Advent 13

December 2022

A toilet door in Burundi. Here in the rural areas less than half the population has access to a toilet. Toilet Twinning is a scheme that aims to provide everyone with access to hygienic toilet sanitation. For a sum of £60 donors are twinned with a toilet and receive a photo of it as a ongoing reminder. These toilets not only improve public health, they also improve the  self worth of the users, especially young girls and women, by providing the privacy and safety of a door.

There are a lot of things in our daily life that we take for granted. Advent is a good time to reflect on these overlooked blessings. 

Give thanks to God the Father at all times and for everything in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. Ephesians 5:20 

Advent 12

December 2022

A revolving door that looks a little care worn. At times we may feel as if we are trapped in a revolving door: the same things happening time and again with no way out. Days, weeks, seasons and indeed life is by nature cyclical. If it wasn’t we wouldn’t be able to plan ahead and the unpredictability of life could be terrifying. On the other hand there is something soul destroying about getting stuck in a rut. Why do we have revolving doors? There seem to be two good reasons. It allows some people to come in and others to go out at the same time. It keeps the warm air inside and cold air outside. 

If we can find a right balance in our lives we can enjoy both the predictability of routine and the invigoration of novelty. 

For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven: 

a time to be born, and a time to die;

a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted; 

a time to kill, and a time to heal;

a time to break down, and a time to build up; 

a time to weep, and a time to laugh;

a time to mourn, and a time to dance; 

a time to throw away stones, and a time to gather stones together;

a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing; 

a time to seek, and a time to lose;

a time to keep, and a time to throw away; 

a time to tear, and a time to sew;

a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;        Ecclesiastes 3:1-7

Advent 11

December 2022

Just give me a few minutes of peace and quiet!’

I wonder how often you just want to close the door to shut out all the rush and noise of daily life and gain a few moments of calm? Maybe it is something we actually need rather than just want. This Advent can you create for yourself some quiet times or a quiet place? 

What equally about giving someone else the opportunity for peace and quiet?

In the morning, while it was still very dark, Jesus got up and went out to a deserted place, and there he prayed. Mark1:35

But whenever you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you. Matthew 6:6 

Advent 10

December 2022

If some doors offer us a place of safety, others invite us to set out on an adventure. This unusual round door is the door of a hobbit home, the home of Bilbo Baggins. Stepping over the threshold, Bilbo finds his feet set on a road that disappears into the far distance, an invitation to walk and to explore new horizons.

In the church calendar Advent marks the beginning of a new year. Maybe this Advent could be a time to step out and explore new paths, to explore new horizons – or just simply to step outside and walk, enjoying God’s presence in the wintery world. Take time to listen and to be with God.

They heard the sound of God walking in the garden at the time of the evening breeze. 

Genesis 3:8a

Advent 8

December 2022

This is the main entrance to Upnor Castle. A large, robust door designed to withstand invaders and intruders alike. A door to both intimidate and heighten one’s awareness of the importance of the occupants of the castle. In life we too may face doors – opportunities- that seem daunting, beyond our measure. But here there is a little wicket gate too small for a knight on horse back but big enough for a person to slip through. Perhaps with a little honesty and humility, we too will find that more accessible door. 

Turning it round, are there doors in our society that might seem too daunting for someone to enter. Are there ways we can create wicket gates to ease their passage?

Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God. Matthew 19:24

Advent 9

December 2022

“Oh, Badger,’ cried the Rat, ‘let us in, please. It’s me, Rat, and my friend Mole, and we’ve lost our way in the snow.’

‘What, Ratty, my dear little man!’ exclaimed the Badger, in quite a different voice. ‘Come along in, both of you, at once. Why, you must be perished. Well I never! Lost in the snow! And in the Wild Wood, too, and at this time of night! But come in with you.’

The two animals tumbled over each other in their eagerness to get inside, and heard the door shut behind them with great joy and relief.”

Here the door offers a place of safety for two lost creatures. Closed securely behind them, the door shuts out the cold, the dark and the fear of attack. On the other side it offers them warmth, sanctuary and friendship. We all need a safe place to go when we are tired or frightened. I wonder on whose door you would knock? Who would bundle you inside and comfort you?

Perhaps someone has already done this for you? Or maybe you have offered someone else that safe place? 

At Christmas we often think of the homeless (although homelessness is a year round problem) and so it has become a time when we are invited to support those places that offer safe overnight shelter. 

Learn to do good; seek justice, reprove the ruthless, defend the orphan, pleas for the widow. Isaiah 1:17

Advent 7

December 2022

Books really can be like doors into another world, be that an imagined world or simply a situation, a time or location with which we are unfamiliar. Books enlarge our understanding of the world, enable us to develop greater empathy for the circumstances of others. Reading can prepare us to undertake new tasks, to learn different ways of communicating, to explore new ways of relating to people – and to God. Lent is often seen as a time to take up a new book, so why not Advent too? The dark evenings are a good time to curl up with a book and open new doors. 

A room without books is like a body without a soul. Marcus Tullius Cicero

Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path. Psalm 119:105

Advent 6

December 2022

A waiting room: somewhere set apart to wait in quiet, away from the noise of the platform, warm away from the drafts that go with stations. Waiting for the train, we may find ourselves constantly checking the clock or the departure board, hoping for no delay, no missed connection. Other waiting rooms may be at the doctor’s or dentist’s surgery. 

Perhaps here we wait with more apprehension: what will be the outcome? Will we be reassured or find our fears realised? Will we find healing?

There are many other times in the day when in small ways we find ourselves waiting: waiting for the kettle to boil, for a companion to arrive, for a toilet to become vacant, for a traffic light to turn green. Are these times of frustration or boredom? But equally how often do we think, If only I could just stop for five minutes, or I just need a minute’s break? Why not use those occasions when you are forced to wait as time to rest, to clear your mind, to pray?

Be still and know that I am God. Psalm 46:10

Advent 5

December 2022

These two colourful doors are from a street in Norway. Both radically different yet neither door stands out as being more important than another. We are often faced with multiple choices in life and feel the pressure to make the right choice. We can fret over which choice to make, regret the choice we do make and convince ourselves that we have made a mistake. But is it not possible that there may be two or even more equally different but equally right choices? The choice we make is no better nor any worse than the choices we do not make; just different.

Similarly there is no one right way to mark Advent nor one right way to celebrate Christmas. Let us not over worry about the choices we make and rather have the humility and the flexibility to go along with the choices others may make.

The human mind plans the way, but the Lord directs the steps. Proverbs 16.9 

Advent 4

December 2022

This painting depicts a colourful collection of doors that captures some of the atmosphere of this Unesco World Heritage City. Recently the Guadaloupe neighbourhood was designated as an art district and young artists were encouraged to decorate the walls with large, vivid murals. This bold use of colour suggests a joyfulness that is perhaps sometimes missing from our grey winter streets. 

Can our Advent disposition be one that brings joy and colour into the lives of those around us as we prepare to celebrate the birth of our Saviour?

Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice.

Philippians 4:4