Hell and Advent

& Resources for Advent

Dear <<First Name>>

I hope you have found the last week’s Devotions on Heaven interesting.  It’s not a subject we talk much about in contemporary Christianity – despite the words of the Our Father which we say most weeks in worship.  It was good to have Paul Nimmo as a guest contributor from the Church of Scotland.

Turning from Heaven we now face Hell which is not a popular theme in much of the contemporary Church.  Yet, just as Heaven is part of what the Church has taught since its earliest days so is Hell.  Famously Ignatius Loyala’s Spiritual Exercises have a week of profound reflections on Hell.  Whilst talk about Hell may have fallen out of fashion, this week 6 URC folk ponder Hell.  Sam Goodman reflects on the Hell we make for ourselves drawing in some of his own personal history, Kirsty Ann Mabbott focuses on Hell being an absence of God, I muse on the discomfort liberals have with Jesus’ talk of Hell (and the discomfort of conservatives when Jesus’ words imply that one is sent to Heaven or Hell because of how one acts rather than what one believes!). ‘frin Lewis Smith shows the ancient idea of the harrowing of Hell has some life left in it, Angela Rigby muses on the Lake of Fire in Revelation as a place of purification and Tim Searle muses on darkness, teeth gnashing, and alienation from God.  I hope these reflections on Hell stimulate your thinking.

Next Sunday we start Advent and I thought I’d mention the Advent resources the URC has for those of you who prepare and lead worship.

  • As ever the Worship Notes have ideas for every Sunday of Advent (and beyond) and can be found here.  This page also has a link to Weekly Intercessions written more recently than those in the individual Worship Notes.  It is updated by Wednesday of each week at the latest.
  • The Children and Youth Department have two resources for all-age worshipFaith Adventures for Children Together and Youth Resource and the Families on Faith Adventures at Home.  Both of these resources have an index of Bible passages and where to find the material.  These might make creating the all-age activity easier for those for whom it is not their natural forte or giving a starting point for creativity for all contributors.
  • We have a resource for the Advent Candle liturgy for the Second Sunday of Advent where the URC is being asked to keep the second candle unlit.  It is often referred to as the Bethlehem Candle and the prayer and information about it, on the Worship Notes Page, shows we wish to have an act of solidarity with our fellow Christians in Palestine and Israel facing a very precarious Christmas this year.  
  • Finally, the people who write the Worship Notes also have prepared worship which can be downloaded as a PowerPoint file and used as a form of pulpit supply.  We have four Advent services, a Carol Service, a Midnight Communion for Christmas Eve, a Christmas Day morning and an Epiphany service all ready to be downloaded.  You can find more out more details by following the Pulpit Supply link here

I hope that the array of resources available, and the reflections on Hell this week, strengthen our discipleship and common life.

With every good wish


The Rev’d Andy Braunston
Minister for Digital Worship

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