This morning (Wed. 2 Dec) it was a wonderful surprise to wake up to news given by the UK Health Secretary  on Breakfast TV that “Hope is on its way!” He was of course referring to the fact that the regulators had given the vaccine produced by Pfizer /BioNTech the all clear in terms of its safety checks! He then went on to say that it could start being rolled out to the population in the next week. Great rejoicing all round!

As Christians, we have known for a long time that “Hope is on its way”, albeit a different kind of hope but with more important consequences. Last Sunday we marked the beginning of Advent, this time of Preparation for Christmas rather than the celebration of the festival itself  – although some are behaving as if it has already arrived!  We lit the first candle of Advent which stands for Hope, marking the beginning of the time when we need to reflect on the meaning of the coming celebration and prepare ourselves in heart and mind for the arrival of the One who brings Hope to a world which so badly needs it. We sang “Hark! The glad sound, the Saviour comes!” and “Come thou long expected Jesus, Born to set thy people free” because we are looking forward to His coming again and, as we await it, ensuring that “where meek souls will receive Him, the dear Child” will indeed enter our lives afresh, reminding us of what Christmas is truly all about.

As we prepare to celebrate what will be a very different Christmas from that of previous years, may we ask God to help us enjoy the quieter space in which to reflect and give thanks for all that He has given us in Christ, without whom there would be no Christmas at all. Jesus is the Reason for the Season!

Thursday 3 December

Quite rightly, the media this morning will be full of the good news about the regulatory approval of the first Covid 19 vaccine which came out yesterday. Give thanks to God for this amazing answer to much prayer for all those who have worked on it and will still be studying and refining its capacities in the months to come. It is truly astonishing that this has been achieved in such a relatively short time, to the amazement of all concerned. After the long year of waiting for a solution to the deadly virus it is now almost within our grasp and we should be filled with gratitude for it.

Friday 4 December

Today marks a very special birthday for our tireless Church Secretary, Irene, who does so much for us all. Ask God to give her a specially happy day, which cannot be celebrated as fully as everyone might like because of current restrictions and to bless her and her family at this happy time for her.

Saturday 5 December

Along with the joy over the news about the vaccine, however, there are concerns about the huge logistical effort which will be required to get it to everyone around the UK quickly and safely, so that immunisation can start in the next week.  Pray for all involved in its distribution, especially our transport teams, NHS workers and Care Home staff, and for their safety. Pray also for the general public to be patient as the necessary work goes forward. At the most recent briefing the Prime Minister and his scientific and NHS advisers were at pains to stress that  this process will take some time and that people need to keep being as vigilant as ever about sticking to current regulations and abiding by the FACTS rules designed to keep everyone safe. Pray that people will heed this advice, recognising that there is still some way to go before the virus is defeated. A friend has sent us these appropriate words of Ernst von Niekerk:

Make sure you test positive for faith, Keep your distance from doubt. And

Isolate yourself from fear. Trust in God through it all, Amen.

Sunday 6 December

“ O Come, O come Emmanuel” is one of the Advent hymns we often sing at this time but even when many can’t go to the church buildings or sing hymns as usual, we can use this and other hymns as our prayers at home. Remember all leading Advent services online or in churches today and pray also for our virtual Sunday Kids programme on which Stuart and his team have worked so hard.

Monday 7 December

The working week begins today for many but pray for those who have been made redundant and are struggling to find work and to feed their families. Pray for all who work in the food banks: that donations of food and Christmas treats may keep coming and that there will be enough to help all who need this.  Our nearest collection point, currently, is Alloway Parish Church Hall between 10 and 12 noon on Sundays.

Tuesday 8 December

The first vaccines are due to be administered in Scotland today. Pray for all who will help with this: that everything will go smoothly, especially in Care Homes.

Wednesday 9 December

In these dark and wintry days it is hard to keep positive. Pray for ways to show kindness and understanding to others today and bring sunshine into their lives.