear your voice each day.
We who are anxious over many things look forward to your coming among us.
We who are blessed in so many ways long for the complete joy of your kingdom.
We whose hearts are heavy seek the joy of your presence.
We are your people, walking in darkness, yet seeking the light.
To you we say, “Come Lord Jesus!”
These books are available at many bookshops. You can either search, or click on each link below for a suggested place to purchase them.
Jane Williams The Art of Advent, provides a painting a day from Advent to Epiphany. Each day ends with a couple of questions and a collect. Theologically astute, a good book for all, and particularly for the more introverted. The Archbishop or York’s Advent book for 2018. Also available as an app with daily prompts (see below).
Tom Wright Advent for Everyone, undertakes the journey to Christmas through St Luke’s Gospel, and divides Advent into separate times for “encouragement, renewal, justice and celebration”. Within each of these themes, Wright offers daily readings and meditations for a week, beginning with the Sunday reading in the Revised Common Lectionary, and ending with stimulating questions for personal reflection or group discussion.
Bill Merrington Footsteps to Bethlehem. The reflections explore the relationships offered by each of the characters who figure in the Gospel text. Each day looks at the life of individuals, such as Mary and Joseph, Zechariah and Elizabeth, and reflects on how they coped with the major events in their lives. A short reading followed by questions to help you examine your own Christian journey, rounded off with prayer. Could be used for personal or group use. Not too heavy.
Reflections for Advent 2018 26 November - 24 December 2018, by Graham James, Gordon Mursell, Angela Tilby. A seasonal extract from the main 2018-19 annual volume, at only £2.99 it is designed to give new readers a taste of the high standard of spiritual and theological writing that makes Reflections so popular.
Each day includes:
* Full lectionary details for Morning Prayer
* A reflection on one of the Bible readings
* A Collect for the day
It also includes a simple form of daily prayer for Advent and an introduction to the season by Margaret Whipp.
Apps and Online Resources
Some of these are free to download, while some require free sign-ups, and some apps charge a one-off cost.
A Good Advent - contains a brilliant new free introduction to the Advent season by Rt Revd Dame Sarah Mullally, the Bishop of London.
The app then contains daily material written by Dr Jane Williams, the Assistant Dean of St Mellitus College. Each day’s material includes a reflection by Dr Williams on a piece of art, a prayer, a Bible verse to read or listen to, and a practical thing you can do for Advent.
This app is completely free and easy to use. Only available on the App Store
Follow The Star invites you to travel in the footsteps of the Wise Men this Christmas to meet Jesus. The app contains 14 daily reflections (to read or listen to), one for each day from Christmas Eve throughout the 12 days of Christmas, ending with the Epiphany. Together, they form a journey through Jesus’ early life – a journey that will help you take the joy and wonder of Christmas into the year ahead. Available on the App Store or Google Play
SPCK daily Advent reflections - Emails delivered straight to your inbox every day from 1st December to Christmas day, these reflections are designed for people on the go - good for reading over a cup of tea or on the morning commute.
Reflections on the Psalms is suitable for year-round discipleship and provides insightful commentary on each of the Bible's 150 Psalms from leading writers, including the Archbishop of York John Sentamu, John Pritchard, Paula Gooder and many more. There is one reflection for each of the Psalms, with two or more reflections for the longer Psalms. Each reflection is accompanied by the full text of the psalm from the Common Worship Psalter, plus a refrain and prayer.
The app allows you to follow a simple pattern of Psalms over the course of a month – following the 1662 Book of Common Prayer – or in any order you choose.
(The app is available on the App Store or Google Play for a one-off cost of £8.99 - a substantial saving on the cost of the print edition).
The Bible in One Year - Start your day with the Bible in One Year, a free Bible reading app with commentary by Nicky and Pippa Gumbel. Nicky Gumbel is the Vicar of HTB in London and pioneer of Alpha.
Available on the App Store or Google Play. Now with new audio commentary.
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