For the last of our Advent ideas blogs here are some ideas which can be used with the whole church family, young and old sharing and learning together. These ideas are fantastic for involving and engaging families, as well as providing more interactive experiences for your whole congregation to deepen their understanding and bring the whole church family into thinking about the meaning of Advent.
One thing which, we as a church need to take note of at this time of year is the needs of those people who struggle at Christmas time in particular and who would benefit from the support of the church.
The idea of a backwards Advent Calendar is similar to that of a foodbank. Individuals are encouraged to bring in a contribution each day of Advent, adding to a basket/collection of food – packets, tins etc. as well as some more Christmassy items. Then on Christmas Eve the basket or selection of baskets are given to people in need. Your local school may be able to help you identify families in need or you may use a local organisation such as PATCH. The Backwards Advent Calendar is a fantastic exercise in social outreach as well as bringing your congregation together to work for others. You can get children involved by decorating the box or basket, designing posters about the event and collecting in the items.
Families to take away and do at home – Las Posadas
This is a very traditional idea but one which brings two Christian principles together, the idea of journeying and the concept of Christian hospitality. Las Posadas is a Mexican idea where the figures of Joseph and a pregnant Mary, journeying to Bethlehem journey around the homes of a congregation during the period of Advent.
There are many ways of doing this – ask people to sign up to host Mary and Joseph for one night during Advent. Encourage them to pass it on to the next person on the list. You can include a short prayer for them to say together or encourage them to go further and share a meal together.
You can of course buy figures of Mary and Joseph but they can be anything you have to hand – knitted figures, even a laminated picture. The main idea is to remind people of the journey that Mary and Joseph made, but also that we make our own journey together as we prepare for Jesus’ coming at Christmas.
Sharing and Learning together – Family Service
Advent is a great time to bring the whole church family together. Again, think about giving away the ‘Real Advent Calendar’ to your children and young people present.
Barnabas in Churches is a great place to look for all-age resources and they have some great ideas for Advent Family services http://www.barnabasinchurches.org.uk/all-age-advent/