Advent Reflections 2020: introduction and week 1

Advent, like Lent is a reflective season, a traditional time of reflection and preparation for Christmas.  In the past I have prepared an Advent booklet with a meditation for each day of Advent.  This year, instead of a booklet, there is a series of online Advent meditations, one for each day of Advent, based around a weekly theme and illustrated by a weekly picture.  

The Advent Carol Service began with the lighting of the first Advent Candle of the Advent Wreath.  The Advent wreath has four candles in a ring, representing the four Sundays of Advent and in the centre of the ring is another candle, lit on Christmas Day.

There are different traditions regarding the four candles but the one the Church of England uses, and which ties in with the Sunday Bible readings for the four Sundays of Advent, sees the first candle as representing the patriarchs – people like Abraham Isaac and Jacob, the ancestors of Jesus; the second candle for the second Sunday of Advent representing the prophets, those who foretold the birth of Jesus; the third candle for the third Sunday of Advent representing John the Baptist, the forerunner of Jesus who prepared the way for him; and the fourth candle, representing Mary the Mother of Jesus.

I’ve given a name to each week’s theme of the Advent meditations, so along with the people represented each week, the themes for this year’s Advent meditations will be:

Week 1: Expectation: the Patriarchs by Nicholas Calver
Week 2: Proclamation: the Prophets by Tony Rich
Week 3: Preparation: John the Baptist by Charles Sargent
Week 4: Annunciation: Mary by Nicholas Calver

The Advent meditations are designed to encourage you to find a little bit of space and time each day in Advent. I hope you find them helpful.

With love and prayers

Expectation: the Patriarchs

The reflections for this first week of Advent, 29 November – 5 December, are led by Revd Nicholas Calver. They can all be found below this week’s picture:

XIR162153 Jacob’s Ladder, c.1490 (oil on panel) by French School, (15th century); Musee du Petit Palais, Avignon, France

Sunday 29 November

The week’s reflections on the theme of expectation and the patriarchs are introduced in the sermon at today’s Advent Carol Service:

(you can find the full service by clicking here)

Monday 30 November

Jacob left Beersheba and went toward Haran. He came to a certain place and stayed there for the night, because the sun had set. Taking one of the stones of the place, he put it under his head and lay down in that place
Genesis 28: 10, 11


Let me be quiet now, and kneel,
Who never knelt before,
Here, where the leaves paint patterns light
On a leaf-strewn forest floor;
For I, who saw no God at all
In sea or earth or air,
Baptized by Beauty, now look up
To see God everywhere.

Tuesday 1 December

And he dreamed that there was a ladder set up on the earth, the top of it reaching to heaven; and the angels of God were ascending and descending on it.
Genesis 28: 12


Deep peace of the running wave to you.
Deep peace of the flowing air to you.
Deep peace of the quiet earth to you.
Deep peace of the shining stars to you.
Deep peace of the gentle night to you.
Moon and stars pour their healing light on you.
Deep peace of Christ,
of Christ the light of the world to you.
Deep peace of Christ to you.

Wednesday 2 December

And the Lord stood beside him and said, “I am the Lord, the God of Abraham your father and the God of Isaac; the land on which you lie I will give to you and to your offspring; and your offspring shall be like the dust of the earth, and you shall spread abroad to the west and to the east and to the north and to the south; and all the families of the earth shall be blessed in you and in your offspring.
Genesis 28: 13, 14


God grant me serenity to accept the things I cannot change;
The courage to change the things I can change;
And the wisdom to know the difference.

Thursday 3 December

Know that I am with you and will keep you wherever you go, and will bring you back to this land; for I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you.
Genesis 28: 15


Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself. You are a child of the universe no less than the trees and the stars; you have a right to be here.  And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should. Therefore be at peace with God, whatever you conceive Him to be. And whatever your labours and aspirations, in the noisy confusion of life, keep peace in your soul.

Friday 4 December

Then Jacob woke from his sleep and said, “Surely the Lord is in this place — and I did not know it!”
Genesis 28: 16


Where I am God is.

Saturday 5 December

And he was afraid, and said, “How awesome is this place! This is none other than the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven.” So Jacob rose early in the morning, and he took the stone that he had put under his head and set it up for a pillar and poured oil on the top of it.
Genesis 28: 17, 18


A lonely walk
A quiet talk
A grain of sand
A helping hand
Silent night,
Dappled light,
A new day’s dawn
A tottering fawn,
A cloud above,
A touch of love
Music heard,
A circling bird,
A breath of air,
A silent prayer.
A gentle nod,
This is God