God has actually spoken

The scripture readings for Sunday are a great starting point to start listening

more

It's more enjoyable with others

There are some simple and effective ways to share scripture in homes, cafes, parishes

more

Let's walk the talk

Prayer becomes lived out when we make decisions and lifestyle commitments

more

Sign up for email notifications

Or follow us via Twitter, facebook, RSS and more

more

Author Archive

Discussion Guide:    4th Sunday Yr. C – Reputation or Conversion?

 

This is the Greatest" — PowerPoint Background of 1 Corinthians 13:13 Cross Love — Heartlight®

Reflection Questions:    • Jeremiah was known as the ‘weeping prophet’ because people did not listen to his message (King Jehoiakim even burned one of Jeremiah’s manuscripts). He experienced God’s word deeply and in the midst of false ‘prosperity prophets’ who declared God was looking favourably on his people and good times were coming, Jeremiah shares his personal call and his preparedness for rejection. What is the challenge of being a ‘prophet to the nations’ like Jeremiah today? Do you feel formed and called by God to stand up for (or against) something in society? What has been your response so far? What happened?

• St Paul continues discussing the ‘elitist’ problem in the Corinthian community. Some people were setting themselves apart as a ‘spiritual elite’ with boastful talk of their charisms and gifts. Gifts and charisms mean nothing if love is absent. Evaluate your life by the qualities of love in the second reading: Are you patient? Kind. Jealous? Proud? Resentful? Do you take offence easily? Gossip? Delight in truth? Forgiving, trusting, and hopeful? What aspect of your character could you invite the Holy Spirit to help you with?

• St Paul uses a special word (agape) for love. It is not a sexual love (eros) or a family love (philia). Agape is a quality of love that is given regardless of a response. Agape love is loving like God loves. In what ways and in what relationships do you show ‘agape’ love? Do you recognise people in need constitute God’s agape call to us?

• Jesus continues to speak to his hometown. In an ‘honour and shame’ culture of the ancient Middle East, an expectation is placed over Jesus to bring honour, glory, acclaim to Nazareth. Be our ‘local’ prophet, set up a healing station here in Nazareth like you have been doing at Capernaum. Bring in the tourists! Their attitude and concern is reputation rather than conversion. Jesus confronts them. In what ways does ‘reputation’ take priority over ‘conversion’ in your life? When was the last time you experienced the ‘cost’ of discipleship like Jeremiah and Jesus?

• Jesus identifies himself with the mission of the great prophets of Elijah and Elisha who were sent out to nearby gentile lands (Sidon) and people (Naaman the Syrian) which infuriates them. They react violently to the idea that God’s favour is also for the gentiles and not exclusively to Israel. Why do you think removing barriers and cultural walls meets resistance? What is beneath the categories of right / wrong,    clean / unclean?

• The ‘community’ at Nazareth limit Jesus by confining him to be ‘Joseph’s son’. Have you experienced the support of family, friends and community and then as time goes on, recognise the limitations people’s perception puts on you? Do you feel called to ‘break out’ of ‘reputation’ and move toward ‘doing the will of God’? What obstacles do you face? How will you respond to people ‘springing to their feet and trying to throw you off the cliff’?

• What is one action that you will do to be ‘livingtheword’ this week?

Discussion Guide:  3rd Sunday Yr. C – Sharing Jesus’ Mission to Repair the World

 

 

Did Jesus Come to Heal Our World? | Collegiate Ministries

Reflection Questions:  • In the first reading the People of God were returning from exile in Babylon. They were a band of refugees returning to their ‘religious’ home. Nehemiah was their leader helping the community to rebuild the wall around the city of Jerusalem. Ezra was their priest leading the community in listening to the ‘laws’ of God. Ezra is known for strict adherence to the laws of Moses and not allowing intermarriage. The people cry because they hear the law and have it interpreted for them so that they understand. Is there an area of the Church’s teaching which you may need to hear and have interpreted for you? What is it? Who could you ask for help? Why do you think Ezra tells them to eat and drink?

• St Paul continues teaching the community about the gifts of the Holy Spirit. Some of the community thought they were ‘better’ than others because they had the gift of tongues. St Paul teaches the gifts of the spirit serve the community and help it to truly be the ‘body’ of Christ in the world. Do you feel your gifting for serving the Church is in the head (teaching), heart (caring), hands (serving), feet (missionary) of the Church? Are you accepting and celebrate your gifts or are you ‘jealous’ of others? How could you share your gifting this week? This year? In your Parish?

• In the Gospel of Luke, Jesus begins his ‘public’ ministry to the most difficult group – his hometown! Jesus is clear and bold in his vision. Do you have a clear sense of mission and purpose in your life and service of God? Jesus uses 50 words, what would you write in 50 words for your personal mission statement as you begin the year?

• The ‘Lord’s year of favour’ is the 50th year (the Jubilee Year as established in Leviticus 25). Debts were cancelled, prisoners and slaves freed, land was returned to its original family ownership. The whole financial, social and political structure was renewed. The Jewish people called this the ‘Tikkan Olam’ meaning ‘the repair of the world’. Repairing the world is an essential part of the work of the Church and every follower of Jesus. Allow this idea to enter your imagination for a moment. Do you consider ‘healing the world’ as part of your consciousness and job description as a follower of Jesus? What area of need in the world ‘attracts you’ -calls out to you? What has been your response so far?

• This year we will journey with Jesus in the Gospel of Luke. A focus for Luke is Jesus’ care and attention to those who are hurting, excluded, ‘downtrodden’. If you were to look about in your family, community, wider society, who do you notice has been knocked over and hurt by life… and is now ‘trampled on’ by the invisible hidden foot of society’s structures? The Gospel of Luke is also known as the ‘Gospel of Mercy’. Mercy comes from the Hebrew word for ‘womb’. Will you be moved to compassion for those in need? Information without application is fascination. Information with application is transformation. Will the Gospel of Luke transform you this year?

• What is one action that you will do to be ‘livingtheword’ this week?

Discussion Guide:    2nd Sunday Yr. C – Do Whatever He Tells You

 

FreeBibleimages :: The first miracle of Jesus :: Jesus turns water to wine at a wedding (John 2:1-12)

Reflection Questions:     • This Sunday marks the beginning of ‘Ordinary’ Time. The season of Christmas has ended. Isaiah is among the group of Jewish exiles who return to Jerusalem (Zion). They see a city in ruins. Some wish to return to Babylon. Isaiah sees in hope and envisions a city shining beautifully ‘like a burning torch’. When some think ‘Forsaken’ Isaiah thinks ‘My delight’. When some see ‘desolate’ Isaiah sees ‘Married’. As you look at Yourself, the Church and the World, what do you ‘see’? How do you think God ‘sees’ You, the Church, the World? Do you need to move from self-condemning thoughts to rejoicing thoughts? Imagine God wanting to dance and rejoice with you as if in a marriage dance. What are your feelings…

• St Paul is concerned about people in the Corinthian community who consider only christians who have the gift of tongues have great spiritual powers. Self righteous people have hurt others in the community. St Paul wants to heal the community and remind people there are many gifts – (and he places tongues last!). What gifts have you noticed within you? In others? What area of need in the Church matches your passion, energy and ‘gifts’?

• Mary was attentive to the ordinary needs of people around her. She noticed ‘They have no wine’ and had compassion for them. How attentive are you to the people around you? Mary invited Jesus to help. Have you ever invited someone to do something and their response was ‘I’m not quite ready’. It’s not the right time. Mary encourages Jesus into public ministry – and doesn’t get put off with his response! Jesus reminds her his ‘hour’ is something deeply personal between him and the Father. Have you reached a point in life when your ‘hour’ is near? Is it time to commit to a public witness of your faith? To ministry. Single life. Marriage. Religious life. Priesthood? Will you listen to the Father? Have you had a ‘Mary’ person ask and invite you into service? What was your response?

• Huge water jars were used for purification and ritual cleansing. The servants were told by Mary to ‘do whatever he tells you.’ They were not asked to perform the miracle. They were simply asked to do what they knew how to do; but to do it when they did not understand why. They ‘filled the jars to the brim’. Their obedience and commitment to service allowed the miracle of superabundant wine to be revealed. When we serve God with what we know how to do even when it seems insignificant, God’s abundant grace fills not only us with wonder but provides amazing grace for others. Name a time you were asked to go the extra mile and do something apparently simple, then saw God work in a special way for others? What was that like for you? For them?

• The Jewish people had a prophecy that the Messiah would bring an abundance of great wine. Jesus’ first public ‘sign’ in the Gospel of John is to enter a marriage ceremony and replace water with at least $15,000 of the best wine ever tasted. What do you think this reveals for the Church? For you? For John, a ‘sign’ points to a deeper reality. What is the difference between ‘water’ and ‘wine’? Water is lifegiving and cleansing. Wine is fermented for celebration and joy. Is your spiritual journey more like water or wine? Do you ‘believe’?

• What is one action that you will do to be ‘livingtheword’ this week?

Discussion Guide:  Baptism of the Lord Yr. C – Are We the Light of God for Others?

 

Why I Don't Want to Die Yet - Nadine Brandes

Reflection Questions:  • The prophet Isaiah speaks often of the promise that God will send a Messiah. Today’s prophecy foretells Jesus’ coming. Celebrating Jesus’ Baptism we learn also of our own ‘job description’ to live following Jesus’ lifestyle and example in the world. Have you made your baptism personal and meaningful? What does it mean for you to be: ‘chosen’, ‘upon whom I have put my spirit’, ‘bring forth justice’. Called personally for the ‘victory of justice’. Have you recognised God trying to take you by the hand and form you, ask you to be an example and light for others? Transform peoples lives who are blind and suffering in darkness?

• Acts 10 is a very important chapter and experience in the life of St Peter. Peter was Jewish and was brought up in strict observance knowing what was ‘clean’ and ‘unclean’. Non Jews (Gentiles / Greeks) were considered ‘unclean’. If you entered their home or ate with them you became ‘unclean’. Peter is told by God to go into Cornelius’ home (He was a gentile and a despised Roman soldier!). Peter has a significant conversion of the mind…. ‘people of every nation are acceptable to God’. Who do you consider to be ‘clean’ ‘unclean’? What obstacles did Peter have to overcome to go into Cornelius’ house? What obstacles do you have to overcome?

• It was a custom for disciples to carry the masters sandals. It was a sign of discipleship. The image John shares is he is not even worthy to bow down and undo the sandals of Jesus. The holiness and distinctiveness between John and Jesus is emphasised. Why? • Historical and theological writing is present in this Baptism scene of Jesus. Isaiah had cried out to God in the Old Testament – open the heavens and come down! Now the clouds are pushed apart, the spirit of God descends and God’s voice is heard. Here he is! The Messiah. The promised one. My Son. Imagine being at this scene. Imagine this is your baptism scene. What do you feel? Think? Fulfilling the Old Testament Prophecy of Isaiah, do you accept your baptismal ‘job description’? • You may have been too young to remember your own baptism. It does not mean that you cannot now become conscious of what happened and what it means ‘today’. A special prayer was prayed over you as party of your anointing ‘christ-ing’ that you be a Priest, Prophet and King. Your call is to be a

• Priest – bring the world to God and God to the world
• Prophet – listen to the scriptures and speak God’s word of comfort and challenge to the world
• King – to lead the world not follow the world.

• How could you grow in awareness and expression of your God-given calling?

• What is one action that you will do to be ‘livingtheword’ this week?

Discussion Guide:    Feast of the Epiphany Yr. C – Rise up, make Christ Known

 

 

Imagine the Possibilities – United Presbyterian Church

Reflection Questions:      • Epiphany is the Greek word meaning to ‘show’ or ‘make manifest’. The Magi from the East (coming from the Greek word for people of special knowledge) pay homage to Jesus. This symbolises all nations recognising Jesus as King and Lord. If you had to write a story to teach the truth about Jesus what truths would you seek to include? How could the Church make Christ known more creatively today? What is the most creative christian evangelisation message you have seen lately?

• Isaiah makes a beautiful prophecy which is fulfilled in the Gospel of Matthew story and the Magi today. God’s chosen people have just returned from exile and their country and beautiful city of Jerusalem and its Temple are in ruins. Isaiah begins with the image of Jerusalem as a woman lying down in defeat. ‘Rise up Jerusalem! Your light has come.’ As we enter the beginning of the New Year how could you experience ‘rising up’ to your most beautiful self? How could you help the Church ‘rise up’ and make Christ known? What would it take for you to be radiant and your heart throb with joy and pride in the Church community? What will you do?

• Paul states very clearly a mind-shattering truth: ‘the gentiles are coheirs’. Jewish people thought of and treated ‘gentiles’ as ‘unclean’. Paul says they are ‘clean’ and ‘co-partners’ in the inheritance of God’s promises and family. What adjustments in mind, heart, and action, would take place if God revealed to you that everyone was clean and equal and a ‘brother’ or ‘sister’ to you and you were all part of the same family? Imagine what lifestyle change this would involve. Are you willing to try? Can you glimpse this is the central gospel message of Jesus?

• In ancient times a new star was thought to indicate a new leader being born. The Magi are on a journey of seeking God. They have knowledge. Resources. Time. All that the world declares is necessary for fulfilment. Yet they are hungry for something more. What is currently guiding your life? Would you say you are thirsty, hungry, searching? How and where do you find Jesus today?

• The three gifts presented reveal the identity of Jesus. Gold for a king. Frankincense for a priest whose role is to pray and send prayers to God in heaven. Myrrh pointing toward Jesus’ sacrifice and death and future burial. As the new year begins what personal ‘gifts’, ‘talents’, are you willing to ‘give’ in service to God? Consider the deeper meaning of homage and surrender. How could you express a deeper commitment to following Jesus? What change of direction would you like to make to imitate the Magi?

• What is one action that you will do to be ‘livingtheword’ this week?

 

Discussion Guide:    Feast of Holy Family Yr. C

 

Holy Family Modern 2 - Gallery - Gail Wilson | The Art Sherpa

Reflection Questions:    • Today the Church celebrates the Feast of the Holy Family. Each of the readings provides a reflection on how family life is lived so as to lead us into ‘holiness’.

• The Book of Wisdom – or Sirach – arrives at a reflection on the commandment to Honor one’s Parents. Implied is a respectful relationship between Parents and children. The covenant relationship with God is mirrored in relationship to Parents. This relationship is indicated by prayer and obedience, forgiveness and justice. Consider the ups and downs Mum and Dad have been through in raising your family. How do you currently show and practice ‘thankfulness’? As Parents grow old, ‘the mind fails’ what do you do that may ‘grieve them’? How do you show ‘kindness’?

• Family life has struggles and difficulties. The Community of Colossae that Paul is writing to is struggling greatly with Jewish christians being open to welcoming ‘Gentiles – Greeks’ into the community ‘family’. ‘Put on’ is referring to the white garment of baptism and the new life of Jesus that we live. Who is included or excluded in your family? Which attitude do you recognise could be practiced more by you in your ‘family’. How could you allow ‘peace’ to control your heart?

• Subordinate – “under” – reflects the customs of the early Roman times. Christians were keen to live by the ‘ family code’ to show Roman authorities that they were not dangerous to government. What ‘order’ do you have in the family? Home? How is ‘bitterness’ resolved? What arguments arise over children’s behaviour and obedience? What attitudes or behaviours ‘provoke’ and ‘discourage’ your children? Does the Word of God dwell richly in your home? Is there any singing and praying and showing gratitude to God?

• Around the age of 12 a young boy would leave the company of Mum and the woman and mix and be led by the Men. Perhaps this transition is reflected in the scene of Jesus getting ‘lost’. Joseph may have thought the boy had gone back to Mum. Mum had pondered the boy was now more the responsibility of Joseph and he had things under control! Strikingly Jesus is shown as obedient to the will of the Father and sits in the midst of teachers of the law in the Temple to discover what this ‘will’ involves. Holiness is marked by doing the will of God. What desire or call of love, justice, truth, integrity, self gift is in your heart? What commitment are you called to be faithful to as an expression of the will of God?

• Consider how challenging it was for Mary to say Yes. What challenges did Joseph face in saying Yes? How do Mary and Joseph (Parents) cope with Jesus identifying his own individual call in choosing ‘the Father’s house’? Do you see the ‘Holy Family’ as exceptional and perfect or can you glimpse the normal family struggles of your own family life in them?

• What is one action that you will do to be ‘livingtheword’ this week?

Discussion Guide:  Christmas Yr. C Day Mass – The Word Became Flesh!

 

And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us... (John 1:14) | Bible truth, Scripture quotes, Scripture

 

Reflection Questions:    • Christmas Story – The Master and the Puppy. C.S. Lewis is well known for writing children’s stories. He was also a committed Christian and wanted to express deep theological truths simply. He explores Christmas – the Incarnation of Jesus with an illustration of a Master and his puppy.

• Imagine. You have a puppy. If you really loved your puppy how could you show your love to it? Wash. Cuddle. Feed. Brush. Exercise. Allow inside by the fire…..etc. As the Master of the puppy, how about while still holding onto your human condition you take on fully the condition of becoming like your puppy? Sharing its life totally and fully? You have entered the world of your puppy so that you can be with your puppy totally and reveal just how much you love your puppy. Would you do this? God has with us. What would you have to let go? What has God had to let go? What is your response to this truth at Christmas?

• ‘The Lord bares his holy arm’ is an image of God ‘rolling up his sleeves’ to get stuck into the work of salvation. Rolling up one’s sleeves recognises the work may get messy. The Incarnation is God entering our messy world. Is this good news for you? Why?

• Today’s reading from Isaiah brings us the original meaning of ‘Good News’. It was a messenger running back from battle with news of victory – good news! The messengers’ feet were beautiful as they brought a joyful message. Do you ‘carry’ a message of joy and peace in your heart because of Jesus?

• The Letter to the Hebrews is essentially a long sermon explaining to Jewish People and Jewish Temple Priests the significance of Jesus’ birth, life, death and resurrection. Jesus is the ‘Son’ of God, and ‘the very imprint of his being’. Some translations use the phrase ‘the perfect copy of his nature’. The Letter to the Hebrews also had to make clear that Jesus was above the angels and not an ‘intermediary’ or angelic ‘messenger’. What words or ideas best explain Jesus’ identity for you?

• In the Gospel of John, Jesus is given the title ‘Word’. Your ‘word’ expresses your deepest being. Is intimately ‘you’. It is self revelation. Jesus = Word is a creative way of teaching us about Jesus’ identity and being one-with- God. ‘In the beginning’ is John’s way of referring back to Genesis 1,1 and the existence of Jesus prior to creation. The great climax is the ‘Word became flesh’. The Hebrew language states God ‘pitched his tent among us’. It is this truth that writers call ‘the marvelous exchange’. It is this truth shown in the crib scene of Jesus and Mary and Joseph. We look on in wonder. How could you be surprised by the ‘incarnation – enfleshment’ of God among us at Christmas again?

• What is one action that you will do to ‘livetheword’ this week?

Merry Christmas from livingtheword

Discussion Guide:      Christmas Yr. C Midnight – A Saviour has been Born for You

 

Christmas Midnight Mass - Our Lady of Africa Parish, Mbuya

Reflection Questions:

• Watch ‘The Christmas Story’ http:// youtu.be/JSGNJnAGCOc and notice how seeing the birth of Jesus through the eyes of children helps you see some things in a new way. What part of the Christmas story strikes you the most?

• The first reading is a prophecy of Isaiah of war ended, a great leader arising from the family line of King David to bring judgment and justice. Reflect on the images. Walking in darkness then seeing a great light. Going out to pick fruits and produce of the earth and to know your family will be fed with plenty of food. Relief that war has ended and your community and family can now live in safety. Slave tasks of carrying heavy loads has ended. All the evidence and bloodshed of war being removed and burned. How has Jesus’ birth done this? What is the link between Jesus’ birth and death? Instead of military might to change the world, what does Jesus offer?

• Paul’s letter to Titus reminds us that while we celebrate the birth of Jesus we are still consciously living in preparation for his second coming. Christians are called not to retreat from the world but be a ‘sign’ in the world. Would someone watching your life notice that you are being ‘trained’, rejecting godless ways and worldly desires? Living modestly? Courageous in seeking justice? Devout and prayer-full? Eager and ready to do good?

• Caesar Augustus was the most powerful person in the world at the time of Jesus’ birth. He was the leader of the Roman Empire. The only superpower of the day. He was given the public title ‘Saviour of the World’ as he had managed to bring peace after 100 years of unrest. Enrolling people involved taking a census. This often meant knowing how many people and how much tax could be charged – to pay for armies and military power! Consequently a census sometimes caused a revolt by citizens. In contrast Luke shares: today in the city of David a saviour has been born for you who is Christ the Lord, lying in a manger. What do you think Luke is trying to suggest about salvation?

• God’s explosion into human history in the birth of Jesus is not in royal and beautiful surroundings. Christians have romanticised his birth considering it a beautiful event. But the reality was uncomfortable straw. In the midst of animals. Not accepted by his own people in the town of Bethlehem. On the outside of town. On the margins among people on the margins (Shepherds were considered dirty and dishonest!). How does this stretch your attitudes and perceptions of Christmas. Who does God ‘favour’?

• What is one action that you will do to be ‘livingtheword’ this week?

Discussion Guide:      4th Sunday Advent Yr. C – Leap for joy!

 

Luke 1:39-45: The Visitation | The Jesus Question

Reflection Questions:

• As Christmas arrives, special passages of scripture are used to guide our understanding of Christmas. This Sunday is the only time that the Prophet Micah is used for our Sunday Readings. A prophecy 700 years before Jesus points to the little town of Bethlehem, famous as it was the home of Jesse, King David’s Father. It was from this royal line the Messiah would arrive. Ephrathah was a little and insignificant ‘clan / tribe’. Consider for a moment just how extraordinary is God’s power to guide history and prophecy to fulfillment. How might this help you ‘trust’ in God?

• The Letter to the Hebrews teaches about the significance of Jesus. Holocausts, sin offerings and sacrifices were experiences of Jewish worship in the Temple that were to bring people into union with God ‘according to the law’. Jesus is shown as following the will of God and bringing forgiveness and union with God ‘through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all’ on the cross. Why Jesus has come among us is pointed out. Do you keep Christmas separated from Easter? Have you noticed cards and decorations easily identify with the joy of a new-born child and the hope of ‘peace’ but prefer to leave out the next step of the sacrifices involved in ‘I come to do your will, O God?’ What is the will of God inviting you to do?’

•This gospel scene of Mary ʻvisitingʼ Elizabeth aims to show us more than the greeting of two expectant mothers or that Mary is a caring young woman to her older cousin. Behind this scene are layers of stories. Mary, a ʻnew motherʼ (New testament) stands before Elizabeth an ʻold motherʼ (Old Testament). Behind Elizabeth is her husband, Zechariah the High Priest of the (old) Temple. Within the Temple rests the ʻArk of the Covenantʼ where the 10 commandments were kept housed in a special box (Ark) called the ʻMercy Seatʼ. Mary bears within her the Saviour child ʻGod-is-with-usʼ and is now the New Ark of the New Covenant. The little boy John the Baptist leaps for joy within the womb of Elizabeth like King David leapt for joy and danced before the Ark of the Covenant (2 Sam 6,14). The deepest and true response to God being ʻenfleshedʼ among us is to ʻleap for joyʼ.When was the last time you ʻleapt for joyʼ? Why is little baby John ʻleaping for joyʼ? How could you show the experience of joy more this Christmas?

• The gospel of Luke focusses upon Mary who always acts on what she hears. Her ʻvisitʼ to Elizabeth is a ʻresponseʼ to hearing Godʼs voice (through the angel). Mary is ʻblessedʼ but firstly it is because she ʻbelieved what was spoken to herʼ. Christmas becomes no longer simply an historical story for us when we recognise we too are called to allow the ʻWordʼ to become ʻFleshʼ. Today. Now. In the world. What words have you heard from God, in prayer, through others. How could you act on them so that they become ʻfleshʼ? Real? Acted out? Bring Godʼs presence? What words or promises have you made that have not been fulfilled?

• Advent is a time of joyful preparation. In the final days before Christmas how could you achieve a balance: writing Christmas Cards and the Call to Conversion. Christmas Parties and Prayerful Preparation. Christmas Presents and Christmas Presence?

• What is one action that you will do to be ʻlivingthewordʼ this week?

Discussion Guide:    3rd Sunday Advent Yr. C – Rejoice! The Lord is Near

 

Waiting in expectancy – till Christ is formed

Reflection Questions:

• Today is ‘Gaudete’ Sunday when the Pink candle of the Advent Wreath is lit. The third Sunday of Advent takes its name from the first word of the entrance antiphon – ‘Rejoice’. This theme is found in the first two readings. We are reminded that the joyful coming of Christ is drawing nearer. Christmas celebrates presence with presents.

• Today is the only time every 3 years we hear this beautiful passage from the Prophet Zephaniah. Zion is the name for Jerusalem, and Christians understand Jerusalem signifies God’s people. Replace ‘Zion’ and ‘Jerusalem’ prayerfully with your own name. How does this prophecy make you feel? What line strikes you the most? Why?

• St Paul is writing to the Philippians trying to resolve an argument between two women which is destroying the unity of the Christian community. He puts their argument into the ‘big picture’. Rejoicing, kindness and no anxiety are trademarks of a christian. Paul reminds the community that each member is to reflect Christ. In the hostile town of Philippi, they are to be attractive and lead people to Christ – not turn them off. Is ʻyour kindness known to allʼ? Do you have anxieties that you refuse to ‘make known’ and truly hand over to him?

• A practice of Advent preparation is celebrating forgiveness. Crowds gathered to be with John the Baptist, not in the Temple, but by the Jordan River. Hungry for God and for the world to experience ‘change’ they claimed their own need for conversion: ʻwhat should we do?ʼ John directs their attention toward care of the poor – sharing clothing and food. What do you have plenty of? Who has none? Have you ever desired to simplify your life and be more generous? What happened?

• Tax collectors were present, along with soldiers who protected them. John does not deny their ʻjobʼ but reminds them all jobs are to serve the unity of the community. Look deeply into your ordinary tasks of life. Are you doing them well? Enter the gospel scene in prayer and ask John the question: What should I do? What happened?

• John baptises and cleanses with water. Jesus baptises and cleanses with the Holy Spirit and fire. Water and Fire. What would you choose? Fire purifies through hot temperatures. What have been ʻhotʼ ʻpurifyingʼ moments for you this year? What wisdom have you been led into? What parts of your life would you like to bring to God for reconciliation at the end of the year?

• A ʻwinnowing fanʼ was used in the barn to throw the grain up into the air, the dust and ʻchaffʼ – seed casings and bits of stalk – drifted away. This stage separated the wheat. How do you relate to the image of judgement and ʻfireʼ at the end of time? • A common practice in the time of Jesus was for disciples to carry the sandals of their teacher. John shares he is not even worthy to undo the straps of Jesusʼ sandals let alone carry them! Whose sandals do you carry? Who do you listen to as your ʻteacherʼ? What life lessons or teaching would you like to ask about at this point in your life journey?

• What is one action that you will do to be ʻlivingthewordʼ this week?