Lincoln Advent: 4 December

Advent Prayers, 4 December
FareShare Foodbanks

The disciples said to Jesus,
“Send the crowds away, so that they may go and buy food for themselves.”
Jesus said to them: “They do not need to go away; you give them something to eat.”
(from Matthew 14.15-16)

There is a woman who stands up in church every week, and talks about socks. She talks about damp socks and smelly socks. Worn out socks and fluffy new socks. She is quite passionate about fluffy new socks. New socks are a wonder: a sign of God’s love.

This woman spends her days working among the homeless. She tries to build relationships with people who have learned to trust no one, and she does that – in part – by giving them socks. So, each Sunday, she speaks with her church community about socks, the people she’s given them to, and the difference they have made. Then, she asks for more socks. Every week. Always.

She is very clever. If she spoke every week of the horrors of homelessness, of hunger, cold, pain and fear, we would feel overwhelmed. But socks are OK. We can handle socks. Socks ground us in a human story, and we can see that it is a story we might share.

At the feeding of the five-thousand, the disciples nearly lost sight of the people around them. Instead of seeing people, they saw a crowd, and that crowd was exhausting. “Send them away. We’ve done so much already. Let them go and find food somewhere else.” But Jesus would have none of it: “You give them something to eat.” You, meet their need. You, share your food and your lives and your stories. Share, until God’s presence is known.

Today, we pray for the work of FareShare Foodbanks. Fareshare redistributes food that would otherwise go to waste and co-ordinates food donations across the country. Fareshare works with local community projects , so that the food is shared in ways that help address multiple needs in the community.

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Lincoln Advent: 2 December

Advent Prayers, 2 December
Beatitude, St Mary le Wigford

Sing for Joy, O Heavens, and exult, O earth;
break forth, O mountains, into singing!
For the Lord has comforted his people
and will have compassion on his suffering ones.
(Isaiah 49.13)

The story of our salvation begins with the story of Creation: God speaks the world into being, through sheer delight and love. Too often, the church has told the story of God’s disappointment with the world: we are fallen, we have sinned. It is not that this is not true – we can see the suffering all around us – but to dwell too much on failing may sap us of the very energy we need to work towards a different sort of world. What if, instead of often telling the story of sinfulness, we told a tale of God’s glory? What if, instead of dwelling on the frequency of failure, we made time to celebrate the blessings that God gives?

This Advent, we are reflecting on Christ’s coming: yesterday, today, tomorrow. The claim of our faith is this: God Creates us in Love, through Christ the Word. In case we had missed that (and since it seemed that we had), God’s Love is creative again. Jesus comes, incarnate, to show us what human life looks like, lived in freedom and faith. Then (since we can’t take it all in at once; since we are not yet what we may become) God gives us a promise: life is stronger than death. Dwell in me, and I will dwell in you. Christ will be all in all.

‘Christ yesterday, Christ today, Christ tomorrow’ is a statement about the ultimate goodness of this creation, of human life, and of all our lives. Jesus’ story is not complete till the whole world is redeemed – until the story of sin is past, and each one of us has learned both forgiveness and love.

Today, we pray for the Beatitude project in St Mary le Wigford. Beatitude seeks to provide a place where no-one is excluded. Many of the people who come to Beatitude have heard a lot of stories of sin and pain and death. Today, we pray that they will catch a glimpse of new life and of God’s sheer delight in their coming.

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Lincoln Advent: 1 December

Advent Prayers, 1 December
Space Project, New Clee

Stand up and raise your heads,
because your redemption is drawing near.
(Luke 21.28)

Now is the time to prepare for Christ’s coming, to welcome the One who is already here.

In Advent, we are invited into the story of salvation. We are asked to take our place in God’s story, so that our lives proclaim the reality of God’s presence in the world.

Advent is a time of deep memories. Amidst the frenzy of shopping, decorating, cooking, working, playing, worrying, dreaming – our present reality can be suspended in an instant as the smell of mulled wine stirs a memory of laughter and friendship or the twinkling lights remind us of our first Christmas tree. We need to give time to these memories: they are part of our story, and part of what God comes to share and redeem. Indeed, it is worth following these memories. Ride them back until we find a space of kindness, compassion, love. Ride them back until pain jabs, and we learn to trust our innate sense that no-one is born for misery: God must have had something better in mind.

Advent is a time to focus on God’s better purpose. We get to follow God’s dreaming. God dreamed once through Mary, who risked everything to make a dwelling place for God. God dreamed through Isaiah, who gave a vision of a world transformed, where the lion could dwell with the lamb. It is worth being enchanted by all this as the lights glisten, and the littlest angel tugs on her panto-wings. It is worth trying to enchant others too: by sharing the story and showing a glimpse of the glory of God. But to truly share God’s dream, we must move from enchantment to engagement. We need to help make God’s dreams real.

This Advent, you are invited to pray for the people of this diocese, young and old, strong and frail, powerful and vulnerable: that we may live out the story of salvation. You are invited to do God’s work: bringing light to others, revealing God’s presence, and helping others respond to Christ’s coming -yesterday, tomorrow, today.

We begin with the people of New Clee: for The Space Project, and The Shalom Charity. These projects offer young people a place to grow and flourish – a place for God’s dreams.

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