Take a moment, this Christmas, to be.
In and around the manic rushing around of the ‘countdown’ to Christmas, we are encouraging you to take a series of moments - simply to be. To take a break from the preparation, shopping, cooking, wrapping, stressing, and juggling of calendars and relationships.
Christmas can be hectic, overwhelming and demanding. It can be a time of conflict as well as celebration. A time where special memories are made but also when painful ones are remembered. There is a lot of pressure around Christmas to meet the expectations of family, colleagues, society and even the supermarket. It can be an endurance test, always asking you to be one step ahead. Are you having the perfect Christmas? Have you got it sussed? Have you nailed it?
The rushing around and juggling around Christmas can seem like a world way away from that first Christmas, the ‘reason for the season’, but in fact the first Christmas wasn’t gentle, calm and restful. With its stresses, upheavals and logistics to negotiate, it was probably a lot closer to our 21st Century Christmas than it would first appear.
The young couple, Joseph and Mary, were what we’d call today ‘internally displaced people’ who were having to confront the reality of childbirth on the move. They were victims of the arbitrary actions of a distant and unaccountable political regime. They were like many young people throughout history and around the world to the present day. They had to struggle with dangerous travel, temporary shelter, and persistent hunger… while at the same time getting to grips with parenthood.
But there would have been many moments. Moments when Mary stopped and placed a fluttering hand on her expanding belly. Or when Joseph would have drawn the hair out of her eyes and kissed her forehead. Moments when they caught the glinting eyes of their newborn son. Moments where they could - simply be.
So this Advent, in amongst all the hurly-burly of Christmas, Sanctuary First is not going to ask you pretend that this is a laid back, chilled out time or tell you that if you haven’t passed the test you’ve failed Christmas. Instead we are going to give you a series of opportunities to take a moment here and there to stop and breathe. Food is something that often reminds us to stop, to interrupt what we are doing and take a moment. Throughout the Bible food plays and important role, both practically and symbolically, so as we encourage you to take a moment, we’ll return to food as a way of stopping to take a breather. We are also partnering with CrossReach and Christian Aid Scotland who we will be taking a moment with each week.
28 days. 28 moments. 28 triggers to think on, act on, and pray on, before carrying on again. There’s no pressure, just opportunities to take a moment to contemplate joy, glory, peace, and love.
Each week contains 7 Bible references. Several from Lectionary + additional readings relating to the sub theme.
|3 Dec 2017||Bread of Tears & Joy||
John 15: 11
We begin advent by taking a moment simply to be.
Then in the first week we take opportunities to stop and think about the evocative phrase ‘bread of tears’ found in Psalm 80. It is a poetic way of talking about the national shame of a people, a society in free fall, where there are ‘tears to drink in full measure’.
We take a moment to consider the bread of tears in our society, where on the one hand we waste mountains of food, and on the other people are growing increasingly reliant on food banks and many people are homeless.
Instead of being overwhelmed by the problem, let’s take a moment to think about our bread of tears honestly… and then take a moment to do something about it, to knead in a little joy.
|10 Dec 2017||Glory and Locusts…||
Luke 2: 9
We continue advent by taking a moment simply to be.
Then, in the consumer rush of Christmas, we take a moment to think about our lifestyle. It is hard to get more countercultural than John the Baptist, a man who made ‘bold’ life choices that couldn’t help but provoke discussion. We can assume that his locusts was sourced locally and ethically…
How do the choices we make affect how others see us and interact with us?
Take a moment to be… in the presence of glory.
|17 Dec 2017||He has filled the hungry with good things||
Philippians 4: 7
We continue advent by taking another moment simply to be.
This week we will take a moment to step out of our everyday concerns to think about the wider world. You can be forgiven for wanting to take refuge in the mundane when global events are so unpredictable and unstable, but we are called to work for peace.
Instead of overwhelming ourselves, we can take a moment to carefully and prayerfully consider the world, to take a step back from the simplistic headlines and go a little deeper, with the Holy Spirit as our guide.
Take a moment to be… peaceful.
|24 Dec 2017||An unexpected guest||
Luke 1: 26-38
Have you had that phone call? At the last minute there’s one extra for Christmas dinner, somehow things are going to have to be shuffled around. Or a guest that was going to stay a few nights, is stopping for a fortnight. We often have mixed feelings about including others when they ruin our carefully made plans.
Take a moment to spare a thought for Mary, who also got an unexpected call that told her there was going to be one more for Christmas this year… What can we learn from her openhearted response? How do we welcome unexpected people at our table, in our homes, in our society?
Take a moment to be… loved. Jesus was the ultimate unexpected guest. How do we treat unexpected guests?