• Stillness

    Most people are able to enter more fully into prayer if they take a little time to become more still.  At the beginning of each session’s prayer we will suggest a stillness exercise and lead you through it. Perhaps one will work better than others for you, so notice which helps most and perhaps use it subsequently. In this session, we will focus on stilling the mind. As you begin, become aware of the noises around you… perhaps you can hear traffic in the background, or the sounds of nature… maybe the hum of technology in your house or surroundings… Whatever you can hear, notice these noises, and let them go… Begin to focus on the simple, life-giving breath, given to you by God… draw your attention now to your inhale… and your exhale… remain settled like this for a few moments as you prepare to enter into prayer.

  • Scripture

    Jn 1:1-3

    The Word Became Flesh

    1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was in the beginning with God. 3 All things came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being. 

  • Reflection

    • Unlike the other gospel writers, John’s gospel does not mention the first Christmas: the angels proclaiming the good news, the shepherds, the Magi, the stable, Herod… Instead, John opens up with a profound statement about who Jesus was and where he came from. This opening describing how Jesus was with God from the beginning of time is perhaps too abstract. We may be more comfortable with the stories that relate to the birth of Jesus from one of the other Gospels.
      How does the language that John uses speak to you? Do you feel it easy to understand what he is saying about Jesus? It is only later in verse 17 that the name ‘Jesus’ is used… Why do you think that John chooses not to use Jesus’ name when he is talking about him in the opening to his gospel?
    • John uses the term “the Word” three times within the first sentence. The Greek term that John uses for ‘the Word’ is Logos. It was a term very familiar to Greek philosophers at the time and was generally used to describe the principle of order that runs through all reality, changing that reality from chaos and brokenness into something that has meaning and direction.
      How does this idea fit in with your own lived experience of Jesus? When has Jesus taken the broken, the chaotic parts of your life and helped them become meaningful and healing for you instead? When has Jesus helped you be this healing presence for others? Think of those you have helped in this way – perhaps your family, friends, neighbours, and others who have crossed your path at different times… and hold them within you.
    • What do you think is meant by “all things came into being through him”? Reflect on it in the light of what Saint Paul writes in the first chapter of Colossians: “For in him all things in heaven and on earth were created, things visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or powers—all things have been created through him and for him.” (Colossians 1:16)
    • The first week of Advent symbolizes Hope. By starting his gospel with “In the Beginning”, John wants to show how constant and unwavering God’s presence is in each one of our lives – and that any hope placed in Him will be fulfilled. What are some of your hopes for this Advent journey – for yourself, others, the world…?
  • Talk to God

    • John tells us that ‘the Word was with God.’ In the words John uses, he presents an intimate image of the son facing towards his father in love – although they are distinct and separate from one another, there are no barriers between them. As you begin this journey into Advent, are there any barriers that might block you at times from having an intimate relationship with God? The invitation of Jesus this Advent is to break down those barriers and allow yourself to be embraced with his unconditional love and acceptance – to “speak to God as a friend speaks to a friend” as Saint Ignatius tells us.
    • In calling Jesus “the Word”, John also reminds us that he, Jesus, is God’s true voice in and to the world. Listen to God’s voice speaking to you in this moment. What do you hear Him saying to you? What words do you wish to say back to God? Allow what is deepest in your heart and in your mind to be expressed to the God who calls you into conversation with Him in this moment.
    • The words “In the beginning” draw us back to Genesis and the creation of the world when God said “let there be light and there was light.” In the same way that God directed the world into being, so too, God directs my life when I let go and trust. What parts of your life need particular direction at the moment? Trusting in the transformative and loving power of God, hand these parts of your life over to God for guidance and direction.
    • “All things came into being through him” (Jn 1:3) Pope Francis reminds us that “the entire material universe speaks of God’s love, his boundless affection for us. Soil, water, mountains: everything is, as it were, a caress of God’ (Laudato Si’, 84). As you prepare to welcome Jesus, the Incarnation, anew into the world, why not take some time during Advent to reflect on and give thanks for the incredible miracle and gift of creation. Take a walk… plant some seeds… recycle… Pray for the grace to act more lovingly towards His creation.
    • Did any part of the text’s opening images or words touch you in any particular way? Spend some time in quiet prayer with whatever arises.