Advent is about TIME and the coming of Jesus! We wait, we remember we prepare in our hearts over the four weeks of the Season of Advent, to celebrate Jesus coming in time past, in time present and in time future:
Firstly, in history born as a baby to Mary, in a stable in Bethlehem, taking on human life with all its vulnerability and frailty; secondly, we grow in recognising Jesus coming in our present time through the power of the Holy Spirit, giving us his peace, strength and comfort in daily life; thirdly, we think about when Jesus will come at the end of time to gather the fruits of the world together as lived out in lives of beauty, goodness and truth, allowing what is not life-giving to fade into nothingness.
In Advent we sing special songs or hymns or carols about Jesus as light coming in the darkness, the one who helps us carry our troubles in life, the one who takes away our fears and gives us hope. God is surprisingly accessible to us in the life of the world, and we gather, as families and communities, to discover and celebrate this. Together, in our families and communities, person-to-person, we are seeking, finding and celebrating the gift of God’s closeness, present with us in our lives. Through its forty days, Advent teaches us that God’s tender embrace is shown to us in the Son, Jesus. And we remember his presence in the past, we proclaim his presence in the present, we anticipate his presence in the future.
We are launching our new Seeking God Together Companion for the Pastoral Accompaniment of Families, in the Season of Advent, as we prepare hearts and minds for Christ’s coming. With its focus on time past, time present and time future, family life has a similar character to that of Advent. Families hold together their history down the generations, their past and present experience, their future hopes. This new resource supports the seeking and finding of treasure – the treasure of God’s presence in the variety of gifts and encounters that Love offers in time, and indeed across time and space into eternity.
Seeking God Together is practical Companion rather than a programme and is built on three decades of family ministry in England & Wales. Inspired by Pope Francis’ Apostolic Exhortation, Amoris Laetitia, The Joy of Love in the Family, the Companion offers a map or reference guide across nine ‘seasons’ of family life. Each season begins from a family perspective, describing the reality of family life at this stage, and helping a community to identify take-off and landing points for ministry where family life intersects with the Church. Seeking God Together has a wide application, and is useful for Parish communities, Bishops and diocesan departments, Schools and chaplaincies, Families at home.
It aims to encourage a parish/school community in their responsibility for building a ‘culture’ of accompaniment, meeting families where they are through welcome and listening, serving their practical needs, and enabling relationships of trust to develop. Each couple or family can begin to find themselves at home in the parish and its school. The parish is the family of families. This sense of belonging and seeking is the seed bed for nurturing faith in God. The art of accompaniment: Seeking God Together is a response to the call to accompany, love and cherish families:
To be a sign of mercy and closeness – to have the gaze of Christ, in communion with the Father and Holy Spirit
To be fully present, journey with and be enriched by families (RCIA journey in faith model)
To be perceptive, listen and offer a word of truth and hope
To have conversations in everyday language whenever families approach the church or the church reaches out to them
To build on goodness, listening and responding to a family’s spoken and unspoken search for God, who is very close and present in their love and struggles
To offer practical ideas for supporting family relationships and unity, family spirituality and growth in faith in daily life, and for family rituals and service – at home, nurtured in the life of the parish and school
Visit our Seeking God Together page for more information on the Companion and resources to supports its use and introduction.