Small Group Devotions for Advent from New Zealand

Rosalie Sugrue led this Advent devotional for a women’s group and is sharing it. Two readers can gather responses or simply keep going and reflect later. Perfect for many groups at this time of year.

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Christmas Journeys

1)    Let’s think about Christmas cards… Another chore on the long list of Christmas preparation, yes, but like the other Christmas chores eminently satisfying – so good to receive, knowing the sender has remembered you and wants to share a greeting and often news of their doings over the past year. Cards are an enduring tradition of goodwill complete with traditional illustrations. What pictures come to mind?

2)    Mary and Joseph and a donkey, a distant town beneath a star, kings on camels, shepherds with sheep, worshippers in a stable and a baby.

1)    Now consider secular cards – what images do you see? Traditional pictures include puddings and trees, families having fun, and most dominant of all Santa and his reindeer.

2)    And what about our modern down under-cards, again Santa is present sometimes wearing red shorts and lazing on a beach, our cards often embrace holiday scenes caravans and tents, sailboats and canoes.

1)    Can you find any common theme uniting these very different pictures?

2)    Mmm… Mary and Joseph with a donkey, kings on camels, shepherds on foot, Santa on a magic sleigh, and holidaying families travelling to beaches and lakes. These images all include a journey.

1)    Religious journeys are seen as pilgrimages, secular journeys as holidays, the Santa journey is the most epic journey myth of all stories, magically kept alive by global goodwill and adult intent on delighting children. Journeys are significant events.

2)    At the heart of Christmas is a baby – babies bring joy and proclaim the beginning of a life journey, babies carry hope and potential and invite us to new beginnings. The Christmas Baby personifies the Light of the World.

1)    Let’s reflect on our personal journeys this year…

2)    What is uppermost for you, good times or bad times?

Silently name the bad times…

1)    Without any bad we would be unable to appreciate the good.

We are able to appreciate and rejoice in the good. Silently name the good times…

2)    We have safely arrived to the beginning of a new Christian year. In the past year our paths have wound through some dark times. Visualise unlit lamps in the shadows of your valleys; now bring a memory, of a good time, or an act of kindness, to each lamp so it glows…

1)    Look back on the row of lights and know the Light of the World was with you this year past and will be with you this year to come.

2)    Let us pray…

Christmas Journey Prayer

Like shepherds and wise-men,
in our journeys we find you
in unexpected places.
We find you in our worries
and hear your words, fear not.
We find you in our wonders
and hear your words, behold
I bring you glad tidings.
We find you in quiet moments
and we know great joy.
As we put love in action
we participate in your hope
of peace and goodwill
for all humankind.
With the angelic chorus of
Glory to God singing in our hears
we will journey on knowing
you are with us, Christ Emmanuel. Amen

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