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Posts Tagged ‘Advent’

I’m sure you’re all super-prepared for all the Advent happenings in your parish. But just in case you aren’t (or want to be extra-super-prepared for next year) I thought I’d share this brilliant alt.Advent series from Scripture Union that I just came across. They are posting a 2-3 minute daily animation of part of the Christmas story every day of Advent. The full animation, combining all the clips, is 47 minutes long – perhaps something to have on hand for early risers on Christmas Day…

These would be great for family devotions or to show in a service or school assembly. I might even show a few to the kids over tea this week. SU have posted a good number of other videos on their YouTube channel that would be useful for services or family bible times.

Here’s today’s lovely section of the story:

[youtube:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ePB5LiRETkQ%5D

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Christmas treeThings are gearing up for Advent activity in the parish. Tonight is our Messy Christingle service – the first that’s been held since we’ve been here. Early in Advent seems like a good time for this service and gives us an opportunity to advertise other Christmas services to our Messy Church folk, some of whom don’t attend on Sundays. We’re excited about the service and the opportunity we have to tell people the Christmas story and spend time together. I made 1.5kg of pastry this morning which this afternoon will be turned into mince pies to share afterwards.

So we’ve been in church just now, moving chairs and getting the ancient decorations out. The tree lights work, thankfully, but there is rather a lot of tinsel debris around where we’ve unravelled the silver from the gold from the red and sparkly shreds have floated to the floor. The church is not looking as ethereal as one might hope for Christmas because at the same time as we were tinselling, the builders were in knocking great lumps of plaster off the walls. They tell us the plasterers are coming on Thursday so hopefully the walls will be reinstated for the school Christmas service next week and the Infants’ Nativity the following week.

So it looks like we might have a bit of a Messy Advent here. Thankfully our God didn’t expect tidiness when he came to earth all those years ago. In fact he came *because* of the mess. That means we can wait in the mess as we look forward to his arrival.

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Good News of Great JoySo it’s actually Advent, and I only got my act together this morning to download this lovely free e-book from John Piper onto my cheap and cheerful table that I use for daily bible reading. Thankfully, the readings began today, so there’s even time for you to download it too and not be too far behind. This morning’s reflection called me to meditate on my need for a Saviour. And events during the day reminded me of that too – tired children and busy parents do not make for a godly Vicarage.

Thankfully, a large nap and answered prayer made our afternoon happier than our morning. A big Sunday lunch with parish friends was followed by a chilly walk with Dreamer and Freddie the dog. Then we decorated our Jesse Tree – only having to cover two days in one go, lit our Advent candle and thought about Jesus our Saviour, opened our chocolate Advent calendar (with extra sweeties for the non-opening children) and gave thanks for a new audio bible in Ethiopia, prompted by a lovely Bible Society calendar that came in the post.

So far so good. But it’s honestly fine if we miss a few days in the chaos. The Saviour came to forgive both messiness and missingness – our sins of commission and  those  of omission.

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Great clip from Rico Tice that challenges us about the true meaning of Christmas. Advent is a time to remember that truth and think about the wait for the Saviour at his first coming and anticipate his return in glory.

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Our big Advent activity in the Vicarage is always the Jesse Tree – a bare twig we cover in decorations that take us through the salvation story to Jesus. We don’t always manage to get all the way through the readings and the decorating, but we make an attempt each year and cover at least some of it.

If you’re thinking of following God’s story from creation to the birth of Christ with a Jesse Tree for the first time this Advent, an excellently easy way to get your kit together would be to use free printables. These colour-in ones over at Life Your Way look great – there are lots of others all over the internet if you don’t fancy the colouring in, or if you want different bible stories. You don’t even have to use a twig – an outline of a tree drawn on a poster would work just as well (and not take up as much space in the kitchen). In the next couple of days we’ll be digging out our battered Celebrations tin and hunting round for the decorations that went astray when we packed up last year.

Another great Advent activity, especially good for holiday clubs or the like, or if school breaks up way before Christmas, is making a Nativity set. You could use this gorgeous cut up and colour set by Dutch designer Marloes de Vries or buy a set of Nativity Shrinkles, which my kids had lots of fun with last year. My goddaughters have each been sent a set this year. Our schools break up on the Friday before Christmas, so we may not have time for colouring activities this year, but I shall keep the Marloes de Vries colouring to hand, just in case the kids need occupying. We may end up with a house full of nativity sets!

I’ve linked this post up with one of Tanya’s – she’s posting some Advent reflections over the next four weeks.

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I’ve been reminded of another couple of lovely songs for Advent. This is taking away a lot of the stress of service planning for the next few weeks!

This is quite zippy, tho’ guitar might not be my first choice for accompaniment for Hail to the Lord’s Anointed (YouTube is, as usual, full of WRONG TUNE versions):

And I love Maggi Dawn’s haunting song, Into the Darkness, but it’s hard to find. There is just this one YouTube clip, and I don’t think we’ve got it in our extensive cd collection so haven’t been able to sing it in church (we don’t have a music team just now).

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Monday morning brainfreeze made me forget a couple of other excellent Advent songs. Here’s a good version of O Come O Come Emmanuel by Sixpence None the Richer:

And here’s the best version I could find of Come, Thou Long Expected Jesus. Almost all the others were to the WRONG TUNE. Again.

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