to your lovingkindness
steady my feet on soft grass
to the gentle stream
may I bathe in living water,
drink from your wellspring
at the harbour of your grace
a place to rest my head
in the hope of new life
where space for stories grow,
compassion and belonging.
to the still small voice
that I would hear you
in the clamour and in the silence
Easter this year was brimming with sunshine and activity - a stark contrast to last year when we were at the beginning of a long state-wide lock down and all public celebrations were cancelled // I made a double batch of gluten free hot cross buns and quince tart tatin to share with friends who visited on Good Friday. We went for a rambling walk down to the river and made simple crosses from palm fronds which we let fall off the bridge with simple utterances of thanksgiving // My sister and her partner visited on Saturday and there was lots of happy chatter, trampolining, autumn leaves, carting water to chickens, checking on newborn calves, cups of tea // On Sunday I helped lead a celebratory church service which included a treasure hunt, puppet show and making these colouring books based on "I am" statements of Jesus for the little folk to fill in. Afterwards we came home to a chocolate egg hunt that my sister hid for the boys, and the afternoon was slow and sweet.
"Teach us to care and not to care
Teach us to sit still
Even among these rocks,
Our peace in His will
And even among these rocks
And spirit of the river, spirit of the sea,
Suffer me not to be separated
And let my cry come unto Thee"
All through Lent I pondered these words of T. S. Eliot from his poem "Ash Wednesday", I prayed for fresh perspective, for peace in His will, and thanksgiving for everything my hands and feet touch that reminds me of my creator, rock, fortress and deliverer //
He is risen indeed!
there is life in the vine
in each and every season
our growing and remaining
a place to dwell in love
in autumn as the leaves fall
when mornings grow darker
fruit is stored for what will come:
cheer, loss, communion
winter brings frozen things
ground, breath, tired limbs,
when we are slow and needy
of every clear sky, of warming
springtime flush of green
life budding from branch and tree
and the steady hum of bees,
of children in bare feet
in summer work and play,
beating heat and flowering,
when days begin to sprawl
each raindrop brings relief
there is life in the smallest leaf,
in stretching and growing,
ripening and rotting,
in pruning and resting,
refreshing at the roots
each season is necessary
its own kind of beautiful
when we remain in love,
there is life in Him.
May all God wants
to bless you with
come to be, and may
your inner mangers,
fresh with hope,
hold wonders of His love,
and splendors of His world,
and wisdoms of His word
May peace surround you,
behind and before you,
your words and work,
your hearth and kin,
and all the friends
you haven't seen,
in your heart speak:
the prince of peace
And as the trees of the field
clap their hands,
may you sing joy -
marvel in the clouds
bees and sprouting seeds
full plates and grubby chins,
it all begins with love.
What can I give him, poor as I am?
If I were a shepherd I would bring a lamb
If I were a wise man I would do my part, -
Yet what I can I give him, give my heart
~ Christina Rossetti
Today marks the fourth and final week of Advent where we consider the gift of love. How wonderful it is to be able to bed loved and to love others! Do you know it is because “God first loved us”: his immense love for us that is the reason Jesus came to the world at all? It is from this place of great love that God desires relationship and connection with each one of us and Jesus makes possible through his birth, death and resurrection. Jesus said: “Let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love” (John 1:4-7).
Look for opportunities to show love to others this week: love that is patient and kind, that does not envy or boast or keep a record of all the wrongs. Love without expecting anything in return, love born of compassion and grace.
Let us pray as we light the fourth candle on our Advent wreath, the candle of Love:
Thank you for the great love you have
for every one of us. Thank you for our
capacity to feel love and be loved by
those around us. Give us opportunities
to show your love to others: love that is
patient and kind, that does not envy or
boast or keep a record of all the wrongs -
love without reciprocity: love borne
of sacrifice and grace. Thank you for being
above all else a God of LOVE. Amen.
“For you shall go out in joy and be led forth in peace;
the mountains and the hills before you
shall break forth into singing, and all
the trees of the field shall clap their hands."
Today is the third Sunday of Advent where we consider the gift of joy! Joy is that deep down sense of contentment regardless of what’s going right or wrong in our lives. Jesus said that He came so that “our joy may be full”, that our wellbeing and flourishing is at the heart of God’s desire for all of us.
Like the gift of hope, joy is not dependant on what we do but rather it is a state of being. We know life will bring unexpected blows and losses, many of us have felt them this year with increased illness, isolation and uncertainty. Joy is not saying that our hardships and suffering don’t matter, it is acknowledging them whilst also turning our focus to God and trusting that he sees, loves and cares for us at all times. There is joy in speaking to babies who can’t form their words yet smile and understand us, there is joy in giving to others not expecting them to give anything back, there is joy in laughter and cheerfulness, there is joy in rest and a slower pace, there can even be a joy in letting-go of things and thoughts that no longer serve us.
Let us light the third candle on our Advent Wreath, the candle of Joy:
Thank you for the gift of joy:
that deep down sense of being well,
in spite of what’s going wrong in our lives.
Joy that lasts so much longer
than fleeting “happiness”
Thank you for saying that you
have come SO that “our joy may be full”
that our wellbeing and flourishing
is at the heart of your desire for every one of us.
Let us feel JOY afresh this season. Amen.
When despair for the world grows in me
and I wake in the night at the least sound
in fear of what my life and my children’s lives may be,
I go and lie down where the wood drake
rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.
I come into the peace of wild things
who do not tax their lives with forethought
of grief. I come into the presence of still water.
And I feel above me the day-blind stars
waiting with their light. For a time
I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.
On the second Sunday of Advent we light the candle of peace:
Thank you that we can know peace in our hearts
that transcends understanding; that brings comfort
amidst life’s struggles and blows.
Thank you for the challenge to be a peacemaker
not just a keeper of the peace -
to actively participate in the bringing
about of peace in our turbulent world.
Thank you for being the Prince of Peace. Amen.
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 Son of peace to you
“Hope” is the thing with feathers -
That perches in the soul -
And sings the tune without the words -
And never stops - at all -
And sweetest - in the Gale - is heard -
And sore must be the storm -
That could abash the little Bird
That kept so many warm -
I’ve heard it in the chillest land -
And on the strangest Sea -
Yet - never - in Extremity,
It asked a crumb - of me.
I keep thinking about this poem by Emily Dickinson and that image of hope living in us like a bird, singing continually in the soul.
I've come to realise that the beautiful thing about hope is that doesn’t require us to do anything; rather it is a state of being. The hope that Jesus gifts us is born out of love, trust and connection.
We hope for our children and grandchildren’s futures; we hope for a restored, healthy environment that flourishes; we hope for inequalities and injustices to be righted, we hope for unity and peace in a divided people, we hope for lives with purpose and meaning.
Living with hope is living with knowledge that we have a loving creator, an advocate - God - who is working all things together for good - that what we see right now isn’t all there is, that the best is yet to come, and that we all have a part to play in our shared future.
“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit" (Romans 15:13)
Let's pray as we light the first candle on the Advent wreath, the candle of Hope:
thank you for the hope we have in you:
the hope that does not disappoint.
Hope that is born out of love,
trust and intimate relationship.
Hope not only in what we see
but what we don’t see as well.
Help us to provide HOPE for our family,
neighbours and strangers this
Advent season through words
and acts of kindness, generosity
and love. Amen.
Hello friends, for the last little while I've been working on a resource exploring the beautiful season of Advent at home called Exploring Advent - it follows a similar pattern to my Embracing Easter workbook and contains four weeks worth of reflections, scriptures, poems, activities and recipes designed to help us slow down and savour this season of hopeful anticipation and expectant joy...
I feel the need, this year more than ever, to take time away from news feeds and social media reels, from busyness and to-do lists - to seek simplicity in my home and faith leading up to Christmas. To see Advent as an opportunity to nourish ourselves; to contemplate the truly wonderful gifts Jesus brought us with his birth: of Hope, Peace, Joy and Love.
I want to soak in these gifts, remember what this season is truly about and then to share them with my loved ones, neighbours, community and world. Will you join me in exploring Advent this year?
look above you
softly enfolding you,
permission to be
hidden from view.
we all need
quiet patterning -
or shelter from the heat
or rain forthcoming
or warning earth
sticks and stones
water from the sea
and air, sighs,
maybe, a kind of
a shroud for
doubts and longings,
like a cloud
blotted out and
scattered in the wind.
ABOUT the author
Emily Clare Sims is a farmer and mama to three young boys. Each day she looks for ways to notice beauty, contemplate her faith and savour the seasons...