Advent 2017 - Week Two

advent logoAdvent 2017 - Stepping Out with God – Week Two

If God has stepped out into human life, born in time and space in a truly
unexpected way; how will we step out in response?

FOR each of the weeks of Advent the YBA is taking a traditional theme and looking at it from the point of view of stepping out into an adventure with God.

Last week’s challenge was How might we step out to offer hope? Do you have a story to share? Email Joolz in the office - click here.

This week’s theme is “Stepping Out in Prophetic Ways” - and the challenge: How might we step out to build churches of prophetic welcome?

The prophets call on us to prepare the way of the Lord. Worshipping communities which embrace people with disabilities as equals and share life together are a sign of God’s kingdom.
Be inspired by the film about L’Arche, “Summer in the Forest”. The synopsis reads: “Like countless others Philippe, Michel, Andre and Patrick were labeled 'idiots', locked away and forgotten in violent asylums, until the 1960s, when the young philosopher Jean Vanier took a stand and secured their release. Together they created L'Arche, a commune at the edge of a beautiful forest near Paris. A quiet revolution was born.”

Two members of Wakefield Baptist Church – Jody and Jackie Gabriel – have shared their story about living in a L’Arche community. Click here to read it.

This week’s Advent reflection is by James Martin, a member of Cemetery Road Baptist Church, Sheffield, and the YBA’s Yorkshire Justice Hub

james martin“THE best thing about the Advent season for many is that we get the opportunity to reflect on Jesus arriving on Earth.

“He arrived vulnerable and dependent as a baby, yet expressing an important part of the human experience. We celebrate this period because in that fragile childlike form there was a being of value and significance that started the most well known story on Earth.

“Now for some of my story; I am a visually-impaired person, born with Albinism meaning I struggle with bright light sources, and see a lot less detail than normal as my eye never finds its focusing point.

“Yet I am a person carefully knitted together in my mother’s womb just like Jesus, and just like all on this Earth. The question is how ready are we as God’s people to prophetically expect the surprise of someone different, yet of significance to enter our presence this Christmas?

“As part of a church in the heart of Sheffield we have been on a journey over the last few years welcoming new people in to our fellowship, refugees and asylum seekers from other lands, people who are profoundly deaf, people who are reliant on wheelchairs for mobility, and me with my visual impairment.

“The special thing is that God had prepared his people to value all that came, provide for communication and care and facilitate a diverse body of believers.

“Not all of this came easily of course and we are still learning how to broaden participation in church life beyond Sunday worship. However, the key in so many cases has been preparation often in written form to enable translation, or substitute for sign language.

“Preparation being a theme which brings us neatly back Advent of course. As we all prepare for our services, I hope we are all desiring and expecting new people to come in to some of our services?

“But do we anticipate some of the needs of strangers, now we might not be able to cope with every need but it is amazing how far a compassionate and accommodating attitude goes in communicating Kingdom values.

“Consider, there were no rooms at the inn (Luke 2:7), but there was still some less salubrious accommodation available for Jesus’s arrival in the form of a manger. For God to move we do not need perfection, or all the answers, but to show love and value; something which could become an impact all year round.

“Like the wise men we can seek to be prophetically prompted long ahead of time to valuable people drawing near to us in our church services and being ready in word and deed. This could mean providing more light in an area during your carol services, and having some ready printed large-print carol sheets – and having space for a wheelchair or two near the front of your church so all can see the wonderful worship and presentations you have prepared.

“Matched with the human touch of conversations, and asking what a person might need will give out the message of hope that the arrival of the Light of the World is about as we run up to Christmas.

“So in closing, some prayer points for us this Advent that:advent candle 2

  •       God will prepare all our churches for newcomers.
  •      Those welcoming and stewarding will be well prepared and hear God’s words and wisdom.
  •      Preparation of seating and written materials are ready and accessible for those who need it.
  •     The light of hope would be seen in Jesus’s people as well as our celebrations.

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