Advent Calendar for Reflection 2020

Each day during Advent and new image will be revealed on our website, with a question or two on which to ponder.
If you would like to take each reflection deeper obtain a copy of the excellent book by Dr Jane Williams: The Art of Advent (Available in paperback and e-reader format) from which the inspiration for the pictures and the questions for reflection come.

Williams, J. (2018) The Art of Advent: A Painting a Day from Advent to Epiphany, London: SPCK (ISBN-10 : 0281071691; ISBN-13 : 978-0281071692)

Advent is a season of expectation and preparation, as the Church prepares to celebrate the coming (adventus) of Christ in his incarnation, and also looks ahead to his final advent as judge at the end of time. The readings and
liturgies not only direct us towards Christ’s birth, they also challenge the modern reluctance to confront the theme of divine judgement, when ‘Every eye shall now behold him robed in dreadful majesty’ (Charles Wesley).

A Short Optional Liturgy

You might begin by saying each day

Maranatha:
Amen. Come, Lord Jesus.

Pour down, O heavens, from above,
and let the skies rain down righteousness.

Turn your fierce anger from us, O Lord,
and remember not our sins for ever.
Your holy cities have become a desert,
Zion a wilderness, Jerusalem a desolation;
our holy and beautiful house,
where our ancestors praised you.

Pour down, O heavens, from above,
and let the skies rain down righteousness.

We have sinned and become like one who is unclean;
we have all withered like a leaf,
and our iniquities like the wind have swept us away.
You have hidden your face from us,
and abandoned us to our iniquities.

Pour down, O heavens, from above,
and let the skies rain down righteousness.

You are my witnesses, says the Lord,
and my servant whom I have chosen,
that you may know me and believe me.
I myself am the Lord, and none but I can deliver;
what my hand holds, none can snatch away.

Pour down, O heavens, from above,
and let the skies rain down righteousness.

Comfort my people, comfort them;
my salvation shall not be delayed.
I have swept your offences away like a cloud;
fear not, for I will save you.
I am the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel,
your redeemer.

Pour down, O heavens, from above,
and let the skies rain down righteousness.

With love and compassion,
come, Lord Jesus.

With judgement and mercy,
come, Lord Jesus.

In power and glory,
come, Lord Jesus.

In wisdom and truth,
come, Lord Jesus.

Maranatha:
Amen. Come, Lord Jesus.

29th November (Advent Sunday) – Saturday, 5th December

The Collect

Almighty God,
give us grace to cast away the works of darkness
and to put on the armour of light,
now in the time of this mortal life,
in which your Son Jesus Christ came to us in great humility;
that on the last day,
when he shall come again in his glorious majesty
to judge the living and the dead,
we may rise to the life immortal;
through him who is alive and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever. Amen

Light a candle and say:

God of Abraham and Sarah,
and all the patriarchs of old,
you are our Father too.
Your love is revealed to us in Jesus Christ,
Son of God and Son of David.
Help us in preparing to celebrate his birth
to make our hearts ready for your Holy Spirit
to make his home among us.
We ask this through Jesus Christ,
the light who is coming into the world.  Amen.

29th November

Light and Dark

If your copy of the book has arrived, read pages 2-5 – if not here is her introduction.

 

‘In Advent, we are preparing our hearts and our lives for the birth of Jesus. Some of this preparation will be joyful but, as with any new birth, there will also be apprehension: this new birth, more than any, is life-changing, world-changing. John’s Gospel speaks of Jesus’ birth as the coming of the light (John 1.2), without which nothing can live, but also in which nothing can hide. Blake’s The Ancient of Days shows God leaning out from the sphere of light which is God’s home to begin to measure out creation. Light is symbolic of all that is God: it is life, it is truth, it is warmth, it is active, it pushes darkness away.’
(c) Williams, Jane. The Art of Advent (p.2).

The Ancient of Days, William Blake

For reflection

Study the picture and then close your eyes and contemplate the phrases ‘Light of the World’, ‘Creator God’, ‘Remove all darkness from our lives’ or let you mind create its own images of light and dark.

Then after 2 or 3 minutes, reflect on the questions Jane Williams poses:

Are there areas of your life that you are afraid to open up to the light?

If so, what can you do this Advent to prepare to let God in?

What aspects of faith have you found liberating and what have you found constricting?

What can you do this Advent to make your circle more welcoming?

Williams, Jane. The Art of Advent (SPCK)

Monday, 30th November

Invitation

If your copy of the book has arrived, read pages 6-9 – if not here is her introduction.

John’s Gospel opens with God’s perspective, starting before time. God’s Advent preparations are far more all-encompassing than ours. From the start, the world has been moving towards this moment, when the light and life of the world will be born into it. But then John reminds us of the shocking reality: ‘He was in the world, and the world came into being through him; yet the world did not know him’ (John 1.10). It is almost like the old fairy tales, where a king disguises himself to go and live among his people and see what they really think.

Williams, Jane. The Art of Advent . SPCK. (p.6).

The Light of the World, William Holman Hunt.

For reflection

Study the picture and then close your eyes and contemplate the phrases ‘Come to me all who are weary’, ‘Come home!’, ‘Ask and it shall be answered’ or let you mind create its own images of loving invitations.

Then after 2 or 3 minutes, reflect on the questions Jane Williams poses:

What stops you opening up all the doors in your life to God?

Do you think there are times when a battering ram works better than an invitation as an evangelistic tool?

Lord of gentle might, may we hear the patient knocking of your son, Jesus Christ, this Advent, and open all our doors to the flood of your mercy, poured out for us in the power of the Spirit. Amen.

Williams, Jane; Williams, Jane. The Art of Advent . SPCK. (p.9).

The Next Four Days – Traditional Advent Themes

The Four Last Things:-

  • Death
  • Judgement
  • Heaven
  • Hell

– have been traditional themes for Advent meditation.

The characteristic note of Advent is expectation, rather than penitence, although the character of the season is easily coloured by an analogy with Lent.

Tuesday, 1st December

Death

The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse – Albrect Durer

A Detail showing ‘Death’ – note how he differs from the other three horsemen (Conquest, War and Famine).  What is Durer trying to convey?

What do words concepts like  ‘hope’, and specifically Christian hope, ‘redemption’,  ‘resurrection’,  and ‘salvation’ mean for you?  How do they apply in this broken world?
How about in the ‘World to Come’?

Read a fuller reflection in Jane Williams’ book.

Jane Williams asks these questions:

‘What frightens you most about death?’

In a world where conquest, war and famine, the other three Horsemen, as well as Death, still prevail what is the difference between ‘hope’ and ‘optimism’?

Lord, come in judgement on a world  of famine, war and death, and sow the seeds of your Kingdom of peace in the mighty and tender power of the Holy Spirit and in the name of Jesus Christ our Redeemer and Saviour.  Amen.

Wednesday, 2nd December

Judgement

This tryptic is by Hieronymus Bosch, it is entitled ‘Judgement’

Bosch is inviting us to make choices – eternal choices – spent some time in quiet, reflect on some of you more important choices in life.

Study it here or elsewhere on-line.  What parts of the image, especially in the centre panel strike you? Why might that be?

Which led to greater joy for you or those you love?  Which do you regret or see now were unwise?  Where was God in the consequences of these choices?

Re-read the Parable of the Lost (Prodigal) Son – how did the choices he made affect him and how he thought his father would judge and view him?

How did his father actually view him?

Study the tryptic again.  How does it affect you now?

How will you prepare for the coming of the Messiah in Loving Judgement this Advent?

Maranatha – Come! Lord Jesus. Amen.

Thursday, 3rd December

Heaven

Stay with the left hand portion of  the tryptic, if you wish or search for an on-line image that says ‘ heaven’ to you.

How do you conceive heaven? How can you imagine it or what are it characteristics? (Although our conception of all things divine can only be imperfect impressions – ‘Now we see in the mirror dimly.)

Do some of the Gospel images such as ‘Banquet’ or ‘Wedding Feast’ help?  What about some of the imagery used in the Book of Revelation?

Does your mind and prayer take you to scene that you can see in your mind’s eye?  Who is there? What are they like? Talk to one of them about it.

Friday, 4th December

Hell

Stay with the right hand portion of  the tryptic, if you wish or search for an on-line image that says ‘ hell’ to you.

How do you conceive hell? How can you imagine it or what are it characteristics? How does your thinking about hell differ from heaven?  Is one more a real place to you than the other?  Why may that be?

For the Prodigal, where was heaven?  Where then was hell?

You may like to study Rembrandt’s The Return of the Prodigal, there is an image of it in Jane William’s book and it is accessible on-line too.  Reflect again on God’s Love, its absence and its presence for us all, on heaven and on hell.

The Next Set of  Reflections

There are several traditions about the meaning or theme of each advent candle. The scheme that accords best with the Common Worship Principal Service Lectionary is:

Advent 1 – The Patriarchs
Advent 2  – The Prophets
Advent 3  – John The Baptist
Advent 4  – The Blessed Virgin Mary
and on
Christmas Day – The Christ Child

These are our the basis of the next five reflections.  Again, to go deeper please use Jane William’s book.
Each day of Advent and certain each of the four Sundays of Advent (hence the four candles) remind us of those who prepared for the coming of Christ.

‘The Patriarchs’ can naturally focus on Abraham, our father in faith, and David, the ancestor in whose city Jesus was born.

‘The Prophets’ gives an opportunity to reflect on the way the birth of the Messiah was ‘foretold’.

John was the one who ‘made the paths straight’, the one who proclaimed the Saviour.

And Mary his mother who accepted the God’s invitation announced by Gabriel.  She accepted the invitation to be the one who bore him in her womb.  And, so she completes the picture. But, let’s not neglect Joseph!

If you are using and enjoying these reflections and the use of art at Advent, PLEASE ensure that you buy a copy of the book to ensure that we make the fairest use of Dr William’s scholarship and  spiritual insight. These on-line resources are intended to complement that work NOT replace it.  It is an inexpensive paperback and is a rich source of material.

Williams, J. (2018) The Art of Advent: A Painting a Day from Advent to Epiphany, London: SPCK
(
ISBN-10 : 0281071691; ISBN-13 : 978-0281071692)

Saturday, 5th December

The Patriarchs

Blessed are you, sovereign Lord, God of our ancestors:
to you be praise and glory for ever.
You called the patriarchs to live by the light of faith
and to journey in the hope of your promised fulfilment.
May we be obedient to your call
and be ready and watchful to receive your Christ,
a lamp to our feet and a light to our path;
for you are our light and our salvation.
Blessed be God for ever.

 

Abraham, Isaac and Jacob helped prepare the world to understand the action of God in Jesus. God is faithful and to be trusted, even though God seldom seems to act as we would like or expect, and even though we, like Jacob, are not always reliable partners for the divine promise and action. In Jesus Christ, God creates a way to be present with us always, a way that is far more effective than any ladder between heaven and earth.

Are you aware that there is an area of your life where you just do not trust that God is faithful and reliable?

Who are the people who have helped prepare you to be ready to meet God?

Williams, Jane. The Art of Advent . (p.29)

Sunday, 6th December

The Prophets

Blessed are you, sovereign Lord, just and true:
to you be praise and glory for ever.
Of old you spoke by the mouth of your prophets,
but in our days you speak through your Son,
whom you have appointed the heir of all things.
Grant us, your people, to walk in his light,
that we may be found ready and watching
when he comes again in glory and judgement;
for you are our light and our salvation.
Blessed be God for ever.

The prophets bring good news, too: whatever happens, God is God and God is for us. Even Jeremiah, the darkest of prophets, has moments when he can see beyond the immediate destruction of his people to a time when they will again know that God has not abandoned them. To spend time in Advent in the company of the prophets is to open ourselves up to the great and costly truth that the world is God’s and can be lived in peaceably and joyfully only by people who know who they are and whose they are. In that sense, we are all called to be prophets, in that we point to the bigger narrative of which we are a part; we point towards the action of God in Jesus Christ, and prepare ourselves to live in the world that God has made.

Do you sometimes fear that faith in God will isolate you from others?

How might our lives ‘prophesy’ about God?

Williams, Jane. The Art of Advent . (p.33)

Monday, 7th December

John The Baptist

Blessed are you, sovereign Lord, just and true:
to you be praise and glory for ever.
Your prophet John the Baptist was witness to the truth
as a burning and shining light.
May we your servants rejoice in his light,
and so be led to witness to him
who is the Lord of our coming kingdom,
Jesus our Saviour and King of the ages.
Blessed be God for ever.

 

 

 

Reflect on why John is such a good companion in Advent.

When the presence and action of God seem unclear, we can at least follow John’s good example and keep looking for answers ourselves; we only need to do the one thing that we are called to do, which is to point to Jesus.

Do you love to be in the limelight, or are you able to stand aside and let others take the attention?

What can we do to point the way to Jesus?

Williams, Jane. The Art of Advent . (p.37)

 

Tuesday, 8th December

The Blessed Virgin Mary

Blessed are you, sovereign Lord, merciful and gentle:
to you be praise and glory for ever.
Your light has shone in our darkened world
through the child-bearing of blessed Mary;
grant that we who have seen your glory
may daily be renewed in your image
and prepared like her for the coming of your Son,
who is the Lord and Saviour of all.
Blessed be God for ever.

 

[Our] lives will be all sweetness and light in the service of God, as Mary’s path makes plain. This is the journey that will mean that ‘all generations call her blessed’, but there must have been times when she longed for peaceful obscurity, even if that meant denying her truest self.

Advent prepares us for the true reality that there is only one story of the world, only one destiny for it, from before all time, and that is for it to find its fulfilment through the Son of God. We can choose not to be involved in telling the world its story, but we cannot choose to make another story the true one, because we are not God.

What are you most afraid that God might ask you to be or do?

Do you think it is true that you can be completely known by God and completely free?

Williams, Jane. The Art of Advent . SPCK. (p.45).

 

Joseph

We should not forget the the role played in Jesus’ life – his loyalty the unborn child’s mother, his continued loyalty to Mary and then to the growing child, Jesus.

 

 

God our Father,
who from the family of your servant David
raised up Joseph the carpenter
to be the guardian of your incarnate Son
and husband of the Blessed Virgin Mary:
give us grace to follow him
in faithful obedience to your commands;
through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord,
who is alive and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever.  Amen.

As an Advent companion, Joseph encourages us to discern our own part and to play it, fully. Joseph was willing to be and to do just what God needed from him, and so he assists in God’s salvation of the world in Jesus. He was willing not to be centre stage, to lean in with love from the side of the picture, as Millais shows him, offering comfort but not offended if it is not needed. It is Joseph who is descended from David and so gives Jesus his family tree, his connection to the proper story of God’s Messiah; it is Joseph’s heritage that takes the pregnant Mary to Bethlehem for the birth of her prepared for in God’s long plans just as much as Mary’s. Let that be a comfort to those of us who feel we are always asked to play the minor parts.

Who has taught you most about the character of God?

What can we do to help protect and nurture the gifts and callings of others?

Williams, Jane; Williams, Jane. The Art of Advent . SPCK. (p.41).

 

Wednesday, 9th December

The Christ Child

Blessed are you, sovereign Lord, King of Peace:
to you be praise and glory for ever.
The new light of your incarnate Word
gives gladness in our sorrow,
and a presence in our isolation.
Fill our lives with your light,
until they overflow with gladness and praise.
Blessed be God for ever.

Reflect on this painting as you have on the preceding ones associated with the Advents Candles (and St Joseph of Nazareth), thinking about the the frailty and vulnerability of the  little baby.  Then turn your thoughts, to the simple sentence, ‘Jesus, you are the light of the world’.  How can these two things be true at one and the same time.  How can you make this truth absolutely real in your life?  You might like to read ‘John’s Prologue’, the opening of the Gospel according to St John, ‘In the beginning was the Word’.

Dr Jane Williams writes:

‘In Advent, one of the things we are doing is preparing to live in our freedom as God’s redeemed people, and that means facing our fears about what will be required of us if we truly have hope and choice. The Christ Child in El Greco’s painting reaches out freely, eagerly, to do what is necessary, and, in Advent, we are preparing to follow his example, with hope and courage, knowing that we are no longer enslaved but free.

Are there habits that you know you need to break if you are to be truly free?

What are the signs that we are not yet at ease with our freedom, but continue to live as though we are enslaved? ‘

Williams, Jane; Williams, Jane. The Art of Advent . SPCK. (p.49).

 

 

 

 

Upcoming events...

3rd Sunday of the Month Mattins at Corhampton

November 21, 2021

Corhampton Church

4th Sunday of the Month – Holy Communion at Exton

November 28, 2021

The Church of St Peter and St Paul, Exton in Hampshire

1st Sunday of the Month – Holy Communion (Common Worship)

December 5, 2021

St Andrew's Church, Meonstoke

St Mary and All Saints' Church, Droxford

Corhampton Church

4th Sunday of the Month – Holy Communion at Exton

December 26, 2021

The Church of St Peter and St Paul, Exton in Hampshire

1st Sunday of the Month – Holy Communion (Common Worship)

January 2, 2022

St Andrew's Church, Meonstoke

St Mary and All Saints' Church, Droxford

Corhampton Church

4th Sunday of the Month – Holy Communion at Exton

January 23, 2022

The Church of St Peter and St Paul, Exton in Hampshire

1st Sunday of the Month – Holy Communion (Common Worship)

February 6, 2022

St Andrew's Church, Meonstoke

St Mary and All Saints' Church, Droxford

Corhampton Church

4th Sunday of the Month – Holy Communion at Exton

February 27, 2022

The Church of St Peter and St Paul, Exton in Hampshire

1st Sunday of the Month – Holy Communion (Common Worship)

March 6, 2022

St Andrew's Church, Meonstoke

St Mary and All Saints' Church, Droxford

Corhampton Church

4th Sunday of the Month – Holy Communion at Exton

March 27, 2022

The Church of St Peter and St Paul, Exton in Hampshire

1st Sunday of the Month – Holy Communion (Common Worship)

April 3, 2022

St Andrew's Church, Meonstoke

St Mary and All Saints' Church, Droxford

Corhampton Church

4th Sunday of the Month – Holy Communion at Exton

April 24, 2022

The Church of St Peter and St Paul, Exton in Hampshire

1st Sunday of the Month – Holy Communion (Common Worship)

May 1, 2022

St Andrew's Church, Meonstoke

St Mary and All Saints' Church, Droxford

Corhampton Church

4th Sunday of the Month – Holy Communion at Exton

May 22, 2022

The Church of St Peter and St Paul, Exton in Hampshire

1st Sunday of the Month – Holy Communion (Common Worship)

June 5, 2022

St Andrew's Church, Meonstoke

St Mary and All Saints' Church, Droxford

Corhampton Church

4th Sunday of the Month – Holy Communion at Exton

June 26, 2022

The Church of St Peter and St Paul, Exton in Hampshire

1st Sunday of the Month – Holy Communion (Common Worship)

July 3, 2022

St Andrew's Church, Meonstoke

St Mary and All Saints' Church, Droxford

Corhampton Church

4th Sunday of the Month – Holy Communion at Exton

July 24, 2022

The Church of St Peter and St Paul, Exton in Hampshire

1st Sunday of the Month – Holy Communion (Common Worship)

August 7, 2022

St Andrew's Church, Meonstoke

St Mary and All Saints' Church, Droxford

Corhampton Church

4th Sunday of the Month – Holy Communion at Exton

August 28, 2022

The Church of St Peter and St Paul, Exton in Hampshire

1st Sunday of the Month – Holy Communion (Common Worship)

September 4, 2022

St Andrew's Church, Meonstoke

St Mary and All Saints' Church, Droxford

Corhampton Church

4th Sunday of the Month – Holy Communion at Exton

September 25, 2022

The Church of St Peter and St Paul, Exton in Hampshire

1st Sunday of the Month – Holy Communion (Common Worship)

October 2, 2022

St Andrew's Church, Meonstoke

St Mary and All Saints' Church, Droxford

Corhampton Church

4th Sunday of the Month – Holy Communion at Exton

October 23, 2022

The Church of St Peter and St Paul, Exton in Hampshire

1st Sunday of the Month – Holy Communion (Common Worship)

November 6, 2022

St Andrew's Church, Meonstoke

St Mary and All Saints' Church, Droxford

Corhampton Church

4th Sunday of the Month – Holy Communion at Exton

November 27, 2022

The Church of St Peter and St Paul, Exton in Hampshire

1st Sunday of the Month – Holy Communion (Common Worship)

December 4, 2022

St Andrew's Church, Meonstoke

St Mary and All Saints' Church, Droxford

Corhampton Church

4th Sunday of the Month – Holy Communion at Exton

December 25, 2022

The Church of St Peter and St Paul, Exton in Hampshire

1st Sunday of the Month – Holy Communion (Common Worship)

January 1, 2023

St Andrew's Church, Meonstoke

St Mary and All Saints' Church, Droxford

Corhampton Church

4th Sunday of the Month – Holy Communion at Exton

January 22, 2023

The Church of St Peter and St Paul, Exton in Hampshire

1st Sunday of the Month – Holy Communion (Common Worship)

February 5, 2023

St Andrew's Church, Meonstoke

St Mary and All Saints' Church, Droxford

Corhampton Church

4th Sunday of the Month – Holy Communion at Exton

February 26, 2023

The Church of St Peter and St Paul, Exton in Hampshire

1st Sunday of the Month – Holy Communion (Common Worship)

March 5, 2023

St Andrew's Church, Meonstoke

St Mary and All Saints' Church, Droxford

Corhampton Church

4th Sunday of the Month – Holy Communion at Exton

March 26, 2023

The Church of St Peter and St Paul, Exton in Hampshire

1st Sunday of the Month – Holy Communion (Common Worship)

April 2, 2023

St Andrew's Church, Meonstoke

St Mary and All Saints' Church, Droxford

Corhampton Church

4th Sunday of the Month – Holy Communion at Exton

April 23, 2023

The Church of St Peter and St Paul, Exton in Hampshire

1st Sunday of the Month – Holy Communion (Common Worship)

May 7, 2023

St Andrew's Church, Meonstoke

St Mary and All Saints' Church, Droxford

Corhampton Church

4th Sunday of the Month – Holy Communion at Exton

May 28, 2023

The Church of St Peter and St Paul, Exton in Hampshire

1st Sunday of the Month – Holy Communion (Common Worship)

June 4, 2023

St Andrew's Church, Meonstoke

St Mary and All Saints' Church, Droxford

Corhampton Church

4th Sunday of the Month – Holy Communion at Exton

June 25, 2023

The Church of St Peter and St Paul, Exton in Hampshire

1st Sunday of the Month – Holy Communion (Common Worship)

July 2, 2023

St Andrew's Church, Meonstoke

St Mary and All Saints' Church, Droxford

Corhampton Church

4th Sunday of the Month – Holy Communion at Exton

July 23, 2023

The Church of St Peter and St Paul, Exton in Hampshire

1st Sunday of the Month – Holy Communion (Common Worship)

August 6, 2023

St Andrew's Church, Meonstoke

St Mary and All Saints' Church, Droxford

Corhampton Church

4th Sunday of the Month – Holy Communion at Exton

August 27, 2023

The Church of St Peter and St Paul, Exton in Hampshire

1st Sunday of the Month – Holy Communion (Common Worship)

September 3, 2023

St Andrew's Church, Meonstoke

St Mary and All Saints' Church, Droxford

Corhampton Church

4th Sunday of the Month – Holy Communion at Exton

September 24, 2023

The Church of St Peter and St Paul, Exton in Hampshire

1st Sunday of the Month – Holy Communion (Common Worship)

October 1, 2023

St Andrew's Church, Meonstoke

St Mary and All Saints' Church, Droxford

Corhampton Church

4th Sunday of the Month – Holy Communion at Exton

October 22, 2023

The Church of St Peter and St Paul, Exton in Hampshire

1st Sunday of the Month – Holy Communion (Common Worship)

November 5, 2023

St Andrew's Church, Meonstoke

St Mary and All Saints' Church, Droxford

Corhampton Church

4th Sunday of the Month – Holy Communion at Exton

November 26, 2023

The Church of St Peter and St Paul, Exton in Hampshire

1st Sunday of the Month – Holy Communion (Common Worship)

December 3, 2023

St Andrew's Church, Meonstoke

St Mary and All Saints' Church, Droxford

Corhampton Church

4th Sunday of the Month – Holy Communion at Exton

December 24, 2023

The Church of St Peter and St Paul, Exton in Hampshire

View all events