advent 3

No time to write about this, but i was in the prison again yesterday… it had a much better flow and centre this week, and the men were up for talking [last week they’d been in lockdown for most of the day, which does everyone’s head in, throws everyone off balance]. I think next week we’ll write prayers on hope, love, joy and peace to use on christmas day.

As i was walking through the carpark on my way in, a young woman and her baby were walking out. She had gone to bother, and dressed up beautifully for the visit – and the baby too – but had obviously been turned back at the door. ‘I came all this fucking way for nothing,’ she sobbed, to no-one. ‘Again’. When i used the bathroom in the visitors centre before going in, the back of the door was covered with graffitied declarations of love from the women for the men they were leaving behind: ‘Alisha loves Tony for life’. Strange wording, anwhere else but here.

the liturgy:

Still Waiting
Advent Candle lighting:

Person 1
We are people living in darkness
It’s hard to see the world around us,
and the faces of those who are near us.

Person 2
[light the candle]
We light this candle in the darkness
to remind us of the light that hope brings into our world
and we pray for more to come.

Come, Lord Jesus, come.

Bible reading:
Set the scene
What do we know about Mary?

Read Luke 1:46-55

Mary said:
With all my heart
I praise the Lord,
and I am glad
because of God my Savior.
He cares for me,
his humble servant.
From now on,
all people will say
God has blessed me.
God All-Powerful has done
great things for me,
and his name is holy.
He always shows mercy
to everyone
who worships him.
The Lord has used
his powerful arm
to scatter those
who are proud.
He drags strong rulers
from their thrones
and puts humble people
in places of power.
God gives the hungry
good things to eat,
and sends the rich away
with nothing.
He helps his servant Israel
and is always merciful
to his people.
The Lord made this promise
to our ancestors,
to Abraham and his family

When it must have seemed that her life couldn’t get more difficult, I wonder how Mary found it in her to celebrate?

I wonder what made Mary believe that God was blessing her?

I wonder if Mary was as scared as she was glad?

I wonder when the fear turned to courage?

I wonder whether she was as impatient as us for the time to come
when everyone has enough to eat, when humble people will be in places of power.

I wonder what the waiting was like for Mary

I wonder what the waiting is like for you.

Let us pray
We know you will understand, God,
if we don’t have the faith that Mary had
– not quite yet, anyway.

give us the faith, today,
to prepare the space in our lives and in the world for you to be born
even if it doesn’t seem likely.

because while we are a little sceptical at times about Christmas
we’d really love to be convinced.


Lighting candles:
Story about the children in south Africa lighting candles and placing them in the windows, where the soldiers would come and knock them over. The children would laugh at the soldiers who were afraid of the light.

Today we’re going to light candles for those situations in the world
and in our lives
where is hope is needed

Where are the places in the world
and in your lives
that are waiting for hope?
Come and light a candle, and say your prayer out loud, or in the quiet.

Sending out

Desmond Tutu said this:
Goodness is stronger than Evil;
Love is stronger than hate;
Light is stronger than darkness;
Life is stronger than death.

We wait for the time to come when all the world will know this.

Go into the waiting of this week,
knowing that you do not wait alone.

Go in peace, and may the god of peace go with you



  1. I have a mate in prison and the hoops I have to jump through to get a visit bewilder me: call three times to book the visit (once rarely works); book at least a week in advance (including the third call!); dress nicely; grovel and be gracious when they (always) get it wrong etc etc.

    He never knows that I’m coming until the last minute.

    It all just serves to isolate him (and his soul and heart) more and more. Can’t they see how damaging this is?

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