Fatima Centenary


Fatima Centenary







#AdventChallenge

See below for previous #AdventChallenge reflections & challenges.



DAY 24 - 24th December

REFLECTION:

24th stop: the manger, Bethlehem 1 AD

‘So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph and saw the baby lying in the manger. When the shepherds saw him, they told them what the angel had said about the child. All who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said. Mary remembered all these things and thought deeply about them. The shepherds went back, singing praises to God for all they had heard and seen; it had been just as the angel had told them.’ Luke 2.16–20

A sleeping baby. A crying baby. A small, dependent life. Like the shepherds, the wise men, Simeon and Anna, we’re too invited to stop and wonder at the amazing gift of Jesus. Your challenge today is to…

CHALLENGES:

Challenge 1
Watch The Greatest Journey film and share on social media

Challenge 2
Take 15 minutes out to read Luke 2 and share a verse with a friend to encourage them that Christmas really is good news!

Challenge 3
Make peace with someone you have fallen out with


DAY 23 - 23rd December

REFLECTION:

23rd stop: The cosmos

‘He always had the nature of God,
but he did not think that by force he should try to remain equal with God.
Instead of this, of his own free will he gave up all he had,
and took the nature of a servant.
He became like a human being
and appeared in human likeness.’

Philippians 2.6–7

‘5 The attitude you should have is the one that Christ Jesus had:

6 He always had the nature of God,
but he did not think that by force he should try to remain[a]equal with God.
7 Instead of this, of his own free will he gave up all he had,
and took the nature of a servant.
He became like a human being
and appeared in human likeness.
8 He was humble and walked the path of obedience all the way to death—
his death on the cross.’

Philippians 2.5-8

We’ve followed Mary and Joseph, the shepherds and the wise men on their journey to see the new baby, King Jesus. But someone else made a long journey to get there too: Jesus himself! In the most dramatic journey in history, Jesus left his heavenly home and joined us on earth. Or, as John’s Gospel puts, ‘moved into the neighbourhood’. Talk about a change of scene. Your challenge today is to go out of your way to bless others.

CHALLENGES:

Challenge 1
Buy a meal for someone sleeping rough

Challenge 2
Make someone their favourite drink or snack

Challenge 3
Offer to do a shop for someone who can’t get out



DAY 22 - 22nd December

REFLECTION:

22nd stop, Jerusalem 2–1 AD

‘They went into the house, and when they saw the child with his mother Mary, they knelt down and worshiped him. They brought out their gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh, and presented them to him.’ Matthew 2.11

The wise men carried gifts in their load: gold, frankincense and myrrh. Each had a symbol – the gold was a sign of Jesus’ kingship, the frankincense his deity and the myrrh symbolic of the death he was to die. Jesus grew up to say, ‘It is better to give than receive.’ It’s easy to give when we love the person we’re giving to, or enjoy choosing their gift. Sometimes it is harder. Your challenge today is to be a cheerful giver!

CHALLENGES:

Challenge 1
Bake cookies or cakes and take them to neighbours or colleagues

Challenge 2
Give away something you love to someone who would really like it

Challenge 3
Offer to pay for the coffee of someone behind you in the queue



DAY 21 - 21st December

REFLECTION:

21st stop: Herod’s Palace, Jerusalem 2 AD

‘When Herod realised that the visitors from the East had tricked him, he was furious. He gave orders to kill all the boys in Bethlehem and its neighbourhood who were two years old and younger—this was done in accordance with what he had learned from the visitors about the time when the star had appeared. Matthew 2.16

‘16 When Herod realised that the visitors from the East had tricked him, he was furious. He gave orders to kill all the boys in Bethlehem and its neighbourhood who were two years old and younger—this was done in accordance with what he had learned from the visitors about the time when the star had appeared.

17 In this way what the prophet Jeremiah had said came true:

18 “A sound is heard in Ramah,
the sound of bitter weeping.
Rachel is crying for her children;
she refuses to be comforted,
for they are dead.”’

Matthew 2.16-18

When the wise men arrived in Palestine, they made their way to Herod’s palace, assuming this was the obvious place for a king. And yet God has not chosen this place for his son. Herod was intimidated by the news of another king, and acted in fear – with devastating consequences. Sometimes fear can lead people to hurt others. Your challenge today is to stand up for the oppressed.

CHALLENGES:

Challenge 1
Stand up for someone who is being treated unfairly

Challenge 2
Donate £5 to give a backpack of Scripture books to children living in poverty in Egypt

Challenge 3
Post a prayer on our online prayer tree



DAY 20 - 20th December

REFLECTION:

20th stop: Jerusalem, 450 BC

‘The Lord said to me,

“I have a greater task for you, my servant.
Not only will you restore to greatness
the people of Israel who have survived,
but I will also make you a light to the nations—
so that all the world may be saved.”’

Isaiah 49.6

Among the Old Testament prophecies about a coming saviour, there were hints that this leader would be a light to more than just the nation of Israel. The presence of the wise men illustrates this. They weren’t part of the family of Israel, the ‘in-crowd’, but their part in the Christmas story reminds us that the good news of Jesus is for everyone. The star was a sign that they were welcome. Today your challenge is to be inclusive.

CHALLENGES:

Challenge 1
Invite someone round for a meal

Challenge 2
Donate £5 to support refugees fleeing war and terror in the Middle East

Challenge 3
Make a point of smiling at everyone as you’re out and about today



DAY 19 - 19th December

REFLECTION:

19th stop: the East, 1 AD

‘Jesus was born in the town of Bethlehem in Judea, during the time when Herod was king. Soon afterward, some men who studied the stars came from the East to Jerusalem and asked, “Where is the baby born to be the king of the Jews? We saw his star when it came up in the east, and we have come to worship him.”’ Matthew 2.1–2

Crane your neck and look to the sky! In ancient times, the Babylonians – yes, those people who had, centuries earlier, captured the people of Israel – were the great discoverers of the stars. Pretty handy with a telescope (and a protractor), they began the first calculations and observations that founded the bedrock of astronomy today. It was these calculations that led them to notice the ‘star rising in the east’ that set them off on their journey to see baby Jesus. Your challenge today is to appreciate the stars.

CHALLENGES:

Challenge 1
Go stargazing with a friend or family member and thank God for his creation

Challenge 2
Tell someone you think they’re a star – and why!

Challenge 3
Make a starry tree decoration and give it to someone



DAY 18 - 18th December

REFLECTION:

18th stop: Temple, Jerusalem, 1 AD

‘Simeon took the child in his arms and gave thanks to God:

“Now, Lord, you have kept your promise,
and you may let your servant go in peace.
With my own eyes I have seen your salvation’ Luke 2.28–30

25 At that time there was a man named Simeon living in Jerusalem. He was a good, God-fearing man and was waiting for Israel to be saved. The Holy Spirit was with him 26 and had assured him that he would not die before he had seen the Lord's promised Messiah. 27 Led by the Spirit, Simeon went into the Temple. When the parents brought the child Jesus into the Temple to do for him what the Law required, 28 Simeon took the child in his arms and gave thanks to God:

29 “Now, Lord, you have kept your promise,
and you may let your servant go in peace.
30 With my own eyes I have seen your salvation,
31 which you have prepared in the presence of all peoples:
32 A light to reveal your will to the Gentiles
and bring glory to your people Israel.”

33 The child's father and mother were amazed at the things Simeon said about him. 34 Simeon blessed them and said to Mary, his mother, “This child is chosen by God for the destruction and the salvation of many in Israel. He will be a sign from God which many people will speak against 35 and so reveal their secret thoughts. And sorrow, like a sharp sword, will break your own heart.”

36-37 There was a very old prophet, a widow named Anna, daughter of Phanuel of the tribe of Asher. She had been married for only seven years and was now eighty-four years old.[a] She never left the Temple; day and night she worshiped God, fasting and praying. 38 That very same hour she arrived and gave thanks to God and spoke about the child to all who were waiting for God to set Jerusalem free.

Luke 2.25-38

Simeon and Anna appear in the story after Jesus’ birth, but were around long before it. As two older, wiser members of the temple in Jerusalem, they both prayerfully awaited the coming of a Saviour. Their lives of faith played a unique role of encouragement to the generation that came after them. Your challenge today is to connect with people from another generation.

CHALLENGES:

Challenge 1
Write to someone younger than you to encourage them

Challenge 2
Speak to someone in your church about ‘adopting’ a care home

Challenge 3
Seek advice from an older, wiser friend



DAY 17: 17th December

REFLECTION:

17th stop: Bethlehem 1 AD

‘When the angels went away from them back into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let's go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us.” So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph and saw the baby lying in the manger.’ Luke 2.15–16

The shepherds arrived in Bethlehem – and it’s likely they, too, were welcomed into the guest-house. The presence of this new born baby, special and sacred, was enough to draw together strangers, across the social divide. Your challenge is to reach out to strangers.

CHALLENGES:

Challenge 1
Talk to someone sleeping rough

Challenge 2
Speak to someone you see often but never talk to

Challenge 3
Hand deliver Christmas cards to neighbours you’ve never spoken to



DAY 16 - 16th December

REFLECTION:

16th stop: Bethlehem hillside, 1 BC

‘Suddenly a great army of heaven's angels appeared with the angel, singing praises to God:

“Glory to God in the highest heaven,
and peace on earth to those with whom he is pleased!”’ Luke 2.13–14

How do you like to deliver news? A night sky appearance of angels must have been a sight to behold – first one and then a whole crowd, all praising God. They praised God, and the whole sky was alight. When we praise God, it encourages others to do the same. Your challenge today is to speak well of God, and of others.

CHALLENGES:

Challenge 1
Film yourself singing a Christmas carol and send it to someone who would enjoy it

Challenge 2
Make angel tree decorations and give to people who normally help you

Challenge 3
Publicly thank someone you tend to take for granted



DAY 15 - 15th December

REFLECTION:

15th stop: Bethlehem hillside, 1 AD

‘There were some shepherds in that part of the country who were spending the night in the fields, taking care of their flocks. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone over them. They were terribly afraid, but the angel said to them, “Don't be afraid! I am here with good news for you, which will bring great joy to all the people. This very day in David's town your Saviour was born—Christ the Lord! And this is what will prove it to you: you will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”’ Luke 2.8–12

Shepherds were not the bankers or the leaders of society; rather they were among the lowest in society. The appearance of the angels sharing their news with them shows that this good news of Jesus birth was for all, rich and poor. Years later, when baby Jesus grows up, he describes himself as the Good Shepherd. Your challenge to today is to be a ‘good shepherd’.

CHALLENGES:

Challenge 1
Thank someone whose job makes them a frequent target for criticism

Challenge 2
Take some treats to a care home and, if possible, chat to residents

Challenge 3
Give £3 to place the Nativity story into a food hamper for a family in need in the UK this Christmas



DAY 14 - 14th December

REFLECTION:

14th stop: The Inn, Bethlehem, 1 BC

‘…and while they were in Bethlehem, the time came for her to have her baby. She gave birth to her first son, wrapped him in cloths and laid him in a manger—there was no room for them to stay in the inn.’ Luke 2.6–7

Finally! After days of journeying, Mary and Joseph finally arrived at their destination. In Bethlehem, they enjoyed the hospitality of a guest-house. It’s a common misconception that Mary and Joseph were relegated to the animals’ barn because of the tight squeeze at the ‘inn’ and the mention of the manger. In those days, though, the animals would have stayed in the house with their owners; their mangers too – so perhaps they were shown exceeding hospitality after all! Your challenge is to be a blessing when it comes to space!

CHALLENGES:

Challenge 1
Tidy a shared space

Challenge 2
Offer to clear a garden or shed for someone who would struggle to do it

Challenge 3
Invite someone to spend Christmas with you who would otherwise be alone



DAY 13 - 13th December

REFLECTION:

13th stop: still en-route to Bethlehem, 1 BC

‘Joseph went from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to the town of Bethlehem in Judea, the birthplace of King David. Joseph went there because he was a descendant of David. He went to register with Mary, who was promised in marriage to him. She was pregnant.’ 

Luke 2.4–5

Mary and Joseph’s journey was about 100 miles long and would have taken roughly 8–10 days to complete. That’s a lot of ground covered and a lot of time to talk. Sometimes the uninterrupted, tech-free joys of walking can make way for all kinds of conversations we’d never normally have or make time for. Your challenge is to make time to talk.

CHALLENGES:

Challenge 1
Have a tech-free evening

Challenge 2
Make time for a walk with a friend

Challenge 3
Keep the radio off in the car in order to talk instead



DAY 12 - 12th December

REFLECTION:

12th stop: en-route to Bethlehem, 1 BC

‘Joseph went from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to the town of Bethlehem in Judea, the birthplace of King David. Joseph went there because he was a descendant of David. He went to register with Mary, who was promised in marriage to him. She was pregnant.’

Luke 2.4–5

Despite the lovely carol, Little Donkey, there’s no evidence of a donkey in the biblical account of the story. But the likelihood is that Mary and Joseph would have taken their long trip aided by this four-legged friend. The donkey would have been mainly used to carry the luggage – a first century roof rack, you might say. Sometimes people face things too hard to bear alone. Your challenge today is to help others with the ‘load’ they carry.

CHALLENGES:

Challenge 1
Offer to help a stranger pack their shopping and load it into their car

Challenge 2
Take on a task that someone else normally has to do

Challenge 3
Offer to babysit to give someone a break



DAY 11 - 11th December

REFLECTION:

11th stop: The city gates, Nazareth, 1 BC

‘Joseph went from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to the town of Bethlehem in Judea, the birthplace of King David. Joseph went there because he was a descendant of David. He went to register with Mary, who was promised in marriage to him. She was pregnant.’ Luke 2.4–5

Mary and Joseph were not yet quite wed, and Mary was heavily pregnant. They had overcome what was possibly the biggest moment of shame in their lives, as Mary was visibly pregnant before they were married. And now they were about to embark on a long journey! Travelling can sometimes bring out the worst in us. Your challenge is to use your travel to bless.

CHALLENGES:

Challenge 1
Offer a lift to someone without a car

Challenge 2
Offer to pay for the person behind you in the bus queue

Challenge 3
Smile and say hello to people you pass on the street



DAY 10 - 10th December

REFLECTION:

10th stop: Syria, 1 BC

‘At that time Emperor Augustus ordered a census to be taken throughout the Roman Empire. When this first census took place, Quirinius was the governor of Syria. Everyone, then, went to register himself, each to his own hometown.’ Luke 2.1–3
1At that time Emperor Augustus ordered a census to be taken throughout the Roman Empire. 2 When this first census took place, Quirinius was the governor of Syria. 3 Everyone, then, went to register himself, each to his own hometown.
4 Joseph went from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to the town of Bethlehem in Judea, the birthplace of King David. Joseph went there because he was a descendant of David.

Luke 2.1-4

All the characters we’ve met along the journey so far were Jewish, but lived under Roman occupation. Part of this meant paying taxes and involved following other orders, like being counted for a census. Mary and Joseph submitted to the powers that ruled them and took the journey to Bethlehem. Your challenge today is to engage with your community.

CHALLENGES:

Challenge 1
Host the Pop-up Nativity in a public space

Challenge 2
Donate food to a local foodbank

Challenge 3
Leave a Christmas card on your bins for the refuse collectors



DAY 9 - 9th December

REFLECTION:

9th stop: Jerusalem c. 750 BC

‘For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.’ Isaiah 9.6 (ESV)

Way back in Israel’s history, in the time of King Josiah (a man known to be a good king, among a history of many bad kings!), the prophet Isaiah spoke of a coming King, who would lead well. Your challenge today is to bless those who lead you.

CHALLENGES:

Challenge 1
Write a Christmas card to your MP and thank them for their hard work

Challenge 2
Post a prayer for a politician or leader on our prayer wall

Challenge 3
Hand make a card for your boss, teacher or church leader



DAY 8: 8th December

REFLECTION:

8th stop: Judean hill country, 2 BC

‘Zechariah asked for a writing tablet and wrote, “His name is John.” How surprised they all were! At that moment Zechariah was able to speak again, and he started praising God.’ Luke 1.63–64

57 The time came for Elizabeth to have her baby, and she gave birth to a son. 58 Her neighbours and relatives heard how wonderfully good the Lord had been to her, and they all rejoiced with her.

59 When the baby was a week old, they came to circumcise him, and they were going to name him Zechariah, after his father. 60 But his mother said, “No! His name is to be John.”

61 They said to her, “But you don't have any relative with that name!” 62 Then they made signs to his father, asking him what name he would like the boy to have.

63 Zechariah asked for a writing tablet and wrote, “His name is John.” How surprised they all were! 64 At that moment Zechariah was able to speak again, and he started praising God. 65 The neighbours were all filled with fear, and the news about these things spread through all the hill country of Judea. 66 Everyone who heard of it thought about it and asked, “What is this child going to be?” For it was plain that the Lord's power was upon him.

Luke 1.57-67

John is born, fulfilling the promise of the angel who appeared to Zechariah in the temple. Zechariah shows his faith by naming the boy John instead of after himself, and recovers the use of his voice. Handy for all the family who would come to visit the new baby. This isn’t the only time John arrives ahead of Jesus to act as a sign of good things to come. This baby grows up to be the man who is known as John the Baptist, who signalled the good news of the coming saviour. Sometimes God uses people to share his good news. Your challenge today is to bring good news.

CHALLENGES:

Challenge 1
Say three kind things today

Challenge 2
Share the story of how you came to be a Christian with someone

Challenge 3
Share the good news with Syrian children by giving £5 to help distribute Bible stories in Syria this Christmas



DAY 7 - 7th December

REFLECTION:

7th stop: Mary’s house, Nazareth, 1 BC

‘Mary said, “My heart praises the Lord; my soul is glad because of God my Saviour, for he has remembered me, his lowly servant!”’ Luke 1.46–47

46 Mary said 
“My heart praises the Lord;
47 my soul is glad because of God my Saviour,
48 for he has remembered me, his lowly servant!
From now on all people will call me happy,
49 because of the great things the Mighty God has done for me.
His name is holy;
50 from one generation to another
he shows mercy to those who honour him.
51 He has stretched out his mighty arm
and scattered the proud with all their plans.
52 He has brought down mighty kings from their thrones,
and lifted up the lowly.
53 He has filled the hungry with good things,
and sent the rich away with empty hands.
54 He has kept the promise he made to our ancestors,
and has come to the help of his servant Israel.
55 He has remembered to show mercy to Abraham
and to all his descendants forever!”

Luke 1.46-55

What do you do after getting the most world-changing news of your life? Mary sang! The book of Psalms in the Bible captures the prayers and praises of God’s people, Israel. Mary makes Psalm 33 her own when she uses it to praise God. Words – and singing them – can be powerful. Your challenge today is to put your voice to good use.

CHALLENGES:

Challenge 1
Explore the Psalms and send one to someone to encourage them – perhaps even to someone who would never normally read the Bible

Challenge 2
Arrange to go carolling or sing at an old people’s home

Challenge 3
Use your voice on social media to share the spoken word film ‘Mary’s Song’



DAY 6 - 6th December

REFLECTION

6th stop: Elizabeth’s place, Judean hill country, 1 BC

‘Soon afterward Mary got ready and hurried off to a town in the hill country of Judea. She went into Zechariah's house and greeted Elizabeth.’ Luke 1.39–40

38 “I am the Lord's servant,” said Mary; “may it happen to me as you have said.” And the angel left her.

39 Soon afterward Mary got ready and hurried off to a town in the hill country of Judea. 40 She went into Zechariah's house and greeted Elizabeth. 41 When Elizabeth heard Mary's greeting, the baby moved within her. Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit 42 and said in a loud voice, “You are the most blessed of all women, and blessed is the child you will bear! 43 Why should this great thing happen to me, that my Lord's mother comes to visit me? 44 For as soon as I heard your greeting, the baby within me jumped with gladness. 45 How happy you are to believe that the Lord's message to you will come true!” Luke 1.38-45

Mary and Elizabeth supported each other and shared their excitement. Shared experience bonds us and builds our relationships. Romans 12.15 encourages us to ‘Rejoice with those who rejoice; weep with those who weep.’ God gave us one another. Your challenge today is to be a good friend.

CHALLENGES:

Challenge 1
Call a friend you’ve not spoken to for ages

Challenge 2
Seek out someone who is lonely and arrange to spend time with them

Challenge 3
Take steps to restore a broken friendship



DAY 5 - 5th December

REFLECTION

5th stop: Joseph’s house, Nazareth, 1 BC

‘While he was thinking about this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph, descendant of David, do not be afraid to take Mary to be your wife. For it is by the Holy Spirit that she has conceived.’ Matthew 1.20

20 While he was thinking about this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph, descendant of David, do not be afraid to take Mary to be your wife. For it is by the Holy Spirit that she has conceived. 21 She will have a son, and you will name him Jesus—because he will save his people from their sins.”

22 Now all this happened in order to make come true what the Lord had said through the prophet, 23 “A virgin will become pregnant and have a son, and he will be called Immanuel” (which means, “God is with us”).

24 So when Joseph woke up, he married Mary, as the angel of the Lord had told him to.

Matthew 1.20-24

Do you ever listen out for God’s voice? Sometimes it can feel easy to hear God – perhaps through the words you read in the Bible. It can also feel hard to hear God, like for Elijah, who expected to hear God in the drama of nature but instead found him in a ‘still, small voice’. Perhaps you feel you’ve never heard God speak to you at all. Your challenge today is to listen.

CHALLENGES

Challenge 1
Take 15 minutes of silence to make space for God’s ’still, small voice’

Challenge 2
Ask God to speak through what happens to you today

Challenge 3
Stop yourself every time you go to interrupt someone today



DAY 4 - 4th December

REFLECTION:

4th stop: Joseph’s workshop, Nazareth, 1 BC

‘Joseph was a man who always did what was right, but he did not want to disgrace Mary publicly; so he made plans to break the engagement privately.’ Matthew 1.19

To be a good ‘religious’ man in Joseph’s day meant obeying the law. If he suspected Mary to have had an affair, Mary could have been condemned to death. At this point in time, Joseph didn’t know how Mary had fallen pregnant, just that she had. Joseph, no doubt in some pain at his discovery, doesn’t call on the community to punish Mary, rather he ‘had in mind to divorce her quietly’. He has understood something deeper about the Old Testament Law: that God ‘requires mercy over sacrifice.’ What do we mean by mercy? Not giving someone the punishment we think they deserve. Sometimes mercy is just what is needed. Your challenge today is to show mercy.

CHALLENGES:

Challenge 1
Think of someone you’ve judged. Ask for God’s forgiveness and his help to see them differently

Challenge 2
Learn more about mercy in the Bible by reading an article from the mercy edition of Bible in Transmission

Challenge 3
Be quick to forgive when people hurt or frustrate you today



DAY 3 - 3rd December

REFLECTION

3rd stop: Mary’s home, Nazareth, 1 BC

The angel said to her, “Don't be afraid, Mary; God has been gracious to you. You will become pregnant and give birth to a son, and you will name him Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High God. The Lord God will make him a king, as his ancestor David was, and he will be the king of the descendants of Jacob forever; his kingdom will never end!”’

26 In the sixth month of Elizabeth's pregnancy God sent the angel Gabriel to a town in Galilee named Nazareth. 27 He had a message for a young woman promised in marriage to a man named Joseph, who was a descendant of King David. Her name was Mary. 28 The angel came to her and said, “Peace be with you! The Lord is with you and has greatly blessed you!”

29 Mary was deeply troubled by the angel's message, and she wondered what his words meant. 30 The angel said to her, “Don't be afraid, Mary; God has been gracious to you. 31 You will become pregnant and give birth to a son, and you will name him Jesus. 32 He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High God. The Lord God will make him a king, as his ancestor David was, 33 and he will be the king of the descendants of Jacob forever; his kingdom will never end!”

34 Mary said to the angel, “I am a virgin. How, then, can this be?”

35 The angel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come on you, and God's power will rest upon you. For this reason the holy child will be called the Son of God. 36 Remember your relative Elizabeth. It is said that she cannot have children, but she herself is now six months pregnant, even though she is very old. 37 For there is nothing that God cannot do.”

38 “I am the Lord's servant,” said Mary; “may it happen to me as you have said.” And the angel left her.

Luke 1.26-38

Mary had little warning of her new role as mother, but she was well-prepared. Her schooling wasn’t in government, business or leadership, but in humility. And the angel commends her for exactly that; this is what qualifies her to carry the son of God. Humility makes amazing things possible. Your challenge today is to be humble.e warning of her new role as mother, but she was well-prepared. Her schooling wasn’t in government, business or leadership, but in humility. And the angel commends her for exactly that; this is what qualifies her to carry the son of God. Humility makes amazing things possible. Your challenge today is to be humble.

CHALLENGES:

Challenge 1
Gladly accept the next offer of help that comes your way

Challenge 2
Do someone’s washing up

Challenge 3
Volunteer in a new role at church or in your community


DAY 2 - 2nd December

REFLECTION:

2nd stop: Temple, Jerusalem, 2–1 BC

‘But the angel said to him, “Don't be afraid, Zechariah! God has heard your prayer, and your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son. You are to name him John.’ Luke 1.13.

5 During the time when Herod was king of Judea, there was a priest named Zechariah, who belonged to the priestly order of Abijah. His wife's name was Elizabeth; she also belonged to a priestly family. 6 They both lived good lives in God's sight and obeyed fully all the Lord's laws and commands. 7 They had no children because Elizabeth could not have any, and she and Zechariah were both very old.

8 One day Zechariah was doing his work as a priest in the Temple, taking his turn in the daily service. 9 According to the custom followed by the priests, he was chosen by lot to burn incense on the altar. So he went into the Temple of the Lord, 10 while the crowd of people outside prayed during the hour when the incense was burned. 11 An angel of the Lord appeared to him, standing at the right side of the altar where the incense was burned. 12 When Zechariah saw him, he was alarmed and felt afraid. 13 But the angel said to him, “Don't be afraid, Zechariah! God has heard your prayer, and your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son. You are to name him John. 14 How glad and happy you will be, and how happy many others will be when he is born! 15 John will be great in the Lord's sight. He must not drink any wine or strong drink. From his very birth he will be filled with the Holy Spirit, 16 and he will bring back many of the people of Israel to the Lord their God. 17 He will go ahead of the Lord, strong and mighty like the prophet Elijah. He will bring fathers and children together again; he will turn disobedient people back to the way of thinking of the righteous; he will get the Lord's people ready for him.”

18 Zechariah said to the angel, “How shall I know if this is so? I am an old man, and my wife is old also.”

19 “I am Gabriel,” the angel answered. “I stand in the presence of God, who sent me to speak to you and tell you this good news. 20 But you have not believed my message, which will come true at the right time. Because you have not believed, you will be unable to speak; you will remain silent until the day my promise to you comes true.”

21 In the meantime the people were waiting for Zechariah and wondering why he was spending such a long time in the Temple. 22 When he came out, he could not speak to them, and so they knew that he had seen a vision in the Temple. Unable to say a word, he made signs to them with his hands.

23 When his period of service in the Temple was over, Zechariah went back home. 24 Some time later his wife Elizabeth became pregnant and did not leave the house for five months. 25 “Now at last the Lord has helped me,” she said. “He has taken away my public disgrace!”

Luke 1.5-25

It was a big year for Zechariah. He’d been chosen to be the High Priest – the very person to enter the holiest place in the temple to meet with God. There he received a big surprise: he was told he would have a son, something he thought impossible! Sometimes God can surprise us. Your challenge today is to embrace the unexpected.

CHALLENGES:

Challenge 1
Buy flowers for someone

Challenge 2
Surprise three people with compliments. Be direct and specific

Challenge 3
Support someone facing a surprise – good or bad



DAY 1 - 1st December

REFLECTION:

1st stop: Judah, c. 750 BC  

‘The Lord says, “Bethlehem Ephrathah, you are one of the smallest towns in Judah, but out of you I will bring a ruler for Israel, whose family line goes back to ancient times.”’ Micah 5.2

Hundreds of years before Jesus arrived on earth, his birth was promised through the prophets, like in these words from Micah, who listened to what God was saying and shared with the people. The Bible tells us Jesus fulfilled 353 prophecies of the Old Testament. Sometimes we have to wait for things. As Advent begins, your first challenge is to exercise patience.

CHALLENGES:

Challenge 1
Let someone out before you when driving

Challenge 2
Hold the door open for someone

Challenge 3
Listen before you speak in all your conversations today