Weaving the Word: 3rd Sunday Advent Year A

Now that the dust has settled (here in the UK at least) I find myself reflecting on Gaudete Sunday.

This week the church calls us to rejoice and to keep on keeping on.
And yet for many (me included) will be finding it difficult to accept that invitation and to ponder on the point of carrying on.

But as a follower of Christ, a lover of Jesus, a beloved of God, baptised by fire and water full of the Spirit then accept it I must. Indeed I already have.
Despite my moments of despondency I know deep down that my Hope is in the Lord and I can Rejoice in God my Saviour.

The blush of a pink rose rather than deep purple,                                                            my yes to the Gospel,                                                                                                                to the Eucharist,                                                                                                                          to being dismissed                                                                                                                      to building the Kingdom,                                                                                                            to live by Gospel values                                                                                                    leads me to seek a deeper joy and                                                                                   tells of a hope yet to come.

I will rejoice in the small acts of kindness I see                                                                  and take time to thank the Lord for them.
I will rejoice in the many ways to make a difference                                                        and find inspiration to do likewise.
I will rejoice in the love of my friends whose laughter lightens my load                      and I am strengthened to help others carry their’s.
I will rejoice in the warmth and comfort of my family                                                    and I am encouraged to extend that welcome to others.

When I rejoice in all this (and so much more) then I know that there is hope. And if we all remember to be grateful, to find inspiration, to aid others and to extend a welcome then we will show the works of the Lord and bring His hope to the world.

And if that weren’t enough the O Antiphons begin today!

Reflection Points
Where do you hear and see the work of the Lord?
In what ways do your encounters offer you a sense of healing?
What do you notice about the way Jesus answers John’s question?

For Children
John the Baptist leapt in Elizabeth’s womb when Mary went to visit her. He was Jesus’ cousin and in last week’s Gospel he baptised Him in the river Jordan.
Why do you think he told his disciples to ask Jesus if ‘He was the One?’
If you were Jesus’ messenger today what would you tell people about Him?

For Families
What one thing could you all do to make the world a better place?
Who do you identify as prophets in today’s world?
How can you encourage one another to speak truth to power?

Prayer
Lord of our everlasting joy and true hope – 
Strengthen us to do Your work
Give us a heart with a joyful song
that we may rejoice in building Your Kingdom.
Amen

 

Are You the One?

Weaving the Word: 2nd Sunday Advent Yr A

https://www.cbcew.org.uk/home/events/the-god-who-speaks/

In the need for transparency I feel I mush declare an interest.

This passage from Isaiah is is one of my favourites. In fact I would go further, I’ve never met a passage of Isaiah I didn’t like.

hope-painting-300x234 Balidon Methodist Church

Today’s passage speaks of such hope, a hope that only God can fulfil.

It paints an image that is almost impossible to imagine. Predators living peaceably with their prey led by a little child. This change will not effect just one hunter and hunted but all of nature will be at peace. The change does not always lie with the powerful predator: it is at the lamb’s invitation that the wolf becomes a guest. It is the one that has the most to lose that initiates change.

PeaceableKingdom-John-August-Swanson

http://www.johnaugustswanson.com/default.cfm/PID=1.2.9-2.html

When filled with the gifts of the Spirit we too can take courageous changes. Changes that are necessary for everyone to thrive,  that leaves no one isolated, hungry, thirsty, cold  or homeless in a peaceful world. A world that when stewarded well provides more than enough for all.

Knowing that we can claim Abraham as our father is to acknowledge that we hold a place of privilege.  That privilege must not be taken for granted but used responsibly to bring about the Kingdom. A Kingdom that is full of surprises, that makes the impossible possible, where repentance is not fearful but full of joy and leads to the production of good fruit that nourishes all.

 

Reflection points…
 
How do you feel when you hear this life changing call to repentance?
 
What good fruit will you produce as evidence of your repentance?
 
What difference is being baptised with the Holy Spirit make to you?
 
 
With Children
 
Can you draw a picture of John the Baptist from the description in the Gospel?
 
What do you do to show you are sorry?
 
Why are we baptised with the Holy Spirit?
 
 
With Families
 
How are you going to use Advent to prepare for the way of the Lord?
 
What does this Gospel tell you about how to be sorry?
 
Why not accept the invitation to the Sacrament of Reconciliation by going to your parish service together and maybe celebrating afterwards?
 
Prayer
 
Incarnate God
You promise 
that the spirit of the LORD shall rest upon us.
Gifts for our thoughts:
a spirit of wisdom and of understanding;
Gifts for our actions:
a spirit of counsel and of strength;
Gifts for our worship:
a spirit of knowledge and of fear of the LORD;
with these gifts that blow through our lives 
May we be filled with delight 
to bring Your justice and peace to our troubled world.
Amen
 
dandelions-wind-holy-spirit-e1362618764957
He shall strike the ruthless with the rod of his mouth,
and with the breath of his lips he shall slay the wicked.

Weaving the Word

It’s been a while, I know, but I hope I’m still welcome.

This year the Church in England and Wales have been asked to focus on the Scriptures.

The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales has called this initiative ‘God Who Speaks’. http://www.cbcew.org.uk/

This focus has encouraged me to return once more to share my thoughts and reflections on the Sunday Gospel.

Sometimes the reflections might come in the form of questions, or ideas for action, sometimes in a story form, while others might be examples of my lived experience.

All will come with a prayer and will I hope invite us to Weave the Word in to our daily lives.

I’d love to know how you are using these reflections, especially if you are sharing them with family, groups of friends, in a parish or school setting so please drop me a comment or two and of course if you could reference me too that would be wonderful.

1st Sunday of Advent

Year A Mass Readings

Weaving the Word

How will you awaken to the season of Advent?

Where were you surprised by Christ coming to you?
What ways will you use Advent as spiritual preparation for Christmas?
For Children
In the story of Noah, what did God send as a sign of His promise?
Where can you find signs of hope in nature for which to thank Jesus?
Instead of preparing to ask for what you want, How can you use Advent to help others?
For families
Imagine the sort of world do you want Christ to return to…
How can you work towards this during Advent?
What can you do together to prepare to birth Jesus in the world?
Prayer
Lord Jesus
Advent again!
As we await Your coming –
May we stay awake to the injustices that happen around us
and prepare to work for a fairer world.
May we stay awake to the many ways we steal from the beauty of creation
and prepare to care for the environment.

May we stay awake to those who break communities with violence

and prepare to bring your peace and hope to those we encounter.

Amen

Living the Word for the Feast of Epiphany

How can you prepare to be able to find Jesus?
What gifts will you give Him for His use?
What change does the birth of Emmanuel bring about in you?

For Children
What odd gifts to bring a baby!
Can you find out the significance of each one?
What can you give to Jesus and what can you ask Him to do with it?

For Families

Epiphany is the time when Catholic families bless their homes. It is in the home that we meet and welcome Christ in family and friends, visitors and strangers. It is in the home where we share our faith, where it grows and is lived out.

At the end of the house blessing it is usual to ‘mark’ the home with chalk in the following way: the first letters of the three names of the Magi (though these names are not to be found in Scripture) which are traditionally, Caspar, Melchior, and Balthazar. So C, M, B are inscribed on the door frame. C M B also stands for “Christus Mansionem Benedicat,” meaning “May Christ bless this house.”

These letters (C.M.B.) are inscribed between the numbers of the year. So this year it will say: 20+C+M+B+18

Prayer: A Blessing for the Home.

Oh God,
You revealed your Son to all people
by the shinning light of a star.
We pray that you bless this home and all who live here with your gracious presence.
May your love be our inspiration, your wisdom our guide, your truth our light,
and your truth our benediction:
Through Christ our Lord. Amen.

Don’t forget to place your Magi in to your crib which traditionally can stay up until the Feast of the Presentation on the 2nd February.

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Living the Word this Week 16th Sunday of Ordinary Time

All these parables! And still more to come.

I wonder what it is I need to know about the Kingdom? What is it about these …is likes that challenge me?
I love the way that they speak to all of us, at work, at home, women, men and children.
Praying with Gospel I read that these particular similes do different things.
Jesus telling us to wait, that only the farmer is to judge invites us to discernment.
Discernment of spirits as Ignatius teaches is to ask ourselves where God is in any particular choice or decision. Through prayer we can learn to detach ourselves from the outcome therefore allowing us to decide in freedom.
This is what the Kingdom is like, choosing God and God’s will for us which we know is always for our best.
Image result for discerning
The mustard seed challenges us to come to a full mature faith that is fully grown.
when I work with parents, they often worry about the faith of their children. Yet it is natural for the next generation to question and more likely than not, to move away from their parents beliefs and values. Not only is that a natural stage of development it also enables our young people to enter into their own relationship with the Lord Who loves them beyond measure, Who calls them Beloved. Not a mediated love of one step removed but on God’s own terms for them. We are God’s children, not God’s grandchildren.
Unfortunately for any of us to really mature in our faith, as laity we have to walk the path on our own, seeking out ways to study, books to read, asking questions and having courageous conversations. The Priority of Adult Formation as set out by the Bishops’ Conference is in name only as very little formation is on offer. Thank the Lord for Faith Friends and Soul Sisters!
This is what the Kingdom is like, living with a mature and adult faith aware of our dependence on the One who loves us, knowing we are saved and greatly loved.
Image result for fully grown faith
The yeast calls us to transform our lives . We can only do this of course when we lean in to the Holy Spirit, by surrendering our will to the Triune God and that takes courage and trust.
This in what the Kingdom is like, living fully transformed by love.
Image result for kingdom is like yeast
For us to answer the call to bring about the Kingdom we must have an idea of what the Kingdom is. I hope that the questions below might help us all to reflect a little and may these parables come alive in us and all those we encounter today.
Living the Word this week…
The Kingdom is like…a field of good seed; a mustard seed; and yeast.
Which one speaks most to you, and how does it help you in your faith?
What does it mean to you when you pray ‘Our Father…Thy Kingdom come, on earth as it is in heaven’?

Children
Have you ever seen a mustard seed and the plant it grows in to? If not see if you can find some pictures.
Why do you think Jesus uses this to try to explain the Kingdom of God?
What does yeast do? How does this help you to know the Kingdom of God?
Family
Planting seeds and making bread are everyday, unexceptional things. Yet Jesus uses them to describe the Kingdom of God.
How do you reflect the Kingdom in the ordinariness of being a family?
Prayer
Lord Jesus,
Thank You for the many varied ways that You use to help us understand Your message. The Kingdom is like…a field of good seed, which calls us not to judge but to discernment.
A mustard seed which calls us to grow to our fullest potential in You.
And yeast which calls us to transform ourselves and all whom we encounter.
May we, each in our own way, answer Your call to build Your Kingdom ‘on earth as it is in Heaven.’
Amen

Living the Word 15th Week of Ordinary Time

Oh! How many times have we heard this story? And not only at Mass; for it is used to prepare children for Sacraments; in schools, prayer services; liturgies as well as one I had to learn by heart for my RS O’Level. Preparing for Mass I was immediately transported to my 15 year old self mixing up the types of ground with their meanings, destined to get it perpetually wrong. It was a painful memory which for a while stopped me from engaging with the Gospel.

Yet I know that every time we pray with Scripture God speaks to us, giving us what we need when we need it. There was something in this Gospel that we –or maybe I – need to hear today.

I remembered the General Directory of Catechesis (GDC) uses this parable as a spring board.

As disciples we are called to sow the seed, to be actively engaged in evangelisation.

God is the sower, Jesus, the Logos is the Seed. To evangelise effectively we must have a personal relationship with the Living Lord, we must nurture the seed within us, allowing it to effect all we do.

Image result for parable of the sower

“Instead of seeming to impose new obligations, they should appear as people who wish to share their joy, who point to a horizon of beauty and who invite others to a delicious banquet. It is not by proselytizing that the Church grows, but “by attraction”.

But we have to be aware of the banquet and recognise it’s deliciousness before we can invite others. So today I hope that these reflective questions help to refresh your taste-buds…so that in your work you can invite others.

Living the Word this week…
When you leave your home how do you respond to those who wait to hear God’s Word?
Where are you aware of the Word being eaten up, or of the shallow soil, or thorns in your life?
How does God’s Word take hold and grow in your life?
Children
Find out why Jesus spoke in parables. Which is your favourite one?
How would it feel to see seeds you had planted be treated in this way?
How can it help you to listen more fully to the Readings at Mass?
Family
What do you need to attend to so that your family is rich soil for the Word?
Prayer ~ Christine Longhurst (adapted)
O God,
We gather together in Your presence with expectation,
hungry for an encounter with You,
eager to hear Your Word.
Open our eyes and ears to the presence of Your Holy Spirit.
May the seeds of Your Word scattered among us
fall on fertile soil.
May they take root in our hearts and lives,
and produce an abundant harvest
of good words and deeds.
Amen.

Living the Word: 13th Sunday of Ordinary Time (really!)

Sorry for the confusion, here are the reflective questions for Sunday 2nd July!

The joy of working a week ahead!

Sometimes, even with the best will in the world, it can be difficult to recall the Gospel from Sunday.
But if we can’t remember it it can not feed us, and nourishment is exactly what the Good News is to be for us.
Here are some reflective questions to enable you to chew over the message held in the Gospel.
After all we need the Gospel to sustain us daily not just on Sunday, for the Good News and Eucharist are both food for the journey.
Living the Word this week
The words of Jesus seek to expand our idea of love, it is to be more than our experience of love.
What limits the way you love the Triune God?
What are the crosses you are being asked to take up in your life?
How might you express your love for God?
Children
How do you show your family you love them?
How can you show that love to those who are not in your family?
Family
Familial love is not the limit but an expression of how we are to love God, for God is more than created thing.
In what ways does the love for your family lead you to love God and therefore serve others?
Image result for cup of cold water

Prayer by Anne Osdieck  

For the homeless it is a shelter.
For the lonely it’s just a visit.
For the hungry it’s a meal
For one who stumbles it is helping hands.
For the thirsty, just a drop water.

O God,
you ask little of us.
You bless us, when we give
and also when we receive.
Please let us have a cup of cold water.

And let us not ignore
those souls that thirst for you. Amen.