Lighten our path
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An Advent study book. One symbol dominates Advent and Christmas, says Nick Fawcett: light. However subconsciously people may recognise it, there is an awareness that these twin seasons speak of what the world could and should be like.
Each session in Lighten Our Path begins with the words of a well-known Christmas carol, thus introducing the theme to be followed, this being discussed in two sections: First thoughts and Further thoughts. There is a variety of prayers, intercessions, and a meditation that draws the threads of the discussion together. For those groups needing them there are ice-breakers.
A5 booklet. Six sessions:
New dawn, new light
From darkness to light
A glorious light
A guiding light
Sharing the light
An inextinguishable light
Appendix 1 Group activities
Appendix 2 Answers to quizzes
Double CD also available. For personal use. Based on contents of book. Fawcett reads the majority of the text of the resource, interspersed with Advent songs and hymns. £9.99.
Book and CD both available from www.kevinmayhew.com
Adult Growing Christians, small groups, individual.
£7.99 for the book or £9.99 for the CD.
Nicely produced A5 booklet plus double CD. A thoughtful resource, packed with input, readings, music, intercession and meditation.
Fawcett explains his motivation for the resource in the Introduction: an exploration of the hope that ‘light can indeed dispel the darkness' of our world.
Easy to follow material, somewhere in the middle of a group study, personal resource and Advent service. Lots of different elements, lots to read and listen to if run as it is provided. Overall feel is of a carefully crafted presentation. Group activities jar a little with the worshipful themes and would work better as ice-breakers rather than half way through where they appear. CD includes all the suggested hymns and songs, which could be played and sung along to. Discussion does not appear till near the end, by which time there has been music, setting the scene, lighting of the candle, prayer, readings, thoughts, group activity (put this at the beginning!), intercession, further thoughts and read-aloud meditation. Four discussion questions. Creative, liturgical atmosphere in general.
Easy to follow. Would benefit from using different people for different elements of the resource.
How helpful are the participants' resources? Same book for all, though it would not be necessary for all to have a copy. If the CD is being used for personal study, again, the text is included so a book is not essential – in fact, it would be better to just light a candle and enjoy the CD presentation.
Clear presentation of the majority of the text by Fawcett interspersed with the music. Traditional and often beautiful renderings of the hymns and music – some of the music fades out after a while. All the text is there, apart from the ‘Lighting of the Advent candle' sections, Group activities and Discuss questions, Final thoughts. But all the commentaries, prayers and meditations are there. Around 20 minutes per session for personal use.
Prepare the music, whether from the CD or other source – you will need to provide the lyrics if you want people to join in. Decide on whether to use all of the material or pick out that most suited to your group.
Carol-singing, discussion and group activity are the main elements for interaction. Prayers are provided.
Best suited to those who appreciate lots of input. Variety and quality of latter is good – prayers, thoughts, meditations etc.
Would suit a quieter group which would enjoy the mixture of prayer, input, poetry/meditation, music and intercession; and prefer being lead through material.
Input material encourages active responses to expressing the love of Christ. Realistic, thought-provoking questions for discussion, with no easy answers.
Short passages or verses appear near the start of each session. Input material refers to, and quotes, more.
Readings set the theme for the session. Input material extends on this, exploring it from a theme-based point of view rather than expository.
This is done through the whole resource rather than through a more usual Bible passage-plus-questions format. All the elements explore the theme raised by the passages chosen, one way or another, so the whole revolves around them. Fawcett does, however, root his perspective in the everyday stuff of life, and the challenges to keeping our focus on Christ rather than the background darkness.
This material makes no assumptions, apart from aiming at those who want to consider carefully and prayerfully their response to Jesus Christ as light in the darkness. The challenges of living in a broken world are the reason and background for the material.
The starting place of exploring the light against the darkness means that this resource sometimes has a sombre tone, as it honestly wrestles with the hard things of life. The poetry often grounds our reactions to this, and turns the theme back to hope.
Fawcett attempts to reflect the light of Christ through the material, through acknowledging the challenge of the darkness and considering the difference Jesus makes.
Our humanity is honestly acknowledged – this is a resource for people who can be truthful with their doubts, and prepared to open themselves to the light of Christ changing their perspectives. Examples and illustrations are easy to relate to.
Acknowledged and included.
Recognised but not a focus.
Background context of the light of Jesus shining against a dark world of suffering and despair. Examples given are slightly dated now, but nonetheless relevant and could be added to. There are, sadly, always contemporary illustrations of evil and sorrow.
Not a focus, though implicit.
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