Friday evening saw a few families gather at St Agnes for the second of our Advent groups. Faith was our theme for this week and after lighting candles and singing “Wait for the Lord” we thought about what went on inside us during Advent:

When Mary was told she would be Jesus’ mother, he didn’t appear straight away. Slowly over the months, in secret Jesus grew. Mary had to wait. When the time was right Jesus was born. In Advent we are getting ready to welcome Jesus into the World and into our lives. Over the next four weeks we are waiting for God to grow something special in us. Not a baby! But a deeper faith, maybe or hope. Maybe God will grow us into people who reach out to others. Maybe God will deepen the love in us. Whatever it is maybe fragile and need care and nurture. We need to co-operate with God in the work he is doing in us, unseen, in secret. What will God grow in you, that you will nurture, this Advent to be brought to birth at Christmas?

Each child was given a number between 1 and 7. Around the church were hidden objects. In the dark, using torches they had to find the object with their number on it. Each object taught us something about faith. Here’s what the children found:

1. A gift, wrapped up, taught us that Faith is a sheer gift of God, that we fervently ask for.
2. A Superman T-shirt taught us that Faith is the supernatural power that is necessary for salvation
3. An invitation taught us that Faith is a divine invitation- accepted with free will and clear understanding.
4. A Crucifix icon taught us that Faith is certain because Jesus Christ guarantees it.
5. A colouring sheet, left unfinished taught us that Faith is incomplete unless it leads to active love.
6. A Bible taught us that Faith grows when we listen more and more carefully to God’s Word and enter a lively exchange with him in prayer.
7. A small bit of chocolate taught us that Faith is a foretaste of the joy of heaven. (We all had a little just to make sure!)

As we carried on thinking about Faith we heard this story from YOUCAT:

Many people say that to believe is not enough for them; they want to know. The word believe, however, has two completely different meanings. If a parachutist asks the clerk at the airport, “Is this parachute safely packed?” and the other man answers casually “Hmmm, I believe so”, then that will not be enough for him. But if he has asked a friend to pack the parachute, then the friend will answer the same question by saying “Yes I did it personally. You can trust me!” And to that the parachutist will reply, “Yes, I believe you.” This belief is much more than knowing; it means assurance. And that is the kind of belief that prompted Abraham to travel to the Promised Land; that is the faith that caused the MARTYRS to stand fast until death; that is the faith that still today upholds Christians in persecution. A faith that encompasses the whole person.

To help us think about the Old Testament Reading we heard this introduction:
Jeremiah was a young man with a big job to do and he was worried. God had called him to be a prophet.

“Look at my people”, said God. “They have turned their backs on me. They have forgotten their faith. They argue and fight. They steal and rob. They take from the poor and give to the rich.

They have turned their backs on me and forgotten their faith. They do evil in all places. High in the mountains, deep in the valleys and set up other gods in the temple.

They have turned their backs on me and forgotten their faith. They murder. They kill even those they are supposed to love.

Take them this message ”Because of their wicked deeds these things will happen. Fire will come to the city and armies surround it. The people will be carried away and be far from home. Look the time is now.”

Jeremiah was worried. What a message to take to the people of Judah and Israel! But God wasn’t finished. He said “But even though they have turned their backs on me and forgotten their faith, I will still keep my promise. I will rescue them and when they are far away I will bring them home.”

The reading is what God says next.

The children then had pictures of branches on to which they wrote words and phrases that showed what the Messiah, God’s Promised King was like. They used what they knew already, the reading from Jeremiah and some other Bible verses, from Philippians, Isaiah, Micah and John.

The children produced many, many words. Here are some of them:

Humble; obedient; kind; loving; respectful; Integrity; gentle; truthful; faithful; just; peacemaker; vulnerable; selfless; teacher; turns darkness into light; Almighty; puts things right; glorious; not give up; honest; righteous; Saviour.

When we had finished we thought about all the words we had written. These described God’s promised King, the one whom we believe and trust in, the one who gives and guarantees our faith, the one whom we are waiting for.

Families are welcome to think about hope next Friday at 6:30 in St Agnes.