For this year’s Advent Calendar we’re acknowledging that it has been a very different year – a challenging time for all of us. In the face of COVID-19, we have sought the face of Christ – caring and compassionate, bringing consolation and hope.
Many have suffered. Many have lost. Many have mourned the interruption to our sacramental lives – often for many weeks at a time.
But when our churches have been empty, the celebration of Mass has continued. So, anticipating the coming of Christ at Christmas, we remember the painful times but look to the future with hope.
The “closed door” for each day is black and white, the church empty, but we open the door to colour – a new dawn with Jesus Christ at its heart.
Go searching through your house for cans of food that you can donate to a foodbank or old, good-quality clothes you could donate to a shelter or charity shop.
Advent Collection Collage
Each day during Advent, go for a walk with others in your household. As you walk collect small items that have fallen from trees or bushes or other things that you find on the floor like stones or discarded bits of plastic. This can be one item each day or several different items, you decide. (Please be careful when picking things up, especially if they are sharp or mucky, wearing gloves might be useful.)
Take these home each day and store them safely to be used later. By December 23rd you should have quite a collection. On December 24th set aside time where your household can get together around a table to make a collage together. Have a sheet of A4 or A3 paper or card, some scissors, PVA glue or sticky tape. Spread your collected items on the table, and together make your collage. If you have collected lots of items you may want to make more than one collage. The collage could be of a nativity scene or simply something relating to Christmas. As you make the collage talk about what Christmas means to you. If other households do this activity, take pictures and share them.
Christmas Nativity lights
This year to help generate some Christmas spirit, people are being encouraged to decorate the front of their houses and gardens (if they have one) with lots of Christmas lights and to leave them on during the hours of darkness. This might be a good way of bringing some community Christmas cheer but it will not be good for the environment. As an alternative to Christmas lights illuminating our communities during Advent, why not create a 3-D nativity scene on the front of your house or in the front garden. It would also be good to have one in front of every church. The Nativity scene could be large or small, traditional or abstract. Be creative! If you don’t have a front garden, a window can easily be used. To help show community solidarity, agree with all those taking part to light up your nativity scene for two hours each evening during Advent. This will be similar to many of those households that lit candles at 19.00 each Sunday during lockdown to represent hope against Coronavirus. If it is done early enough, it might encourage households with children to walk around their community to view them before bedtime. Only two hours, with minimal lighting, will have less of an impact on the environment.
24 Angels and a Baby
If you are not able to decorate the outside of your house, choose one window that people can see from outside and focus on decorating that. One suggestion is to fix some lines of string on the inside of the window and make 24 angels. These can all be the same or each one can be different. Also make a baby Jesus in a manger. Then during Advent simply add one angel each day by fixing it to the string. Leave a space in the centre of the window where you can place Jesus on Christmas Day.
Mini paper angels: There are lots of creative ideas around for making
your own paper or fabric angels. You could even knit some of them!
Advent Photo Challenge
Why not set people of all ages in your church community the challenge of taking a photo a day throughout Advent? You may like to suggest a theme such as light or hope for the whole of Advent, or you may like to have a word for each day which inspires a photograph.
Encourage people to take a photo a day to help them pause and reflect through the season of Advent (it doesn’t have to be a competition or about photo quality). You may like to give them some verses from the Bible to read each day. They could create a collage of their images at the end which could be shared in your online Christmas service, or you could turn it into a social media challenge posting a photo each day (please be aware of the age restrictions of social media platforms and choose age appropriately or suggest children/young people post through a parent/carer’s social media account).
Candles of Hope & Light
Wouldn’t it be great to fill your town or village with a message of hope and light this Christmas? We suggest getting hold of a large quantity of candles and printing a message that you can attach to the candle with string or an elastic band and then placing them around your neighbourhood for people to pick up and take home. You can use this as an opportunity to invite people to join your Christmas services (online or otherwise) and let them know about church life but make sure you include a message about light and hope. You may even like to add a reflection they could do when lighting their candle.
We recommend washing your hands before assembling the candles and wearing gloves when placing them around your village or town. Think about how you can get all ages of your congregation involved in preparing and distributing the candles. Example message to go with each candle: