News of materials for Epiphany and Lent… and reflections on this Sunday’s readings
The second day of Advent may seem a little early to be looking forward to Lent, but many churches will now be deciding on their Lenten courses and activities! So we thought it was a good time to highlight the fact that CTC is working with the Church Urban Fund on a Lent course on how churches can make sense of – and respond faithfully to – the continuing economic crisis.
We’re also producing some materials for the Feast of the Epiphany (Twelfth Night), a feast often overshadowed by Christmas holidays, but an important reminder of the cost as well as the joy of the Incarnation. The visit of the Wise Men led on to Herod’s slaughter of the innocents, and the flight of the Holy Family into Egypt. CTC and The Children’s Society will be releasing some materials to help churches reflect on issues of asylum and migration around that feast, and the associated Lectionary readings.
Reflections on the readings for Sunday 9 December
More immediately, though – here are our regular reflections on this Sunday’s Gospel – Luke 3.1-6
‘Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight…56 All flesh shall see the salvation of God.’
The Gospel readings in these three Sundays before Christmas show us the impact of God on three lives – John the Baptist, Elizabeth and the Virgin Mary. Their hearts and lives are well-prepared for Christ, and in different ways they show us how we can use this as a season of preparation.
John’s message is deeply challenging , but it begins with a word of hope. God is active, and has power to deliver. His salvation will be seen in the flesh, and those who groan under the weight of injustice and sin will find their freedom.
John’s ministry emerges out of time set aside for prayer – an encounter with God in the wilderness. That’s what makes him so sensitive to God’s will.
John’s example is a challenge to us – a challenge facing anyone involved in Christian social action. When we work together for change, we need to have John’s courage – discovering our potential to speak and act in public, in ways that move us beyond our comfort zones! But we also need to be humble; to realize that true leadership involves helping others to grow, not dominating them and keeping them in the shade.
Getting that balance right requires time for reflection, repentance and learning. And above all it requires us to focus on Christ and not on our own ego – so that, like John the Baptist, we recognise the time to speak out and the time to stand back and let others take the centre stage.
Pray for all those preparing devotional materials for use in the year ahead – that they may help Christians to ground social action – as John the Baptist did – in the grace revealed to us in Jesus Christ, not in our own energies and ideas.