I love Advent. It is my favourite time of the church’s year, when we look forward. Advent is all about anticipation and longing and hoping and dreaming. It’s not just about looking forward to the celebration of Christmas and looking back to Jesus’ birth. Even more than that it’s about looking forward to Jesus’ future return, to the restoration and renewal of creation, to our redemption and resurrection in Christ.
How do you do Advent? Like this?
This year, I’ve got a Meaningful Advent Calendar which I’m going to livetweet my opening every day with the story as well as the chocolate. Hopefully that should stop all the first day consumption. I’ve heard they’re selling out so if you want one, get it soon!
Last year, I produced a series of Advent devotional readings: Season of Longing. The dates won’t quite work this year, but they are organised by week, so it shouldn’t be hard to work out. You can print a simple list or one which folds up into a bookmark.
You might want to do something as part of a larger community and if so, have a look at Advent Word. You sign up for daily devotions via email, which includes a word for each day. You’re then invited to tweet, instagram or Facebook a picture responding to the word, using the #adventword hashtag.
How about taking time in Advent to think about how you can help other people? The Bible Society are running an Advent Challenge. Every day they will email you with a whole host of different challenges – to donate something, or do a random act of kindness, or volunteer to babysit, or whatever. You choose which challenges you want to accept!
Your challenge, should you choose to accept it, is to join in with the Advent Sleepout Challenge, organised by the Church Urban Fund.
Several churches around the diocese will be hosting advent sleepouts that you could join in with, but if there isn’t one near you, don’t worry! There’s going to be an Online Advent Sleepout Challenge! It’s going to be on December 5th and this is how you can join in:
1. Sign up on the Facebook group, so we know who is joining in.
2. Find somewhere SAFE, COLD and UNCOMFORTABLE to sleep! This could be a garage, a garden shed, or a tent.
3. If you’re under 18, CHECK that your parents know what you are planning and are okay with it.
4. DONATE to the advent challenge (you’ll be able to do this online). You can raise sponsorship if you want, or just donate yourself. I’m suggesting that we all aim for at least £10.
5. Wrap up warm and take a smartphone with you. We’ll be tweeting and Facebooking through the night to encourage each other and also to raise awareness of what we’re doing.
6. HAVE FUN!