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					                                                                                  Worship Resources
         Have you visited the
        Act for Peace website?
We have so many additional resources available for download:
• PowerPoint Presentations to align with each day of worship
• JPEGs of the Clip Art to include in your pew sheets and newsletters
• Additional educational and fundraising activities to get your church involved
• Instructions on tax deductible receipting procedures
• Volume 2: Christmas Bowl Cookbook
• PDFs of all the kit resources

                Please visit us today at:
          www.actforpeace.org.au/christmasbowl

Also, if you would like a free large Christmas Bowl sign or DVD,
please ring Sarah or Edwyn today on 1800 025 101
or email: christmasbowl@ncca.org.au


                                                                                             Christmas Bowl 2010
                                                                                               The Christmas Bowl is a program of Act for Peace, the international aid
                                                                                                agency of the National Council of Churches in Australia. ABN 64 493 941 795
                                                                                                                                                                             The Story of the Christmas Bowl
                                                                                                                                                                             On Christmas Day in 1949, the Reverend Frank Byatt of Victoria placed             your guests and then ask them to consider giving
    Acknowledgements                                                                                                                                                         an empty bowl on the dinner table during Christmas dinner. He asked               the cost of their meal to the Christmas Bowl. Pass the
    Act for Peace would like to thank all those who contribute to the                  A special mention also to the ongoing support and assistance of the                   everyone sitting at the table with him to think about their good fortune          bowl or Christmas Bowl gift envelopes around the table and then collect all
    Christmas Bowl and make it an integral part of Christmas and their                 State Ecumenical Councils and the volunteers who make the Christmas                   and then asked them to think about those around the world who had to              donations and pass them on to your church treasurer/administrator for your tax
    worship at this time. Our project partners join us in thanking you for             Bowl what it is today. Finally, thank you to Red Lounge Agency for the                go without. He then asked everyone to put in the bowl what they thought           deductible receipts.
    your help in providing food, shelter, medicine and security to people              design of the Christmas Bowl materials (www.redlounge.com.au).                        their Christmas dinner had cost. This was the very first Christmas Bowl and       To download PowerPoint presentations to align with each day
    affected by conflict around the world.                                                                                                                                   it raised money for Eastern European refugees displaced from their homes          of the Worship Resources, please visit:
                                                                                       Please contact Sarah or Edwyn at Act for Peace with any enquiries,                    due to World War II.                                                              www.actforpeace.org.au/christmasbowl
    We would especially like to thank the faculty of the Churches of                   feedback or to order more resources on 1800 025 101
    Christ Theological College, Mulgrave, Victoria (a Recognised Teaching                                                                                                    Just as Rev. Frank Byatt placed a bowl on his Christmas dinner table over 60      The money you raise will help Act for Peace, the international aid agency
                                                                                       or email: christmasbowl@ncca.org.au                                                   years ago, you can too. Select a bowl and place an object that means peace
    Institute of the Melbourne College of Divinity) for their help in writing                                                                                                                                                                                  of the National Council of Churches in Australia, to empower war-torn
                                                                                                                                                                             or Christmas to you inside it. Explain the story of the first Christmas Bowl to   communities to reduce poverty, protect refugees and prevent further conflict.
    the Gospel Comments and Worship Resources: Alan Niven, Merryl                      On behalf of all the team at Act for Peace, we wish you a Christmas
    Blair, Andrew Menzies, John Williamson and Tim McCowan.                            filled with joy, peace and sharing!
                                                                                                                                                                             Commissioning of an Act for Peace Representative in the Congregation                                                                      Advent
    Table of Contents                                                                                                                                                        Presentation                                                                                                                              Candle-Lighting
                                                                                                                                                                             Below is a commissioning service for Act for Peace Representatives in your congregation. If you do not have an Act for Peace
    Dedication of the Christmas Bowl ..........................2                                                                                                             Representative and would like to nominate someone, please get in touch with your local Development Officer today!                         In the season of Advent,
    Story of the Christmas Bowl ...................................3               Dedication of the 2010 Christmas Bowl                                                     See the back of the Christmas Bowl Kit folder for contact details or call 1800 025 101.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       many congregations enjoy
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       the weekly ritual of lighting
    Commissioning of an Act for Peace Representative..... 3            An empty bowl is brought from the body of the congregation and placed in a position visible to all.   Commissioning                                                                                                                             Advent candles. In this
    The Reign of Christ: November 21 ....................4                                                                                                                   To help create meaningful connections between our congregation and people in conflict situations around the world,                        year’s worship resources,
                                                                                              Australian Churches and the Christmas Bowl
      Escaping the Military Regime in Burma................5                                                                                                                 this congregation has an Act for Peace Representative(s).                                                                                 we have included a weekly
                                                                                      Have acted together to bring peace and hope into the world.
    Advent 1: November 28......................................6                                                                                                             Today we commission (Name) for this ministry with us.                                                                                     Advent candle-lighting
                                                                                                Help us to continue to act for peace.                                                                                                                                                                                  ceremony within the liturgy.
      Fighting Climate Change in the Solomons...........7                                                                                                                    (Name) as an Act for Peace Representative you:
    Advent 2: December 5 ........................................8                          As children of God we will share this year’s bowl                                • Will hold before us stories of lives and communities that are being transformed
      People to People Peacemaking in Sudan .............9                            With people who are displaced, oppressed or living in poverty.                         • May distribute materials to keep us informed about Act for Peace programs and activities
    Advent 3: December 12 ....................................10                           May their lives be filled with hope and peace.                                    • May offer prayer points to help our intercessions
                                                                                                                                                                             • May encourage us to stand in solidarity with others
      Farming Revolution in Zimbabwe ......................11                                                                                                                • May help us discover new ways to act for peace.
                                                                                                     Gracious and ever-loving God,
    Advent 4: December 19 ....................................12                                  Open our lives so we may courageously                                      (Name) are you willing to be an Act for Peace representative? I am.
      Women’s Empowerment in Ethiopia..................13                                              Act for peace in the world.                                           Will you seek to spread the word about how churches are
    Christmas Day: December 25 ...........................14                                      Open our hands to share what we have                                       working together to act for peace in conflicted regions of               Prayer
      Caring for Babies in War-Torn Gaza...................15                                                                                                                our world? With God’s help, I will.                                      God of grace,
                                                                                                       With those who have little.                                                                                                                    (Name) has responded to your gentle call
    First Sunday After Christmas: December 26 ...16                                                                                                                          The congregation stands the minister says;
                                                                                                      As we dedicate this bowl                                                                                                                        to be an Act for Peace Representative(s)
      Fleeing the Taliban in Pakistan ...........................17                                                                                                          Will you accept (Name) as an Act for Peace Representative                may your blessing be upon him/her
    Anticipating Epiphany: January 2 ....................18                            May it be filled with the fruits of love, joy and peace                               in this congregation? We will.                                           in the sharing of the stories from conflicted regions.
      A Healing Trail for Refugees in Australia ............19                   So all people may know your goodness and receive your grace.                                Will you encourage him/her in love                                       Also equip and guide him/her in ways
                                                                                                               Amen.                                                         and support him/her in this ministry,                                    that will open our lives to act for peace in our world today
                                                                                                                                                                             serving with him/her the one Lord Jesus Christ?                          through Jesus Christ the prince of peace we pray
2                                                                                                                                                                            With God’s help, we will.                                                Amen.
    The Reign of Christ: November 21                                                                             Matthew 25:31-46
                                                                                                                 Comments on the Gospel                                                Escaping the Military Regime in Burma
    Christ Hidden in Our Daily Life                                                                              "Lord, when did we see you ...?” is the shocked question of
                                                                                                                 both the righteous and unrighteous. These followers were              My name is Niran and I come from a village in Tongoo district in
                                                                                                                 going about their lives as they always had, some respectfully         Burma. There used to be around 400 households in the village, and
    Bible Readings                                        Dedication of Offering                                 caring for those around them, others not. They had not                now there are only around 200.
    Ezekiel 34:11-16, 20-24                               God of gift and giving, each day Jesus reveals         considered that in their simple acts of kindness (or neglect),        The Burmese military had camps around our village and used us for
    Psalm 100                                             new ways of living as followers of the Servant-        they had revealed the essence of their ministry to Christ.            carrying materials and constructing a road. My wife and I were made
    Ephesians 1:15-23                                     King. This is the path we walk.
                                                                                                                 Matthew describes an apocalyptic vision of the last judgement         to work hard in road construction. We worked on roads for three
    Matthew 25:31-46                                      Accept our gifts and giving as we follow
                                                          in his steps. We are Christ’s hands and his
                                                                                                                 that occurs at the Son of Man’s enthronement as King. On              weeks per month for no money. We did this for three years. People
                                                          feet. Through our eyes may Jesus shine
                                                                                                                 his throne before all the nations, he divides the people either       who didn’t cooperate were punished and beaten. One person in my
    Call to Worship                                                                                              to the right or to the left, based on their practical response
                                                          compassion into this world.                                                                                                  village was killed just before we left.
    We give God our thanks for the invitation to pause,                                                          towards those in need. Those on the right are invited to
    reflect, review and repent. As the time of Advent                                                            inherit the Kingdom because they cared for ‘the least’                Our family stayed as long as possible, but it became very dangerous
    approaches we proclaim the good news of God’s         Prayers of Intercession (see story p. 5)                                                                                     and each year, survival got more difficult. Therefore we made the
                                                                                                                 whereas those on the left suffer eternal punishment because
    love and grace.                                       Pray for care for those left behind in Burma as well   they didn’t. Placed by Matthew at the end of Jesus’ public            decision to leave and come to this refugee camp where we are
    God is near and invites us to worship.                as for those in the camps.                             teaching, the challenge of how one has lived is clearly meant         grateful for the food and shelter provided by Act for Peace’s partners.
    We give thanks for the freedom we have to worship     Pray for support for refugees who are resettling                                                                               $25
                                                                                                                                                                                       We had to leave the children’s grandmother behind but my brother is
                                                                                                                 to linger in disciples’ ears as Jesus turns toward the cross. It is
    in peace.                                             into a different culture in Australia.                 a confronting question for our own reflection: How have we            still there, taking care of her. I don’t know what will happen next, but
    God is near to all who are oppressed.                 Pray for the restoration of a democratically-          responded to others since Pentecost Sunday?                           I hope that my children will be able to attend school in the camp and
    We accept the call to be the bearers of justice and   elected government in Burma.                                                                                                 will have a better and safer future.
                                                                                                                                                                                         $54
                                                                                                                 Whilst clearly affirming practical service toward those in
    compassion.
                                                          Call & Response                                        need, the passage implies mutually-respectful relationships                Possible exploration point: What is the meaning of care
    God is here with us and present to all people.                                                               that honour each others’ dignity. Giving that is only one-way
                                                          May the many who have much, serve the                                                                                        $100 and our response in this circumstance?
    Advent Candle-lighting                                                                                       demeans the receiver, leaving them feeling dependent and
                                                          multitude who have little.
    The light and warmth of this candle offers a                                                                 voiceless. Our attitude could well reflect Christ’s by asking:
                                                          May those who have power guard the rights
    sign of the presence of Christ. May all that is in                                                           “What do you want me to do for you?”
                                                          of those who have none.                                                                                                       $236
    darkness be prompted into light by all those, often   May the ones at the centre embrace those on            Personal reflection:
    unnoticed, acts of kindness and giving that offer     the edge.                                              • Are the recipients of my care not only practically assisted but                                   Key Facts on Burma
    dignity and respect to all.                           May I be the one to begin.                               also treated respectfully?
    We take the light and warmth of Christ into                                                                                                                                        $ 2010
                                                                                                                                                                                       • 150 Global Peace Index ranking of 149 countries: 132*
                                                                                                                 • Am I willing to give my time to listen to those feeling
    our world. May our service to others bring            Blessing                                                 isolated or in pain?                                                • About one third of children under five are severely or
    hope, peace and joy to many; may it light             We go now to live the life of Christ.                                                                                          moderately stunted and underweight.
    the darkened corners of our lives and of our                                                                 • In my daily interactions with my family or work colleagues,         $200
                                                          May God go with you in all that is gentle.               do they feel as respected by me as I wish to be respected?          • Act for Peace is a member of the Thai-Burma Border
    world.                                                May Christ go with you in all that is brave.
                                                                                                                 • Am I more intent on completing the task than on valuing               Consortium, which supports over 140,000 refugees.
                                                          May the Spirit go with you in all that is free.
                                                          Amen.                                                    the persons involved?                                                $350   Can provide a new house for a Burmese refugee
                                                                                                                 • Have I treated others as I would treat Christ?                              family in a refugee camp on the Thai-Burma border.
                                                                                                                 • Does reading the story of Niran from Burma change my
                                                                                                                   responses to these questions?                                       $1250
4                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               5
                                                                                                                                                                                       *The 2010 Global Peace Index ranked 149 countries from most peaceful (1 - New Zealand) to least peaceful (149 - Iraq).
                                                                                                                                                                                        For more information about the Global Peace Index, please visit: http://www.visionofhumanity.org/
    Advent 1: November 28                                                                                                               Matthew 24:36-44
                                                                                                                                        Comments on the Gospel
                                                                                                                                                                                                          Fighting Climate Change in the Solomons
                                                                                                                                                                                                          My name is James, and I live with my wife and five children in a small
    Keeping Awake and Ready                                                                                                             The season of Advent begins with a second vivid warning
                                                                                                                                        to Jesus’ followers. The point is not to become sidetracked
                                                                                                                                                                                                          coastal village on the Island of Malaita in the Solomon Islands. I am the third
                                                                                                                                                                                                          generation to grow up here. We built our home in a mangrove swamp, the
                                                                                                                                        by trying to work out when Jesus will return. It is, rather,
    Bible Readings                                                  God of surprises, You welcome us always and                                                                                           only land available, using coral and stones for the foundation. Right now,
                                                                    rejoice in our responses of love. As this season                    to cultivate a state of alertness that becomes a way of life.
    Isaiah 2:1-5
                                                                    unfolds, grace us with eyes to see, hands to serve,                 This passage is followed by parables that suggest what this       our village is drowning. If we do not act soon, many homes will be lost.
    Psalm 122                                                       hearts to love and minds that grasp Christ’s new                    ‘awake’ way of life might be: living as if every moment is
    Romans 13:11-14                                                                                                                                                                                       I am a fisherman, and I sell my catch and shell products in the market for a
                                                                    life.                                                               faithfully caring for the Master’s house; using all the talents
    Matthew 24:36-4                                                                                                                                                                                       living and to provide for our children’s education. I have been a committed
                                                                                                                                        we have been given by God as fully and fruitfully as possible.
                                                                    Dedication of Offering                                                                                                                Christian for more than 12 years and now act as a volunteer Village
    Call to Worship                                                 Put peace into each others’ hands as you have placed                It is significant that, having removed concern about what         Pastor. I dream that one day our village will solve the problems of rising
    Come let us worship the God who invites us to enter this        your gift in this bowl. Hear again the invitation to add to         we don’t know (the time of Jesus’ return), attention is           sea levels and finding fresh water. That’s why I became Chairman of the
    space we call Advent – a space of mindfulness where the         these gifts, your prayers, your passion and compassion,             immediately turned to what we do know: a set of very              Village Community Disaster Management Committee. By learning helpful
    life of the spirit touches us at the point of deepest meaning   your voice for justice and your vision for this world.              clear guidelines on what we are supposed to be doing in
    and mystery.                                                    For the capacity and the freedom to give, our God,                                                                                    techniques, we have analysed potential hazards and are taking action to
                                                                                                                                        the meantime.
    God surrounds all our endeavours and embraces our               we are thankful. Amen.                                                                                                                reduce them. We also have a plan to minimise damage and loss of life when
    longings. May we catch the vision: God is coming,                                                                                   As we read on, we find Matthew’s amazing and challenging          disasters strike.
    truth, justice and compassion are coming into our               Prayers of Intercession (see story p. 7)                            depiction of the Last Judgment. The basis for judgment
    world. God is with us now.                                      Pray that our preparedness to serve will match that of the          may be unexpected: it is not about right or wrong doctrine        In addition, we have a problem with fresh water. Every two or three days,
                                                                                                                                        or worship practices. However, if we have cultivated our          our men travel across the bay in canoes to purchase fresh water for cooking          $15
    Advent Candle-lighting                                          people preserving their villages from the threat of disaster.                                                                                                                                                               Possible exploration point: What action might we take in a
                                                                    Pray for sufficient supplies of fresh water for the people of the   ‘awakeness’ by steeping ourselves in care of the Master’s         and drinking. This is costly and time consuming. Fresh water is a major issue         situation as described by James, where many good plans cost
    We wait in the darkness, expectantly, longingly,                Solomon Islands.                                                    ‘house’, we should expect, by reading the trajectory of the
    thoughtfully. The darkness can be our friend. In the                                                                                                                                                  for our 500 residents. We have explored the option of relocating our village          far more than the village is able to raise?
                                                                    Pray for a strengthening of the bonds of community at the           Law and the Prophets, that the basis of judgment is exactly                                                                                           $32
    darkness of the womb we have all been nurtured. In the                                                                                                                                                to a safer place. There are many difficulties in negotiating suitable land for
                                                                    village and national levels as people face changes together.        this: how we have carried out this care.
    darkness of the womb the Christ-child was made ready                                                                                                                                                  the whole village, as land ownership is a major issue in the Solomon Islands.
    for the journey into light.                                                                                                         The test? How have we treated the least and most                  We are also reluctant to leave our homeland. Our culture is unique and tied
    A tiny spark takes hold; a flame begins to burn
                                                                    Call & Response                                                                                                                                                                                                           $80
    brightly; we are warmed, we are encouraged, we                  God who is alert to the cry of those who live with fear,            vulnerable among humanity? Is this a way of life based            to the land that we have been living on for generations.
    are guided and we are companioned.                              anxiety and loss                                                    upon a real change in our priorities and focus or just a
                                                                                                                                                                                                          For us, adaptation to climate change is the only real option. Our Community
    This is the way of the spirit if we would but notice.
    May we take warmth, encouragement and
                                                                    Give us ears to hear and open hearts to respond.
                                                                    God who is alert to the need for truth
                                                                                                                                        phase or momentary emotional response? This Gospel
                                                                                                                                        reading reinforces the challenge of last week.                    Disaster Plan (CDP) has identified priorities such as raising sea walls to        Key Facts on the Solomon Islands
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             $100

    companionship to those we meet. God is with us now.             Give us voices of advocacy and determination.                                                                                         protect homes and gardens from sea water inundation, building water tanks         • Ranked 135 out of 182 countries on the UN's Human
                                                                                                                                        Advent offers a time of expectation, waiting; as we wait for
                                                                                                                                                                                                          to collect fresh drinking water and planting more mangroves to protect us           Development Index*
                                                                    Blessing                                                            Jesus’ birth among us, we cultivate readiness as we watch
    Symbolic Action with the Advent Wreath
                                                                                                                                        and care for him among the poor, the outcast, the sick and        from storm surges and rising sea levels.                                            150
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            •$20% of children are undernourished.
    (Invite active responses)                                       May the still, small voice of God bless you in your listening;
                                                                                                                                        the oppressed and as we look for ways of preserving the                                                                                             • 30% of the population do not have access to an improved water source.
    In the tender compassion of our God, the dawn of a new          May the challenging voice of Christ bless you in your                                                                                 Thank you, Act for Peace, for sending the Field Officers who empowered us
                                                                    following;                                                          beauty and resources of this planet, our home.                                                                                                              Can establish and train 10 local members of a Community
    day shall break upon us, to shine on those who dwell in                                                                                                                                               to take action.                                                                    $200
    darkness and the shadow of death, and to guide our way          May the disturbing voice of the Holy Spirit bless you in                                                                                                                                                                        Disaster Management Committee to help minimise the
    into the way of peace.                                          your searching.                                                                                                                       We feel much more confident and ready to survive the worst conditions.                    damage when disasters strike.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              $385
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            *The United Nations Human Development Index (HDI) measures development by combining indicators of life expectancy,

6                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            educational attainment and income. In 2009, the HDI ranked 182 countries from very high human development
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             (1 - Norway) to low human development (182 - Niger). (http://hdr.undp.org/en/statistics/)                           7
    Advent 2: December 5                                                                                                           Matthew 3:1-12
                                                                                                                                   Comments on the Gospel
                                                                                                                                                                                                       People to People Peacemaking in Sudan
                                                                                                                                                                                                       I am Helen Peter Gemma, Peace & Justice Coordinator in Western Juba County for the
    Preparing the Way of Compassion                                                                                                John strides abruptly onto the stage in Matthew’s Gospel. He
                                                                                                                                   announces the breaking in of God’s kingdom into this world.
                                                                                                                                                                                                       Sudan Council of Churches (SCC). Civic Education was the major issue in achieving a
                                                                                                                                                                                                       peaceful result in Sudan’s first democratic elections in 26 years, and the work continues
    Bible Readings                                                     Dedication of Offering                                      The previous chapter announced, in opposition to the                for the referendum to follow in 2011. We work with women and youth, educating
    Isaiah 11:1-10                                                     Gracious God, we come to you once more in repentance        kingdom of Herod, the birth of a baby; so we can expect             them on the importance of registering to vote. They then facilitate workshops in their
    Psalm 72:1-7, 18-19                                                and hope. These gifts come from our hearts.
                                                                                                                                   that the kingdom of heaven we see and experience will
                                                                                                                                                                                                       villages. We explain how the democratic system in the country works for them and not
    Romans 15:4-13                                                     We know you are present in our brokenness,                                                                                      against them. If Sudan wants to be a democratic country, then people must use their
                                                                                                                                   be very different from the kingdoms of this world: human
    Matthew 3:1-12                                                     and we trust in your mercy.                                                                                                     vote and no longer allow force to determine outcomes.
                                                                                                                                   expectations will be turned upside down and our perception
                                                                                                                                   of worth and value will give way to God’s view of worth.            We completed training in Juba, but in several areas there were conflicts due to cattle
    Call to Worship                                                    Prayers of Intercession (see story p. 9)                                                                                        raiding, and we were not able to leave people there to train the communities. It was
    The Spirit of God conceives new life and hope in our               Pray that the Referendum will prepare the way for a                                                                             much too dangerous. Transport is also a problem as the distances are great. There are still
                                                                                                                                   John therefore calls for repentance, ‘change’. God’s kingdom
    midst.                                                             new time of peace in Sudan.                                                                                                     unmapped minefields, and the roads are not safe to drive on at night.
                                                                       Pray for the safety of the brave volunteers who are         cannot be lived out in ordinary human terms. Any sense of
    In this time and place we welcome the dawn.
    The prophets and people of faith have revealed this life in        preparing the people for the Referendum.                    privilege or immunity on the basis of religious or racial descent   All the brave people who help us across the vast countryside are volunteers from the member
    our history.                                                       Pray for a new life for people who are still                or social position, evaporates before the requirement of            churches of the SCC. The volunteers are so interested, really keen and ask almost more
    And God has smiled upon us.                                        languishing in refugee camps and for those returning        ‘bearing good fruit/fruit worthy of repentance’.                    questions than we can answer! Aisha, a volunteer from the Presbyterian Church of Sudan,
    The dreams and hopes of many are to be heard in the                to devastated lands.                                                                                                            said: “We don’t want to see our country return to a state of war. We want peace. The war
    voice crying in the wilderness,                                                                                                Matthew explains further what ‘good fruit’ looks like later in      really affected my family, and it has taken a long time to get through the pain.”
    And God has given us courage. Thanks be to God.                    Call & Response                                             the Gospel, when Jesus is vilified by the Pharisees for healing a   We are very grateful for your gifts through Act for Peace which will help us to continue these
                                                                       May the voice of the prophets continue to be raised         blind, mute demoniac (12:22-37). Compassion is of God; rigid        exercises right through until the referendum. Without awareness, many people will not register.
    Advent Candle-lighting                                             through us all.                                             religiosity is not.                                                 If they don’t, the result will not represent the will of the people. I’m determined to see that the
    God of peace, we light this second advent candle.                  May we listen and respond with accuracy, care and                                                                               referendum is free and fair and that the people are given what they need to live freely.
    As the voice of John the Baptist bursts through the                courage.                                                    What does it mean to announce and dare to live, the
    confusion of doubt and searching, may we who are also              May the voice of the poor continue to be heard,             immanence of the kingdom of God?                                           Possible exploration point: What kind of fears might people have of the
    searching, find strength, hope and vision in this tiny light.      And may we see the salvation of God in our midst.                                                                                      democratic system, if all they have known of the government is war and
    Sometimes weak, sometimes small, often vulnerable                                                                              John demands an answer to this question. He points out that                oppression? Would we have faith in people promoting a different future?
    – we are ONE with the many who kneel in hope for                   Blessing                                                    failure to respond to the call to repent is death-dealing, rather
    themselves, their children and this world.                         Go in peace to love and serve the world. As you travel on
    The light has come for us, and we pray that through                                                                            than life-giving.
                                                                       the ‘way of the Lord’ may God go before you, Christ Jesus
    us, it may come for the many.                                      walk with you and the Spirit lift up your feet. Amen.       In Advent, the call to ‘Prepare the way of the Lord’ challenges
    Symbolic Action with the Advent Wreath                                                                                         us deeply; what does God require of us, that the compassion
    (Invite active responses)                                                                                                      of God’s kingdom may be lived throughout the world?
    The Spirit of God surrounds you, upholds you on all sides,
                                                                                                                                                                                                       Key Facts on Sudan
    flows around you and wills you to be whole. The encircling                                                                                                                                         • 2010 Global Peace Index ranking of 149 countries: 146
                                                                                                                                                                                                         $25
    embrace of this wreath holds and protects each flickering light.                                                                                                                                   • In southern Sudan, only 20% of children go to primary school.
    We bring our prayers, written, spoken or silent – and
                                                                                                                                                                                                       • 4.9 million internally displaced people
    place them within this circle. God of immeasurable
    love – you are near.                                                                                                                                                                                $54     Can train a local church or community leader in Civic and Voter education,
                                                                                                                                                                                                                so that they can encourage their communities to participate in the
8                                                                                                                                                                                                               referendum.                                                                                  9
                                                                                                                                                                                                       $
     Advent 3: December 12                                                                                                           Matthew 11: 2-11
                                                                                                                                     Comments on the Gospel
                                                                                                                                                                                                          Farming Revolution in Zimbabwe
                                                                                                                                                                                                          My name is Nolina, I come from Lupane district in Matabeleland North
     The Poor Have Good News Brought to Them                                                                                         This passage has a poignant irony. Here is John the Baptist,         Province. I am a 34 year old widow living with HIV. My husband, Twala
                                                                                                                                     seen in our Advent 2 reading as a mighty, confident, prophetic       died in 2006. I care for our three children, along with Twala’s aged
     Bible Readings                                                 minds and bodies of people like us and reached out               figure, roaring out the need for repentance in the face of           parents. My young sister, Jennifer Mpofu lives with us, and she is also
                                                                    in healing touch, gathering in the wounded ones in               God’s kingdom. Now, we see him imprisoned, going through             HIV positive.
     Isaiah 35:1-10
                                                                    love beyond the commonplace.                                     an experience to which it is perhaps easier to relate: dispirited,
     Psalm 146:5-10 or Luke 1:47-55                                 We believe in the Holy Spirit, who breathes warmth
     James 5:7-10                                                                                                                    wondering whether he got it all wrong about the kingdom of           Life had been so difficult for us, especially after Twala died. I also faced
                                                                    into our cold places, who touches with living fire the                                                                                a lot of prejudice because of my HIV status. For some years, my family
     Matthew 11:2-11                                                sad parts of our life and who remembers with grief,
                                                                                                                                     God and especially about the identity of Jesus as the Messiah.
                                                                    all the hurts we cannot name.
                                                                                                                                                                                                          failed to grow enough food because our four hectare sandy field had
     Call to Worship                                                                                                                 His question to Jesus has overtones of despair. Jesus’ response      become “tired” following decades of cultivation through conventional
     We are on the road; we are travelling in company with          Dedication of Offering                                           doesn’t attempt to address his despair or doubt. Jesus simply        farming. We also did not have enough money to buy fertilisers. Almost
     God; we are travelling in community with one another; we       God of life and bearer of pain, bless these gifts that they      says, ‘Tell him what you see and hear’. In other words, ‘Open
     have on our minds and in our hearts those who have been        may bring refreshing water for the worn and weary,                                                                                    every year, our harvest would last us about two months. The situation
                                                                                                                                     your eyes and look around you at the evidence’.
     forgotten and oppressed.                                       cleansing water for the shamed and the outcast, healing                                                                               was made worse by drought. We also didn’t have any animal or
     We give thanks with joy for God who is ever-                   water for the wounded and broken. Amen.                          The good news is that people are being changed; help is              mechanical help in ploughing. Life seemed to converge into endless
     presen. We find encouragement and a helping hand                                                                                                                                                     hopelessness for my children and me following the death of my
                                                                    Prayers of Intercession (see story p. 11)                        coming to those who most need it, and life is flowing into
     from those who walk beside us. We find Christ
     again and again in those whom we serve. God is                 Pray for those in despair in Zimbabwe, broken by the             the lifeless places of the world and stories in these pages tell     husband. I felt like a great burden was on my shoulders as bread winner
     with us. Thanks be to God.                                     combined effects of drought, disease and political and           of the response of many to the challenge. Jesus’ response to         in a family with greatly compromised livelihood, due to two HIV affected
                                                                    economic instability, that they will receive hope to carry on.   John reminds us that God is always at work in the world, even        members.
     Advent Candle-lighting                                         Pray for those who carry the burden of caring for children       when unnoticed by us.
     Prepare the way of the Lord. We hear the words and             and the elderly when responsible adults have succumbed                                                                                When Christian Care came to assist us through the Conservation
     remember that by the side of the river, John the Baptist       to AIDS and malaria.
     pointed the people towards Jesus with words of power and
                                                                                                                                     Part of the irony of John’s situation here is that he is one of      Farming program, I did not understand the benefits. The program
                                                                    Pray for courage and strength for those who are sharing
     assurance. We need to hear those words. From the darkness      new ways of producing food.
                                                                                                                                     those desperately in need of good news himself. Jesus doesn’t        emphasises soil preparation, mulching and rotating crops. After looking
                                                                                                                                     give him a particular message of hope for his own situation,
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Possible exploration point: What would it take for us to
     and oppression of the prison, the people were sent by John                                                                                                                                           at the results of the first year of using Conservation Farming, I was             change from old ways and believe in a new beginning?
     to Jesus with words of doubt, fear and questioning. We need    Call & Response                                                  but points to the change that is breaking out around him. In         convinced it works and have never turned back. I harvested much more,
     also to come with such words for the same Jesus will listen.   Remember your baptism: In and for Christ; In and for
                                                                                                                                     this, he can receive hope, because Jesus embodies hope for all       compared to the adjacent plot that was using conventional techniques.
     It is not easy to listen to the words of the prophets; we      the Church; In and for the World.
                                                                    We go in the name of Christ, companioned by one                  people.                                                              I was quick to engage my whole family into action the following
     hear but do not hear; we pay attention but it is hard to
     pay the cost. We wait patiently for the One who comes          another, to serve God and proclaim the Good News.
                                                                                                                                     It is important to hear and tell the stories of hope and new         season. We expanded our land to half a hectare and started our land
     as the Son of God, but we are impatient with those he          Blessing                                                         life; the poor and the not-so-poor need to have good news            preparation as early as July.                                                                 Key Facts on Zimbabwe
     came to serve, including ourselves. Whether in joy and         Spirit of the living water as we go, we rejoice in your
     confidence, fear and doubt, God is near.                                                                                        brought to them as a reminder that God is with us. ‘Tell what        That year I discovered that my family was migrating from poverty to
                                                                    baptismal grace. Our tears can bring healing, your                                                                                                                                                                   • 2010 Global Peace Index ranking of 149 countries: 135
                                                                                                                                     you see and hear’!                                                   the freedom of self sufficiency. The harvest we got was able to take us
     Symbolic Action with the Advent Wreath                         promises wash away fear. And so may the peace of God
                                                                    which surpasses all our understanding, guard your hearts                                                                                                                                                             • 43% of population malnourished.
     (Water poured as ‘tears’ into the centre)                                                                                                                                                            throughout the year and we could also sell excess vegetables to raise
     We believe in God, from whose heart flows forth
                                                                    and minds and keep you safe in Christ Jesus.
                                                                                                                                                                                                          income. Thank you, Act for Peace, for helping to support Christian Care        • Almost one million internally displaced people.
     healing enough for the pain of the world and our pain.                                                                                                                                               to teach us to use better ways of farming so that we can live in dignity        $25
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Can provide vital training for a Zimbabwean farmer in
     We believe in Jesus Christ, who saw into the souls,                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        methods of sustainable agriculture to produce bigger
                                                                                                                                                                                                          and become more self-sufficient everyday.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                and better crops.
10                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       $54                                                            11
     Advent 4: December 19                                                                                                          Matthew 1:18-25
                                                                                                                                    Comments on the Gospel
                                                                                                                                                                                                  Women’s Empowerment in Ethiopia
                                                                                                                                                                                                  Selam. I am Emebet Woldeyes, from the Ethiopian Orthodox
     The Vulnerability of God                                                                                                       The waiting is almost over; God-with-us is about to break
                                                                                                                                    anew into human experience, with fresh discoveries of
                                                                                                                                                                                                  Church’s Development and Inter-Church Aid Commission
                                                                                                                                                                                                  (DICAC). Since 2005, we have been setting up Women’s
     Bible Readings                                                                                                                 life swelling and coming to birth in unexpected ways.
                                                                                                                                                                                                  Associations in northern Ethiopia, where we have the opportunity
                                                                     This candle completes the circle that surrounds the Christ     The very beginning of Matthew’s Gospel introduces the
     Isaiah 7:10-16                                                                                                                                                                               to talk to women about their rights.
                                                                     Candle.                                                        unexpectedness of God through the simple listing of
     Psalm 80:1-7, 17-19                                             We pray for compassion to share what we have;
     Romans 1:1-7                                                                                                                   Jesus’ genealogy – his birth-line.                            In the areas we work, females are frequently physically and
                                                                     for the courage to share who we are; and for the
     Matthew 1:18-25                                                 grace to receive the care that we need. We do not              Within this genealogy are found the names of women
                                                                                                                                                                                                  emotionally abused, particularly in early child marriages. Many
                                                                     travel alone; these candles combine to offer light             who are foreigners and outsiders. So when Jesus’ birth        people believe that a husband has the ‘right to correct his wife
     Call to Worship                                                 and warmth. We will trust and not be afraid.                                                                                 and children.’ If she speaks out against the abuse, she will be
                                                                                                                                    is announced, it is to an unmarried young woman of no                                                                               $25
     The story becomes history and hope is born. Mary and
                                                                     Dedication of Offering                                         particular family. The possibility of social disgrace and     outcast from the community.
     Joseph stay faithful, with faith enough for us all to see the
     glory of God. In faith and hope we wait for this moment         Mary and Joseph accepted the gift and responsibility           rejection hovers over the whole scene and can only be         Women traditionally are not allowed to work outside of the home
     when we rejoice because ‘God is with us’.                       of parenthood, offering their lives unconditionally. God       dispersed by the urging of an angel and the compassion
                                                                     honoured their gift and we received the blessing. Receive,                                                                   and are completely dependent on their husbands, with no means         $54
     As those who are also born into families we come                                                                               of a righteous man.
     to worship; our lives reflect a patchwork of colours            our God, these gifts as a response to your grace and may                                                                     of their own income. Through developing Women’s Associations,
     and textures, shame and grace, darkness and light.              they give birth to homes that are safe, tables that have       And so the beginning of the story radiates us with the        educating the community and training the clergy to speak out to
     We affirm with joy and holy expectation, ‘God is                food, wells that overflow with water and workers who                                                                         their congregations, we are making great strides to protect and      $100
                                                                                                                                    good news already happening. God makes outsiders
     with us’.                                                       seek justice for all. Amen.                                                                                                  empower women.
                                                                                                                                    integral to the story of salvation; the lowly are raised
     Advent Candle-lighting                                          Prayers of Intercession (see story p. 13)                      to importance, and the compassionate make space for
                                                                                                                                    life to come forth. New life comes from God (‘the child       One of the members of the women’s association, Habash, said:          $236
     Ever-present God, as we light this fourth advent candle         Give thanks for the faithful witness of Ethiopian Christians                                                                 “Thanks to this program, I am now able to earn an income for my
     we pray that we may be courageous enough to allow the           and for the life-changing work of DICAC.                       conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit’), but is received
     birth of Jesus to bring light into our darkness.                                                                               in the lives of ordinary people, outside the centres of       family. Now, we work together to produce clay pots for carrying
                                                                     Pray for a peaceful and just society in Ethiopia.
     May God’s grace reveal to us that behind the shadow             Pray for the continual empowerment of women within             government or religion.                                       water, energy-saving materials to burn instead of collecting wood    $150
     of our fear is the courage of Jesus; that behind the            the community in Ethiopia and around the world.                                                                              and we grow beetroot, onion and cabbage to sell at the market."
     shadow of our weakness is his vulnerability; and that                                                                          Moreover, God is revealed as vulnerable. After the
     behind the shadow of our isolation is the Saviour of            Call & Response                                                mighty deeds of God in Israel’s history (assumed behind       "With our profits, we are able to buy clothes for ourselves and      $200
     the world. Thanks be to God.
                                                                     Seek to be faithful, invite others to be truthful and take     many of the names within the genealogy), God is               families. Our families are much healthier, because they are eating                   Key Facts on Ethiopia
                                                                     time to pray.                                                  finally completely ‘with us’ as a new-born baby. The          more nutritious foods and drinking clean water. Thank you, Act
     Symbolic Action with the Advent Wreath                                                                                                                                                                                                                            • 2010 Global Peace Index ranking of 149 countries: 127
                                                                     We pause on the edge of time.                                  simple statement ‘she had borne a son’ glosses over the       for Peace, for your very kind support of us here in Ethiopia. You     $350
     (Invite active responses)                                       We await the birth of Christ.                                  dangers of child-birth, high infant mortality and all the     have helped empower women to take control of their lives."           • 50% of Ethiopia's Gross Domestic Product is generated through
     We have heard the Good News that ‘God is with us’, we           We are still.
     have come to offer hope to one another and we have lit                                                                         other realities to which this child was exposed, as are all                                                                         agriculture.
                                                                                                                                    children. No wonder Matthew urges us to see God in                  Possible exploration point: Take time to think                 $1250
     another candle for the journey.                                 Blessing                                                                                                                                                                                          • Act for Peace's project partners have improved water and sanitation
     Sometimes we are tired, sometimes our vision fails and                                                                         the most vulnerable (ch. 25): God was born among us in              about the fear and helplessness the vulnerable
                                                                     May God the heart of life be deep within us. May God the                                                                           in society feel and the bravery they must muster to             for over 58,000 Ethiopians.
     we are saddened. This candle brings light to our path.                                                                         vulnerability!
                                                                     Christ be present in our history and may God the Spirit
                                                                                                                                                                                                        stand up to injustices.                                        $1250   Can provide a hand-dug water well which will benefit the
                                                                     give us power, truth and peace.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               entire community.
12                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      $70                                                                    13
      Christmas Day: December 25                                                                                           Luke 2:1-14
                                                                                                                           Comments on the Gospel
                                                                                                                                                                                                                     Caring for Babies in War-Torn Gaza
      The Light Has Come                                                                                                   In the hectic reality of life, politics and commerce, light
                                                                                                                           shines in the darkness. Consider the scene: Caesar Augustus
                                                                                                                                                                                                                     I am Suheil from Gaza. This morning, I took my 14 month old son, Mohammad, for
                                                                                                                                                                                                                     his second visit to the new health clinic run by the Middle East Council of Churches’
      Bible Readings                                            Dedication of Offering                                     forces a census that disrupts the holy parents’ plans amid                                Department of Service to Palestinian Refugees. It’s not far from the old clinic, which
                                                                All the riches of gold and the extravagance of             their pregnancy; shepherds nearby are watching over their                                 was bombed on 10 January 2009. That clinic served us for many years, but is now
      Isaiah 9:2-7
      Psalm 96                                                  scented oils will never catch the essence of God’s         flocks and notice scenes unusual to Bethlehem; angels sing,                               nothing but a block-long pile of rubble.
      Titus 2:11-14                                             glorious gift to us. A newborn child, soon to be a         ‘Glory to God in the Highest’ at the news of incarnation;
                                                                refugee, has come to us and we see God.                    and Mary goes into the risks of labour out the back of an                                 The clinic offers services to everyone, but today was one of the twice-weekly Well
                                                                                                                                                                                                                        $25
      Luke 2:1-14, (15-20)
                                                                Our God, giver of new life, bring to us new                inn while in a strange town.                                                              Baby Clinics. When I came last time, Mohammad had an overall assessment and it
      Call to Worship                                           life in Christ and bring peace to the land of                                                                                                        was found he is anaemic, like around 40 percent of the other babies in Gaza. At the
                                                                Christ’s birth.                                            The central figure of Luke’s Gospel enters the narrative                                  clinic, his growth is monitored and we receive food supplements and iron treatment.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                       $54
      We are people who have walked in darkness, and
                                                                                                                           while around the event there is anxiety, confusion and
      who have sometimes walked alongside those for                                                                                                                                                                  I have not worked since 2000 when I lost my job as it was outside the Gaza Strip
                                                                Prayers of Intercession (see story p. 15)                  forced migration as well as the challenges of every-day life.
      whom darkness is a way of life, whether by choice
                                                                Give thanks for the humanitarian work of the               Consider the perspective of the shepherds. They are doing                                 and access was closed. There are few work opportunities in our region where
      or through the violence of injustice or conflict.                                                                                                                                                                $100
      Now we rejoice in a great light.                          Middle East Council of Churches.                           their usual vigil to ensure the safety of the flocks entrusted                            unemployment is now approaching 80 percent.
12    A child has been born for us all, and we enter            Pray for the care being extended through the               to them. Nothing much usually happens in these parts
                                                                                                                                                                                                                     Thank you, Act for Peace supporters, for helping to build the new clinic and for gifts
      the promise of peace.                                     Well Baby Clinics, for every baby brings a                 except for the odd predator attempting to take one of their
                                                                reflection of God into the world.                          sheep. Certainly there are plenty of foreigners in town on                                to 236
                                                                                                                                                                                                                       $
                                                                                                                                                                                                                         provide stocks of medicines. Without the clinic, I would have nothing. I thank God
      Come, let us worship and adore the God who is
                                                                Pray for a just and lasting peace in the region.           account of the census. They stand apart, looking over the                                 for this assistance. I know that Mohammad’s anaemia will be well cared for.
      born among us.                                                                                                                                                                        Photo: Dr Harry Gunkel
      God is present with us and to us!                                                                                    town.                                                                                      $150Possible
                                                                Call & Response                                                                                                             Photo: ACT Alliance                     exploration point: How can we, like Suheil, be grateful for the
      Christmas Candle-lighting in the Centre of the            If the space in which we live is dark, let the             But their tranquillity and normality is awoken by angels, a                                      small improvements in our lives in the midst of devastation?
      Advent Wreath                                             darkness out so that the light may flood our               star and the sounds of labour as a baby is born, wrapped in
                                                                                                                           cloth and placed in an animal feeding trough. Suddenly light                               $200
      God is in our midst as the Christ candle sits at the      world. If our relationships are filled with shadows
      centre of our prayers and longing, expressed as we        of fear, let the shadows be dispersed. If our              and heavenly glory is everywhere. This scene can never be
      have gathered over the past weeks.                        generosity of spirit has become dull through               forgotten. Things are forever changed yet forever humble.
                                                                                                                           The light has come for those privileged to see it. Light has                               $350
      In the lighting of this candle, we stand in               selfishness or greed, may the piercing light of
                                                                truth enable us to hear the cries of need.                 overcome - despite the darkness: political darkness, spiritual
      the miracle of Jesus’ birth. We pray that the
                                                                Glory to God and peace on the earth.                       darkness, personal darkness and the darkness of the hour.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                     Key Facts on Israel and Palestine
      fragility of this new dawn will reveal again the
      mystery and wonder of God’s love.                         Proclaim freedom!                                                                                                                                      1250
                                                                                                                                                                                                                     •$2010 Global Peace Index ranking of 149: 144
                                                                                                                           One more thing - note that the infant Jesus has not yet
      It is time to cry out in joy and to proclaim the cause                                                                                                                                                         • There are over 6.6 million Palestinian refugees worldwide.
                                                                Blessing                                                   made a sound. Certainly he would have screamed and cried
      of those who seek justice. It is time to take the light
      of the Gospel of love to every corner of our lives.       Find rest in the humble places, find strength in the       as all healthy newborns do. But for Luke his mere presence,                               •$In Gaza, 55% of the workforce are unemployed, 65% of the population live
                                                                                                                                                                                                                       1250
      Glory to God, in the highest heaven                       vulnerability of Jesus and find a heart open in the face   his entry into our history is enough to change everything.                                 below the povery line and 80% are aid-dependent.
      And on earth, peace to all people.                        of need. And may the Spirit of gift, love and truth, set   Sometimes that is all we can do also: be present to those
                                                                                                                           who sit in darkness and let God’s light replace the darkness.                              $70      Can provide a course of treatment for an anaemic child.
                                                                us free to move on from this day, as children of God,
                                                                our path illumined by the light of Christ.                 Light makes no sound.
 14                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           15
     1st Sunday after Christmas: December 26                                                                      Matthew 2:13-23                                                                                    Fleeing the Taliban in Pakistan
                                                                                                                  Comments on the Gospel                                                                             My name is Nazia Bibi. Since my birth, I have lived in Swat Valley in Pakistan, near the border
     Living Under Threat                                                                                          Good news is always vulnerable and can easily be                                                   with Afghanistan. Recently my village was captured by the Taliban. The war was terrifying.
                                                                                                                  silenced. There are always reasons to ignore good news                                             When the shelling started, my husband was killed in front of my eyes. Two of my elder sons
     Bible Readings                                          Prayers of Intercession (see story p. 17)            and to point to the calamity and pain about us as reason                                           were away from our home when it happened, but I had to run with my two younger children.
     Isaiah 63:7-9                                           Pray for those displaced by internal conflict        to squash hope, joy and peace. Here in the text, just one
                                                                                                                  day after the joyful arrival of the light of the world, we                                         While running away I injured both legs, but I knew that if I did not try to run I would meet the
     Psalm 148                                               and persecution.                                                                                                                                        same fate as my husband. Allah knows how I got the courage to leave my dead husband and
     Hebrews 2:10-18                                         Pray that we will be hospitable to those             face the dark shadow of power and evil. The humble
                                                                                                                  presence of the Son of God, even as a vulnerable baby,                                             two children behind. I pray that some of the remaining people in the valley performed his burial
     Matthew 2:13-23                                         needing a new life.
                                                                                                                  is already challenging enforced power structures.                                                  ceremony. It took us four days to finally reach Mardan. Once we finally stopped running, I became
                                                             Pray that justice and transparency will                                                                                                                 numb to all that was happening around me. So much suffering and unshed tears for my husband
     Call to Worship                                                                                              Herod must stop this at any cost before it gets out of hand!
                                                             replace violence and corruption in Pakistan.                                                                                                            and elder sons lie deep somewhere inside my heart.
     The Word became flesh and lives among us, and                                                                So the Holy family become refugees to Egypt. The place
     we see the grace and truth of God’s glory.              Call & Response                                      to which Moses was called in order to lead the Israelites                                          We finally received proper food when Act for Peace’s partner, Church World Service, distributed
     O come let us adore Him, Christ the Lord.               Join your hands with those who call no place         out of slavery now becomes the place of refuge. Some of                                            it. At least for now, I won’t have to worry that my children will go hungry, but I am praying that
                                                             ‘home’ and know you hold the hand of Jesus.          the earliest sounds and smells that the baby-infant Jesus                                          the army will win the war against the Taliban, and we can go back and look for my missing sons.
     Dedication of Offering                                  We are called through our baptism and                will first experience will be North African. At this point,                                        All we people of Swat want is peace, restoration of stability in our land, and all the terrorists,
     We see the grace and truth of God’s glory, and          set upon the road once more.                         the Promised Land becomes the most dangerous place                                                 especially the Taliban, to be removed so once more we can lead our lives with dignity in our
     yet still we see in the Christ-child the face of                                                             for the child of light because of Herod’s fearful clinging                                         own homeland. The form of Islam that the Taliban tried to teach us is not right, and we feared
     every refugee.                                          Blessing                                             to power.                                                                                          for our lives for a long time. It has to end now.
     Even as we see the unfolding of God’s                   May God nurture within you a new dawning of love.
     purposes in history, we see in this Holy                May Christ inspire you with the courage to care.     Hospitality here is first offered to Jesus by a people other                                               Possible exploration point: How can we maintain hope and faith after such
     family every mother, every father who                   May the Spirit now fill you with a vision of hope.   than in Israel. There is a profound reminder here to those                                                 loss and grief?
     has been fearful for the future; every                  Amen.                                                of us who think that they are God’s favourites: they can
     parent who has searched for food for their                                                                   perhaps actually do the most damage and even threaten
     children and every family seeking a safe                                                                     God’s good plans. Conversely, the light is now nurtured
     place to sleep.                                                                                              amongst a foreign people and given a chance to grow in
                                                                                                                                                                                                                       $25
                                                                                                                  a place the Israelites thought of and remembered darkly.
     Bless these gifts that they may be used to bring
     education, food and a safe place to live to all those                                                        As the son of man came needing a home and a shelter,                                               Key Facts on Afghanistan and Pakistan
     whose home is the road or the refugee camp.                                                                  may the people of God remember this Christmas that the                                              $54
     God brings hope for our journey, a hope we                                                                   practice of offering hospitality to the stranger is one of                                         • 2010 Global Peace Index ranking of 147 (Afghanistan) and 145 (Pakistan).
     carry to others.                                                                                             the most basic and early traditions of Christianity.                                               • There are more than 4 million internally displaced people in Pakistan.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                      $100
                                                                                                                                                                                                                     • In addition to the impact from conflict, millions of people in Pakistan have
                                                                                                                                                                                                                      recently been affected by the worst flooding in the country's history.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                      $236   Can provide weatherproof, temporary shelter for families arriving
                                                                                                                                                                                                                             in internal displacement camps.
16                                                                                                                                                                               Photo: Ghulam Rasool/CWS-Act Intl
                                                                                                                                                                                                                     $150
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          17
     Anticipating Epiphany: January 2                                                                         John 1: 10-18
                                                                                                              Comments on the Gospel
                                                                                                                                                                             A Healing Trail for Refugees in Australia
                                                                                                                                                                             My name is Cung Uk Mang. I am 25 and my wife, Saling and I and our
     Giving is a Choice                                                                                       Priests and Levites came from Jerusalem asking John the
                                                                                                              Baptist, "Who are you?” At the time, John was drawing
                                                                                                                                                                             three children came to Australia in July 2008. We can’t believe how lucky
                                                                                                                                                                             we are to be here. Our nightmares began when the Chin Independent
     Bible Readings                                        Prayers of Intercession (see story p. 19)          large crowds. His answer was, “I am not..." - 'I am not        Army stole weapons from a Burmese military post near our home in
     Jeremiah 31:7-14                                      Pray that God will break into our lives through
                                                                                                              the Christ.’ ‘I am not Elijah.’ ‘I am not the prophet.’        north-west Burma. The Burmese army came to our village and arrested
                                                                                                              He transferred importance away from himself to the One         most of the men and we were ordered to search for the weapons in the
     Psalm 147:12-20                                       our care for strangers.
     Ephesians 1:3-14                                      Thank God for the generous people who              who was to come.                                               jungle.
     John 1:(1-9), 10-18                                   have supported the Christmas Bowl over the         It is not easy to transfer importance away from yourself       Because weapons were not found, my father was arrested. He was
                                                           decades.                                           and give up the prospect of status and reward. Yet, that       tortured day and night. One night while the soldiers rested, he escaped
     Call to Worship                                       Pray that the “healing trail” will bring people
                                                                                                              is what John did. Come to think of it, that is just what       and ran to India through the jungle. The next day, the army came and
     O God you have entered into history and you           from different parts of the globe together in an
                                                           atmosphere of sharing each other’s stories and
                                                                                                              Jesus did at Easter, and Christians have been doing it for     arrested my two brothers, my uncle and me. We were locked in a wooden
     invite us on a journey. We know that you                                                                 centuries. The Christmas Bowl is one example of this way
     are with us. We have come face to face with           ‘space’.                                                                                                          cage. They tied us up and beat us with leather belts and gun butts, then
                                                                                                              of following Jesus. Since 1949, it has been a means of         hung us upside down. We were not given food or water for days. My
     ourselves through this season of truth and light.
                                                           Call & Response                                    transference for Christians, and its work has contributed      brother Samuel was taken into the jungle and tortured to death.
     The road lies ahead of us and we take it
     once more. Accompany us, that we may be               May the God of peace and joy who is                to halving infant mortality in the developing world despite
                                                                                                              the population more than doubling over that time.              One day, while the Army personnel were busy, we broke out of the
     companions to others and true to the One              continually making all things new, embrace                                                                        wooden lock-up. We ran to our village and collected my wife, my two                                                     Two young participants on Act for Peace's Healing Trail.
     who has come to us as truth and light.                you as a partner in the vision that Christ has     First-world Christians are not threatened by hungry            young children and my brother’s wife. We ran to the Indian border at
                                                           made real amongst us.                                                                                                                                                                                Possible exploration point: How can we serve others who have
     Dedication of Offering                                                                                   people in far away places (although we might be one            night. Both my wife and my sister-in–law were pregnant and due for
                                                           God is with us, Christ is within us, the                                                                                                                                                             suffered trauma, especially those within our own community?
     We remember with joy this season of                                                                      day). So, why give? Don't rush too quickly for a rational      delivery. As we ran, we saw about 50 soldiers chasing us. We ran and
                                                           Spirit makes us free.                                                                                                                                                                                How can we help create a climate of mutual understanding and
     celebration; our prayers of thanksgiving still                                                           or religious answer. When we can neatly explain our            ran in the jungle, carrying the little ones on our backs. The next day we
                                                                                                              charity, the imperative of love usually diminishes.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                healing, not fear and suspicion?
     echo, our words of commitment still call us on,       Blessing                                                                                                          crossed the border and reached Mizoram State in India. After three days,
     our gifts for others still challenge us to do more.   Continue to join the celebration of life, the      Reasons for compassionate giving can always be                 my brother’s wife gave birth to a son. Four months later, my wife also
     As we have brought our gifts, we bring                promise given to you in the birth of our           countered with reasons against. Christian giving is            gave birth to a son.
     ourselves. May the coming year unfold in
     wonder. May the miracle of Jesus’ birth
                                                           Saviour, Jesus Christ.                             something quite different. It is an ‘I am not’ response
                                                                                                              to grace upon grace as we challenge our own needs              We rejoiced in the additions to the families, but were very uncertain about                  Key Facts about Refugees and Asylum
                                                           We go, proclaiming the praise of the Lord.
     prompt the miracle of generous hearts and             Go in peace as the loved children of God;          and agendas in the light of God’s priorities.                  our future. We moved on to Delhi to seek asylum with the United Nations                      Seekers in Australia
     open hands.                                           and when the way is difficult may you feel                                                                        Refugee Agency. After four years of waiting, we were given visas to come
                                                                                                              Interestingly, John did not know who the messiah was                                                                                         • Australia's 2010 Global Peace Index ranking of 149 countries: 19
                                                           the presence of Christ with you; when the                                                                         to Australia. For the first month here, we would wake up wondering
                                                                                                              any more than did his inquisitors. If he thought he knew,                                                                                     $ 25
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           • On asylum seeker intake per size of GDP, Australia ranks 24th in the
                                                           road stretches far before you, may the Spirit                                                                     whether it was just a dream or if we really were in Australia and free.
                                                           encourage and hearten you; when the way is         he might have missed it because the One we wait for has                                                                                        world.
                                                                                                              surprising and unexpected ways of coming. John’s ‘I am         We joined in Act for Peace’s Healing Trail program, which aims to build
                                                           unknown and your confidence fails, may God’s                                                                                                                                                    •$There are 42 million people in the world who have been forced
                                                           arms enfold you and bring you joy.                 not,’ made space for Jesus. As we live with the mystery of     community support and help refugees integrate by taking refugees                 54
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             to flee their homes due to conflict or persecution - about twice
                                                                                                              Christmas and abide in God’s love, our self-giving will also   to visit and be a part of churches in regional areas for a weekend. The         Australia's entire population.
                                                                                                              make room. The Good News is that God always fills this         experience helps refugees overcome trauma and be part of Australian
                                                                                                                                                                             society. We met wonderfully welcoming people on the Healing Trail.             $100    Can provide a computer course, which will equip resettled
                                                                                                              space with the power to become children of God.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    refugees with valuable work skills for the future.
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