#FollowTheStar Christmas reflections - Day eight

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Some journeys can be difficult, or even dangerous. Knowing that there is someone along for the ride with you, to help you and to be beside you can really make a difference.

The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.
    He makes me lie down in green pastures;
he leads me beside still waters;
    he restores my soul.
He leads me in right paths
    for his name’s sake.

Even though I walk through the darkest valley,
    I fear no evil;
for you are with me;
    your rod and your staff—
    they comfort me.

You prepare a table before me
    in the presence of my enemies;
you anoint my head with oil;
    my cup overflows.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
    all the days of my life,
and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord
    my whole life long.

For many people, travelling companions are an essential part of any journey. They are there to share the ups and downs, the joyful moments and the tougher times. We don’t know exactly how many wise men are following the star, but we know that there is more than one of them along for the ride! The journey is a long one and there are obstacles to meet on the way, including a jealous and two-faced king.

As Herod plots murder, the wise men discover that they have an unexpected traveller alongside them. God warns them in a dream not to go back to Herod when they have found the child. Through adventure and through danger, God is with the wise men and will make sure they stay on the right path.
Who is with you on your journey?
Think of someone who supports or cares for you and send them a message or phone them to say thank you.
Thank you, God, that wherever we go and whatever we face you are with us. Keep us safe on our journey through life. Amen.
 

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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 eight

Listen to today's reflection through the app
Some journeys can be difficult, or even dangerous. Knowing that there is someone along for the ride with you, to help you and to be beside you can really make a difference.

The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.
    He makes me lie down in green pastures;
he leads me beside still waters;
    he restores my soul.
He leads me in right paths
    for his name’s sake.

Even though I walk through the darkest valley,
    I fear no evil;
for you are with me;
    your rod and your staff—
    they comfort me.

You prepare a table before me
    in the presence of my enemies;
you anoint my head with oil;
    my cup overflows.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
    all the days of my life,
and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord
    my whole life long.

For many people, travelling companions are an essential part of any journey. They are there to share the ups and downs, the joyful moments and the tougher times. We don’t know exactly how many wise men are following the star, but we know that there is more than one of them along for the ride! The journey is a long one and there are obstacles to meet on the way, including a jealous and two-faced king.

As Herod plots murder, the wise men discover that they have an unexpected traveller alongside them. God warns them in a dream not to go back to Herod when they have found the child. Through adventure and through danger, God is with the wise men and will make sure they stay on the right path.
Who is with you on your journey?
Think of someone who supports or cares for you and send them a message or phone them to say thank you.
Thank you, God, that wherever we go and whatever we face you are with us. Keep us safe on our journey through life. 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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Wed, 01 Jan 2020 06:30:00 +0000

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

#FollowTheStar Christmas reflections - Day seven

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New Year’s resolutions give us hope and direction, but keeping them is not always easy. If we’re not careful, we can find ourselves quickly getting off track.

18 Do not remember the former things,
    or consider the things of old.
19 I am about to do a new thing;
    now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?
I will make a way in the wilderness
    and rivers in the desert.
20 The wild animals will honour me,
    the jackals and the ostriches;
for I give water in the wilderness,
    rivers in the desert,
to give drink to my chosen people,
21     the people whom I formed for myself
so that they might declare my praise.

God is doing something new. God has sent his Son to bring hope and light and life to a world where his people are oppressed and kept down. The wise men sense this exciting “newness” and want to be part of it. They follow the lead of the star, wherever it takes them, because they have committed themselves to finding the new king. They have a hope that leads them on, and they show perseverance when the journey takes time and effort.

At this time of year, we also experience this sense of hope and “newness”. Unfortunately, research suggests that less than a quarter of us who make New Year’s resolutions will actually keep them. While there’s something attractive about taking new directions in life, it takes courage to stick to the course.
Where do you want to go this year? What hope or desire is leading you?
Write down a New Year’s resolution you want to try to keep.
Father God, lead us towards the new things you want in our lives. Help us to keep going when the way gets hard. Amen.
 

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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 seven

Listen to today's reflection through the app
New Year’s resolutions give us hope and direction, but keeping them is not always easy. If we’re not careful, we can find ourselves quickly getting off track.

18 Do not remember the former things,
    or consider the things of old.
19 I am about to do a new thing;
    now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?
I will make a way in the wilderness
    and rivers in the desert.
20 The wild animals will honour me,
    the jackals and the ostriches;
for I give water in the wilderness,
    rivers in the desert,
to give drink to my chosen people,
21     the people whom I formed for myself
so that they might declare my praise.

God is doing something new. God has sent his Son to bring hope and light and life to a world where his people are oppressed and kept down. The wise men sense this exciting “newness” and want to be part of it. They follow the lead of the star, wherever it takes them, because they have committed themselves to finding the new king. They have a hope that leads them on, and they show perseverance when the journey takes time and effort.

At this time of year, we also experience this sense of hope and “newness”. Unfortunately, research suggests that less than a quarter of us who make New Year’s resolutions will actually keep them. While there’s something attractive about taking new directions in life, it takes courage to stick to the course.
Where do you want to go this year? What hope or desire is leading you?
Write down a New Year’s resolution you want to try to keep.
Father God, lead us towards the new things you want in our lives. Help us to keep going when the way gets hard. 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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Tue, 31 Dec 2019 06:30:00 +0000

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

#FollowTheStar Christmas reflections - Day six

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It's sometimes hard to name our own best qualities. Often, it’s easier for those around us to see what brightness we bring to the world.

13 For it was you who formed my inward parts;
    you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
14 I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.
    Wonderful are your works;
that I know very well.
15     My frame was not hidden from you,
when I was being made in secret,
    intricately woven in the depths of the earth.
16 Your eyes beheld my unformed substance.
In your book were written
    all the days that were formed for me,
    when none of them as yet existed.

Even now, no one knows for sure what the Star of Bethlehem actually was. Some say it was a comet. Some say it was the light that comes from a new star being born. Whatever the truth is, we do know that there was something out of the ordinary about what the wise men saw. Just like this special star, God has made each one of us uniquely and wonderfully.

We are one of a kind too. God knows us fully and, like the star, has given us our own distinctive shining qualities to help to make the world around us a brighter place: compassion, love, an infectious sense of joy, peace, patience, kindness, loyalty, a quest for fairness.

What are your shining qualities? What brightness do you bring and how will you shine today?
Use a whiteboard marker to write your shining qualities on a mirror.
When you look in the mirror, remember that God made you in a wonderful way to bring brightness to the world.
Lord Jesus, help me to use what you have given me to make the world a brighter place 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 six

Listen to today's reflection through the app
It's sometimes hard to name our own best qualities. Often, it’s easier for those around us to see what brightness we bring to the world.

13 For it was you who formed my inward parts;
    you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
14 I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.
    Wonderful are your works;
that I know very well.
15     My frame was not hidden from you,
when I was being made in secret,
    intricately woven in the depths of the earth.
16 Your eyes beheld my unformed substance.
In your book were written
    all the days that were formed for me,
    when none of them as yet existed.

Even now, no one knows for sure what the Star of Bethlehem actually was. Some say it was a comet. Some say it was the light that comes from a new star being born. Whatever the truth is, we do know that there was something out of the ordinary about what the wise men saw. Just like this special star, God has made each one of us uniquely and wonderfully.

We are one of a kind too. God knows us fully and, like the star, has given us our own distinctive shining qualities to help to make the world around us a brighter place: compassion, love, an infectious sense of joy, peace, patience, kindness, loyalty, a quest for fairness.

What are your shining qualities? What brightness do you bring and how will you shine today?
Use a whiteboard marker to write your shining qualities on a mirror.
When you look in the mirror, remember that God made you in a wonderful way to bring brightness to the world.
Lord Jesus, help me to use what you have given me to make the world a brighter place 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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Mon, 30 Dec 2019 06:30:00 +0000

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

#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

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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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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

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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.
 

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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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#FollowTheStar Christmas reflections - Day four

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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

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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.
 

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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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#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.
 

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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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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.
 

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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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#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.
 

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