This Sunday is the first Sunday of Advent, and churches around the diocese have planned a huge range of services and activities throughout December, from carol services, to crib services, to Christingle services.
Did you know that traditionally Advent has been a time when the Church has reflected not simply on the promise of Jesus’s birth, but on our own mortality, fragility and limitations. In fact, it’s customary for preachers to dwell on “The Four Last Things”: Death, Judgement, Heaven, and Hell – see this explanation from Revd Dr Sam Wells.
Advent is certainly a time to consider the true meaning of Jesus’ birth, preparing our hearts and homes for the truth of the Incarnation, the message of God with us. Find out more about Advent here. We’ve looked at a few alternative Advent events from across the diocese to inspire you…
In the run-up to December, we are bombarded with messages from retailers and other commercial companies, telling us that Christmas is a magical time, full of joy. The implication is that that sadness and anxiety have no place in the festivities. But for many, December can be a time of sorrow and bereavement.
To acknowledge this, some churches in our diocese are putting on ‘Blue Christmas’ services, specifically designed for those whose mood is ‘blue’ in December. St John’s Church, Hedge End, have even organised their service in collaboration with their local Funeral Directors, and have invited the local Rock Choir who will be singing a version of ‘Silent Night’.
You can learn more about these services via the Church Support Hub website.
Alternative Advent Calendars
From chocolate to specialty teas, there is an Advent calendar to suit just about everyone these days. And while we often think of advent calendars as something we do on an individual basis, they can be a fantastic way to bring a community together!
St Matthew’s with St Paul’s, Winchester, has had the creative idea of making a Community Advent Calendar. Local children were invited to create a piece of artwork to contribute to the calendar which is now on display at the back of the church and can also be followed online here: https://stmatthewstpaul.org/christmas-advent-calendar/
We though it would be a way of getting the local community together, creating some beautiful artwork and to participate in the anticipation and waiting of Advent as a community. We have been delighted and bowled over by the creations received.Vicki Tibbitts, Children and Youth Worker
Crafts are a great way to bring people together. In the lead up to Christmas, making decorations and presents is something people of all ages will enjoy! Making these things yourself also means you can personalise gifts as well as potentially reduce waste and be more environmentally friendly.
Want your community to get more involved in Advent? Why not try an Advent trail – children and adults alike can explore their local area and find things along the way! Whether you’re using the trail as a way to tell the Christmas story, or simply showcasing a beautiful festive display, an Advent trial is a brilliant way to get everyone in the community excited about Christmas.
Something for Everyone
Putting on an event for advent doesn’t have to mean coming up with a totally new concept. Sometimes just doing something a little bit different can inspire others to come along, or put on a similar event of their own. The main thing is to think about your community – what sort of thing would appeal to them? And how can you encourage everyone to think about the real meaning of Advent and Christmas? Here are a couple of ideas from St Mary’s Andover…
Christmas fairs are often popular – Romsey Abbey puts on a Christmas Fair each year and this year, they had over 1,250 visitors! What made the day such a success was how many people got involved, such as Romsey Abbey Primary School choir, Romsey Voices, special guests (including Father Christmas), stall holders, caterers, as well as Romsey’s Town Crier, Terry Hamer, who heralded Advent beautifully!