Scottish Christians join in prayer on the first Sunday of Advent

This Sunday (29 November), as the season of Advent begins, Christians across the country – and further afield – will once more join together in prayer at 7pm in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

A lady's hands lighting a candle for Advent

As with previous weeks during lockdown, 14 Christian churches and organisations across the country, including the Church of Scotland, have co-signed the letter calling for prayer.

Scottish Christians have been continuing to answer the call to pray at the same time each week, and Rt Rev Dr Martin Fair, Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland, has been taking part alongside them.

"There are some things which make sense for a certain period of time but which come to a natural conclusion - such as clapping for carers during the spring lockdown. Prayer isn't one of them," Dr Fair said.

"The Apostle Paul encourages us to ‘pray without ceasing' and Jesus himself offers parables where persistence in prayer is lauded.

"It can be hard to keep going when there's no end in sight; much easier when the finishing line comes into view. In the case of the pandemic, it still feels as if there's no light at the end of the tunnel.

"All the more reason then for God's people to continue faithfully in prayer. And even better when we can pray across the whole of the Church, unrestricted by denominational divides.

"If Sunday at 7pm is in your diary, keep it there. Thank you. If it hadn't been, it would be great to have you involved. It matters that we pray."

This week's letter accompanying the prayer, which is also available in Gaelic, states:

"We come now to a significant place in the long journey that we have made over these past months and the place we have come to is where the season of Advent begins.

"The season speaks of Hope and, though it begins with a recognition that we still face the darkness, brings with it the promise of light. The first Sunday in Advent will, in years past, have echoed to the singing of ancient and inspiring words:

O come, O come, Immanuel/and ransom captive Israel
that mourns in lonely exile here/until the Son of God appear.
The words express the longing of the people of God to know the coming of God amongst them. In anticipation of this promise being fulfilled, the people of God sing out:
Rejoice! Rejoice! Immanuel
shall come to you O Israel.

"In our hearts, the promise still resonates and so we await the coming of God. Indeed, we may say that the season of Advent is a season of waiting and anticipation and one that yields the promise of God: ‘From ages past no one has heard, no ear has perceived, no eye has seen any God besides you, who works for those who wait for him.' (Isaiah 64: 4) We wait and we pray."

We pray:

God of the Advent promise,
We come on our journey to the place where the promise is renewed.
Even in the darkness,
We look for the light of your presence to be revealed.
Lord, in your mercy,
Hear our prayer.

God of the Advent promise,
We come on our journey to the place where hope is renewed.
Even in the midst of all that we have faced in times past,
We trust in the hope that does not disappoint.
Lord, in your mercy,
Hear our prayer.

God of the Advent promise,
We come on our journey to the place where we must wait for a time.
Even though we have waited in times past,
We gladly do so again trusting that our waiting shall yield the coming of God.
Lord, in your mercy,
Hear our prayer.

God of the Advent promise,
We come on our journey to the place of anticipation.
Even though we do not yet see,
We anticipate the good gift that you will offer.
Lord, in your mercy,
Hear our prayer.

God of the Advent promise,
We come on our journey to the place where we resolve to journey on. .
Even though we have travelled through hard times,
We go forward, trusting in the promise: Immanuel, shall come to us.
Lord, in your mercy,
Hear our prayer.

Signed by:

  • Rt. Rev. Dr Martin Fair, Moderator of the General Assembly, Church of Scotland
  • Most Rev. Leo Cushley, Archbishop of St. Andrews and Edinburgh, Roman Catholic Church
  • Most Rev. Mark Strange, Primus, on behalf of the College of Bishops, Scottish Episcopal Church
  • Rev. John Fulton, Moderator, United Free Church of Scotland
  • Rev. Lindsey Sanderson, United Reformed Church (Scotland)
  • Rev. Martin Hodson, General Director, Baptist Union of Scotland
  • Rev. Mark Slaney, District Chair, Methodist Church (Scotland)
  • Rev. May-Kane Logan, Chair, Congregational Federation in Scotland
  • Lt. Col. Carol Bailey, Secretary for Scotland, Salvation Army
  • Adwoa Bittle, Religious Society of Friends (Quakers)
  • Rev. Claire Fender, District Superintendent, British Isles North District, Church