As we begin our Advent reflections the prophet Isaiah gives us the most awesome prayer in our reading from Isaiah 5;
Many peoples shall come and say,
‘Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord,
to the house of the God of Jacob;
that he may teach us his ways
and that we may walk in his paths.’
For out of Zion shall go forth instruction,
and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem.
He shall judge between the nations,
and shall arbitrate for many peoples;
they shall beat their swords into ploughshares,
and their spears into pruning-hooks;
nation shall not lift up sword against nation,
neither shall they learn war any more.
Why not make this your Advent prayer as we prepare to celebrate the God’s gift to us of Jesus, the Prince of Peace, and look forward to his coming again in glory when all things shall be made new.
Till next time…..Andrew
If ever there was an example of effective prayer it would have to be the prayer of the thief on the cross in Luke 23:42-43. ‘Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.’ Immediately Jesus replied, ‘Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in Paradise.’ This is a prayer of true repentance, in which the thief knowing it is to late to change the way he has lived his life, finds life in the one who is about to willingly give up his life to win eternity for all who will trust in his saving love.
Next Sunday is Advent Sunday, the beginning of a new church year, and traditionally a season of penitence where Christians examine their hearts in preparation to celebrate Jesus birth, the coming of the Prince of Peace. How will you use the season to prepare your heart. What ever you decide to do, remember that Jesus words to a dying crook all those years ago apply just as much to you and me. Word’s of life, words of love and words of freedom. When like the thief on the cross all those years ago we turn our hearts to Jesus he looks on us with love and promises. “Today you will be with me in paradise!”
Till next time…..Andrew
This week’s Gospel reading is not for the faint hearted. As the disciples admire the beauty of the Jerusalem temple, Jesus issues the believers with a grim warning about the distractions of this world and of their need to stand firm in their faith.
Alongside the many who will try to lead them astray in Jesus name and the rumours of wars and terrible tragedies is the reality that before the end comes, the disciples can expect to be hated, persecuted and betrayed even by those they love.
Hardly words that reassure or inspire confidence are they? Rather than being overcome by fear though, Jesus urges the disciples to see the difficult times ahead as an opportunity to bear witness to God.
“This will give you an opportunity to testify. So make up your minds not to prepare your defence in advance; for I will give you words and a wisdom that none of your opponents will be able to withstand or contradict.” Luke 21:13 –15.
In the face of such terrible circumstances, Jesus encourages the disciples to stand firm in the certainty that God will give them everything they need to remain faithful.
You will be hated by all because of my name. But not a hair of your head will perish. By your endurance you will gain your souls. Luke 21:17-19.
The promise remains the same today. So the next time you find yourself feeling abused because of your faith remember to ask God to help your trials become an opportunity to reveal his love.
Till next time…..Andrew
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As always, Jesus words in our Gospel from Luke this week, run counter to the ways of the world but for those who would hear them they are words of life. Want to know how to live as a saint? Then follow the advice Jesus gives in Luke 6:20-31 because these are words that have the power to turn the world upside down.
“Blessed are you when people hate you,
when they exclude you and insult you
and reject your name as evil,
because of the Son of Man.
“Rejoice in that day and leap for joy,
because great is your reward in heaven.” Luke 6:22-23
More and more it seems as though the world is tightening the thumb screws on those who would choose to follow Jesus which is why it is even more important that we prove the world wrong by following Jesus’ advice.
“But to you who are listening I say: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. If someone slaps you on one cheek, turn to them the other also. If someone takes your coat, do not withhold your shirt from them. Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back. Do to others as you would have them do to you.” Luke 6: 27-31
As his body here on earth, Jesus calls us to prayerfully and faithfully live out these words, empowered by his Holy Spirit. When we do he is truly glorified and the values of heaven are made real here on earth.
But lo! there breaks a yet more glorious day;
The saints triumphant rise in bright array;
The King of glory passes on His way.
From the hymn, For all the saints. William Walsham How 1823-1897
Rev. Andrew Smith
Vicar of Light in the Hills