'Words to Live a Life By' Advent Series


Soul Talk Advent Series 2019: 'Words to live a Life by'

Blogger: Jenny Cornfield


This summer, we had the huge privilege of welcoming Shane Claiborne to Edinburgh for Scotland’s launch of Red Letter Christians UK. I have to say, just the memory of Shane standing in our tiny church on Edinburgh’s Easter Road still makes me smile. I have been reading Shane’s books for a long time and the words that he has written and the life that he leads have been hugely inspiring to me, and so, to find myself in the company of one who has helped to shape my world view so extensively was a real honour.


Shane Claiborne, along with Tony Campolo began Red Letter Christians in the USA. As a movement, they ask the poignant questions as to what would it look like if we were to actually live the things that Jesus said? What would it look like if we took seriously the things that are often written in some of our Bibles in red ink? “To live out Jesus’ radical, counter – cultural teachings, and especially embracing the lifestyle prescribed in the Sermon on the Mount?”


Today, is the first Sunday of Advent. Advent, (which comes from the Latin word, adventus) means ‘coming.’ It’s the time when we remember that God came to be with us, that he is with us and that one day, he will come again. Advent is often described as a time of a waiting. But not a passive sort of waiting, rather, as Ann Voskamp, who has written the most beautiful books to be used during Advent says, it is the time when we “prepare the way for the light of Christ in a world dying for light…participating in the work of the Kingdom of God.”


The words of Jesus speak of a new kingdom. A kingdom where the poor are first and the peacemakers are blessed. Where the broken hearted are comforted and the prisoner released.


A kingdom where love is central and lives lived for others, key.


A kingdom of mustard seeds, lost lambs, daily bread, prodigal children, running fathers, farmers, pearls and hidden treasure.


A kingdom of lightbearers, believing that the darkness will not overwhelm.


A kingdom of “…lovers and givers and gifters; …advocates, servers, foot-washers and cup-of-cold-water bringers…justice warriors and peacemakers and light-igniters…”[1]


Advent seems to offer the perfect opportunity to think on this kingdom and its King. It offers the space for us to all to think of the part we have to play in such a story. And so, inspired by the Red Letter Christians and their commitment to living lives that look like Jesus -that not only speak of good news but are good news - this year’s Advent series is called, Words to Live a Life by’.

Each weekday during December, a guest writer will reflect on a verse or a passage from the Gospels that Jesus said and share something of what they feel it would look like to really live those words. Thomas Dean, who is the pastor of Stenhouse Baptist Church, will begin the series using Jesus’ words when he quoted Isaiah in Luke 4:18 – 19.


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Complimenting this series, we have a special Soul Talk taking place on Saturday 7th December, 7:30pm at St Margaret’s Episcopal Church, Easter Road, Edinburgh, where Chris Lane will be coming to speak about the importance of the table in Jesus’ ministry and how we can set tables of hope within our communities and neighbourhoods. Worship will be led by Thomas Dean, Crystal Cryer and Rosemary Hector, all of whom are contributors to Words to Live a Life by. (Tickets and more information here).


I really look forward to walking through Advent alongside you. Ash Barker, who helps to lead Red Letter Christians UK talks of how they are a movement of ‘subversive friends’. I have been grateful to be part of such a movement and such a friendship network this year; one that challenges and inspires me to be more like Jesus and one that asks me to consider the ways in which I will choose to live my life. This Advent, may we walk as friends together, and dream dreams of the kingdom and live lives in praise and witness to its King.

[1] Ann Voskamp ‘How to have a Starry-Eyed Christmas” www.annvoskamp.com


Jenny Cornfield lives in Edinburgh with her husband, Richard and their three children. Jenny leads Soul Food Edinburgh and Soul Talk and also works as a Freelance Charity Consultant specialising in communication and story telling.

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