The following prayer was written 9 years ago by Revd Gary Homewood, who served in the circuit when it was the Ashford Methodist Circuit rather than the now enlarged South Kent Methodist Circuit. Shared with his permission.
We thank You that You have once again invited us to embark upon an Advent journey.
“Come to Bethlehem,” You said. “Come to see the Christ-child,” You said. “Come as you are. All are welcome.”
And Bethlehem is far, far away.
And shall we come by sea, or land, or air?
And shall we somehow fit You into our crowded diary?
And shall we hope to miss the rockets and the shells, this Christmastide?
Will we be made welcome, when we arrive, and will we be welcoming, too?
Bethlehem is far, far away.
And shall we come as we are?
Shall we come with our self-satisfying gifts, our wealth, our attitudes?
Shall we bring with us all that we have achieved in two thousand years?
We shall be greatly burdened, if we do.
And Bethlehem is far, far away.
Shall we bring the shepherds with us from those margins of our world, if we deem them fit companions?
Shall we bring the wise men with us, if we accept a wisdom greater than our own?
And shall we bring the heavenly host, too, as it is customary to try to out-do the latest foreign spectacle?
All this to Bethlehem, which is still so far away?
It is remarkable, Father, that You should let us come at all, and come as we are, and still make us welcome, and not chide us.
It is remarkable that You should let us find our own way to a dirty, backstreet stable, and not feel out of place there, among those we have despised.
It is remarkable that there is a place for us, when we have spent so much time travelling away from this place,
Leaving Bethlehem behind us, so very far away.
So we shall come as we are, because we can make nothing else of ourselves without You, and You will make us welcome, because that is what You do best of all.
And we shall find the manger, deep in the shadows of our own forgetfulness, and we shall kneel there, with weeping hearts, desperate for the sound of a new-born baby’s cry.
And we shall hear that sound, because You wish it;
And Your love will pour into our hearts, because You give it;
And we will be changed by that child, because You ask it.
And we shall come home again, ourselves new-born, because You will it,
Suddenly amazed to find how close we are to Bethlehem, no longer so very far away.
In the name of the Christ-Child, Jesus, Messiah-King,
We give thanks to You.
Thanks to Lisa for posting this on the Circuit Facebook group:
Do you want to be a part of ‘Fishing for Hope’?
The Challenge: Create a fish prayer object. Or, create a shoal! Use your talents and whatever creative resources you have available in your home to make your fish! You could make a fish by: – knitting, crocheting, cutting, sewing, sticking scrap materials, painting it on a stone, paper mache, Lego, iron-on beads, clay, baking – or any other creative means you can think of!
Why a fish prayer object? The fish has long been a symbol of Christian identity, hope and salvation. At times like these, perhaps it is good to hold on to our Christian identity, hope and salvation! Literally! With the fish we create, we can hold them in our hands and we can hold what they represent symbolically in our hearts and minds.
Why do this? The fish could be an object for prayer during this time. They could also be gifts for others; whether they can be gifted now, if there are others in your household, or later, when the time is ‘right’ (according to governmental health and safety instructions and advice).
This is a multi District scheme covering the Southern & Islands region. Share your fish pictures in the circuit facebook group, or email them to me.