top of page

Christmas Day

I do not have many words today

I do not have many words today
because He is the Word who, 

in His smallness,

spoke the Love of God into the world.

Into my life,
into yours.
God with us.

In the depth of my heart, in the silence,
He speaks to me to say,
"And look, I am with you always; yes to the end of time."


Mary Hirst

Click to enlarge

Saturday 24th December - Christmas Eve 

Based on Luke 2:8-20

We wait,

silently keeping vigil

for this Christmas night.

Out in the fields, shepherds get the biggest surprise of their lives. Angel appears, catching them unaware.


“Fear not, arise, for we bring good news. A saviour is born. Hurry to Bethlehem and see. Glory to God in the Highest.”

The angels announce the birth of Jesus

Keen to know more, they go to Bethlehem where they are greeted by the proud parents of a new-born son, the one of whom the angels spoke.


“A child is born for you, Christ the Lord.”


And they, humble, despised shepherds, are the first to greet the infant king. Fear is transformed to wonder.

The shepherds worship the baby Jesus

Dancing in the first light of the morning, they return to the fields, glorifying and praising God,

for all that they had seen and heard.


We praise you Lord, for tonight salvation has come to us.

Holy is your Name.

The shepherds return rejoicing

James Westlake

Photos © James Westlake 2008. Scenes from the Franciscan Church of the Shepherds’ Fields, Bethlehem.

Friday 23rd December - 4th week of Advent

A Blessing of the Holy Family in Exile


I keep the old Christmas cards from one year to another, remembering those who wrote them, often there’s a sparkling scene of a group of travellers; a donkey, and two people, a babe in arms. The Holy Family going into exile, moving silently across the centuries.

Action: Look around you and ask yourself ‘Where do I see the Holy Family in Exile?’ Is it frozen in time on a Christmas card or do you recognise them throughout the year?

If you have a Nativity set with a donkey, Joseph, Mary and Jesus as a baby then set yourself up a ‘Place of Exile’. You could add photos or old Christmas cards or sketches you draw and a message to any of the holy families you are thinking of.


As God blessed the Holy Family on their journey into exile,

God also blesses you.

May you be safe.

May you find welcome.

May you know peace and justice.

Janet Lees

Thursday 22nd December - 4th week of Advent 

O King of the nations, and their desire,

the cornerstone making both one:


Come and save the human race,

which you fashioned from clay.

I don’t want to minimise or ignore the significance of the first line of today’s O antiphon (above) but greeting Jesus as the ruler of all nations, the one for whom we have waited, is not exactly unusual, is it? How often do we hear ‘King’ and ‘Messiah’ in this season?

What speaks to me is the image carried through the rest of the antiphon: Christ as cornerstone. The metaphor works best if we forget those fancy intrusions half-way up the wall of an important building that proclaim who, why, when and are unveiled with the flourish of a dignitary to the accompaniment of a brass band.

A true cornerstone is the first stone or brick placed in a foundation – the one used to determine the orientation and placing of all the rest. It is hidden from view but firmly set, level and strong. The bricks, fashioned from clay, positioned above and around it may be friable and gradually wear away. But if they are true to the stone, and locked in at the corners (possibly the most important lesson one learns from playing with Lego!), each will remain held by the others and the building will stand firm.


Catherine Fitzsimons

Wednesday 21st December - 4th week of Advent

As a child, before any big event for me, I would pray "God, please don't let me die yet. Let me play  for my school team tomorrow. Let Santa come!"

Today, I don't ask for anything. A parent knows what is best for their child and God knows what is best for me. Let your will be done.

When all goes awry, and one wonders what is going on, think of James Pierpoint - his first wife died , hs second wife died in childbirth. He went bankrupt, everything he tried went wrong. But, but his legacy is 'Jingle Bells'  (riding in a one-horse open sleigh).  The most popular song ever.

Me - I would prefer a different journey than his...
and yet,  gliding through the snow in a one-horse open sleigh is magic, deep ecstatic magic....


John Williams

Click for more!

Tuesday 20th December - 4th week of Advent 

In the Beginning


In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was God.

In the beginning God created heaven and earth.

God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light

A light that shines in the darkness

The Word was the real light that gives light to everyone

He came into the world that had come into being through him

He lived among us and we saw his glory, full of grace and truth

You are the light of the world.


Peter Stott

Monday 19th December - 4th week of Advent

When I reflect on Advent, I make an effort not to be drawn in by all the commercialisation which surrounds us. Whether that be shops displaying Christmas food and gifts at the beginning of the autumn or neighbours putting up decorations outside their houses in mid November, neither of which has anything to do with Advent and the coming of Christ. My reflections during Advent consist of daily reflections which come into my inbox and LCSB reflections. As a church musician in the catholic tradition I like to sing Advent hymns and to wait patiently. So singing of O come, O come Emmanuel shouldn't start before 17th December to coincide with the O Antiphons which are used at Vespers and Christmas carols from Christmas Eve right through to Epiphany.


The Taize chant Wait for the Lord gives us the right intention for our Advent reflection:

Wait for the Lord,
whose day is near;
wait for the Lord,
keep watch,
take heart.


Liz Brereton

19th December - O Radix Jesse - Root of Jesse

Sunday 18th December - 4th Sunday of Advent 

Advent is a time of looking forward to the coming of Christ into our world.  God has taken the initiative. Very soon Christ is to be born, divinity become human so that humans could become divine. God has set out to meet us; we need to respond and set out to meet God. The gospel tells us that, two thousand years ago, the first to reach the cribside were shepherds. Isn’t that remarkable? God gave the front row seats not to the spiritual elite, but to people of no standing at all – except that they were willing to drop everything and go at once to greet the newborn king. It’s worth considering, this meant leaving their sheep unattended at night to go to the stable. We might have been far more cautious. But we too need to make an advent journey towards the loving God whose arrival is now very close. We should not hesitate. The old Nike slogan is right. Just Do It.


Stephen Serpell

Saturday 17th December - 3rd week of Advent

I was waiting, waiting, waiting

And in the waiting things changed and shifted, without me noticing.

Was it the waiting that did it; or the longing?

The anticipation? That expectation?

It certainly wasn’t dread.  Despite everything. Not fear, nor shrinking.

When he comes I’ll be better, readier, for all this waiting.

A little more alive.

More appreciative and grateful, than if he’d come unheralded, entirely unexpected.

That’s for next time.


Tim Livesey

Click to enlarge

Friday 16th December - 3rd week of Advent 

A time to see things differently


Remember what it was like in the summer when the light was so strong we had to blink and stretch our eyes wider open to see properly? 


Watch out! Our hierarchies, our power structures, our expectations are about to morph into something rather different and we will have to adjust our way of looking. An ordinary young woman, just like you or me, will bring a baby into the world who changes everything. The baby is about to challenge what we thought we knew. And where will this happen? In a stable. Who will be the first to know? Shepherds, carpenters, farm animals.


Advent is the time to prepare for this extraordinary new vision of how the world works. Shake off your preconceptions and get ready; wriggle free of the structures that you know and that trap you into the old ways of thinking.


Katie Livesey

Thursday 15th December - 3rd week of Advent

“ Should we look for another?” Matthew 11:3

The Gospel reading for this 3rd week of Advent described the sufferings of St John the Baptist and his imprisonment which sheds light also on our own sufferings and  that of the world at this present moment in time.

When we are in the midst of suffering , it may be difficult to find God. In the tension of the suffering, we look for God and want to find Him with us, but we do not experience this. This is when our feelings deceive us and we are tempted to believe we are alone. When we don’t believe God is with us, we are tempted to ask, “ Should we look for another?”

One common temptation during suffering is to grasp at something, anything, that will make life easier for us. Something that will help us not to be where we are in the suffering. Instead of looking for the Lord in our suffering, we “look for another” and this can take the shape of running away, gluttony, anger, control, blame or resentment toward another or any false consolations which numbs the pain of suffering. We feel as if we are lost at sea without a rudder for our boat of life.

Psalm 121

Let us take time to pray with Psalm 121 in song. Let us consider our response to life when we suffer. Have we ever “looked for another”? Let us listen to God’s words of assurance that He is with us always.

Let us immerse ourselves in the words of God and allow him to hold us in the palm of his hands.

And so we pray………..

We bring before you,  King of Love all who we hold dear in our hearts. We beg you Lord to come into  our hearts as you tenderly creep in our world this Christmas. You come to us trusting us to hold you our Maker as you hold us in our vulnerability and suffering. Amen.


Winnie Annison

Tuesday 13th December - 3rd week of Advent - St Lucy

Lucy is a universal figure. 

Her martyrdom is linked to St Agatha’s similar story via an inspiring dream and, as a determined young virgin defying dictatorship, she stands in immovable solidarity  with the brave Iranian and Kurdish young women dying today for freedom from oppression.  

Her relics have spread far and wide, and she is honoured by Catholic, Orthodox, Anglican & Lutheran. Originally the shortest day in the Julian calendar, her feast is celebrated like another Christmas or Epiphany in parts of Italy and Croatia.   

Unlikely as it seems, the most striking celebration takes place in Sweden. Each year teenage girls form a group, elect a Lucy and practice their hymns. At the feast they wear white dresses with a red sash (the symbol of martyrdom) and carry palms, as they lead the festivities. This year’s ‘St Lucy’ wears a crown or wreath of candles on her head.  

My first assignment in local press photography was a St Lucy service at a church I didn’t know. I had no idea what to expect. When I found it, there was no visible sign of any Swedish girls on tour.  

Finally I made it to the closed and unlit side porch where I opened the door on the happy girls, full of excitement & ready for their dramatic entrance, with flaming candles & a stunning white array. Fortunately I had my wide angle lens ready.  

The revelation was a lot to take in and remains a memory of joyful surprise; quite possibly a glimpse of heaven.

Mike Woodward

Wednesday 14th December - 3rd week of Advent 






Will I wake up?

Is this really God’s plan?

“My ways are not your ways.”

I sleep in the profoundness of Nothing.

No dreams.

No memories.



“I will bring you back from the profoundness of Nothing.

My plan is greater than you will ever know.

I reach out to you, wherever you are,
even in your darkest night.

Stay awake!

I reach out to you with the hand of a new-born child.”


Now I remember.

There is never Nothing.

There is always God,
and wherever I am,

As I return from the profoundness of Nothing
I realise that He never left me.







© James Westlake 2022

IStock – Royalty Free Image

Monday 12th December - 3rd week of Advent 

Advent is a time of waiting and of preparation as we remind ourselves of the enormous truth that our God loved us enough to send his only son, Jesus, into the world so that we could have everlasting life. It is also, and equally, a time of waiting and preparation for the return of our Saviour.

I have been struck by one verse that we repeat at morning prayer. “And you child shall be called a prophet of the Most High: for you will go before the Lord to give his people the knowledge of salvation through the forgiveness of their sins….”  John the Baptist knew his calling – do I know mine? What would I like to be called?

As we look for the day when our Lord returns and every knee will bow, are we using our calling to invite others to join us for one of the Christmas services? Their salvation has been entrusted into our hands.

James Guest

Sunday 11th December - 3rd Sunday of Advent - Gaudete

A Special Place

Advent is a journey.

Life is a journey and as we travel on the road together,

We all have our special places.

Be still today in your mind in a place that is precious to you.

I imagine that it is a place where God always feels

Very present.


Margaret O’Leary

Saturday 10th December - 2nd week of Advent 

From a commentary on yesterday's Psalm at Mass

Psalm 1:1-4,6

'Anyone who follows you , O Lord, will have the light of life.'

Hardness of heart has been a tendency of the human condition since the beginning. The lsraelites were afflicted with it during their captivity in Egypt. The author of the Letter to the Hebrews  refers to this: “Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion”. For who were those who heard and yet rebelled? Was it not all those who left Egypt led by Moses?’ (Hebrews 3: 15-16). Jesus rebuked his own disciples for their resistance and stubbornness. (Mark 16:14). The opposite of a stubborn heart is an open and new heart that seeks God and his ways. It is contrite, sorrowful and repentant but also compliant, eager to obey God. It is tender and easily moved by God’s Spirit, a heart of flesh, not a heart of stone.

‘And I will give you a new heart and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh’ (Ezekiel 36:26).

John Williams

Friday 9th December - 2nd week of Advent

As the weather turns colder, I am reminded of Christophe Andre’s wonderful meditation on Monet’s painting, The Magpie: ‘It’s now,’ he says, ‘right now. In a little while it will be something else—the magpie will have flown away, the sun will be higher in the sky, the shadow of the hedge will have retreated. It won’t be better, or not as good, it will just be different. So now is the time to stop walking, feel the cold air sting our nostrils, listen to all the muffled sounds and admire the extraordinary light of sun on snow. We must stay here as long as we can, not waiting for anything in particular—quite the opposite! Just stay here, doing our best to perceive the countless riches of this moment: the clumps of snow that fall from the trees with a tiny, soft thud; the blue-white shadow of the hedge; the small movements of a magpie seeking a little warmth in the sun. Everything is perfect. Nothing more is needed for this moment to feel complete.’ [1]

Let’s tune into moments of grace today with openness, trust, and faith. Faith, says Alan Watts, ‘is an unreserved opening of the mind to the truth, whatever it may turn out to be.’ [2]


Let’s allow ourselves, just for a little while today, to let go of preconceptions and preoccupations so that ‘the glory of the Lord will be revealed.’[3]


[1] Christophe Andre Looking at Mindfulness: 25 ways to live in the moment through art p.22

[2] Alan W. Watts, The Wisdom of Insecurity p.24.

[3] Isaiah 40:3-5


Clare Morgan

The Magpie,

Claude Monet (1840-1926)

1868–1869, oil on canvas,

Musée d'Orsay, Paris

Click to enlarge

Thursday 8th December - 2nd week of Advent 

Feast of the Immaculate Conception

Jesus, the light of the world is coming. 


God is speaking his living Word. 

like the boy Samuel, sleeping in the Sanctuary of the Lord,

It is night and the lamp has not yet gone out..

Samuel hears God call his name, but he thinks he hears Eli..

Hearing God call his name was not what he was expecting.


Finding Jesus had been born in a stable was not what the wise men were expecting.  They looked for him in the Palace in Jerusalem. Of course, makes sense, they are seeking a baby who is a King.  Jesus is found at last, with the help of a star in an out building for the animals.  Not what the wise men were expecting?


Richard Rohr says “God comes to us disguised as our life.” This Advent may we open our hearts to God speaking to us in unexpected ways, and find God in unexpected places.  


Helen Healy

Eli and Samuel

Wednesday 7th December - 2nd week of Advent

St Ambrose

Lines written from a hospital bed before Advent 1954

by Dom Ambrose Agius OSB (1890-1978)

Holy Communion in Hospital 


I lie abed: O blessed Solitude
When all the tumult of the world goes by
And peace enfolds me round, and God is nigh,
and Christ, my love,is still my daily food.
He stands and knocks, reluctant to intrude,
Till, arrow-swift, to loose the latch I fly,
and we are left together, He and I,
The Lord of Life for my beatitude.
Now Mary comes to play her wonted part
To cherish Christ, Her nursling as of yore,
To love and thank with me, and to adore,
To offer Mass from altar of my heart.
And all existence centres round my bed,
and grace is showered on living and on dead.


Ambrose Agius

Early Morning Prayer - 7th December

Tuesday 6th December - 2nd week of Advent

Mary and Elizabeth

I had to leave.
The gossip, the rumours
were too much.
I needed
to see for myself
that what the angel had said,
was true.
Respectable, dependable Elizabeth,
who'd given up hoping
for a child
was pregnant.
With a son-
Like me!
And we were connected.
Not just as cousins, but
as part of God's
Eternal plan.

I expected a fond welcome.
I expected an embrace.
But not what I witnessed that day.
For my greeting woke
the baby in her womb
and he virtually jumped for joy!
Elizabeth's loud cry of shock
was wildly ecstatic!
Yet reverent too,
calling me the mother of her Lord!
Incredible words
lndelibly heard.

If I'd wanted proof,
I had it that day.
This visit was no whim of mine.
I was where I should be.
For we needed each other.
We shared an experience,
too great to ignore,
too overwhelming to comprehend,

It was then that I sang!
That I rejoiced
in my God
and my Saviour.
And I knew,
with complete assurance
and purest simplicity,
that l was to be blessed
For ever.


Heather Gallagher

Monday 5th December - 2nd week of Advent


How shall Christ be born into the depths of our understanding if not within us, within our very souls

(St Ambrose).


Those who would receive Christ and bring Him forth must become like Mary ; it is such a birth which they are expecting from the feast of His Incarnation.

The virgin shall conceive and bear a Son….

and his name shall be “God with us”


Year by Year we are to renew ourselves in judgement and penance, purge ourselves for a deeper gift of self, that can allow the birth of God within us. This is the Christmas mystery:  The Lord is very near to all who call on His name ……  all those that is who call upon His name in truth; in humble acknowledgment of their own emptiness and expect everything from God.


The Lord is near, He really is a God who walks with us, in all of whom Christ has lived since baptism.                              

Sister Aemiliana Lohr OSB ( died 1972)


Angela Walker

Sunday 4th December - 2nd Sunday of Advent 

One Advent I spent with the Othona Community in Bradwell on Sea, Essex. It is remote, wild, windswept and very cold. A short distance from it is St Cedd's chapel, which is like a stone barn built in Roman times. It was early in the morning, very cold, frosty and foggy that I went for a candlelit reflection in the chapel, as I arrived three stately cars drew up throigh the fog on the bumpy icey track, and the male occupants went in. After the service the man in front of me in a leather jacket turned round to me and said. "I know you from somewhere, I'm Stephen Cottrell, the new Church of England bishop of Chelmsord, I was bishop of Reading." "Of course," I said "I was the Interfaith Officer for Wokingham borough, and we met several times in Reading." I was not surprised when he became Bishop of York.

This was the first day and start of his ministry, I was impressed that such a person should start his new position in such a humble, remote place in an act of prayer. Humility not being a component of many bishops. 

I immediately thought of the three wise men on their rich man's camels coming to worship the infant Lord in their humility and quest for the truth. These three grand cars and their occupants were the modern equivalent, and the centuries melted away as the humble came to worship the new born Lord.


Deryn Stewart

Saturday 3rd December - 1st week of Advent


Advent seems such a hopeful time, a waiting- in- hope. The waiting in our lives oftentimes carries a sense of anxiety, uncertainty. By contrast, Advent waiting carries a confidence, a light, a sense of certainty that those great promises will be fulfilled.


"The people who walk in darkness will see a great light. Those who live in a dark land, the light will shine on them.” [Isaiah 9:2]


Bonhoeffer saw his prison cell as a metaphor for Advent. The door to freedom could only be opened from the outside. Seen that way, choosing to wait in hope is choosing to be vulnerable before God’s coming. For me, this waiting makes me one with others who wait daily in anxiety – for homes, for peace, for food, for love. Each Advent-day I’ll wait with them. And walk with them.


Carmela Hinckley

Friday 2nd December - 1st week of Advent


The Beauty of the Natural World and God’s Creation

Anna Mace-Leska

Thursday 1st December - 1st week of Advent




For a simple way of life and faith, I admire You…

For clean air and beautiful mountains, I sing to You…

For children three, where others had none, I salute You…

For the challenges and tragedies of life, I meditate on You…

For a heart that has loved and lost, I shed a tear together with You…

For the mysteries of my belief, and those of others, I ponder on You…

For eyes that see, and ears that hear, new things every day, I praise You…

For prayer through the day, shared with others near and far, I worship You...

For good craic at the bar over silly cocktails with friends, I give thanks to You…

For a newborn saviour, worshipped in a holy manger far from home, I adore You...


Tony Vernon

Wednesday 30th November - 1st week of Advent - St Andrew


Come, Lord, Come!

We are waiting, Lord:

Waiting for you to rupture the veil in our hearts,

To allow the you living in us to break free,

To overflow, to pour out,

To wash out of us everything that is not of you;

To sluice away the selfishness, the bitterness, the pride;

To leave a gentle spring bubbling up,

And a limpid pool of peace and love

In which the world sees a clear reflection of you.


We are longing, Lord:

Longing for you to rupture the veil in our world,

To tear down division, hatred, oppression and war;

To allow the dove of peace to hover over us;

To allow the Holy Spirit to wholly guide us

Into ways of understanding, co-operation, sympathy and love,

In a world filled with bird-song and gentle breeze,

Laughter, dancing, truth and peace.


I am waiting, Lord; I am longing, Lord:

Waiting to have the trust to let you rupture the veil in me;

Longing to have the courage to rupture others’ veils with you;

Longing and waiting for you.

Come, Lord, come!


© Angela Jordan

© Angela Jordan

Tuesday 29th November - 1st week of Advent


At the start of Advent, I  feel  like someone who is travelling, not on a train but on a hand-pumped buggy, alone  in a long dark tunnel at the end of which there is a mere pinprick of light.


No ideas for Christmas.  What shall I give people?  Should I even look at goodies in the shops which all exploit someone and lead towards planet destruction?  Will we be welcome with our family on Christmas Day?  What if we old people spoil it for them because of their sense of duty?  It is so dark and miserable outside.  I haven’t even thought about Christmas cards.  


I shared these anxieties and immediately they receded.  Is it too fanciful to call them demons, which vanish when one forces them into the light?  None of this trivia matters.   The buggy trundles on, not powered by me alone.  I will get there and all will be well.  Christ is coming.  We will meet anew at the end of the tunnel.

Anna Franks


Monday 28th November - 1st week of Advent


A friend once told me that she really wanted to move her celebration of Christmas to another date – perhaps Epiphany – as all the preparation and work involved in the material side of Christmas got in the way of the ‘real meaning of Christmas’.  While I can sympathize with this viewpoint, I feel uneasy about any celebration of the Incarnation that wants to put a division between ‘spiritual’ and ‘material’.

What we are celebrating at Christmas is God taking on human form – becoming like us in all our neediness; helpless, like all babies, dependent on others to feed and change him, keep him warm and safe. We would feel immensely privileged if we had the opportunity, by some miracle, to provide practical care for Jesus, as Mary and Joseph did…. and yet we do have that chance, as we care for those around us, our family and friends, and also those in need, this Christmas.

Elizabeth Serpell

Nativity Three

Painting by Kate Cosgrove, USA

Image from Fine Art America

Sunday 27th November - 1st Sunday of Advent


God shows his total love for us by taking human form. In this season of Advent we prepare a space for him so that on Christmas we can lay him in the manger of our hearts. It is a small and humble dwelling where He comes to lay His precious head, and our one response is to adore Him. I pray that we may have a blessed Advent season and that we may lift up our hearts and voices in praise like the angels did that first Christmas night. I pray especially that this may be a time when the love of Jesus enters into the hearts of all men and women especially in places of war, hunger and strife. Come let us adore Him!

Adam Simon

Eglise St Roch in Paris - Click to enlarge

© Adam Simon

For this year’s online Community Advent Calendar we are inviting you to contribute short written reflections (maximum 150 words) on any aspect of Advent or Christmas. These will then appear on this page day by day during Advent, so that you will have some daily spiritual input as you prepare for Christmas.   To be part of this, email Peter Agius (  If you would like your reflection to go out on a specific date, let Peter know that at the same time, and/or fill in the sign-up sheet.  If you can include a picture with your contribution that would be lovely too, but is not essential.  Let us create something together that will bring joy to our community during the season of Advent.

Elizabeth Serpell - Spirituality & Formation Team

Anchor 1
Hiking Trail

As we progress in this way of life and in faith, we shall run on the path of God’s commandments, our hearts overflowing with the inexpressible delight of love. 

bottom of page