Last updated 12th May 2023
Copies of this year's Lent devotional, 'That You May Know the Truth', with daily contributions from clergy and laity from accross the diocese, have been distributed to parishes around the Diocese.
In the introduction, Rev Canon Professor Jenn Strawbridge, Canon Theologian at Blackburn Cathedral, writes,
"This Lenten season we are invited, through Luke’s gospel, to know the truth of Jesus Christ. We are called to walk with Him to and through the cross.... This Lent, may we be strengthened in our identity as lovers of God and may we not only know, but embody and proclaim His truth in our daily lives."
The Diocese has produced a daily devotional resource for this season of advent, containing writings from clergy and laity around the Diocese. this year, the theme is "Watching in Hope" which will focus on the prophecies of Micah and Malachi.
The following is an extract from the Foreward, written by The Revd Dr Graham Rutter, Centre Lead at Emmanuel Theological College:
"Advent is traditionally a season of preparation, of watching in hope. This includes reflecting on the events recorded in the Old Testament, which led up to Jesus’ birth. Two of the most significant events were the Exodus and the Exile. In the Exodus, God, through Moses, leads His chosen people out of slavery in Egypt and into the Promised Land. In the Exile, God’s people are taken away from the Promised Land due to their failure over hundreds of years to respond to God’s promises.
"This Advent we are focusing on two of the many prophets that God sent. Prophets are people given specific messages by God to pass on to His people. Many, like Micah, were sent to warn God’s people before the Exile. Others, like Malachi, were sent to help make sense of the Exile and later return..."
*All parishes should have been invited to order printed copies, which are scheduled to arrive in your parishes during November, in time for Advent Sunday.
As you may have read in the Parish Update ebulletin, the Diocese has produced a beautiful new Lent Devotional based on the Gospel of John entitled ‘Signs of Life’; with daily contributions from clergy and laity from across the Diocese.
It is available in printed format; online to download and, for the first time, you can also sign up to receive it daily via email here. It will also be visible on social media - on the Diocesan Twitter and Facebook accounts; links to both are top right of the Diocesan website homepage.
In the introduction, Amy White, Lay Training Officer in the Growing Leaders Team at the Diocesan Offices writes: "It has been said that the Gospel of John is ‘a book in which a child may paddle but an elephant can swim deep.’ Whether you consider yourself a child, an elephant, or something in between, the Gospel of John is a place where you can paddle or swim in rivers of living water.
"This Gospel is often given to people who are new to following Christ, as they seek to learn more about who He is and what He has done. But it has also been studied by great theological minds over the centuries and its depths have never been fully plumbed. Whoever you are, wherever you’ve come from, and however much of a journey you have walked with Jesus, this Gospel has something to say to you."
A reminder too of the brand new innovation for this latest devotional, as we are making each day's reading from the booklet available via a Daily Lent email, similar in format to the regular Daily Prayer version of the ‘Blackburn Prayers’. You can sign up to the Lent Devotional daily email here.
All parishes should have been invited to order these and copies should be avaiable in parishes shortly. If your parish has not received copies, further printed copies can be ordered by contacting email@example.com.
'After God's Own Heart'
Copies of this year’s Advent Devotional have been distributed to parishes around the Diocese. 10,000 copies have been printed.
All parishes who requested copies should have received them by now for local circulation. If you want to make further bulk orders, or even order single copies, there is still the opportunity to do so.
Email Stephanie Rankin on firstname.lastname@example.org to make your request.
The season of Advent encourages us to watch and wait for the coming of King Jesus. Throughout the Bible the hope of God’s coming King (Messiah) came to be inextricably linked with the name David. God’s future king would be from David’s house, a son of David. David became the yard stick against which all future kings were measured. The prophets even spoke of the coming Messiah simply as “David, their king.” As we sing the wonderful advent hymn, “O come o come Emmanuel” the name of David will also resound from our lips, “O Root of Jesse … O Key of David …”.
But who is David? Why should his name be attached to such great promises of hope? And how can his story help us to follow Christ today?
This Advent why not delve into God’s Word with the help of clergy from across the Diocese and find our more about King David the man “after his own heart”?
Read Mark and Learn
Written by clergy and lay-people from across the Diocese, we travel through Lent with Mark's Gospel.
After the success of the Advent Devotional where 5000 copies were distributed across the Diocese, we are launching a similar resource to take us through Lent entitled ‘Read, Mark, and Learn’. Our focus this time will be on Mark’s Gospel and will take in every verse, with contributions from both clergy and lay-people.
With the drama of the narrative, brought to life so powerfully by the
‘Mark Drama’ staged in the Cathedral a year ago, highly selective in
the events he leaves out, Mark gives us vivid details about the events
he does include, details left out by Matthew and Luke.
'A Child Shall Lead Them'
“The celebration of advent is possible only to those who are troubled in soul, who know themselves to be poor and imperfect, and who look forward to something greater to come.”
Whatever we make of Bonhoeffer’s statement, without a doubt, 2020 has left pretty much all of us longing for better times ahead. Now we may be thinking of a post-COVID day, but that day (wonderful as it will be) pales in comparison to the ‘something greater’ that the Bible refers to.
‘A Child Shall Lead Them’ is our new Diocesan Advent daily readings resource, which explores the season through the eyes of Isaiah, writing to the people of Israel who for many years had been in forced exile from their homeland. In his prophecy, at last, Isaiah brings a word of hope to this despondent and disheartened people. It’s a promise of God’s servant who will come to bring justice to the world, and into the darkness of exile, light.
Our prayer this advent is that amidst the challenges we face, we too would know the certainty of God’s promise fulfilled in Jesus, the Messiah, and respond to His call to be those hope-filled people, who will bring light and life to a hurting world – that we would be led by the Christ-child as we prepare for His coming.
Ronnie Semley, November 2020 and regularly updated; last time February 2023