#FollowTheStar Christmas reflections - Day five

 

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Whatever our definition of beauty, we can probably agree that if something is beautiful it ‘sticks out’ from what is around it. We see it or sense it, and we find it hard to resist.

1 The heavens are telling the glory of God;
    and the firmament proclaims his handiwork.
2 Day to day pours forth speech,
    and night to night declares knowledge.
3 There is no speech, nor are there words;
    their voice is not heard;
4 yet their voice goes out through all the earth,
    and their words to the end of the world.

In the heavens he has set a tent for the sun,
5 which comes out like a bridegroom from his wedding canopy,
    and like a strong man runs its course with joy.
6 Its rising is from the end of the heavens,
    and its circuit to the end of them;
    and nothing is hidden from its heat.

Everyone’s definition of beauty is different. Artists paint it. Musicians compose music that somehow captures it. Hearts and emotions respond to it. For some it is about what we see on the outside. For others it is about an experience that brings joy.

Whatever beauty is, it is captivating, and the wise men cannot resist the natural beauty they see in the night sky. They are drawn to the star, the work of God’s hand, and they have to follow. They have to find out more. The outward beauty and mystery of the star is about to lead them to the most beautiful gift they could ever imagine: a child who will light up the whole world.
Take a photo of something beautiful you see today.
Share it via message or social media and tell people about the beauty you’ve seen.
God of beauty, thank you for all that you have created. Help us to celebrate the special things we see today. Amen.
 

View today's family craft activity

 
Listen to today's reflection through the app
 
Reflections from the Church House Publishing booklet Follow The Star: 12 Days of Christmas Wonder by Mina Munns are copyright 2019 The Archbishops’ Council and used here with permission.
Bible readings are taken from The New Revised Standard Version (Anglicized Edition), copyright 1989, 1995 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. All rights reserved.
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#FollowTheStar Christmas reflections - Day five

 

Listen to today's reflection through the app
Whatever our definition of beauty, we can probably agree that if something is beautiful it ‘sticks out’ from what is around it. We see it or sense it, and we find it hard to resist.

1 The heavens are telling the glory of God;
    and the firmament proclaims his handiwork.
2 Day to day pours forth speech,
    and night to night declares knowledge.
3 There is no speech, nor are there words;
    their voice is not heard;
4 yet their voice goes out through all the earth,
    and their words to the end of the world.

In the heavens he has set a tent for the sun,
5 which comes out like a bridegroom from his wedding canopy,
    and like a strong man runs its course with joy.
6 Its rising is from the end of the heavens,
    and its circuit to the end of them;
    and nothing is hidden from its heat.

Everyone’s definition of beauty is different. Artists paint it. Musicians compose music that somehow captures it. Hearts and emotions respond to it. For some it is about what we see on the outside. For others it is about an experience that brings joy.

Whatever beauty is, it is captivating, and the wise men cannot resist the natural beauty they see in the night sky. They are drawn to the star, the work of God’s hand, and they have to follow. They have to find out more. The outward beauty and mystery of the star is about to lead them to the most beautiful gift they could ever imagine: a child who will light up the whole world.
Take a photo of something beautiful you see today.
Share it via message or social media and tell people about the beauty you’ve seen.
God of beauty, thank you for all that you have created. Help us to celebrate the special things we see today. Amen.
 

View today's family craft activity

 
Listen to today's reflection through the app
 
Reflections from the Church House Publishing booklet Follow The Star: 12 Days of Christmas Wonder by Mina Munns are copyright 2019 The Archbishops’ Council and used here with permission.
Bible readings are taken from The New Revised Standard Version (Anglicized Edition), copyright 1989, 1995 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. All rights reserved.
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Sun, 29 Dec 2019 06:30:00 +0000

https://mailchi.mp/churchofengland/followthestar-2019-christmas-reflections-day-four https://mailchi.mp/churchofengland/followthestar-2019-christmas-reflections-day-four

#FollowTheStar Christmas reflections - Day four

 

Listen to today's reflection through the app
Sometimes it feels as if pain and hardship are the way of the world and there is nothing we can do to change the situation. Systems, though, can be overturned by unexpected people.

Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. 2 And I saw the holy city, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. 3 And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying,

‘See, the home of God is among mortals.
He will dwell with them;
they will be his peoples,
and God himself will be with them;
4 he will wipe every tear from their eyes.
Death will be no more;
mourning and crying and pain will be no more,
for the first things have passed away.’

5 And the one who was seated on the throne said, ‘See, I am making all things new.’ Also he said, ‘Write this, for these words are trustworthy and true.’ 6 Then he said to me, ‘It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. To the thirsty I will give water as a gift from the spring of the water of life. 7 Those who conquer will inherit these things, and I will be their God and they will be my children.

The wise men have come looking for a king and Herod is worried. He knows that this child they speak of is a threat to his authority and he has to do something. Somehow he has to take this special child out of the picture and death is the surest way to stop a new king rising.

Today the Church remembers ‘The Holy Innocents’ – the infant boys Herod orders to be killed as he attempts to track down Jesus. As mothers shed tears for their murdered children, a king is coming who will turn Herod’s old order upside down. The child Herod seeks will bring in a kingdom where every tear will be wiped away and death and pain will be banished for ever.
Do you know someone who is grieving? What is painful for you to see or hear?
Bring these things to God and watch for signs of healing and comfort today.
Father, we bring to you our pain and our sadness. Wipe away our tears and fill us with hope. Amen.
 

View today's family craft activity

 
Share this #FollowTheStar reflection with your family and friends
 
Reflections from the Church House Publishing booklet Follow The Star: 12 Days of Christmas Wonder by Mina Munns are copyright 2019 The Archbishops’ Council and used here with permission.
Bible readings are taken from The New Revised Standard Version (Anglicized Edition), copyright 1989, 1995 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. All rights reserved.
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#FollowTheStar Christmas reflections - Day four

 

Listen to today's reflection through the app
Sometimes it feels as if pain and hardship are the way of the world and there is nothing we can do to change the situation. Systems, though, can be overturned by unexpected people.

Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. 2 And I saw the holy city, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. 3 And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying,

‘See, the home of God is among mortals.
He will dwell with them;
they will be his peoples,
and God himself will be with them;
4 he will wipe every tear from their eyes.
Death will be no more;
mourning and crying and pain will be no more,
for the first things have passed away.’

5 And the one who was seated on the throne said, ‘See, I am making all things new.’ Also he said, ‘Write this, for these words are trustworthy and true.’ 6 Then he said to me, ‘It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. To the thirsty I will give water as a gift from the spring of the water of life. 7 Those who conquer will inherit these things, and I will be their God and they will be my children.

The wise men have come looking for a king and Herod is worried. He knows that this child they speak of is a threat to his authority and he has to do something. Somehow he has to take this special child out of the picture and death is the surest way to stop a new king rising.

Today the Church remembers ‘The Holy Innocents’ – the infant boys Herod orders to be killed as he attempts to track down Jesus. As mothers shed tears for their murdered children, a king is coming who will turn Herod’s old order upside down. The child Herod seeks will bring in a kingdom where every tear will be wiped away and death and pain will be banished for ever.
Do you know someone who is grieving? What is painful for you to see or hear?
Bring these things to God and watch for signs of healing and comfort today.
Father, we bring to you our pain and our sadness. Wipe away our tears and fill us with hope. Amen.
 

View today's family craft activity

 
Share this #FollowTheStar reflection with your family and friends
 
Reflections from the Church House Publishing booklet Follow The Star: 12 Days of Christmas Wonder by Mina Munns are copyright 2019 The Archbishops’ Council and used here with permission.
Bible readings are taken from The New Revised Standard Version (Anglicized Edition), copyright 1989, 1995 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. All rights reserved.
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Sat, 28 Dec 2019 06:30:00 +0000

https://mailchi.mp/churchofengland/followthestar-2019-christmas-reflections-day-three https://mailchi.mp/churchofengland/followthestar-2019-christmas-reflections-day-three

#FollowTheStar Christmas reflections - Day three

 

Listen to today's reflection through the app
Sometimes it feels as if pain and hardship are the way of the world and there is nothing we can do to change the situation. Systems, though, can be overturned by unexpected people.

68 ‘Blessed be the Lord God of Israel,
    for he has looked favourably on his people and redeemed them.
69 He has raised up a mighty saviour[g] for us
    in the house of his servant David,
70 as he spoke through the mouth of his holy prophets from of old,
71     that we would be saved from our enemies and from the hand of all who hate us.
72 Thus he has shown the mercy promised to our ancestors,
    and has remembered his holy covenant,
73 the oath that he swore to our ancestor Abraham,
    to grant us 74 that we, being rescued from the hands of our enemies,
might serve him without fear, 75 in holiness and righteousness
    before him all our days.
76 And you, child, will be called the prophet of the Most High;
    for you will go before the Lord to prepare his ways,
77 to give knowledge of salvation to his people
    by the forgiveness of their sins.
78 By the tender mercy of our God,
    the dawn from on high will break upon[h] us,
79 to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death,
    to guide our feet into the way of peace.’

Jesus is born into a community which is waiting for a saviour to come. At the time of Jesus’ birth, the Jewish people had been living under the control of the Romans. They needed to believe that one day things would be different, that hope was on its way.

A star, shining brightly in the sky, points towards a baby who is born to be light in the darkness. This baby is going to bring a new day to end the night of fear and worry and oppression. The darkness of war and struggle and pain is about to be consumed by dawning light. God has not forgotten his people. Light and life is breaking through.
Where do you see light dawning in dark situations?
Watch or read the news. Ask for God to bring light and hope to one of the situations you learn about.
Thank you, God, that with you there is always hope. Bring your light to the dark situations we face in our world. Amen.
 

View today's family craft activity

 
Share this #FollowTheStar reflection with your family and friends
 
Reflections from the Church House Publishing booklet Follow The Star: 12 Days of Christmas Wonder by Mina Munns are copyright 2019 The Archbishops’ Council and used here with permission.
Bible readings are taken from The New Revised Standard Version (Anglicized Edition), copyright 1989, 1995 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. All rights reserved.
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]]-->

 

#FollowTheStar Christmas reflections - Day three

 

Listen to today's reflection through the app
Sometimes it feels as if pain and hardship are the way of the world and there is nothing we can do to change the situation. Systems, though, can be overturned by unexpected people.

68 ‘Blessed be the Lord God of Israel,
    for he has looked favourably on his people and redeemed them.
69 He has raised up a mighty saviour[g] for us
    in the house of his servant David,
70 as he spoke through the mouth of his holy prophets from of old,
71     that we would be saved from our enemies and from the hand of all who hate us.
72 Thus he has shown the mercy promised to our ancestors,
    and has remembered his holy covenant,
73 the oath that he swore to our ancestor Abraham,
    to grant us 74 that we, being rescued from the hands of our enemies,
might serve him without fear, 75 in holiness and righteousness
    before him all our days.
76 And you, child, will be called the prophet of the Most High;
    for you will go before the Lord to prepare his ways,
77 to give knowledge of salvation to his people
    by the forgiveness of their sins.
78 By the tender mercy of our God,
    the dawn from on high will break upon[h] us,
79 to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death,
    to guide our feet into the way of peace.’

Jesus is born into a community which is waiting for a saviour to come. At the time of Jesus’ birth, the Jewish people had been living under the control of the Romans. They needed to believe that one day things would be different, that hope was on its way.

A star, shining brightly in the sky, points towards a baby who is born to be light in the darkness. This baby is going to bring a new day to end the night of fear and worry and oppression. The darkness of war and struggle and pain is about to be consumed by dawning light. God has not forgotten his people. Light and life is breaking through.
Where do you see light dawning in dark situations?
Watch or read the news. Ask for God to bring light and hope to one of the situations you learn about.
Thank you, God, that with you there is always hope. Bring your light to the dark situations we face in our world. Amen.
 

View today's family craft activity

 
Share this #FollowTheStar reflection with your family and friends
 
Reflections from the Church House Publishing booklet Follow The Star: 12 Days of Christmas Wonder by Mina Munns are copyright 2019 The Archbishops’ Council and used here with permission.
Bible readings are taken from The New Revised Standard Version (Anglicized Edition), copyright 1989, 1995 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. All rights reserved.
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Fri, 27 Dec 2019 06:30:00 +0000

https://mailchi.mp/churchofengland/2019-christmas-reflections-invitation https://mailchi.mp/churchofengland/2019-christmas-reflections-invitation

We hope you're enjoying our #FollowTheStar Christmas reflections.

 

We hope that you've enjoyed the #FollowTheStar reflections so far!

We're only two days in and so now is a great time to invite family and friends to join in this journey with you. Just click on the button below and forward the invitation to anyone who you think might benefit from these daily reflections.
Invite your family and friends to join in the #FollowTheStar journey
 

If you're signed up for the emails and have a smart phone or tablet, why not download our #FollowTheStar app available on Android and iOS and get audio versions of the reflections, as well as craft activities designed to help families explore the daily themes.
Download our FREE app on Android or iOS
 
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]]-->

 

We hope you're enjoying our #FollowTheStar Christmas reflections.

 

We hope that you've enjoyed the #FollowTheStar reflections so far!

We're only two days in and so now is a great time to invite family and friends to join in this journey with you. Just click on the button below and forward the invitation to anyone who you think might benefit from these daily reflections.
Invite your family and friends to join in the #FollowTheStar journey
 

If you're signed up for the emails and have a smart phone or tablet, why not download our #FollowTheStar app available on Android and iOS and get audio versions of the reflections, as well as craft activities designed to help families explore the daily themes.
Download our FREE app on Android or iOS
 
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Thu, 26 Dec 2019 15:00:00 +0000

https://mailchi.mp/churchofengland/followthestar-2019-christmas-reflections-day-two https://mailchi.mp/churchofengland/followthestar-2019-christmas-reflections-day-two

#FollowTheStar Christmas reflections - Day two

 

Listen to today's reflection through the app
There are so many things in the world we can’t quite explain or which take our breath away. And when we find something amazing it can be hard to stop ourselves trying to find out more.

6 By your strength you established the mountains;
    you are girded with might.
7 You silence the roaring of the seas,
    the roaring of their waves,
    the tumult of the peoples.
8 Those who live at earth’s farthest bounds are awed by your signs;
you make the gateways of the morning and the evening shout for joy.

9 You visit the earth and water it,
    you greatly enrich it;
the river of God is full of water;
    you provide the people with grain,
    for so you have prepared it.
10 You water its furrows abundantly,
    settling its ridges,
softening it with showers,
    and blessing its growth.
11 You crown the year with your bounty;
    your wagon tracks overflow with richness.
12 The pastures of the wilderness overflow,
    the hills gird themselves with joy,
13 the meadows clothe themselves with flocks,
    the valleys deck themselves with grain,
    they shout and sing together for joy.

There’s no doubt that the universe is an amazing place. There are trillions of stars out there and each one is a small miracle of gas and gravity. Looking at the stars in the night sky tells a story that started millions of years ago. Only now do we see the light that started its journey back before most of our ancestors were born.

Every star is incredible, and yet the wise men, looking up, had to wonder what they were seeing. These men who studied the skies and who knew the stars inside out could still be amazed. In the midst of God’s spectacular creation, something unusual called to them and opened their minds to look in awe.
Stand outside and look into the night sky.
What amazes you? What is it about the world God created that makes you wonder?
Father, we thank you for the things you have made that amaze us. Help us to keep looking in wonder. Amen.
 

View today's family craft activity

 
Share this #FollowTheStar reflection with your family and friends
 
Reflections from the Church House Publishing booklet Follow The Star: 12 Days of Christmas Wonder by Mina Munns are copyright 2019 The Archbishops’ Council and used here with permission.
Bible readings are taken from The New Revised Standard Version (Anglicized Edition), copyright 1989, 1995 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. All rights reserved.
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#FollowTheStar Christmas reflections - Day two

 

Listen to today's reflection through the app
There are so many things in the world we can’t quite explain or which take our breath away. And when we find something amazing it can be hard to stop ourselves trying to find out more.

6 By your strength you established the mountains;
    you are girded with might.
7 You silence the roaring of the seas,
    the roaring of their waves,
    the tumult of the peoples.
8 Those who live at earth’s farthest bounds are awed by your signs;
you make the gateways of the morning and the evening shout for joy.

9 You visit the earth and water it,
    you greatly enrich it;
the river of God is full of water;
    you provide the people with grain,
    for so you have prepared it.
10 You water its furrows abundantly,
    settling its ridges,
softening it with showers,
    and blessing its growth.
11 You crown the year with your bounty;
    your wagon tracks overflow with richness.
12 The pastures of the wilderness overflow,
    the hills gird themselves with joy,
13 the meadows clothe themselves with flocks,
    the valleys deck themselves with grain,
    they shout and sing together for joy.

There’s no doubt that the universe is an amazing place. There are trillions of stars out there and each one is a small miracle of gas and gravity. Looking at the stars in the night sky tells a story that started millions of years ago. Only now do we see the light that started its journey back before most of our ancestors were born.

Every star is incredible, and yet the wise men, looking up, had to wonder what they were seeing. These men who studied the skies and who knew the stars inside out could still be amazed. In the midst of God’s spectacular creation, something unusual called to them and opened their minds to look in awe.
Stand outside and look into the night sky.
What amazes you? What is it about the world God created that makes you wonder?
Father, we thank you for the things you have made that amaze us. Help us to keep looking in wonder. Amen.
 

View today's family craft activity

 
Share this #FollowTheStar reflection with your family and friends
 
Reflections from the Church House Publishing booklet Follow The Star: 12 Days of Christmas Wonder by Mina Munns are copyright 2019 The Archbishops’ Council and used here with permission.
Bible readings are taken from The New Revised Standard Version (Anglicized Edition), copyright 1989, 1995 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. All rights reserved.
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Thu, 26 Dec 2019 06:30:00 +0000

https://mailchi.mp/churchofengland/followthestar-2019-christmas-reflections-day-one https://mailchi.mp/churchofengland/followthestar-2019-christmas-reflections-day-one

#FollowTheStar Christmas reflections - Day one

 

Day 1 Christmas Day - Star
Listen to today's reflection through the app
We all have questions: big ones and small ones. Some questions, though, might change the course of our lives when we search for the answers.
Read Matthew 2.1-8
1 In the time of King Herod, after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem, asking, ‘Where is the child who has been born king of the Jews? For we observed his star at its rising, and have come to pay him homage.’ 3 When King Herod heard this, he was frightened, and all Jerusalem with him; 4 and calling together all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Messiah was to be born. They told him, ‘In Bethlehem of Judea; for so it has been written by the prophet: 
6 “And you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah,
   are by no means least among the rulers of Judah;
for from you shall come a ruler
   who is to shepherd my people Israel.” ’7 Then Herod secretly called for the wise men and learned from them the exact time when the star had appeared. Then he sent them to Bethlehem, saying, ‘Go and search diligently for the child; and when you have found him, bring me word so that I may also go and pay him homage.’
Reflect
Curiosity is a powerful thing. The urge to find out more can lead us in all sorts of directions and it certainly leads the wise men to leave their homes and journey towards an unknown place, following only an unusual star. The wise men have noticed that something is out of the ordinary, something that pulls them, something they can’t ignore.

Today, on Christmas Day, we celebrate the birth of Jesus. He is the promised king, the child the wise men eventually find and worship. But they’re not there yet. For now, they’re still on the journey. They still have questions. They’re still searching but they know that what they find will be worth it.
Challenge
Where are you on your journey with God?
What questions do you have about Jesus?

Write down your questions and your thoughts and see what answers you find through the next few days.
Pray
God of surprises, we bring our questions to you. Show us more about Jesus as we travel through the coming days. Amen.
 

View today's family craft activity

 
Share this #FollowTheStar reflection with your family and friends
 
Reflections from the Church House Publishing booklet Follow The Star: 12 Days of Christmas Wonder by Mina Munns are copyright 2019 The Archbishops’ Council and used here with permission.
Bible readings are taken from The New Revised Standard Version (Anglicized Edition), copyright 1989, 1995 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. All rights reserved.
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]]-->

 

#FollowTheStar Christmas reflections - Day one

 

Day 1 Christmas Day - Star
Listen to today's reflection through the app
We all have questions: big ones and small ones. Some questions, though, might change the course of our lives when we search for the answers.
Read Matthew 2.1-8
1 In the time of King Herod, after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem, asking, ‘Where is the child who has been born king of the Jews? For we observed his star at its rising, and have come to pay him homage.’ 3 When King Herod heard this, he was frightened, and all Jerusalem with him; 4 and calling together all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Messiah was to be born. They told him, ‘In Bethlehem of Judea; for so it has been written by the prophet: 
6 “And you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah,
   are by no means least among the rulers of Judah;
for from you shall come a ruler
   who is to shepherd my people Israel.” ’7 Then Herod secretly called for the wise men and learned from them the exact time when the star had appeared. Then he sent them to Bethlehem, saying, ‘Go and search diligently for the child; and when you have found him, bring me word so that I may also go and pay him homage.’
Reflect
Curiosity is a powerful thing. The urge to find out more can lead us in all sorts of directions and it certainly leads the wise men to leave their homes and journey towards an unknown place, following only an unusual star. The wise men have noticed that something is out of the ordinary, something that pulls them, something they can’t ignore.

Today, on Christmas Day, we celebrate the birth of Jesus. He is the promised king, the child the wise men eventually find and worship. But they’re not there yet. For now, they’re still on the journey. They still have questions. They’re still searching but they know that what they find will be worth it.
Challenge
Where are you on your journey with God?
What questions do you have about Jesus?

Write down your questions and your thoughts and see what answers you find through the next few days.
Pray
God of surprises, we bring our questions to you. Show us more about Jesus as we travel through the coming days. Amen.
 

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Share this #FollowTheStar reflection with your family and friends
 
Reflections from the Church House Publishing booklet Follow The Star: 12 Days of Christmas Wonder by Mina Munns are copyright 2019 The Archbishops’ Council and used here with permission.
Bible readings are taken from The New Revised Standard Version (Anglicized Edition), copyright 1989, 1995 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. All rights reserved.
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Wed, 25 Dec 2019 06:30:00 +0000

https://mailchi.mp/churchofengland/followthestar-2019-advent-reflections-week-four https://mailchi.mp/churchofengland/followthestar-2019-advent-reflections-week-four

Your fourth and final #FollowTheStar weekly Advent reflection

 

This is the final weekly Advent reflection as part of this series.
Your next set of reflections will begin on Christmas Day and run until 5th January, continuing with our #FollowTheStar theme.
This week’s Advent #FollowTheStar reflection from Archbishop Justin Welby and Rev Isabelle Hamley
Share this message with your family and friends
There is nothing more satisfying than a finished to-do list. It feels like such an achievement to be able to say, “I have done it all. I am officially ready.” Human beings love this sense of being in control, of mastering the world around them. Which is probably why Christmas is so difficult. Because we might prepare the practicalities, but to be ready for Christmas, for the coming of God, asks us to put our to do lists aside, and simply open ourselves up to God.

26 In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a town in Galilee called Nazareth, 27 to a virgin engaged to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. 28 And he came to her and said, ‘Greetings, favoured one! The Lord is with you.’ 29 But she was much perplexed by his words and pondered what sort of greeting this might be. 30 The angel said to her, ‘Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favour with God. 31 And now, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you will name him Jesus. 32 He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give to him the throne of his ancestor David. 33 He will reign over the house of Jacob for ever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.’ 34 Mary said to the angel, ‘How can this be, since I am a virgin?’ 35 The angel said to her, ‘The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be holy; he will be called Son of God. 36 And now, your relative Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son; and this is the sixth month for her who was said to be barren. 37 For nothing will be impossible with God.’ 38 Then Mary said, ‘Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word.’ Then the angel departed from her.

This is the radical message of the Christian Gospel – we can’t find our way to God by our own effort, Instead, God comes to us, seeks us out and offers us grace. All we bring is ourselves, as we are, in truth and openness. To be ready for God, maybe we need to “unlearn” the things we’ve been doing or thinking – that we need to make ourselves “worthy” or “good enough”. Preparing ourselves for Christmas means being completely open to God and being ready to throw our lists away.

Archbishop Justin Welby and Rev Isabelle Hamley

 
Find out more about #FollowTheStar
Bible readings are taken from The New Revised Standard Version (Anglicized Edition), copyright 1989, 1995 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. All rights reserved.
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Copyright © 2019 The Church of England, All rights reserved.


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]]-->

 

Your fourth and final #FollowTheStar weekly Advent reflection

 

This is the final weekly Advent reflection as part of this series.
Your next set of reflections will begin on Christmas Day and run until 5th January, continuing with our #FollowTheStar theme.
This week’s Advent #FollowTheStar reflection from Archbishop Justin Welby and Rev Isabelle Hamley
Share this message with your family and friends
There is nothing more satisfying than a finished to-do list. It feels like such an achievement to be able to say, “I have done it all. I am officially ready.” Human beings love this sense of being in control, of mastering the world around them. Which is probably why Christmas is so difficult. Because we might prepare the practicalities, but to be ready for Christmas, for the coming of God, asks us to put our to do lists aside, and simply open ourselves up to God.

26 In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a town in Galilee called Nazareth, 27 to a virgin engaged to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. 28 And he came to her and said, ‘Greetings, favoured one! The Lord is with you.’ 29 But she was much perplexed by his words and pondered what sort of greeting this might be. 30 The angel said to her, ‘Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favour with God. 31 And now, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you will name him Jesus. 32 He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give to him the throne of his ancestor David. 33 He will reign over the house of Jacob for ever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.’ 34 Mary said to the angel, ‘How can this be, since I am a virgin?’ 35 The angel said to her, ‘The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be holy; he will be called Son of God. 36 And now, your relative Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son; and this is the sixth month for her who was said to be barren. 37 For nothing will be impossible with God.’ 38 Then Mary said, ‘Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word.’ Then the angel departed from her.

This is the radical message of the Christian Gospel – we can’t find our way to God by our own effort, Instead, God comes to us, seeks us out and offers us grace. All we bring is ourselves, as we are, in truth and openness. To be ready for God, maybe we need to “unlearn” the things we’ve been doing or thinking – that we need to make ourselves “worthy” or “good enough”. Preparing ourselves for Christmas means being completely open to God and being ready to throw our lists away.

Archbishop Justin Welby and Rev Isabelle Hamley

 
Find out more about #FollowTheStar
Bible readings are taken from The New Revised Standard Version (Anglicized Edition), copyright 1989, 1995 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. All rights reserved.
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Instagram
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Copyright © 2019 The Church of England, All rights reserved.


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]]-->

Sun, 22 Dec 2019 06:30:00 +0000

https://mailchi.mp/churchofengland/followthestar-2019-advent-reflections-week-three https://mailchi.mp/churchofengland/followthestar-2019-advent-reflections-week-three

Your third #FollowTheStar weekly Advent reflection

 

This week’s Advent #FollowTheStar reflection from Archbishop Justin Welby and Rev Isabelle Hamley
Share this message with your family and friends
The third week of Advent celebrates John the Baptist, whose entire life was dedicated to pointing to glory beyond himself: pointing to the life of Jesus sharing his delight and awe at what God was doing. Advent is profoundly challenging because it invites us to look, and point, away from ourselves. It calls us to prepare the way for someone else.

1 The wilderness and the dry land shall be glad,
    the desert shall rejoice and blossom;
like the crocus it shall blossom abundantly,
    and rejoice with joy and singing.
The glory of Lebanon shall be given to it,
    the majesty of Carmel and Sharon.
They shall see the glory of the Lord,
    the majesty of our God.

3 Strengthen the weak hands,
    and make firm the feeble knees.
4 Say to those who are of a fearful heart,
    ‘Be strong, do not fear!
Here is your God.
    He will come with vengeance,
with terrible recompense.
    He will come and save you.’

5 Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened,
    and the ears of the deaf unstopped;
6 then the lame shall leap like a deer,
    and the tongue of the speechless sing for joy.
For waters shall break forth in the wilderness,
    and streams in the desert;
7 the burning sand shall become a pool,
    and the thirsty ground springs of water;
the haunt of jackals shall become a swamp,
    the grass shall become reeds and rushes.

8 A highway shall be there,
    and it shall be called the Holy Way;
the unclean shall not travel on it,
    but it shall be for God’s people;
    no traveller, not even fools, shall go astray.
9 No lion shall be there,
    nor shall any ravenous beast come up on it;
they shall not be found there,
    but the redeemed shall walk there.
10 And the ransomed of the Lord shall return,
    and come to Zion with singing;
everlasting joy shall be upon their heads;
    they shall obtain joy and gladness,
    and sorrow and sighing shall flee away.

The questions are insistent in Advent: Who is it in our communities that we need to make space for? Who is unseen? We need to lose our preoccupation with the castles of the world and remember the sheds.

As we look beyond ourselves, we may find God in surprising places. With the refugee, the homeless, those who grieve. Advent and Christmas can be times of desolation for those who are alone, forgotten, or grieving the loss of those they love. Whoever we are, we are called to look beyond ourselves, to the God who promises to walk with us on the way.

Archbishop Justin Welby and Rev Isabelle Hamley

 
Find out more about #FollowTheStar
Bible readings are taken from The New Revised Standard Version (Anglicized Edition), copyright 1989, 1995 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. All rights reserved.
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Copyright © 2019 The Church of England, All rights reserved.


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Email Marketing Powered by Mailchimp

]]-->

 

Your third #FollowTheStar weekly Advent reflection

 

This week’s Advent #FollowTheStar reflection from Archbishop Justin Welby and Rev Isabelle Hamley
Share this message with your family and friends
The third week of Advent celebrates John the Baptist, whose entire life was dedicated to pointing to glory beyond himself: pointing to the life of Jesus sharing his delight and awe at what God was doing. Advent is profoundly challenging because it invites us to look, and point, away from ourselves. It calls us to prepare the way for someone else.

1 The wilderness and the dry land shall be glad,
    the desert shall rejoice and blossom;
like the crocus it shall blossom abundantly,
    and rejoice with joy and singing.
The glory of Lebanon shall be given to it,
    the majesty of Carmel and Sharon.
They shall see the glory of the Lord,
    the majesty of our God.

3 Strengthen the weak hands,
    and make firm the feeble knees.
4 Say to those who are of a fearful heart,
    ‘Be strong, do not fear!
Here is your God.
    He will come with vengeance,
with terrible recompense.
    He will come and save you.’

5 Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened,
    and the ears of the deaf unstopped;
6 then the lame shall leap like a deer,
    and the tongue of the speechless sing for joy.
For waters shall break forth in the wilderness,
    and streams in the desert;
7 the burning sand shall become a pool,
    and the thirsty ground springs of water;
the haunt of jackals shall become a swamp,
    the grass shall become reeds and rushes.

8 A highway shall be there,
    and it shall be called the Holy Way;
the unclean shall not travel on it,
    but it shall be for God’s people;
    no traveller, not even fools, shall go astray.
9 No lion shall be there,
    nor shall any ravenous beast come up on it;
they shall not be found there,
    but the redeemed shall walk there.
10 And the ransomed of the Lord shall return,
    and come to Zion with singing;
everlasting joy shall be upon their heads;
    they shall obtain joy and gladness,
    and sorrow and sighing shall flee away.

The questions are insistent in Advent: Who is it in our communities that we need to make space for? Who is unseen? We need to lose our preoccupation with the castles of the world and remember the sheds.

As we look beyond ourselves, we may find God in surprising places. With the refugee, the homeless, those who grieve. Advent and Christmas can be times of desolation for those who are alone, forgotten, or grieving the loss of those they love. Whoever we are, we are called to look beyond ourselves, to the God who promises to walk with us on the way.

Archbishop Justin Welby and Rev Isabelle Hamley

 
Find out more about #FollowTheStar
Bible readings are taken from The New Revised Standard Version (Anglicized Edition), copyright 1989, 1995 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. All rights reserved.
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Copyright © 2019 The Church of England, All rights reserved.


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]]-->

Sun, 15 Dec 2019 06:30:00 +0000

https://mailchi.mp/churchofengland/watch-now-our-followthestar-christmas-ad-has-just-gone-live https://mailchi.mp/churchofengland/watch-now-our-followthestar-christmas-ad-has-just-gone-live

Watch now: our #FollowTheStar Christmas ad has just gone live!

 

 

We've just launched our 2019 #FollowTheStar advert, encouraging people to come to church to discover the joy of Christmas! Click the play button above to watch.

 

Please share this video with your family and friends on social media using the links below:

Share Share
Tweet Tweet
Forward Forward
Copyright © 2019 The Church of England, All rights reserved.


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]]-->

 

Watch now: our #FollowTheStar Christmas ad has just gone live!

 

 

We've just launched our 2019 #FollowTheStar advert, encouraging people to come to church to discover the joy of Christmas! Click the play button above to watch.

 

Please share this video with your family and friends on social media using the links below:

Share Share
Tweet Tweet
Forward Forward
Copyright © 2019 The Church of England, All rights reserved.


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]]-->

Sun, 08 Dec 2019 07:45:00 +0000

https://mailchi.mp/churchofengland/followthestar-2019-advent-reflections-week-two https://mailchi.mp/churchofengland/followthestar-2019-advent-reflections-week-two

Your second #FollowTheStar weekly Advent reflection

 

This week’s Advent #FollowTheStar reflection from Archbishop Justin Welby and Rev Isabelle Hamley
Share this message with your family and friends
Advent calls us to look at the deeper truths of life. It calls us to see God at work even when everything looks bleak and hopeless. It calls us to see injustice and inequality behind the apparent wealth and ease of our society.

This is why we read the prophets in Advent. They were truth-tellers. Uncomfortable, awkward, at times offensive.

1 A shoot shall come out from the stock of Jesse,
    and a branch shall grow out of his roots.
2 The spirit of the Lord shall rest on him,
    the spirit of wisdom and understanding,
    the spirit of counsel and might,
    the spirit of knowledge and the fear of the Lord.
3 His delight shall be in the fear of the Lord.

He shall not judge by what his eyes see,
    or decide by what his ears hear;
4 but with righteousness he shall judge the poor,
    and decide with equity for the meek of the earth;
he shall strike the earth with the rod of his mouth,
    and with the breath of his lips he shall kill the wicked.

This Advent, we are called to see the world through God’s eyes: in truth and in love. To see every person we meet as God sees them. Right now, in the run-up to Christmas, churches are opening their doors to those who are homeless and vulnerable. We see people as they truly are – made in the image of God. By offering a warm bed and a meal we say that we belong together as children of God. It’s also about speaking the truth to the wider world, saying “This cannot be!” and calling for change.

This Advent let us ask God to open our eyes and heart to see truth in every area of our lives, and to see God in the face of all those we meet.

Archbishop Justin Welby and Rev Isabelle Hamley

 
Find out more about #FollowTheStar
Bible readings are taken from The New Revised Standard Version (Anglicized Edition), copyright 1989, 1995 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. All rights reserved.
Facebook
Instagram
Twitter
YouTube
Website
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Copyright © 2019 The Church of England, All rights reserved.


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Email Marketing Powered by Mailchimp

]]-->

 

Your second #FollowTheStar weekly Advent reflection

 

This week’s Advent #FollowTheStar reflection from Archbishop Justin Welby and Rev Isabelle Hamley
Share this message with your family and friends
Advent calls us to look at the deeper truths of life. It calls us to see God at work even when everything looks bleak and hopeless. It calls us to see injustice and inequality behind the apparent wealth and ease of our society.

This is why we read the prophets in Advent. They were truth-tellers. Uncomfortable, awkward, at times offensive.

1 A shoot shall come out from the stock of Jesse,
    and a branch shall grow out of his roots.
2 The spirit of the Lord shall rest on him,
    the spirit of wisdom and understanding,
    the spirit of counsel and might,
    the spirit of knowledge and the fear of the Lord.
3 His delight shall be in the fear of the Lord.

He shall not judge by what his eyes see,
    or decide by what his ears hear;
4 but with righteousness he shall judge the poor,
    and decide with equity for the meek of the earth;
he shall strike the earth with the rod of his mouth,
    and with the breath of his lips he shall kill the wicked.

This Advent, we are called to see the world through God’s eyes: in truth and in love. To see every person we meet as God sees them. Right now, in the run-up to Christmas, churches are opening their doors to those who are homeless and vulnerable. We see people as they truly are – made in the image of God. By offering a warm bed and a meal we say that we belong together as children of God. It’s also about speaking the truth to the wider world, saying “This cannot be!” and calling for change.

This Advent let us ask God to open our eyes and heart to see truth in every area of our lives, and to see God in the face of all those we meet.

Archbishop Justin Welby and Rev Isabelle Hamley

 
Find out more about #FollowTheStar
Bible readings are taken from The New Revised Standard Version (Anglicized Edition), copyright 1989, 1995 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. All rights reserved.
Facebook
Instagram
Twitter
YouTube
Website
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Copyright © 2019 The Church of England, All rights reserved.


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You can update your preferences or unsubscribe from this list.

Email Marketing Powered by Mailchimp

]]-->

Sun, 08 Dec 2019 06:30:00 +0000